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West Kill Brewing: Beer for the Outdoors


Last Updated: 02/06/2020 3:37 pm
  • West Kill Brewing

"Our ethos is that beer tastes better outdoors," says West Kill Brewing's head brewer Patrick Allen—a fitting philosophy for a brewery poised at the edge of 19,250 acres of forever wild forest. 

Founded in 2017, West Kill has quickly earned notoriety amidst a crowded market for its perfectly balanced mountain beers, thanks to the scrupulous blend of science and poetry that Allen brings to his brewing operation. "It's about having the palate to set out the nuances of harmony, mouth feel, texture—thinking about these deeper concepts that go beyond, 'Oh, I taste hops,'" says Allen, who worked at Brooklyn brewpub Keg & Lantern before moving upstate to help launch West Kill. "My wife is a trained chef, and we talk about depth of flavor. As with food, beer can be simple, but it needs to be well done."

West Kill's offerings, which range from funky sours to crisp lagers to full-bodied stouts, are brewed with pure Catskills mountain well water for a product that is true to its origin. Add to this the brewery's remote location and you begin to understand the air of mystique that envelops the place. 

Located in Spruceton Valley, the brewery stands on a 127-acre former dairy farm, which came down through co-owner Mike Barcone's family. With dozens of hiking trails and Hunter Mountain Ski Resort nearby, this is a frequent pit stop for daytrippers and outdoor adventurers. The taproom offers stunning views of the surrounding Catskills peaks, with outdoor fire pits and picnic tables that beckon drinkers to head outside. 

Not only are West Kill beers best enjoyed al fresco, Allen also strives to bring the outdoors into the brewing process with locally grown and foraged ingredients. Past limited-run beers have included chanterelle and reishi mushrooms harvested onsite, the invasive species knotweed, creeping thyme, and spruce tips from the conifer at the bottom of the hill. And a few years down the road, the brewery's young fruit orchard will lend stone fruit to the brewing process and their beehives honey. 

At press time, and the West Kill crew were busy producing Saphouse—a seasonal release American brown ale brewed with a nine-malt grain bill, toasted maple bark, and maple syrup boiled onsite. "This beer is very much an expression of this place and this brewery," says Allen. "It has a brown ale base—bready, toasty, crusty—with some caramelization. Then the maple syrup and bark push it toward incense. It's like eating a roasted marshmallow and getting a little bit of the stick in there—in a good way. Little bit of burnt, smoky flavor—but all subtle and in harmony."

Saphouse will be available for the next few months at the West Kill taproom and at select restaurants in the area.

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