The Best—and Worst—Beers at the Peekskill Brewery
Rating the popular brewery's beers from top to bottom
As one might see in our print magazine (or here), Peekskill Brewery’s name is a bit misleading. They serve food (good food), have soirées, lure nightfolk, and host buck-a-shucks for the perhaps-in-the-wrong-state, possibly looking for lust New York oyster lover. They don’t just serve beer and don’t just put barley into steel cauldrons for the sake of making beer.
They’re a place to be, not just a factory.
And that’s all great and dandy—I’m serious, the place is pretty awesome and boasts a great atmosphere—but for some people, that is, at least one Westchester Magazine employee, the most important part of a brewery is, well, what it brews. I also don’t believe I’m alone in this sentiment.
After profusely lobbying to my higher-ups, I, with fellow editors Scott and Deanna, decided to take a trip from our Rye office up to Northern Westchester to tipple and test PB’s hooch. I mean, they did win the Governor’s Cup for having the best craft beer in New York, “so we have to write about it!”
Below, check out which brews you should check out when there, which you shouldn’t, and which have garnered PB some prestigious medals. The definitive Peekskill Brewery taste test, with some easy numbered ratings to make things easier—and remember, we rated the beers objectively and for their enjoyment as a beer overall. If a lager or ale doesn’t adhere to “standard lager or ale expections,” that’s okay—we at Westchester Mag know no boundaries or rules!
DRye Stout (5.1% ABV)
First, that’s not a typo. Well, as long as their menu isn’t wrong.
After walking into the brewery with Scott and Deanna, and some awkward exchanges with employees until I finally met Keith, one of the brewery’s partners, our trio sat down at the downstairs bar with three five-ounce glasses of the dark stout. Not three each… I mean, c’mon.
Despite the menu’s claims that it’s “smooth and finishes dry,” the stout seems dry all the way through without the fullness you’d expect from a standard stout. It’s also lighter than what Scott, Deanna or I, three people of different ages and with different beer tastes, prefer in a stout. More forgiving than I am, Scott and Deanna started our day more optimistically than I did.
It’s tough to come across a good sour—especially one popular enough to demand distribution to fine-dining restaurants. Simple Sour, the only sour PB brews, is distributed to the Brooklyn restaurant, Roberta’s and to Manhattan’s John Dory.
Almost like a bubbly white wine, and nothing similar to anything you’d consider a “manly” beer, Simple Sour would be the perfect brew to go with seafood and, as its shipments to John Dory would imply, seems like a perfect pairing with oysters. Perhaps I should go to one of PB’s buck-a-shucks. At 4.5%, Simple Sour is light, refreshing, yet with a medium body. No wonder it’s one of the brewery’s most popular styles. Ratings below, but we’re not done with Simple Sour just yet.
Simple Sour Tulip (4.5% and, well, some liqueur in there)
As one might see if one were to look at PB's menu, there’s a portion of the menu called “tulip,” which, with Simple Sour, implies a dash of the old spirit Crème Yvette. Crème Yvette, a floral, mixed-berry liqueur adds, obviously, a fruity accent to the beer. Also, it’s pretty darn good. Though a bit cloying after a bit, it was a nice addition to an otherwise great beer.
I’ll spare you a lengthy justification, and you should spare the money: the C.R.E.A.M. is boring, especially for an ale, and vanilla—it literally tastes like vanilla and as a beer is pretty vanilla. With an after-taste like water and no reason, this was the worst beer of the day.
Eastern Standard (6.9%)
Arguably my favorite beer of the day, though it fell nowhere near that spot for either Scott or Deanna. Unlike a lot of IPAs, ES isn’t bitterly cloying and, for an IPA, is exceptionally drinkable—that is, you can kick a few back and not feel like an old, smelly dish sponge with a dry mouth. Hooray for bad similes.
Loaded with florals, west-coast hops, and that easy drinkability, E. Standard’s become popular. It’s the third PB beer sold to market and often takes trips with the Simple Sour to Brooklyn’s Roberta’s.
Flavor Saver (6.1%)
Despite its name, which implies that its retainment of flavor is something of note, Flavor Saver actually changes taste as it ages. Its Nelson Sauvin hops from the southern hemisphere lose their bitterness rather noticeably over time.
In mid August we had a batch that was brewed in early July. It had a “horsefarmy” taste without too much bitterness akin to the “back of my dad’s closet,” as Keith described—a comparison so clever and accurate that one magazine writer was gratuitously jealous for having not been its creator.
As it ages further, that “closet” musk will dwindle and the beer will become sweeter, which link us, conveniently so, to Amazeballs.
|3.67 (I'll pass)|
1. The name
2. Amazeballs is used without any bittering hops—none of those popular Cascades whatsoever. Using only sweet Galaxy hops from the southern hemisphere, it’s sweet, almost juicy, yet bodied enough to pass as a hearty beer. Picture the opposite of an IPA.
Cask Amazeballs (this is some prime hooch) (4.9%)
|4.5 (Good hooch)|
Every Thursday, Ben, PB’s brewer, opens up a new cask from their cellar. When we were there, that cask contained Amazeballs infused with pounds of fresh mangoes, which, as you’d expect, produced as sweet a beer as possible before you get into malt liquor territory. Yet don’t ever associate this brew and malt liquor in any other sense.
After some of the heavier Eastern Standard, the sweetness of the unfiltered cask—which nicely didn’t contain any particles—was welcomed by the three of us.
Higher Standard (9.3%)
|3.83 (That's decent)|
The winner of the 2013 NY Tap Governor’s Cup for the best beer in the state.
This is where it gets deep. Higher Standard, at 9.3% ABV, is made from the same ingredients as Eastern Standard, just with a lot more of them. Deanna praised its “balanced, no burn” aftertaste, which is rare for such a thick IPA, but the bitterness seemed to much.
|4.67 (Sweet bliss)|
Vaporizer is heavier in ABV than Higher Standard—it boasts a cool 10%—but its flooring (clever) volume plays better in this stout. Just like HS, there’s no sweetness whatsoever, but its Mosaic and Nugget hops fill out a well-rounded American Imperial Stout. Might want to count these as you have them or the floor might get slippery.
Hudson Mule cocktail
|4.4 (Good hooch)|
Ah, after all these beers—if you can still read—it’d only make sense that we review PB’s best cocktail, the Hudson Mule. Made with Bootleggers vodka and ginger beer, the Mule purports to help kick tomorrow’s hangover. With just the right amount of beer, the strength of the ginger spice overwhelms the vodka, producing a well-balanced cocktail that—if this is your thing—will serve as a really, really strong nightcap.
Cool Hand Cuke (pronounced kyook)
|4.17 (Tasty hooch)|
Like a lot of taste in your cocktails? Well, you don’t like this. It’s an effervescent, refreshing bubbly cocktail that tastes like carbonated cucumber water. If that’s your thing, go for it. Scott would definitely encourage it.
Check out Julia Sexton’s review of the Peekskill Brewery food so you can match your favorite beer with your favorite appetizers. Or, take a look at our Beer Glass Guide, so you know which types of glasses to use while drinking these great brews.