MIDDLEBURGH, NY -- For Justin Behan, a love of history and beer have joined forces for a May 16 special event and the rebirth of a brewing industry in Schoharie County.
Today, Mr. Behan has grown his once at-home-beer brewing into a thriving business, Green Wolf Brewing Company on Main Street in Middleburgh, the only brewery in Schoharie County.
On Saturday, May 16, Middleburgh will host the 1780 Beer Challenge and Revolutionary War Festival from 1-5 p.m.
“I’ve always loved history. And, I love making beer,” said Behan who opened Green Wolf in late 2014.
Joining for the event are The Middleburgh Library, The Albany Ale Project, and Green Wolf Brewing Company, with a day that celebrates beer, brewing, and Middleburgh’s Revolutionary War history. Partial proceeds will go to benefit the Library. MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Company, of Bath Ontario, will also be participating. The event will be held on Baker Avenue around Green Wolf Brewing Company and behind the Library that is on Main Street as well.
There will be a re-enactment of a 1780 standoff in Middleburgh between New York’s Loyalist raiders and the Albany County Militia -- no muskets and cannons this time, but done with hops, grain and yeast.
Behan is also quietly part of a growing industry upon which craft brewing is dependent -- hops. “We get about 20 percent of what we need from Hesier Farms in Middleburgh and West Fulton. And, about one-third of the hops we need come from within 20 miles of Middleburgh,” Behan said.
“You see hops farms cropping up all over. There’s a resurgence in micro brewing in New York and we need hops farms,” he said.
At one time, Schoharie County had a flourishing hops growing business, supplying many breweries in Albany. Then, disease and insects -- plus Prohibition -- decimated the industry.
Craig Gravina, a widely known beer blogger and a friend of Behan’s who reconstructed Albany Ale (a recipe that was once lost) said that raids during the revolution affected brewing in Albany and elsewhere. “No grain, no beer,” Gravina said.
Middleburgh Library Director Teresa Pavoldi noted that this is a great opportunity for people to find out how Middleburgh fits into the brewing history of the upper Hudson Valley.
On May 16, the library will be open with a hops history display starting at 9 a.m. Special talks include those by Cravina and Alan McLeon on the Albany Ale Project and Behan on the historic hops of the Schoharie Valley .The Revolutionary war encampment with the Burning of the Valleys Military Association and the King’s Royal Yorkers takes place from 1 to 5 p.m. There also will be tours of Green Wolf Brewery.
Admission for the 1780 Beer Challenge and Revolutionary War Festival is $15 (for adults 21 years of age and older) and includes beer sampling tickets and a Green Wolf sampler glass; or $35 for sampling tickets, a Green Wolf sampler glass, and a signed copy of Gravina and McLeod’s book, Upper Hudson Valley Beer. Admission for non-drinkers, or those 15-20 years of age, is $10. Those under 15 years of age are admitted free.