Last Thursday offered a perfect preview of summer in the Champlain Valley. Balmy weather. Spectacular sunset. Fresh batches of local brew. Delicious locally sourced food. And new/old friends. What a way to almost finish the workweek!
The Ausable Brewing Company “beer garden” was bustling with lycra clad, carbo loading cyclists.
After picking up our weekly farm share at Full and By Farm, my bride and I enjoyed a meandering, scenic drive up to the agritourism / gastro-tourism cluster germinating along Mace Chasm Road in Keeseville. Many local cyclists are familiar with this veritable Elysium of rolling hills, magnificent Lake Champlain views, and bucolic farms and orchards, and Thursday evening we encountered group after group of bikers enjoying the perfect weather. In fact, when we arrived at our destination, Ausable Brewing Company, the parking lot and “beer garden” were bustling with lycra clad, carbo loading cyclists.
Friends & Local Food
We were joining friends to try out one of the increasingly common — and increasingly popular —partnerships that has sprung up among local food producers. (Yes, beer is food!) Ausable Brewing Company (ausablebrewing.tumblr.com) and Mace Chasm Farm (www.macechasmfarm.com), located across the road, drew families from near and far to enjoy beer and tacos. And, in my case, more tacos delivered up hot, fresh and surprisingly quickly from a white food truck parked alongside the brewery.
It’s easy to say the food and the root beer (I’m still holding out hope for an ABC gluten free beer or regular hard cider) were excellent. In fact, I returned for seconds of both. Yes, four tacos! I was especially keen on the pork tacos, but everything was delicious. And while my love for beer has been tested in recent years (as a gluten-free refugee), everyone I spoke to offered enthusiastic praise for the on-site crafted microbrews. Feel. My. Envy.
The fellows behind Ausable Brewing Company are Dan Badger and Dylan Badger (check out “Ausable Brewing Company Is Starting Up“), longtime friends of Asa Thomas-Train who owns Mace Chasm Farm with Courtney Grimes-Sutton. Starting to see how all of this fits together?
Some old friends of Asa’s have landed right across the street to set up their long awaited brewery, AuSable Brewing Company, where they are turning out craft beers and sodas by the pint or growler-full! These guys are talented, passionate brewers, and we’re so glad they’re our neighbors. So are the pigs, who enjoy the warm grains coming their way after brew days! (Source: The Neighborhood Farms — Mace Chasm Farm)
At Mace Chasm Farm we raise livestock, do our best to care for our environment, & also do the butchery ourselves here on the farm. Our beef and sheep are grass-fed, and our pigs, chickens & turkeys forage on pasture and eat grains and whey, which makes for excellent meat and eggs. All of our animals are rotationally grazed. A variety of cuts are prepared and fresh sausages are made each week for market using fresh herbs from our fields and 100% organic spices. (Mace Chasm Farm)
The DNA behind this group of local food, farming and fermenting initiatives is friendship.
And there’s at least one more agritourism / gastro-tourism friendship lurking behind this popular beer and victuals scene. Larry Dolan grows Chinook Hops for Ausable Brewing Company at Irish Mason Hops Farm in Morrisonville. A 1998 Olympian in Men’s Luge (now a coach for the Junior Development Program), Dolan started growing hops experimentally in an effort to identify a sustainable crop for his family farm.
“I was hoping to find a new brewery relying on the NYS Farm Brewery Bill. I began growing [hops] in 2012 and met Dan at a Lucid show at the Waterhole in Saranac Lake. From there we began talking about how to work together and our relationship grew to what it is now.” ~ Larry Dolan
It was readily apparent last Thursday evening that the DNA behind this group of local food, farming and fermenting initiatives is friendship. Everybody seemed to know each other, and those who didn’t were introduced and welcomed into the clan. Folks were eager to talk about the upsurge in rural, often farm-centric entrepreneurism sweeping the region and everyone I spoke with waxed optimistic about the future of agritourism / gastro-tourism in the Champlain Valley.
Local Brewed Praise
“ABC is our go to spot for vibrant family friendly action in the North Country. At the Badger Brothers business/community gathering place you can have a snack at a food truck, hauled over tractor style from the beef farm across the road, while sharing a local pint with friends as kids frolic about in the grass below an ADK backdrop.” ~ Simon Conroy
Taco Thursdays is all about love. ~ Amy Guglielmo
His two beautiful daughters actually are frolicking — carefree and laughing — as a postcard perfect sunset silhouettes the brewery. The girls’ mother is equally enthusiastic.
“Mace Chasm road is an oasis of young farmers and producers. People like me are looking for things made with local ingredients and flavor. We also want an authentic experience. As the afternoon rolls into the evening at AuSable Brewery I am sitting outside on a country road, saying hello to people from this vast community that is the North Country. These are the simple things that make life good. Food, drink, personality.” ~ Danielle Giordano
And life certainly is good in the afterglow of a busy week, winding down and savoring a fresh, healthy, nourishing meal with friends. Amy Guglielmo, an artist and author from neighboring Peru is ready to go further yet. Forget good, it’s all about love!
“Food tastes better outside and straight from the farm. Taco Thursday is a fun tradition for meeting friends and showing appreciation for where we live. We are so lucky to have these local vendors. The beer and food is lovingly crafted. Taco Thursdays is all about love.” ~ Amy Guglielmo
Her husband concurred.
“It’s definitely a combination of the freshest food and freshest air I’ve found in a restaurant-type setting.” ~ Brian Giebel
But don’t take it from any of us. Experience it for yourself.
Ausable Brewing Company
- Hours: Thursday/Friday 2-8 and Saturday 12-8
- Address: 765 Mace Chasm Rd, Keeseville, NY
- Phone: (518) 692-2585
- Website: ausablebrewing.tumblr.com/ and facebook.com/AusableBrewingCompany
Just to tempt you to come out for taco night, I spied this pretty-mellow-for-a-Thursday picture of contentment on Ausable Brewing Company’s tumblr.
How to stay cool on a hot, sunny Thursday: grab a cold beer from the local brewery and enjoy the cool breeze while waiting for mace chasm tacos. (Source: Ausable Brewing Co.)