The Crisp Comeback of Low-ABV Beer
Suarez Family Brewery
The beer community is enamored with big, bold, hazy IPAs. The more hops, the more “juice,” the better. It’s a formula that has proven successful, and new brewers across the country, from Other Half Brewing Company in New York City to Monkish Brewing Co. in L.A., have been quick to pounce on the trend.
So when Dan Suarez — previously the assistant brewer at the famous Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro Bend, Vermont — decided to open his own brewery in rural upstate New York, earlier this year, it was notable because he bet against the status quo. Instead of big and hop-forward IPAs, Suarez and his small team are exploring low-ABV, yet highly aromatic, ales, unfiltered lagers and mixed-fermentation saisons that are drinkable, delicious and refreshing. It’s beer gone back to its roots, so to speak — the kind made for people to enjoy with friends and family, rather than being consumed in a vacuum.
So while Suarez Family Brewery is two hours from New York City, attention and demand has followed it, drawing urban beer fans to the brewery’s hard-to-reach taproom. Suarez has dedicated himself to small-scale growth and extensive quality control, deciding to self-distribute to ensure that the beers leaving the brewery are up to his lofty standards. There’s honor in that. But his style, and the positive response to it, is suggestive, too, that perhaps the beer pendulum may be swinging back to the middle.