Helderberg BrewshedLeading farmers & beverage producers in the farm-to-glass movement


HSBLogoFinalThe Helderberg Brewshed is an agricultural initiative of the Carey Institute for Global Good.  In 2012, Governor Cuomo created a farm brewery license for breweries that purchase 20% of their hops and 20% of their other ingredients, including barley and other small grains, from New York State producers through 2018; the mandate escalates to a 90% domestic ingredient purchasing requirement by 2024.  However, New York State-grown hop and malting grain supplies are so meager at this time they could easily be consumed by a single microbrewery.   In step, the Carey Institute has emerged as a leader in the farm-to-glass movement, providing educational opportunities for farmers to establish the grain growing industry in New York State, and providing support programming to craft beverage producers.

To advance its goal of strengthening the local community through rural and agricultural economic development, the Carey Institute for Global Good is creating a new economic and social hub, bringing together farmers, brewers and the larger Hudson-Mohawk  Community.  Dubbed the Helderberg Brewshed, our new brew hub will house a model farm brewery, a Farm-To-Glass Classroom, and a Farm Brewery Incubator.  Educational programming has already begun, engaging more than 350 farmers, craft beverage producers and industry stakeholders in the first year.  The project weaves together our agricultural roots with today’s emerging interest in small farm viability, creating an agritourism and educational facility that contributes to the region’s long-term economic vitality.

Farm-To-Glass Classroom

The Farm Brewery Law requires participating breweries purchase at least 20% of their hops and 20% of their other ingredients excluding water from New York State producers through 2018; in the following six years the mandate escalates to a 90% domestic ingredient purchasing requirement.   However, at this time New York State-grown hop and malting grain supplies are so meager it is anticipated farm brewers and distillers will experience significant challenges sourcing ingredients to satisfy these benchmarks.

Today, the vast majority of American hops are grown in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. This is in stark contrast to the mid-nineteenth Century, when New York State produced as much as 90% of the national hop supply and more than a million bushels of barley annually.  During this era, Albany was a brewing hotspot; the nation’s largest brewery was located downtown, and at least sixteen other breweries existed within the city.  Hop and malt grain production declined in New York State due to a variety of reasons including blight, the discovery of new agricultural lands out west, the advent of the railroad and Prohibition.   As of 2013, only 110 acres of hops and almost no malt-grade barley was harvested in New York State aside from Cornell Cooperative Extension-supported test plots.

Farmers require significant varietal research, technical assistance and infrastructure development to re-establish the hop and grains industries.  Surveys from farmers reveal several areas of need that the Carey Institute for Global Good’s Farm-To-Glass Classroom is addressing with education, answering the agricultural community’s demand for agricultural sciences programming.

In its first year, the Farm-To-Glass Classroom served more than 330 farmers, craft beverage producers and industry stakeholders, providing educational seminars on everything from soil and seed selection, pest control and conservation practices, to harvesting and quality assurance. Program follow-up reveals that at least three times as many acres of hops and malt grains are planned to be planted in the Helderberg Hilltowns for the 2014 growing season.

Farm Brewery Incubator

The Carey Institute for Global Good is leading regional agricultural economic development by providing support services to stimulate and advance New York State’s budding farm-to-glass industry.  In addition to providing classroom opportunities for farmers to increase regional production of hops and malt grains, and demonstrating sustainable brewing practices, the Carey Institute for Global Good will launch a Farm Brewery Incubator in the summer of 2014 to provide start-up support services to emerging farm breweries.

The Farm Brewery Incubator will provide brewing space, brewing and recipe development assistance, licensing assistance, supply-chain planning support, and business planning support to start-up farm breweries in New York State.  Incubees will work with our Farm Brew Mentor to complete their farm brewery licensing, purchase appropriate insurances, procure New York State-grown ingredients, create and optimize distinctive brew recipes featuring New York State ingredients, develop a marketing and distribution plan, connect with business lenders, and cultivate a sustainable business model that enables new brewers to leverage into their own facility upon graduation.  The Helderberg Brewshed will also provide a place to research, develop and test distinctive brew recipes featuring New York State ingredients and flavor profiles.

In addition to promoting the development of new businesses, this program introduces a tremendous opportunity to connect regional farmers with emerging farm breweries to supply brewing ingredients, including locally grown hops, malt grains and other specialty crops used for craft beverage production.

Model Farm Brewery

The Carey Institute for Global Good will open New York State’s first model farm brewery in the summer of 2014, establishing the Helderberg Brewshed as a leader in the emerging farm brewing industry.   The Model Farm Brewery will produce small batches of beer approximately three times per month utilizing local ingredients for consumption on the Carey campus, as well as at local establishments including the Palmer House Café.  Employing the additional capacity of the Model Farm Brewery, the Helderberg Brewshed will host start-up farm brewers as part of our Farm Brewery Incubator program.

In order to best serve craft beverage producers and farmers in the early development stages of the farm brewing industry, the Carey Institute is presently retrofitting an underutilized building on its campus to open the Model Farm Brewery in the summer of 2014.  On a parallel track, the Carey Institute is raising funds to resurrect an historic Dutch barn, salvaged from the Town of Guilderland and donated by Randy Collins, on our campus to provide additional capacity for the Model Farm Brewery and Farm Brewery Incubator as programming expands.

Utilizing a combination of historic preservation, sustainable design, and cutting-edge engineering practices, the Model Farm Brewery will demonstrate opportunities for emerging farm breweries to capitalize on the efficient use of resources, pre-existing farm infrastructure, and modern brewing technology.  The Model Farm Brewery will incorporate several sustainable concepts, including:

  • Renewable Energy
  • Passive Hot Water Heating
  • Waste-water recycling
  • Sustainable building materials
  • Sourcing locally grown ingredients

Brewshed Producers Association

BPAphotoAdministered by the Carey Institute for Global Good, the Brewshed Producers Association will assist small- and medium-sized agricultural producers to market craft beverage ingredients including malting grains, hops, and other specialty crops directly to processors and end users. Established under the framework of the Capper-Volstead Act, the Brewshed Producers Association will provide a platform to address challenges farmers face to reestablish the small grains industry in New York State.*

As an inaugural project, the members of the association will participate in Transitioning to Small Grains, a multi-year pilot project to facilitate the successful production and marketing of a variety of small grains, including barley, rye, wheat, buckwheat and sorghum by farmers throughout the eleven counties of the Hudson-Mohawk Valley for use in New York’s craft beverage industry. The Brewshed is working with Cornell Cooperative Extension and Advanced Ag Systems to provide cost sharing, technical and marketing assistance to a group of farmers that integrate small grains into their operations. The project will demonstrate small grains production feasibility, cultivate a base of knowledge about small grains production, and establish linkages between the region’s farmers and farm-licensed breweries and distilleries.   We are presently enrolling farmers, brewers and distillers from the region to participate in the pilot.

* Brewers have been well served by the New York State Brewers Association and Empire State Development Corporation to overcome challenges associated with implementing the Farm Brewery Law; however, farmers’ voices have lacked a platform despite the fact that the Farm Brewery law places a significant burden on farmers to reestablish the malt grain and hops industries in New York State.   Farmers, for example, require new planting, harvesting, cleaning, sorting and storage equipment for small grains cultivation, representing a tremendous monetary investment for small- and medium-sized farms in our region. Additionally, farmers face significant risk to establish the malt grain growing industry due to substantial gaps in crop insurance offerings. The Brewshed Producers Association provides a needed platform for farmers to pursue policy initiatives, grant funding and strategic partnerships to establish the grain growing industry in New York State.

Our Program Partners

- Advanced Ag Systems, LLC
- Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy
- Capital Region Economic Development Council
- Cornell Cooperative Extension
- Cornell University
- Empire State Development Corporation
- Homebrew Emporium
- Local Economies Project
- NY FarmLink
- Northeast Hops Alliance
- NY Farm Bureau
- NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
- NYS Assemblyman Peter Lopez
- NYS Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk
- NYS Soil and Water Conservation Committee
- U.S. Congressman Paul Tonko
- U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
- USDA Rural Development

Our Funding Partners

- Empire State Development Corporation
- Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education
- Hudson River Valley Greenway
- Workforce Development Institute
- Bender Family Foundation
- Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau
- The Bank of Greene County
- Private Donors

Upcoming Events

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HSBLogoDonateDonate to the Helderberg Brewshed…

…to support small farm viability and rural economic development in our region.  Make your donation with your credit/debit card via PayPal or mail it to:

Carey Institute for Global Good
63 Huyck Road
Rensselaerville, NY 12147

Contact Us

Rebecca Platel, Director of Local Partnerships & Programs – 518-797-5100 x3903

Sarah Gordon, Manager of Farm-To-Glass Development – 518-797-5100 x3823

Tom DellaRocco, Small Grains Transition Coordinator – tdellarocco@careyinstitute.org