Tapped - Valcour Brewing Company
By Katie Teaney
Photography by Damian Battinelli
A romantic dream turned reality after Terry Schmaltz and Mary Theresa Pearl - two retired U.S. Army colonels - decided to purchase the Old Stone Barracks. This beautifully preserved building is located near the US Oval in Plattsburgh and is said to be the only remaining structure of the Army Barracks built in 1838. Inside, you will find the main attraction of the Brewing Company, as well as seven overnight rooms, a large venue hall, and an intimate tasting room for private events.
Each brick, beam, and staircase speaks in a historical voice while moving around the brewery. The story behind its preservation and establishment is heavy on the heart but uplifting for the soul. You can feel the presence of passion, love, and friendship at Valcour Brewing Company. All of it united with two common interests: food and craft beer.
Beyond the mouthwatering menu and the old age of the building, people are driven to Valcour Brewing Company for the craft beer selection. When Schmaltz and Pearl first established VBC, they brought along with them sixteen original recipes, including Copper Nails, which is still on the menu today. They presented these to their first hire and original brewer, Rob Davis, who worked with them for two years in laying the foundation for the business after the grand opening in 2015. Davis moved on to try new things in Kansas City, but he’s still making BBQ and beer.
A year prior to his departure, Davis met a man in the barracks with a strong passion for beer drinking and a love for brewing, Chad Taylor. About three years earlier, Taylor received a home brewing kit for Christmas. He taught himself the basics and later shared his own creations with Davis. That’s when the friendship began to brew. Taylor is now the master and chief of beer commands at Valcour Brewing Company, and said he never could have seen this opportunity coming. He exudes gratitude for the experience and education of large scale brewing and is in charge of the overall output of beer. Steve Bola, a cellar man, also helps with the prep, transfer, and cleaning tasks. Without his helping hands, none of this would be possible.
Deep below the floors of this ancient structure lies a Prospero brewing system. This manufacturing company produces brewing machines in New York State and is referred to by the owner of Valcour as the “Cadillac of its kind.” Valcour Brewing Company is a seven-barrel brew house consisting of two seven-barrel fermenters, two fifteen-barrel fermenters and six seven-barrel bright tanks. The bright tanks allow for the beer to be either transferred directly to the tap, or kegged for later use. Each one of the tanks is named after one of the owner’s grandchildren, giving the operation a sentimental touch.
Thirty percent of the hops and malt that Valcour Brewing Company uses are purchased through local distributors, such as Country Malt in Champlain and a local farm in Dannemora. The rest are received from different distributors throughout the United States. Owner Mary Theresa Pearl says that they hope to plant their own hops on the Valcour Brewing Company property, which eventually could be used to make a special Valcour brew.
Some beers currently on tap include the light, crisp, and clean Lakeside Lager, the bold, hoppy and dangerously-smooth Big Ben DIPA and the high-ABV Porter - the Mulligan Porter. The list doesn’t end here. It’s ever-changing and hard to keep up with. With summer coming, there is potential for the return of an old seasonal or two – like the Blueberry Lager or Blackberry Wheat. New recipes, like a Lemon Saison, will be hitting the draft lines, too.
Check out Valcour Brewing Company’s Facebook page for more information.