Farming and fermenting at Orange County’s smallest nanobrewery
Long Lot Brewery in Chester is the newest local farm brewery to open in the region.
CHESTER — Just three months ago, Long Lot Brewery hit the booming local craft beer scene in Orange County. Capable of producing a mere 31 gallons at a time, this local farm brewery is the smallest in the region—and the newest. But don’t let their size fool you, big brews come out of this one-barrel operation. Owner Curtis Johnson, 30, grew up on his father’s dairy farm, but a stint working at Brotherhood Winery in high school opened his eyes to the art of fermentation. He became a home brewer with a dream of opening his own microbrewery one day, but “the cost was crazy,” says Johnson. Everything changed in 2013 when Gov. Andrew Cuomo created the farm brewery license, making it cheaper and easier for farmers to open their own breweries, as long as they used local ingredients. Curtis talked to his father about it ... and talked about it ... and talked about it. “I think he got tired of listening to me,” laughs Johnson. “He was like, ‘you gotta do it!’” They set up shop on the family farm’s open field — the “long lot,” they always called it — and built everything from the ground up. Curtis bought and planted the hops. He unloaded heavy brewing equipment. His father built the tasting room’s bar. Now, Long Lot Brewery is churning out exciting craft beers, such as the “Glacier Juice IPA.” He's always incorporating unique local ingredients, such as habanero, pumpkin and squash from his cousin’s neighboring farm, Peace and Carrots. While he’s achieved his dream of becoming a master brewer, Johnson is still a farmer at heart. Working in the hop yard is the best part of his day. “Gets hot on the farm in summer,” he says “but honestly it’s just a peaceful spot to get wrapped up in my own world.” EssentialsGet the full nanobrewery experience during Dirt’s Brew Hop: www.dirtsbrewhop.com