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Environmental advocacy and bringing a new exciting business that will survive and increase tourism and recognition for Livingston Manor and the region is what the new Catskill Brewery is all about.
The dreams and efforts of dedicated businessmen and Brewery partners Ramsay Adams, Randy Lewis, Kirt Gunn and Dana Ball are providing a state-of-the-art craft brewery that is located at 672 Old Route 17 (County Route 178) no more than a half-mile from downtown Livingston Manor.
The Brewery partners have made it very clear that their passion for beer and the local community lead the reasons why they started this business venture several years ago.
One of the Catskill Brewery logo’s on their beer bottles says “Honest Hard Working Beer,” and uniquely enough the power trio who hatched the idea for this type of craft brewery came as a result of drinking a beer during a spring barbecue.
Ramsey Adams, who also serves as the founder and executive director of Catskill Mountainkeeper, an environmental advocacy organization, when referencing how this all started, noted, “We were talking about how incredible the Town of Rockland and the Catskill Park are, and we realized we need a brewery here.”
The Brewery partners possess diverse skills which allowed them to pursue their concept. Adams has his community activism, Lewis is President of Global Natural Food, Gunn is a branding advertising executive and Ball has years of experience in the beer industry.
The craft brewery is growing in this country and while it produces just five percent of the beer consumed in America, the industry employs about 50 percent of beer company employees.
At the present time the Catskill Brewery employs two full timers and anticipates expanding to possibly eight in the first five years.
The facility presently is providing its own distribution of their lager and ale to the region’s restaurants and bars in kegs only for sale as a tap beer.
A growler is a special container that is traditionally used to transport draft beer. At the Brewery location a 64 oz. and a 32 oz. growler are for sale for home use only and growler hours are from 5-7 p.m. Those buying the growlers can return with them for refills.
The two craft beers presently being produced by this brewery include the Floodwatch IPA India Pale Ale and the Ball Lightning, a Pilsner Lager.
The brewery owners noted that their facility will not be a bar or brewpub.
But they do offer, in addition to growlers, tours of the facility and gifts emblazoned with the brewery’s logo.
A key factor in any brewery is the Brew Master and the duties he performs. Ben Brotman told us he was self taught in the art of brewing and that he originally was born and raised in the Philadelphia area and now makes his home in Ithaca.
Ben, accompanied by Dana Ball, whose business card lists him as a co-founder, partner and VP of sales and operations, took us through the process of how this brewery makes their beer.
The barley is first put into the malting stage, which includes steeping, germination and kilning. From there the product goes to the roller mill, where milling takes place. This includes adding water to the mash mixer, which is then transferred to the lauter tun where the spent grain is eliminated.
Into the brewing stage and the brewing kettle the hops are added then to the whirlpool separator and the plate heat exchanger which provides a cooling process. Fermentation is the next step and that takes place in the fermentation vessel in which yeast is added.
The “green” beer is then transferred to the maturation tank then to the filtration unit and finally the process is completed by putting the beer in kegs and any bottled beer. The entire process takes about 10 hours and the “fresh” beer is ready to drink.
The business acumen and technical savvy of the partners are very much apparent in the branding power of the building’s design and the strategic vision integrated into the plan for this state-of-the-art eco-friendly business and all that it encompasses.
The low-impact “green” building includes the thermal-bridge design, free envelope design, natural day-lighting whereby the light in the building is controlled by what outside light is coming in, stack effect ventilation, all-permeable site paving, green roofs, solar photovoltaics and solar hot water systems, ground source pumps for heating and cooling and refrigeration and native plantings.
The Manor Brewery is presently waiting for LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The LEED prerequisite requires building standards to meet top energy performance.
The building size of the new micro brewery is 5,200 square feet and is located on a 0.61 acre site which holds parking for approximately 20 cars. The brewery occupies 3,500 square feet of the entire structure.
The building is also the home of Global Natural Foods, a wholesale business owned by Randy Lewis, one of the Brewery partners. Mr. Lewis wanted it emphasized that there is no retail sales in this business, which he formerly operated out of his Lew Beach home and that somewhere in the future his part of the building will become part of the operational functions of the brewery including a bottling/canning line.
Although total estimated costs of this new business would not be disclosed, an earlier story in the Sullivan County Democrat stated “that the bulk of their $950,000 investment is being privately financed,” but that the trio was “looking to land $300,000 in grants from the state.
The business in its early stages gained approval from the Town of Rockland Planning Board and the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency gave approval of $48,000 in sales-tax breaks and $50,663 in property tax breaks.
County and town chamber of commerce representatives give high praise for the new brewery which is promising a great brand and a high-end consistent product that will, in time, incorporate local ingredients.
Originally published in Sullivan County Business Edge: Fall 2014.