I stumbled upon Plan Bee Farm Brewery with a google search. We were looking for a good day-hike in the Hudson Valley region, and seeing as a cold, fresh beer is probably the best way to end a long day on the trail, the location for our trek would have to be near a brewery (naturally). I don't remember what hike we ended up doing, if we even did one at all, but I found Plan Bee in Poughkeepsie with that search, and reached out via the general email on their website, asking if I could come and do a video about them. A cold call, basically. Co-owner/co-founder Emily Watson responded quickly, (quicker than many of my friends respond to my emails, to be honest) and we got a date on the calendar to go shoot.
We did the long (2+ hours!) drive from Brooklyn up to Poughkeepsie to meet Evan and Emily and get a tour of their brewery in late April, on a day that was tragically gloomy, chill, and wet. My hopes of seeing brightly colored blooming flowers and singing Disneyland songbirds were dashed as soon as we stepped out of my apartment. But, the day certainly didn't go to waste.
As is common with passionate, hard-working people, Emily and Evan were unbelievably kind, authentic, funny, and warm, and an absolute pleasure to spend the day with! The weather became irrelevant, and there was plenty to look at and talk about. Also, their beer was pretty good too.
Evan showed us around the farm - from the baby goats they had recently brought home to the barn they were re-building into an indoor taproom to the coolships in the cellar to the beehives in the backyard. Emily explained the finer details of how they brew their beer - how focusing on locally-produced ingredients and re-working traditional techniques are what makes it so special and unique, and allow them to craft a brew that's truly an expression of their idyllic little farm in the Hudson Valley.
Evan described brewing as "punk rock," suggesting that the whole point of it is to have fun and experiment, and not necessarily stick to the hard and fast rules that dictate styles or even best practices. It's an artistic, personal expression, not just the chemistry in a lab that's so frequently visible on large brewery tours.
The personal connection shows on the Watson Farm, where people line up at their homemade farm stand every Saturday to buy bottles and designated "draft pours" of their signature brews, and to enjoy the beautiful, serene scenery while they do so. Despite the crummy weather during our visit, people still came and milled about, sipping their drinks, chatting about beer and everything else, as Evan entertained his guests (and goats) with some amazing blues vocals and guitar.
"We're trying to capture the essence of a place, and we're trying to make beer using ingredients from the community, for the community," Evan says. Emily went on, "We wanna also tie agro-tourism and agriculture together with beer so that people really understand the ingredients that are in beer. So that people can walk out onto the farm, to touch the barley, to see the hops and smell them, and see all the wildflowers... to make it an experience that's visual - and, all of your senses - so that people can really sense the beer."
That's about as close to beer in four dimensions as I've ever I've experienced; a rustic, personal, agricultural, theme park of beer.
When you sip their farmhouse ales, you're tasting Plan Bee Farm Brewery - the world of Evan and Emily Watson - that they are kind enough to share with the rest of us.