For Emily and Evan Watson, their story began in the winter of 2003. After Evan signed a record deal, the two were moving to New York where most of their time would be spent on the road. That year for Christmas Emily bought Evan a home brew kit. At the time, music was Evan’s passion, but it wasn’t long before Emily realized that her crafty gift would influence her husband in a way she hadn’t originally intended.
“I just wanted to make drinks and have fun,” Emily told us.
Soon after, Evan began getting into all grain home brewing, buying the raw grains and roasting them himself. It then dawned on Emily that all this brewing was no longer just for fun, it was something much more.
As a musician, Evan toured heavily in the spring and summer months. Come winter, he usually found a day job. After spending a decent chunk of time dining, drinking, and getting to know the staff at the Captain Lawrence Brewing Company in Elmsford, NY, Evan was pretty sure this was the place to be when he wasn’t on the road. Working for Captain Lawrence was a new experience for Evan. Although he had enjoyed brewing in his home for some time, Captain Lawrence was the first time he had been exposed to the craft beer movement. Working with a commercial brewer, Evan learned the ins and outs of brewing beer on a much larger scale. More importantly, brewing became something he was truly interested in.
At some point music had started to become less fulfilling for Evan and about three and a half years later, the couple decided it was time for Plan “Bee”.
When Evan and Emily moved to Fishkill, New York in 2013, they were brewing with a one-barrel system on a one-acre plot. They maintained day jobs as they experimented, selling their beer at farmers markets on the weekends. Their new project gave them the opportunity to try out and run with the idea of brewing without having to fully commit themselves, yet. For two and a half years they played around with recipes, seeing what people liked, seeing what worked, and what didn’t. As this chapter of their life progressed, the couple kept telling themselves, “we could get out now and we’d still be okay, we’ve made our money back, we could get out at this point”. Two and a half years later, they took a gamble, and decided to expand.
Currently, Evan and Emily are living on a 25-acre farm in Poughkeepsie, New York, where they grow many of the ingredients for their beers themselves. All the ingredients are one hundred percent local, from New York State. They “go from ground to glass within measurable feet of their origins”, “if it isn’t in our community, it doesn’t enter our beer”. Sourcing locally and supporting the local economy continues to be the mission of their business.
All their brewing takes place in a fully renovated, three-story barn on the property (soon to also become their tasting room, hopefully in December). The couple uses a cool ship which is and old-world style of cooling down beer. They open the doors of their barn to let the ambient temperature cool down the liquid. The beginning of their fermentation process is one hundred percent spontaneous, using yeast from the air. Because one hundred percent spontaneous beers take about 18 months to completely ferment through, they pitch a healthy culture of their own wild yeast on top of this. Their yeast is cultivated from the bees and honey comb they have one their property.
Emily and Evan had started brewing with a commercial yeast but then began to experiment, taking cultures from different fruit skins. It wasn’t until a year and a half into their project that the yeast from the bees became their signature. They wanted to identify a local flavor, unique to the Hudson Valley, and because yeast adds so much flavor to the beer, they were able to do just that.
Their goal is to establish themselves as a place where customers can come to enjoy an experience, not just a beer. Growing into a macro-brewery has never been their intension. They want to continue to share their lifestyle with their customers in a way that gives back with educational workshops and events, utilizing the property for all that it can be.
During the warmer months, Plan Bee Farm Brewery has a farm stand every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 12-7pm where customers can stop by, listen to music and enjoy a fresh, local brew. Plan Bee Farm Brewery’s tasting room is currently under construction, so the farm stand is closed for the season. However, stay tuned, as they are bound to have a grand opening when it is completed!