A 250-acre farm and an abandoned water-bottling plant, next door to each other in the Delaware County town of Kortright, are set to become the new headquarters of 212 Brewing Company, a three-year-old business setting up shop in the Catskills.
Owner Don Trooien has been brewing under contract at other production facilities for more than two years while searching for the right location to grow his ingredients, brew his beer and serve customers. He found it at the intersection of Route 23 and North Road. Known as the Stone Cottage Farm, the first property includes a modernized 1790s-era farmhouse, a 6,000-square-foot barn and a guest house. The farmhouse will serve as a tasting room and restaurant, while about 150 of the 250 acres will be used to grow hops and grains.
“My mission is to use 100 percent New York State everything — hops, grains, water, bottles, labels, caps,” Trooien said.
Trooien knew the former horse farm, with its gorgeously restored main house, open fields and plentiful outbuildings, would work for the retail and crop-growing aspects of the project (see a video here). When it came to sourcing water, though, he happened into a bit of luck.
While working with real estate agent Carol Spinelli of Coldwell Banker Timberland Properties on the farm purchase, the pair discovered that an adjacent 16-acre parcel was also for sale, through the county’s Industrial Development Agency. The smaller property had previously functioned as a bottling plant for one of the Catskills’ most popular exports. Wissahickon Mountain Spring Water, a Philadelphia-based company, had shuttered its Bloomville operation about 10 years ago. The company subsequently fell behind on its taxes, landing the property in the county’s possession in 2014, said Glenn Nealis, the IDA’s executive director.
Natural springs at the former Wissahickon property yield 12,000 gallons a day of Trooien’s key ingredient. The 20,000-square-foot factory is well-suited for a new use as 212’s brewhouse, with its high ceilings and industrial infrastructure.
The IDA provided about $100,000 in seller financing on the Wissahickon property, and helped Trooien secure a $210,000 grant through the Empire State Development Corp., Nealis said. The grant will go toward renovating and upfitting the factory building.
“This is exactly the type of project we think is a perfect fit for Delaware County — producing agriculturally based value-added products,” Nealis said. “We think the county has significant, unique positives that make us attractive for this kind of business and we are anxious to help Don move forward.”
After a three-year ramp-up, Trooien expects to produce between 50,000 and 70,000 barrels annually, and employ between 25 and 40 workers. His longer-term goals include acquiring a total of 500 acres for more crop development, reviving the water-bottling business and adding a distillery. Eventually, Trooien hopes to showcase his Catskills operation in a micro-version of the brewery in Manhattan.
In the short run, however, presuming all goes according to plan, 212 Brewing Company will join the growing ranks of Catskills farm breweries later this year. Other projects in the works include a new brewery on Route 28 in Ulster County, also set to open in late 2016. Licensed under legislation designed to encourage craft beverage-makers to incorporate New-York-grown agricultural products, farm breweries have been exploding. As of the end of 2015, 106 farm breweries now flourish statewide, according to the NYS Brewers’ Association.
“This project is a great use of the farm brewery law,” said Paul Leone, the association’s executive director. “Don has a great brand and a great business model, and he’s gone about it in a very smart way. It really is all about the quality of the beer.”
212 Brewing Company sold its first keg of its first beer in January 2014. An American pale ale called Flatiron Ale, it’s been well received in the urban market, selling in 75 bars and restaurants, including iconic, upscale venues such as 21 Club and the Four Seasons. Two more beers, a South Street Seaport IPA and a Park Avenue Pilsner, are scheduled to debut in the first quarter of 2016. A stout will be the next to emerge in the product line, said Trooien, a Minnesota native whose love of New York City shines through in his marketing.
“Everything we do is attached to a great time or place or piece of history in New York,” Trooien said. For example, the IPA’s labels will display vintage maps of Manhattan’s seaport. “This brand is all about New York.”