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09 May Dancing Grain: Ground-to-glass brewery in Moreau.
After three years of planning and with the help of some high-profile local brewers, Dancing Grain Farm Brewery on Old West Road in Moreau is scheduled to open on July 1st.
“We’re a ground-to-glass craft beverage destination,” said Rachel McDermott, the Cornell-educated owner of Dancing Grain who grew up on her family’s grain farm in Schaghticoke, NY.
They grow it, they brew it, they sell it.
Six years ago, McDermott was an investment banker on Wall Street.
Now, she and her husband Sean, an Albany-based attorney, are living in their newly remodeled farmhouse overlooking lush farmland and raising their two-year-old son Monroe.
“The family farming tradition is very important to me, and my husband and I are so fortunate to be able to share this with Monroe,” she said.
Once her father Jim Czub and her uncle Bob Czub, Jr. bought the 308-acre former dairy farm in 2016, the next question was how to make it profitable.
“We’re stacking up little opportunities,” McDermott said. “Together, they become impactful. We want to add value to the land. It’s all about the relationship between the land and how we use it. It gets me so excited.”
McDermott said King’s Dairy and Battenkill Valley Creamery both process, bottle and sell their milk.
At Dancing Grain, they are focused on maximizing the soil, adding value by growing corn and soy, barley and rye, and wheat and oats, which will then be used to make small-scale, very niche beers.
She and her husband tapped the plentiful maple trees on the property and plan to use maple syrup in some of their brews. They also have bees to make fermented honey called mead, and are constantly foraging and documenting edible plants like fiddleheads and mushrooms and native herbs and flowers.
“We’re figuring out what grows best,” she said.
The McDermotts are laser-testing the soil, analyzing ever-evolving crop rotations and minimizing the use of fertilizer while growing ingredients.
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“The soil is so fertile, and we’re going to grow everything we can here,” she said. “We might grow oil seed sunflowers. I’m an amateur flower farmer, and because of what is happening in Ukraine, which supplies much of the world’s oil sunflowers, we’ve been contacted by distributors who need seed. So we might have just stumbled on another opportunity.”
The McDermotts are also growing a perennial wheat called kerns, which is a cleaner grain that doesn’t require tilling because it comes up every year.
While still planning the brewery, which received Moreau Planning Board approval in early 2019, McDermott reached out to Christian Weber, who co-owns Common Roots Brewery in South Glens Falls.
“Beer is not my core competency. Growing grain is my core competency. That’s what makes this partnership so intriguing,” she said. “Christian and Bert’s core competency is brewing and running breweries…I didn’t go looking for partners. I needed someone to tell me we can do this.”
Not only did the Webers tell her she could do this, they offered to be investors in the brewery.
“It made financing much easier, having them involved,” McDermott said. “It brings legitimacy.”
The Webers are helping with recipe development, purchasing power for things like kegs and cans, and possibly future distribution through their network. Getting that audience out of the gate is huge. They have been really helpful in steering us in the right direction.”
Christian Weber told FoothillsBusinessDaily.com that he and his father are always looking for investment opportunities, and they believe in what the McDermotts are doing.
“It’s a complementary business, but we believe a rising tide floats all boats,” he said. “We’re thrilled to be investors and business partners in Dancing Grain.”
He emphasized that they were investing as individuals, not as Common Roots Brewery.
As the farm brewery prepares to open in a few weeks, McDermott
“We want people to feel like they are a part of the farm,” she said. “We will have walking paths with signs with QR codes so visitors can learn about the crops we are growing. And we will have a you-pick flower patch!”