New Brewery Planned in Shokan’s Scandinavian Grace Building

A Woodstock resident who learned to brew beer after quitting Wall Street plans to open a new brewery in Ulster County, in the building that’s currently home to the Scandanavian Grace store and coffee shop.

Rick Shobin and his business partner, Scott Shimomura, have struck a deal with owners Alan and Juliette Eisenson to buy the 2-acre property at 2866-2872 Route 28. It includes the 2,700-square-foot commercial space as well as a separate two-bedroom house, according to the Eisensons’ for sale by owner listing. The sale is scheduled to close in January, both parties say.

“Rick will have one of the best locations on the gateway to the Catskills, and a great location to develop his great ideas,” Alan Eisenson said.

Scandanavian Grace expects to be ousted as soon as the deal is completed. Owner Fredrik Larsson said he is scouting for a new home for his high-design store and small cafe, which began in Brooklyn in 2006 and subsequently moved to Shokan, a hamlet of the town of Olive in Ulster County. Larsson is considering all his options, including moving closer to Woodstock, he said.

“We are hoping to find a similar location so that we can continue to provide the same merchandise and services to the community,” Larsson said. “We love it here and have no plans of leaving the area.”

Shobin, a former hedge fund manager, and Shimomura, a long-time family friend who will be the head brewer, hope to begin making beer in the fall of 2016, after finalizing the sale, installing equipment and securing all the necessary permits and licenses from local, state and federal officials.

The project has received preliminary approvals from the town of Olive’s planning board, said town code enforcement officer John Ingram. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has also given its blessing, Ingram said.

“At the moment, it looks like it’s pretty much a go,” he said.


The proposed brewery building is a former garage, currently filled with high-end home furnishings from Scandinavia, with a sprinkling of vintage and local handcrafts such as pottery and textiles. Photo by Catskill Eats

The fledgling brewery is tenatively named Shokan Brewing Co., but that may change before the doors open, Shobin said.

Shobin and Shimomura plan to build a 15-barrel brewing system, which will eventually ramp up to producing about 3,000 barrels a year, Shobin said. They have applied for a farm brewery license, and also hope to have a tasting room on site.

It all started when Shobin decided he needed a break from his financial career last November, saying he wanted to “take some time off to reflect on what I wanted to do with my life.”

Shobin and his wife, Robin, had owned a vacation home in Woodstock since 2008. While Rick Shobin was spending time in the Catskills after quitting his job, Shimomura asked him along on some beer-tasting and homebrewing adventures.

“We did all these tours, and the beer we were making was as good or better than most of what we were drinking,” Shobin said. Combined with Shobin’s conviction that the Catskills’ future as a foodie destination is bright, his new hobby led to a business plan.

“This is a great area, and this region needs more businesses,” Shobin said. “This is only the beginning for this area.”

As for Eisenson, an antiques dealer who has long been known around Woodstock as “Just Alan,” he and his wife plan to remain in the place they have called home since 1972, when they relocated from the Bronx and opened a vintage store on Tinker Street. A small portion of the former Just Alan vintage collection remains for sale in a corner of Scandinavian Grace, but Eisenson said he plans to retire from that business when the building changes hands.

Follow the brewery’s progress via Instagram, where it uses its original working title @woodstocklocalbrewing.

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