Late last fall, my partner and I drove up to the Catskills for a weekend of solitude, nature trails, and foliage…or so we thought. We actually made it up for the first snowfall of the season and needless to say, the weather was frigid and the ground was wet and muddy. Instead of hiking, we decided to visit a couple of breweries (and one cidery) that had outdoor seating in the area. And the two of us absolutely had a blast!
Crossroads Brewing Company
The first place we went to was Crossroads Brewing Company’s taproom in Catskill. (Crossroads Brewing also has a brewpub in Athens.) Of course, it’s never easy choosing just one beer to try at a taproom, so the two of us split a six-beer flight. We tasted our beers outside at one of the half dozen picnic tables, right next to Catskill Creek. I remember enjoying all six—they had a sour which I was a big fan of—but my partner loved the Brick Row Red so much that he ended up buying a pack before we left.
The taproom unfortunately doesn’t serve food, however there is a food cart that cooks up a rotation of things a few nights a week. If you happen to go at a time when the food cart is not available and want a bite to eat after, don’t fret! Main Street is less than a two minute walk from the taproom and there are several cafes and restaurants with takeout options. We each had a cheese slice from Village Pizza! I would also recommend Mermaid Cafe just a few doors down; they have tasty empanadas and absolutely decadent chocolate cake, among other things.
Brooklyn Cider House/Twin Star Orchards
Our second spot was Twin Star Orchards in New Paltz: home of Brooklyn Cider House ciders, as well as wood-fired pizza. I wanted to go to the orchard even if the weather had been nice enough to hike because I love Brooklyn Cider House. After their Brooklyn location closed during the pandemic, I had hoped to visit their upstate cidery and orchard at some point. The weekend we went to Twin Star was one of their last for the season. Since it was so late in the fall, all the apples had been picked but there was still plenty of cider to go around.
Brooklyn Cider House had an outdoor area for eating and drinking and a large store full of their merchandise, remaining apples, and cider. We ordered a broccoli rabe and sausage pizza and a cider each and sat at one of the available tables with a heat lamp. It was insanely cold but the pizza was so insanely delicious that for a few seconds at a time, I could ignore the temperature. For me, the Kinda Dry cider from BCH is a familiar, almost comforting drink that I’ve had many times during both nights out and nights in. I’m glad I got to drink it at the place where it all starts with the apples.
The BCH store was also pretty cool—we picked up a limited edition cider, some regular apple cider, a hand forged bottle opener, and some merch with “UGLY APPLES TASTE BETTER” in bold font. Oh, I also picked up some lavender infused Phoenicia honey, which tastes amazing in matcha lattes and on toast!
Subversive Malting + Brewing
Our final destination (ha!) was Subversive Malting + Brewing’s taproom, also in Catskill. They have an awesome outdoor setup with covering over some of their seating and fire pits to keep everyone warm. We tried three beers, including the juicy New York Nectar per their staff’s recommendation, and all were enjoyable. I will say that I really liked the New York Nectar, despite not being the biggest fan of IPAs, because there was a lot of fruity flavor rather than just the flavor of hops. I believe we tried two ales both of which were good, but I don’t think either of them beat the New York Nectar for me.
One cool thing about their taproom is that you can choose between 20 and 35 cl pours so you can try more of their unique beers in smaller portions or get a bigger glass of your favorite. They weren’t doing flights the weekend we went, however the staff are happy to make you recommendations if you just can’t choose between two drinks. Their drinks seem to rotate frequently, so you might have a new favorite every time you come around. If you want some of their beer to go, they also have bottles chilling for that!
Subversive also has wood-fired pizza by a few folks from Be Golden Farms on select days, though you’re allowed to bring outside food on days they don’t have pizza. But you really should get their sesame-laced pepperoni pizza if you can! They also encourage BYOB—not bring your own beer, but bring your own blanket—so you can stay warm and toasty during your visit. Between the smoky bonfire, the hot pizza, and the beer, Subversive’s outdoor drinking experience is not only distanced, but also super cozy.
Even though we visited the Catskills with the intent on spending time outdoors in a very different way, trying different breweries ended up being a lovely experience for us. And the thing is, we only went to a few of the many, many breweries and cideries in the area! I can’t wait to go back and check out more when I have the chance.
But I understand that not everyone wants to spend the weekend sampling drinks (and pizzas), so if you’re looking for one outdoor brewery experience, I would recommend going to Subversive Malting + Brewing. Their taproom has a great selection of brews and a warm, intimate vibe that make it special.