Crossroads Brewing Company

crossroads brewing company composite

By Casey Normile

Ken Landin never meant to put his brewery in Athens.

The owner of Crossroads Brewing Company looked at about 100 other locations before he ever thought of what now seems obvious -- the town where he'd been vacationing for over 20 years.

The Greene County brewery is now producing some high quality brews, and it's creating an interest in Athens as a destination for beer-loving tourists.

Is it a little out of the way? Sure. But for beer lovers, it's worth the trip.

The happy accident came about when Landin came upon Athens' old opera house on 2nd Street, just a few blocks up from the Hudson River. Built in 1893, the building had been used as a gym, a playhouse and a bowling alley in the past, so it was a bit of a mess when he got to it. But by September 2010, Crossroads had brewed it first batch of beer -- Outrage IPA.

Landin had originally planned to open the brewery across the river in Columbia County -- but he and partner Janine Bennett realized that an Athens location would still allow them to tap into the markets they wanted: Massachusetts, Albany, the Hudson Valley and Manhattan.

Crossroads brewery.jpg

In the last two years since, the brewery has taken off. Landin says they're now producing 650 barrels a year, and figures they're two or three years ahead of his original business plan.

Much like finding a location for Crossroads, Landin's decision to open a brewery wasn't exactly typical. It wasn't a life-long dream or something he knew he always wanted to do. He says he was just a contractor with a passion for beer. So he started helping out at craft breweries such as Butternuts Beer & Ale in Garrattsville (Otsego County, near Cooperstown). He observed, remembered names, and took notes when meeting with brewers, sales representatives, and distributors. "I made connections and I paid attention," says Landin, "Then I took a risk and built a brewery from scratch."

Crossroads brewery supplies.jpg

Now he and head brewer Hutch Kugeman work to keep 10 unique and quality brews on the board each week, like their Black Rock Stout in which they use real espresso; Hopera House, a strong but balanced IPA; or White Dog Wit, a Belgian wheat with an orange and coriander finish. And coming this fall they will feature three different pumpkin ales. "I just give Hutch free reign in there and he does a great job," says Landin.

Crossroad beer flight.jpg

And they're making some high quality brews. And they've won awards -- including best craft brewery in the Hudson Valley and two other awards at TAP New York in 2011.

The expansive old opera house has allowed Crossroads to expand from a tasting room, to a full bar, to a bar and restaurant, and what Landin hopes someday will be a bar/restaurant/music venue.

Crossroads is trying to support the area by using as many local resources as possible, both in their beers and in the kitchen. Columbia County and Saugerties hops are both included in their brews and chef Paul Parillo works to make as many of his ingredients local as possible.

"We go local, trying to stay within 20 miles, as much as we can and Athens is a great area for this," says Landin. But he admits admit that their cheese comes from a farm farther away -- 30 miles.

And the brewery has been able to help the struggling town of Athens. "We're on the edge of a revival now," says Landin, "blazing the trail for the town and bringing in people far and wide. People are coming from Albany and they're coming from the city. People gravitate toward craft breweries."

Crossroads Bar entrance.jpg

Crossroads bar.jpg

Since they've opened, Ken says real estate values have grown, tourism has increased, and though a small operation, they've helped with job creation.

"The work is still stressful, yes we make beer, but at the end of the day it's still a small business," said Ken, "But I definitely think we're seeing a revitalization of this area."

Comments

Crossroads has an awesome atmosphere and even better brews. This place is worth it to check out!

I *love* their Outrage IPA, and I'm glad to see Albany finally noticing this great brewery. There is such a weird psychological barrier for people in Albany/Capital Region when it comes to the concept of traveling south to Greene County - I'm in Athens/Coxsackie, it's only 40 minutes (including driving on slower back roads) to my house from downtown, but the way people up there think of it, we might as well be in Buffalo. FWIW, Crossroads is good for families and teetotalers too, as they brew a terrific root beer on site as well.

I cant wait to take a drive there this fall and try their pumpkin beers!
Also Chatham Brewery is going to move to another building and expand...another great local gem!

I've been going to Albany Pump Station/Evans Brewery and Browns in Troy since they opened years ago. If you think those 2 can brew good beer then you'll really love Crossroads. The Outrage IPA is top 10 in the US in my option and the food is incredible. The mushroom casserole is to die for. It's well worth the trip down from Albany. If your not a beer drinker they offer 10 NY State wines as well as NA beverages.

Congratulations Ken and Janine - great story and looks like great progress on the space! Looking forward to coming down to visit.

I stopped down there after baconfest last week. Their beer is fantastic - way better than some other local breweries I've tried.

@Gina, you're absolutely right. Some of that reluctance to go south, at least on my part, has to do with the crowds of people who come north. Cityfolk, we might call them. However, a place that brews its own root beer is worth investigating some autumn day.

Wife and I took the kids last week for dinner. Small, but interesting menu with good kids meals, excellent salad and entrees - great, friendly service and wonderful atmosphere. Oh, and of course the IPA was stellar and we had to leave with a growler.

Can't wait to go check it out. In the meantime, can you buy any of their beers at a beverage center?

@ Gina,

I live in southern Rensselaer County and I'm about a 30 min drive from Hudson. We love Greene and Columbia counties! Heck, sometimes we just take off in the car to go to Ulster to go to Sonic on a whim. Too bad other people aren't doing the same, they're missing out!

My husband and I are beer snobs. We will be visiting Athens soon to sample the beer!

We love Crossroads, The beer is some of the best we have ever had. Love the atmosphere,perfect place to relax a must if you love great beer!!!

@Terrence Rusch - I do not believe they're bottling yet, but I work at the City Beer Hall and we offer half gallon and gallon growlers to go - and the past four months I believe we have almost always had at least one Crossroads brew on tap. Usually always Outrage , most of the time Second Street Wheat , we have had one keg of Black Rock Stout I believe .. and I am still pushing for Brick Row Red! In addition to this, at the brewery they offer growlers as well. I love Crossroads :-)

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