Updated: Mar 20, 2019
Up hill or down dale, big city or tiny hamlet, it's the truth: Brewers gotta brew.
Case in point: Mike Wenzel, co-owner and head brewer at Helderberg Mountain Brewing Co. in East Berne, New York. Helderberg Mountain Brewing is a small (1 1/2 BBL) farm brewery in the hamlet of East Berne, which sits atop the Helderberg Escarpment, high above the Hudson River Valley. The nanobrewery and taproom is co-located with the Maple on the Lake restaurant on the shores of Warner's Lake.
Mike -- a home brewer for 20+ years -- began brewing and supplying beer for the restaurant a little over 3 years ago; as he explains it, "The restaurant wanted local beer, they knew I'd been home brewing for years, so we teamed up."
Helderberg Mountain Brewing's approach is to be true to the beers' style, Mike says. The brewery supplies several mainstay beers for the restaurant -- usually an IPA, a dark brown or porter, a blonde or a wheat, and a rotating selection. He typically has 8 taps in the tasting room, plus offerings of local wine and local apple cider. "We want people to be able to hang out and have 2 or 3 pints -- enjoy themselves," Mike says.
To that end, the brewery runs regular programs for visitors and community members, including featured bands, veterans' programs, and other locally themed offerings. Animal-rescue, equine-therapy, and service-dog benefit programs are a particular focus for the brewery. One such program at the brewery raised $2,000 for charity in a single day, according to Mike.
Since Helderberg Mountain Brewing is co-located with a restaurant, the natural question for the brewer is: Favorite beer/food pairing? "Hmmm, it's gotta be dark beer with barbecue, or pulled pork, or ribs." Mike -- who also works for an environmental/design engineering firm -- says that his go-to brews are usually dark: porter, brown, or stout.
The goal for the brewery, Mike states, is to make all the beer for the brewery using 100 percent local ingredients, and he says they are moving confidently toward that target.
Visit Mike and Helderberg Mountain Brewing at https://www.helderbergmountainbrewingcompany.com/.