Ginned Up: Arrowood Launches its Onsite Kitchen & Farm Distillery | Craft Beverage Industry | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Ginned Up: Arrowood Launches its Onsite Kitchen & Farm Distillery 

The Accord-based Farm Brewery Expands into Food and Spirits with Aplomb

Last Updated: 06/30/2021 10:46 am
click to enlarge Arrowood's new distillery and brewing facility sit behind the expanded taproom. - STEPH MOSSEY
  • Steph Mossey
  • Arrowood's new distillery and brewing facility sit behind the expanded taproom.

Despite this roller coaster of a year, big things are happening at Arrowood Farms in Accord. Way back in 2018 (a zillion years ago), the Accord farm brewery earned one of the coveted Empire State Development grants for $360,000 to expand production, reduce product costs, and implement a marketing plan that would bring additional visitors and create more jobs.

In 2019, brewery co-founder and managing partner Blake Arrowood told Chronogram of the grant, “We found it very worthwhile to invest our time and energy in a fully developed plan that would resonate with our local economy and New York State. Arrowood is committed to sustainable growth that helps to cultivate and foster community and craft. We couldn't be happier to have the opportunity to create and grow in the Hudson Valley.”

click to enlarge STEPH MOSSEY
  • Steph Mossey

In the nearly three years since the grant winners were announced, Arrowwood’s operation—and following—has steadily grown. Last year, they inaugurated their outdoor stage with a summer concert series that brought big names like Guster, the Midnight Ramble Band, Real Estate, and Whitney, and debuted their plein-air pavilion with an outdoor bar.

But the real work started last fall. The farm brewery was closed through winter for renovations and expansion, including remodeling the kitchen and taproom and building out a new brewery and distillery that would allow them to increase their brewing capacity by 400 percent and launch their distilling operation. When COVID hit, construction went on pause and plans for their banner year entered a fog of unknowns.

click to enlarge Hummingbird, the estate farmhouse ale - STEPH MOSSEY
  • Steph Mossey
  • Hummingbird, the estate farmhouse ale

“Like everybody else, we were in shock for a minute, early-mid March,” Arrowood says. “We shut down our public facing operations at the Outpost in New Paltz. We had already been shut here at the farm for our renovation. All of that got thrown off. We had planned to open the farm back up in April.” The brewery quickly pivoted to online sales (thanks to an e-commerce platform they developed over winter), reopening the Outpost for curbside pickups and shipping within New York State. They dug up what bottles they could from the cellar and began canning as much of their beer into cans while they waited to see what would happen with the reopening. And as soon as the distillery was functional, they began pumping out hand sanitizer for the local community. Still the future was unclear. In early May, Arrowood told us, “If lockdown goes on much longer, we get really worried about missing the entire season, like everyone in tourism. Memorial Day is the beginning of the busy season.”

A Sigh of Relief: Summer Season Saved

Luckily, Arrowood’s worst fears about missing peak season did not come true and the brewery was indeed able to for outdoor service Memorial Day weekend—its vast lawns and outdoor bar already perfectly adapted to COVID regulations. July 1 marked the opening of the Apiary—the onsite restaurant, serving up an elevated take on classic bar foods. “Inspired by the beloved bees that gather and pollinate at Arrowood, The Apiary is where our farm, brewery, and distillery converge,” Arrowood says. “Our kitchen is where we can combine all of our ideas about showcasing local agriculture and our obsession with seasonality and terroir to create refined, comforting foods that tell a story about Arrowood Farms and the beautiful region we call home."

click to enlarge Fried chicken sandwich - STEPH MOSSEY
  • Steph Mossey
  • Fried chicken sandwich

The menu ranges from snacks like the Bavarian pretzels ($6) to heartier bites like tacos and burgers. They also dish up an all-day brunch menu on Sundays, including papas bravas, served with a fried egg ($8); a bacon, egg, and cheese ($8), and a fried chicken sandwich on a locally made milk bun $11). The Apiary’s kitchen is headed up by CIA grad Max Mohrmann and staffed by other alum of the Hyde Park institution. “All of our ingredients are grown, foraged, and sourced locally,” Arrowood says. “Every dish—from our fried chicken sandwich to our seasonal desserts—stands on its own, but is also meant to be paired with our unique terroir-driven beer and spirits and the New York State natural wines we’re serving too.”

click to enlarge Autumn salad - STEPH MOSSEY
  • Steph Mossey
  • Autumn salad

With The Apiary’s commitment to local sourcing, the menu will change seasonally. “As we’re moving into the colder months, warm and comforting foods are defining our culinary experience,” Arrowood says. “Silky homemade soups, roasted winter vegetables, and hearty snacks like poutine are definitely crowd-pleasers right now.” Excuse us while we mop up our drool.

A Spirited Entrance

As Arrowood hints at, food isn’t the only new thing at Arrowood. On October 3, the distillery released its first small-batch, unrefined New York State spirits for sale on-farm. They launched with vodka and gin, distilled onsite with local ingredients and no added enzymes.

click to enlarge The Arrowood Farm Distillery vodka and gin. - ARIELLE FERRARO
  • Arielle Ferraro
  • The Arrowood Farm Distillery vodka and gin.

“We’re working with neighboring farmers that have been in the region for generations to grow and source the grains,” Arrowood says. He’s not kidding—all of the local farmers growing grain for him are within a three-mile radius. Chris Kelder of Kelder’s Farm (iconic for its towering gnome and agritourism activities) is growing the rye. Mead Dewitt of Domino Farm in Accord grows the barley and wheat. And the Schoonmaker family, one of the oldest farming families in the entire country, is growing the corn for Arrowood’s forthcoming bourbon.

“A true point of distinction with the vodka and gin is that both are distilled on the grain,” Arrowood says. “The process carries the grain all the way through to get an unadulterated flavor that has a fuller body and really reflects the provenance. You can literally taste Accord.” Another factor adding to the taste of place is that both spirits are fermented using a house culture rather than a generic distiller’s yeast. “The culture is cultivated from the apiary on the farm and is also used in our farmhouse ales,” Arrowood says. “It’s like our fingerprint.”

The vodka (80 proof, $40 for 750mL) is a lesson in the art of simplicity. The ingredients? Water, yeast, and local grain. “We worked closely with our neighboring farmers to grow our wheat and rye,” says Arrowood of the product, which has a 70-30 wheat-rye mash bill. “This isn’t a completely neutral spirit—we wanted some of that grain to shine through,” he adds. “Twice-distilled through a 30-plate column allows for those flavors to remain present, albeit subtle and soft. This is vodka you can actually sip on.” No rocket fuel here, folks.

The London-dry style gin (90 proof, $35 for 375mL), handcrafted in small batches of no more than 300 bottles at a time, using the Arrowood vodka as the base, is an absolute knock-out. Heavy floral and juniper berry notes create a complex, aromatic spirit perfect for cocktails or drinking with a splash of seltzer. (On your next farm visit, try the house martini, with gin and dry vermouth.) “We’ve got nine different botanicals in the gin, six of which we grow on the farm,” Arrowood says. “It’s a dry-style gin with juniper of course, but I think what really rounds our gin out is the honeysuckle, bergamot, and almond. The aroma is intoxicating and the flavor doubles down on that notion. We believe we’re on to something really special with this gin!”

 "We’re truly humbled by the response to our first release of spirits and how quickly the bottles have sold," Arrowood says. While the spirits are currently only available for sale on-farm at The Apiary + Bar and at the Arrowood Outpost in New Paltz (and going fast), the farm brewery is growing its beer distribution, and is now available in select WholeFoods across the state in addition to a wide array of retail shops and online.

Weathering Winter

Despite the threat of COVID and lockdown looming ever larger, this is the first winter Arrowood will stay open. “Now that we have The Apiary, we’re able to continue service year-round,” Arrowood says. “We just revealed our new expanded tasting room, doubling in capacity, so we have ample room for socially distant indoor seating.” 

click to enlarge STEPH MOSSEY
  • Steph Mossey
Outdoor seating with fire pits, a highlight of this past fall at the farm, will remain open as long as folks are willing to brave the cold. In addition to their seasonal menu, which will be available for onsite dining and online ordering for pick up, Arrowood will also offer curated farm-to-table meal kits for cooking at home. “With so many new ways to extend our hospitality,” Arrowood says, “we couldn’t be more excited for this winter.”

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