To celebrate our exhibition Beer Here: Brewing New York’s History, the New-York Historical Society is hosting a series of Saturday beer tastings run by local breweries in the exhibit’s Beer Hall. The program will run from May 26 through August 25; half-hour tastings will start at 2pm and 4pm. Not only will visitors get to taste some of these local creations, but there will be hops, whole leaf flowers and other beer ingredients for people to touch, smell and experience. Tickets are $35 unless otherwise noted.
In these days of artisanal crafting and homebrewing, an abandoned warehouse full of old brewing materials sounds like a hot commodity. But according to Tommy Keegan, the owner of Keegan Ales, it’s harder to sell than you’d think. “I started Keegan Ales in 2003 in the old home of Woodstock Brewery,” he said. Apparently Woodstock took out some municipal loans on its Kingston, NY brewery when the business began to fail. Eventually the city took the brewing equipment as collateral, and the landlord found he couldn’t get the property off his hands. “I worked out a deal with the city to buy the property and open a new company.”
It’s not like Keegan was new to brewing. With a Masters in Brewing Science from UC Davis, he previously worked at Bluepoint Brewery in Long Island, and first got into brewing by buying a Father’s Day gift for his dad. “I got my dad a home brewing kid. He always appreciated good beer, and I thought it would be a fun project,” he said. But soon, he bought a kit for himself and he was hooked. Then again, it may be in his blood. Though his dad never started brewing full time, he does own the Brickhouse Brewery & Restaurant in Patchogue, NY. And great-grandfather Keegan was a brewer for Schlitz when it was still in Brooklyn.
Keegan Ales definitely looks to the past for inspiration, especially with it’s Old Capital ale. Kingston, NY became New York’s first capital in 1777 (New York City was still occupied by British troops). “Old Capital is a simple, crisp beer; a namesake for our hometown,” said Keegan. They’re also famous for their Mother’s Milk stout, which will be served at their tastings along with their Hurricane Kitty IPA and a Barley Wine. What is a Barley Wine, you ask? Keegan explains, “Barley Wine is a beer. In our case it is 12 % ABV (barley wines are generally stronger in alcohol). We brew a beer based on our Hurricane Kitty IPA recipe, but add honey collected from our own hives on the roof of the brewery. After fermentation, we age the beer in oak barrels for several months to smooth and mellow the flavors. That’s all there is to it!”