HVADC Client: Obercreek Brewing Company
Aug 15, 2023
In an excellent location for an expansion.
While Dutchess County is becoming more and more populated with great farm breweries, in the Poughkeepsie area they are still a rarity, simply due to a lack of remaining farms. Obercreek Brewing Company in Wappingers Falls is a rare and excellent exception. Owner Alex Reese has developed a popular line of beers that has locals and visitors flocking to his old family farm. Now, with a little help from HVADC, Reese is planning some serious upgrades to make Obercreek even more of a destination.
Obercreek Farm has been in Reese’s family for four generations. Though the family drifted away from the property after his father sold the last of the dairy cows in the 1960s, Reese came back after his mother passed in 2003, and reopened a portion of the property for organic crops in 2012. The farm is now NOFA-NY Certified Organic. As Reese reconnected with the land, he joined with business partners knowledgeable in the brewing industry to begin a small, two barrel operation in a five-bay garage in 2016. The beer grew a following fast and soon outgrew its facility and the outdoor tent space for customers.
“We are one of the few farms left in southern Dutchess County, and it’s a really beautiful property,” said Reese. “One of the advantages we have is we have a lot of people living around us. 80% of our sales are from five miles around us.”
Knowing that he has an excellent location, market placement and room for growth, Reese began planning an expansion. However, the realities of funding the project seemed daunting.
Reese reached out to HVADC and through the Incubator Without Wall program was connected with business advisor Brian Zweig. Zweig helped Obercreek formulate their business strategy to suit applications for grant funding from New York’s Empire State Development Agency grant program. Obercreek was initially passed over in the competitive 2022 funding cycle but Zweig worked with Reese to resubmit their application for special review, and the business was awarded the funding he needed to get the project off the ground this year.
“The application process is… not fun, but it does get your mind focused on every detail of your business,” Reese said. “Brian was extraordinary in his knowledge of how the state operates but also with just general business advice. Calling HVADC was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
The plan for the new brewery is ambitious, including the renovation of a large barn for more vats and equipment, as well as an indoor tasting room. The new space will be next door to the Obercreek farm stand as well, providing opportunities for more consumer crosspollination.
“HVADC is always grateful for the funding provided to our farmers and food businesses by the state, but the application process to acquire those funds can be complicated,” said HVADC Executive Director Todd Erling. “We are so pleased that we were able to connect Alex with the Business Technical Assistance Obercreek needed to actualize its potential.”
Obercreek has also begun working with Dutchess County Land Conservancy to put the sprawling 250-acre farm, started by his 3x great grandfather in the 1850s, under conservation easement, so that it may remain farm and natural land for generations to come. While the brewery may drive people to the farm, when they get there, Obercreek’s beauty and commitment to sustainable agriculture is what keeps them coming back.
To learn more about the types of Business Technical Assistance that HVADC provides through the Incubator Without Walls program, visit https://www.hvadc.org/incubator-without-walls