It all started with a chance encounter at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket in Brooklyn. New Paltz farmer Ray Bradley was there to sell his farm products. Kurt Schlachter was there to buy ingredients for a cooking lesson he’d been given as a birthday present. But Schlachter was also a craft beer brewer working out of his home in a Brooklyn brownstone, and he’d run out of options for how to discard the five-gallon buckets of grain left behind from the brewing process. So after some discussion with Bradley about heirloom tomatoes and such, Schlachter asked the farmer whether he would like the leftover grain to feed his chickens. “Forget the grains,” Bradley told him. “I want to try the beer.”
That was five years ago. These days, Schlachter and fellow brewer and business partner, Eric Knapp, are proprietors of the newly formed Pull Brewing Company located on Bradley’s 27-acre New Paltz farm. The hops used for the beer are grown on site. And this past Sunday, Pull Brewing Co. officially launched their first farm-brewed batch of Bradley Farmhouse Ale, an Americanized Franco-Belgian style of beer, according to Knapp; light-bodied with moderate alcohol and a slightly tart finish.
Starting their new venture working out of an old barn at Bradley Farm was a natural progression for the craft beer entrepreneurs. They’ve been supplying home brews to go with the hors d’oeuvres course at the farm’s Summer Series farm-to-table dinners for several years now, after that chance meeting at the Brooklyn Greenmarket with Schlachter led to Bradley sampling their beer.
The Summer Series dinners arose out of Bradley’s background as a professional chef; a stint at Le Cirque is among his credentials. When he traded a chef’s hat for the farmer’s life in New Paltz, Bradley built a commercial kitchen at his farm on Springtown Road and in 2012 began inviting wine experts and top-notch chefs to create monthly dinners for 40 guests utilizing the seasonal products of the farm paired with the best wines in the region.
When Schlachter and Knapp first came up to New Paltz to contribute brews to the farm dinners, they were impressed with the culinary credentials of the people involved and taken with the friendliness of the people they met in the area. Both men were interested in establishing their own brewing business, so when Governor Cuomo signed into law the Craft New York Act in 2014 — designed to encourage agribusiness in the state by easing restrictions on craft beverage producers and reducing costs for small manufacturers — the time was right to create the Pull Brewing Company and bring it to Bradley Farm in the Hudson Valley.
They have the opportunity in New Paltz to start small, Knapp says. The beer is currently being sold through the farm and they’re exploring various venues in which to offer their products. And they plan to do custom brews for local restaurants that are interested in that. For example, they met with the 1850 House in Rosendale to see if they’d be interested in carrying a beer made just for them with a recipe from 1850.
Information about ordering Bradley Farmhouse Ale is online at www.raybradleyfarm.com. It’s sold in 64-ounce refillable “growlers,” five-gallon sixtels (approximately 40 pints of beer) and 15.5-gallon kegs (approximately 120 pints of beer). Additional beer styles will be available soon.