Tuesday may have kicked off Saratoga Beer Week but at that night’s Hudson Whiskey & Rye Beer event, the whiskey stole the show. Ryan and Sonja McFadden of Henry Street hosted us while Ralph Erenzo from Tuthilltown Spirits led us through a series of Hudson Whiskey spirits and Jared Kingsley from Remarkable Liquids shared a handful of beers from their portfolio all of which tied rye into the recipe.
Hudson Whiskey is an interesting brand. It started life on farm land in Gardiner, NY owned by Ralph Erenzo, and he has no qualms about telling stories of trials and tribulations of getting production off the ground. Difficulties were met while dealing with uncooperative neighbors who were against the idea of having a distillery nearby, and production issues arose when the honey-melting tank they used to mash their grain lacked a drain, attributing to their unique process of leaving the grains in during fermentation. This gives the final product its signature grainy flavor, a process they still use today.
While still produced by Tuthilltown, the Hudson Whiskey brand is now owned Scotch whisky giant William Grant & Sons, who also own recognizable brands such as Glenfiddich, Balvenie, and The Mcallan. The 375ml wax dipped bottles generate some controversy in the whiskey world as the pricepoint fetches near $80 for its 750ml equivelant, but I assure you, it’s worth the price of admission for a special occassion. Let’s take a look at the whiskies and beer we tried that night.
Hudson New York Corn Whiskey | Westbrook Brewing One Claw Rye Pale Ale
I’ll fully admit that when I see a moonshine, white dog, white lightning, or whatever you want to call it, I usually pass. I see these products as a “work in progress” and a way for distilleries who are just getting their feet under them to get some bottles to market while they’re waiting for their other products to fully mature. Still, Hudson’s offering is unique and worth a try as it is the only (or one of the only) white dogs with 100% corn in the mash bill. Most of you beer fans in the Capital Region should already be extremely familiar One Claw. It’s readily available in cans in the area and if it isn’t already your go to summer camping/grilling/boating beer, you have a new one now.
Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey | Stillwater / Brewer’s Art Debutante
Having the Hudson Baby Bourbon back to back with with its white dog origins was a nice comparison. As Ralph said it really does allow the drinker to focus on exactly what the wood and char is doing to the bourbon. The whiskey is aged in various barrels with some of them as small as 3 gallons and then blended with other barrels of various ages until the whiskey meets their desired flavor profile. It’s still a bit sweet from the corn mash but now picks up quite a bit of caramel and strong notes of vanilla. The Debutante is a tried and true saison first with some mild rye spice and floral notes that are easy to miss.
Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey | Perennial Artisan Ales Stefon
While the flights of whiskey and beer were not technically “paired” for the evening, this was the most pleasing duo I had. As some of you may know, when I drink good bourbon, I like to have an easier drinking, maltier beer on the side that doesn’t detract from the spirit I’m sipping on and this pairing fit the bill. The Stefon is classified as a saison but drinks like anything but. It’s darker, maltier and roastier than its saison counterparts and drinks more like a Belgian dubbel, which along with a whiskey I’m totally fine with. I’m a pretty big rye fan so the Manhattan Rye was a highlight of the night for me. There’s some spice here, a bit of cinnamon and clove which follows up with vanilla and honey in the finish.
Hudson Four Grain Bourbon | Telegraph Brewing Company Rhinoceros
Made with corn, rye, wheat and barley, the Four grain clearly has a lot more going on with it than the other offerings of the night, but I think it was was the easiest sipping one of the bunch. Smooth, medium bodied and very little burn (maybe too little). The Rhinoceros, while labeled a barleywine has no barley in it. Instead, the barley portion is replaced with rye making it a sort of “rye wine”, the only example of one I can think of. The biggest beer of the day, rye was more present than the other beers we sampled but the malty sweetness overpowered the spiciness of the rye easily.
This was a really fun event, my first at Henry Street Taproom. It’s nice to see that they’ve moved their happenings for Saratoga Beer Week to later on, hopefully making them more accessible to those who work during the day (I know I wouldn’t have been able to make it otherwise). It was great to be able to try the selections from Hudson Whiskey, meet the founder Ralph Erenzo and get a little inspiration for making a visit to the distillery happen soon. Of course, the beer from Remarkable Liquids is always on point. Thank you to Ryan, Sonja and the rest of the Henry Street crew for bringing together such a great event. Tonight’s “Wild Thing – A Celebration of Sours” brings Brendon Knight and four unique sours from B. United’s portfolio. It looks like there are still some seats left for the event, I assure you it will be worth checking out!