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Beer, Golf, and Winter

November 16, 2018

There’s something interesting happening in Halfmoon.

Actually, until I was invited to the Hank Hudson Brewing Company to meet the owners and talk to them about their new project, I probably couldn’t point to Halfmoon on a map. But now that I’m familiar with the political boundaries of this Saratoga County town, I’ve come to realize it contains some of my favorite “Clifton Park” businesses.

Turns out Halfmoon is mostly east of 87 and Clifton Park is mostly west of the highway. Where I have never been is the northern end of Halfmoon, which is where the Fairways of Halfmoon Golf Course is located. Although, to make things a little more confusing, the golf course has a Mechanicville address.

Google told me to get off the Northway at exit nine, head east and then go north. Which is what I did. And it was a beautiful drive through some farm country that I never knew existed. And it just so happens that the ten barrel brewery was constructed from old barns that used to sit on some of that land.

But you’re probably less interested in the architecture and design, and more curious to learn what’s happening inside their fermenters. So let’s dive in.

This brewery is owned and operated by Darren Van Heusen and Chris Crounse. They are two high school teachers who went through the pilot brewing program at SCCC. It just happens that I know a few other people who went through this program. Dave at The Ruck is one and lilithny is another.

As a side note, Dave has been making collaboration beers with The Ruck and some regional breweries that haven’t been getting nearly enough attention. I was especially fond of the one he made with Industrial Arts. Anyhow, maybe someday Dave will bring in a keg from Hank Hudson to The Ruck. But right now Hank Hudson is only licensed for on site sale.

What I found to be particularly fascinating is that this duo is bucking the current trend of opening a New York farm brewery, and opting for the significantly more expensive license which gives them the flexibility of sourcing ingredients from all over the country.

That said, while I was there, a delivery came in from the Rockin’ Hops hop farm located just up the road. They are still supporting local producers. The brewery just isn’t constrained to using local ingredients.

There is both an incredible challenge and opportunity in running a brewery at a golf course. While I’m not a golfer, I’m still keenly aware of the affinity golfers have with beer. I’ve heard stories about the beer carts making deliveries to golfers out on the greens. And for some, golf seems to be as much an excuse to do some day drinking, as it is to hit a ball with a stick.

However, golfers aren’t beer nerds.

It’s refreshing to see a brewery that isn’t trying to capitalize on the New England IPA craze, with cloudy, citrusy beers driven by tropical fruit and citrus flavors. Instead Hank Hudson is offering a wide range of classic styles, that are created for accessibility.

That does not mean these are defanged or boring brews. What it does mean is that their ESB is billed as an “English Pale Ale” instead of as a “Bitter” because the latter might s

care people off from ordering this classic British style. And the “Menace to Sobriety” stout is deeply roasted and unafraid of pushing those toasty bitter notes. Yet while some stouts can clock in at a whopping 10% ABV, this one is a much more golfer friendly 6.8%.

I was surprised to enjoy the wheat beer as much as I did. My hunch is that it was a combination of the pilsner malt and the absence of banana esters. Because this was a light, crisp, dry, and refreshing experience. Typically, they’ll put a slice of orange in the glass, but you can request it without the fruit.

The Clifton Common which the brewers are calling aa “amber / steam beer” wasn’t quite my thing, but people have different tastes. I’m sure there are plenty of people who would love this ale made with a lager yeast.

There was only so much that I could taste given that I had to drive in, and I had to drive out. But the diversity of the beers on the menu was impressive. It included a blonde, an Australian pale ale, a marzen, a brown ale, and a double IPA. The bar also had a couple of guest brews from Wolf Hollow.

Surprisingly, for a golf course, the pizza was much better than I expected. The food comes from the banquet hall next door, and there is a full menu that includes all the fried items you would expect, plus salads and sandwiches. The entire facility is all in one large building with the brewery being a recent addition.

So regardless if you want food or beer, you order it at the bar, and then it will be brought to your table. The tables themselves are set up to be communal affairs. The hope is that people will share tables, and in doing so, the brewery will bring people together.

The taproom is only open Thursday through Sunday, but Sunday is the only day it’s open for lunch at noon. That said, it will continue to operate through the winter as the golf course itself closes down for the season. Not only does brewing create its own warmth, but the brewery also has a large fireplace in the back.

I really want to return to try the Sweet Ruby black IPA, which is made with grapefruit peels. It just returned to the tap list yesterday. But today I have to shovel, tomorrow is Melt N’ Toast in Troy, and Sunday I’m going to be in Schenectady. Then next week is Thanksgiving.

For anyone who is anywhere near Clifton Park or Halfmoon today, or anytime this weekend, you should pop in and give it a shot. If you do, I’d love to hear what you think.

Have a great weekend.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 16, 2018 11:16 am

    Great post 😀

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