While visiting the Hudson Valley region of New York every year for TapNY, we always make sure to visit a new brewery or two to write about for Liquid Alchemy. Having heard many good things about Suarez Family Brewing in Livingston, we made our way there on a sunny afternoon to discover what makes them such a hit among beer aficionados.
Suarez is located within an old industrial building built in the 1930’s, which used to contain a tractor dealership and repair shop. The interior was completely remodeled and the spacious tasting room is filled with bright natural light thanks to huge windows that take up most of one wall. The sill in front of the them is wide enough for seating, and various wooden tables are spread out as well. We walked up to the counter where we were surprised to learn that samples and flights are not served here. The only size available to purchase is a quarter liter pour. Leif, who was taking orders and filling glasses, explained to us that this is done so you get the “full experience” of each beer that you have. Going on instinct, we chose to try four of their beers while there. You have to be very patient as Leif meticulously pours each beer to give it the proper head and presentation. The system is quite slow but people don’t seem to mind.
- 5.2% ABV
- Unfiltered classic German Pilsner
- Their flagship Lager
- Clean and crisp. Quite smooth.
- A delicious malt presence with a great mouthfeel.
- 4.5% ABV
- Hoppy Spelt Pale Ale
- This has a great hop aroma; plenty of citrus.
- 5% ABV
- Unfiltered Black Lager
- Crisp, with rich toasted malts.
- Light bready roasted chocolate, a great flavor combination.
- 5.5% ABV
- One of the best porters I have ever had, incredibly complex with rich dark toast notes.
I have to say, I was quite impressed by the four beers we tried and was completely blown away by the porter. We made sure to pick up a bottle of one of their barrel aged beers to bring home as none were available to have on draft while there.
I got two different impressions while visiting Suarez. Prior to ordering, we were informed about the precise methods used to pour their beer. This and the lack of samples, made me feel that the brewery was aiming for a pretentious vibe. Then, I met Taylor Suarez, co-owner and wife of brewer Dan, who was so down to earth and friendly. She jokingly told me that Enzo, their newborn, is the real boss at the brewery. Taylor and her husband manage most of the operation with just a small handful of employees, trying to keep things as “mom and pop” as possible.
Taylor and Dan opened the brewery in the summer of 2016. Dan worked at many well-known breweries before deciding to establish his own in their hometown of Livingston, NY. Dan has a 17 barrel system and brews a few different styles of beer. His most favorite are the lagers, like his lovingly crafted, unfiltered pilsners. He also produces a line of Saisons and farmhouse ales, half of which undergo barrel aging. Dan has no current plans to make super hoppy IPAs and instead focuses on lighter ABV beers that are full of intense and interesting flavors.
While at the brewery, we also met Dan’s father Santiago, who had some unique stories to tell us. The beautiful painted tapestry on one wall was actually a leftover from a commercial he directed over 25 years ago for Canon cameras. He stored it for many years and it just seemed like the perfect fit for the empty wall at the brewery. The yellow and black chairs are all originally from a coast guard station that no longer needed them. Even the tables people hang out at were once office desks. Santiago is happy that his years of collecting odds and ends have been put to good use!
Suarez is entirely self-distributed so your best bet for finding their beer might be a stop directly at the brewery. It is pretty much the only place you will find their bottles for now as well. Just be sure to bring a dark glass growler as that is the only type they will use in order to better protect the beer. T-shirts are also available for purchase. If you are looking for food options, they did serve fresh pretzels, at least when we were visiting. Please leave your dogs at home as the only pet allowed inside is their own pooch.
While I loved the beer, the acoustics of the tasting room made hanging out there a bit difficult. Perhaps it was the raucousness of extra people here for the weekend due to TapNY, or just the sound bouncing off the spartan ceiling. However, I would not hesitate to come back and purchase more growlers and bottles of their well-crafted brew to bring back home with me. I am excited to see what the future brings for the Suarez family and their brewery.
Crossing the Hudson River on the way to the brewery, we noticed a beautiful large mansion overlooking the valley. Later research informed us that this was Olana, the home of artist Frederic Church. Church was one of the major figures in the Hudson River school of landscape painting. The house is intricately stenciled and is decorated with items from his world travels. Tours are by reservation only so we will definitely book one the next time we are visiting this scenic region!
Suarez Family Brewery
2278 US 9, Livingston, NY 12534
Visited April 28th, 2017
Blog post written by Thomas Andersen.