Just in time for summer, Return Brewing—described in Brewbound magazine as “the intersection of refined technical expertise and infinite exploration”—has opened a comfy new beer garden in Hudson, serving up their fresh, creative offerings four evenings a week as they remake a former tire shop into an indoor taproom.
“The response has been really nice,” says Mikey Lenane, who co-founded Return alongside Jack Liakas, JD Linderman, and Bob Wise. “We can comfortably seat about 125 people, and it’s been pleasantly full on Fridays and Saturdays.”
The beer garden opened its doors to the public the weekend of May 12, but the beer itself isn’t quite new in town. For two years, Return has been crafting its distinctive offerings across the river at Crossroads Brewery in Catskill while renovating their own taproom and brewing facility. Sales in Hudson were already brisk pre-beer garden.
“I think we’re in around 16 places along Warren Street,” says Lenane.”We plan to continue the ongoing partnership with Crossroads, which has been phenomenal—they have a perfect size system. We don't think we need to reinvent the wheel by rebuilding that same system and pouring a ton of money into it, since we've developed such a nice working relationship there. So we’ll continue to brew our beers that we sell widely there, while bringing the small-batch Eastern European beers in-house in Hudson.”
Offerings include the hyperlocal and the exotic. Return’s Lush Portal Sour is made with peaches and apricots from Mead Orchards in Tivoli, then aged in rye whiskey barrels from Coppersea Distillery in New Paltz. “It’s aged for just three weeks, a nice light touch,” says Lenane. “The wood and the whiskey add this nice, little vanilla note, a little perception of sweetness on this really refreshing peach-apricot beer. Just really delicious.” The Lush Portal Sour is part of Return’s line of “garden beers,” which showcase local, seasonal produce, and will give way in a month to the next release, made from strawberry and rhubarb and a touch of minty blue spruce needles.
Their Polished Pilsner, on the other hand, uses Tettnang hops sourced from Hopfengut farms in Tettnang, Germany. “We’ve demarcated our lines so that some beers showcase the native ingredients and beautiful whiskey barrels that are part of the Hudson Valley’s bounty, and others showcase the best global ingredients. So our flagship pilsner is made with the finest hops from Tettnang; you get this really beautiful floral quality that we couldn't really get unless we sourced this specific ingredient. We are definitely not afraid to search for the best global ingredient, while also trying to find creative ways to use the most local mediums.”
Lenane grew up just up the river in Coxsackie, spent 10 years learning the craft at Six Point Brewery in Brooklyn, and couldn’t be happier to be back in the neighborhood with the ideal partners and the perfect location. “I was always dreaming and planning and hoping to start my own brewery somewhere up here,” he says. “I was lucky enough to meet amazing people during my time at Six Point and my journeys in the industry, and once the team was together, we found the ideal spot.”
As the summer goes on, expect a grand opening party in late June or early July to follow last month’s soft launch; eventually, there will be expanded food and entertainment choices and the debut of the indoor taproom.
For now, visitors will find an expansive, upbeat, and laid-back beer garden with hand-hewn benches, an outdoor bar, and some very special things on tap. The four founders are currently the only employees. “Once we get our feet under us, which is coming along, we’ll be hiring staff, and that’s when we’ll start layering in more food and events,” Lenane says. “We’re thinking some rotating pop-ups on Saturdays for food—there’s so much talent around here.”
For now, guests can order food from Isaan Thai across the street, scan a QR code, and have the food delivered fresh and hot in 15 to 20 minutes. Also part of the plan: more partnerships with local orgs doing good works, especially in the reentry space. A project last year benefited Greater Hudson Promise and Reentry Columbia.
Follow along on Instagram for updates about the grand opening.
Located at 725 State Street in Hudson, Return Brewing’s beer garden is open Thursdays and Fridays, 4-8 pm, Saturdays, 1-8pm, and Sundays, 1-6pm.