It all started with a one-barrel craft-beer brewing system in a shed behind James Walsh’s property in Gardiner. Oh, and a parliament of owls.
Let’s not forget those guys; after all, their presence nesting in the yard inspired Walsh and best friend/business partner Kristop Brown to name their fledgling business Yard Owl Brewery a few years back. And one of their bestselling brews today – their 270 IPA – was named after the number of degrees an owl can turn its head around.
Launched officially from that shed in 2013, Yard Owl Brewery grew quickly, outgrowing its modest beginnings almost from the start. Keeping up with the demand from loyal customers was clearly going to require a larger space. And there were also frequent requests from craft-beer enthusiasts for a tasting room: a comfortable space with a bar and maybe some small-plate-type edibles to go with that handcrafted beer.
So Walsh and Brown put forth a Kickstarter campaign to see if they could raise the funds to get such a space going. They were looking for $35,000, but ended up raising more than $41,000 from 147 backers. Now they’re still in Gardiner, but in a spacious 3,000-square-foot industrial-type space with a high ceiling at 19 Osprey Lane, off Steve’s Lane in the commercial part of the hamlet right off the Rail Trail.
The interior has brewing tanks off to one side, where they’ve increased their output of beer at least seven times what it was before. The other side of the room is where the band sets up for live music, on occasion during the winter and every week in the warmer months. The center of the room features a good-sized bar surrounded by a few picnic tables. They serve light bites like cheese and meat boards and pretzels with beer-based mustard to go with the 18 or so styles of beer that the guys make. The styles are rotated, with four available on tap at any given time.
In addition to that head-turning 270 IPA, the Farmhouse Ale is a good choice. So is the Casa Diablo: a winter favorite, says Walsh. The Belgian dark ale is made for cold evenings, brewed with strong coffee from the Mudd Puddle Coffee Roasters and Café at the Water Street Market in New Paltz that Walsh owns with his wife, Michelle. That spot has been open for 15 years now, with the coffee business being the passion of his wife and his being craft-beer brewing. The couple are also raising three kids.
Kristop Brown is not only a craft-beer brewer, but also an award-winning winemaker. He’s raising two kids with his wife, Jade.
Yard Owl beers can be found on tap at places that include the Mountain Brauhaus in Gardiner, New Paltz’s Bacchus, Jar’d Wine Pub and the Parish and Market Market Café and Bar in Rosendale. Twenty-two-ounce bottles are available at the K & E Beverage Center and Robibero Winery, both in New Paltz, and Beer World in Kingston.
Come spring, visitors to Yard Owl Brewery can drink outside, too, on the grassy area outside the building, and play a few games like wiffleball or horseshoes. Live music will kick in more frequently again, with local talent and a few bigger names; last year found Irish singer and multi-instrumentalist Liam Ó Maonlaí making a stop on his local tour to play there.
Yard Owl Brewery is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday year-round from 3 to 7 p.m., and for special events and private catered events with an expanded menu. Not a bad progression that began with Walsh receiving a home beer-brewing kit in 2011 as a Christmas gift from his wife.
Yard Owl Brewery, 19 Osprey Lane, Gardiner; (845) 255-3436, www.yardowlcraftbrewery.com.