Last Thursday I found myself enjoying a craft beer, eating tacos from a local food truck dragged to its destination by a tractor, and listening to live music, all in the company of my favorite friends. A motley crowd of all ages filled the outdoor pavilion, coming from what seemed like every direction. Small children were running in the field and volunteers picked black currants from the nearby bushes. Together, it created an atmosphere that made me want to stay awhile. I was also in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by farms that stretched to what seemed like the base of the Adirondack Mountains, some standing higher than 4,000 feet.
A food revival is rising in the Lake Champlain Region, and it’s starting with small farmers. Some old and experienced and many young and new to the game are choosing to put sustainable and ethical farming practices at the forefront of their business. Many farms and creameries offer farm stays where travelers can immerse themselves in life on the farm for an agritourism experience not found in surrounding cities. Food can bring people together in a way many other things cannot, and this region has it figured out. The better the food, the better the camaraderie and the more sustainably it is produced, the longer we can reap its tasty benefits. It’s both admirable and enjoyable, and will hopefully take root in other parts of the Adirondacks.
Drawing craft beer drinkers and farm-to-table food lovers from every part of the Adirondacks and beyond is Ausable Brewing Co. Located on a 140-acre farm on Mace Chasm Road in Keeseville, brothers Dan and Dylan Badger decided to set their hoppy roots in this small farming town for the rich agriculture scene that is bringing life to a once economically depressed community. Located on the same road is North Country Creamery, a 100% grassfed, non-GMO, and Animal Welfare Approved dairy; Mace Chasm Farm, a 100% grass-fed, non-GMO livestock farm and butcher shop; and Fledging Crow Vegetables, a 42-acre, certified organic vegetable farm. Ausable Brewing joined the block in 2014, creating an agri-alley we can all appreciate, and is seeing continued growth in the few years they have been established.
Ausable Brewing Co. (ABC) is open Thursday through Sunday and always has food trucks and live music under a large outdoor pavilion for its drinkers to enjoy. Their draft list is ever-evolving with eleven beers and two sodas, although a few flagship staples remain like the Plowman's Lunch, a crisp rye pilsner, the Face Cord IPA, and Full Cord Double IPA. For those sick of the hoppy trend that has taken over taps far and wide, rejoice, for ABC keeps a variety of beers for all to appreciate.
The whole production takes place in a big red barn, built in the 1800s and renovated by the Badger brothers in 2013. Just recently, expansions were built to make way for larger brewing barrels. Still, the beers brewed at this nano brewery won’t be found anywhere else. Luckily, the scenic drive and relaxed atmosphere is far more enjoyable than any bar you may find yourself in. Growlers can be purchased to go, since you’ll need to limit your beer count for the equally scenic drive home.
I enjoyed the Simcoe IPA, perfectly balanced with notes of citrus and pine. I took home a growler so I could continue to enjoy it later that night and the next day. Thursday night is dubbed taco night at ABC. Asa and Courtney, owners of Mace Chasm, were serving up some of the best tacos out of their food truck with veggie, shredded pork, and sausage options.
The Northern Feast Catering truck was parked adjacent to the taco truck, where owner Marla Gilman was cooking up savory and sweet crepes, also using local and organic ingredients. It was wonderful to see a community come full circle, each business benefiting from one another but also helping one another, creating a space where everyone felt like a friend. No, we weren’t talking and we probably never will, but as we crossed paths we knew we are alike. We could appreciate the better things in life and we knew where to find it. Who knew a good beer, a good taco, and a little bluegrass could be such a force for positive change?
If you plan on visiting Ausable Brewing Co, check out their Facebook page for updates. As seasons change, hours of operation may change too. There is also so much more to see in the Lake Champlain region. Here’s the perfect starting point to exploring the Adirondack Coast.
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