Photo Credit: Suarez Family Brewery
Just over a year ago, spouses Dan Suarez and Taylor Cocalis-Suarez, opened the Suarez Family Brewery. They moved to Livingston, New York, found a disused, all-brick warehouse, and started the business together. But more than that, they put down roots and started a family, too.
Dan Suarez and son Enzo. Photo Credit: Suarez Family Brewery
Taylor Cocalis-Suarez. Photo Credit: Suarez Family Brewery
The couple met in 2007. Taylor had moved to New York City after finishing a Food Culture and Communication masters program in Italy. She went for an interview at Murray’s Cheese in Greenwich Village. Dan, a new employee for Murray’s, greeted her at the counter. About eight months into working there, they started dating. A year and a half later, they were living in Brooklyn together.
Around the time they met, Dan was homebrewing in Brooklyn and knocking on the doors of every brewery in New York, all four of them. He managed to spend some time at three out of the four but it was his experience at Sixpoint Brewery that changed Dan’s professional life the most. During this time he met Shaun Hill, the brewmaster who would soon start the renowned Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro, Vermont.
They struck up a fast friendship and in 2011, Shaun asked Dan to join his nascent brewery as its first employee. Dan and Taylor moved to the countryside in Vermont. They soon grew to love its pastoral charm and married about a year later. Shaun became Dan’s mentor. It was during these three years working for Shaun that Dan’s abilities as a brewer were honed, where he developed his work ethic and expanded his creativity.
Photo Credit: Suarez Family Brewery
It was also through meeting and working with Shaun that the seeds of what would become his family brewery began. Shaun took Dan to Belgium in 2012 where they visited several beermakers: De Dolle, Cantillon, Fantome. Experiencing first-hand what he had thought of as huge operations was an important revelation for Dan.
He realized that these Belgian beermakers were actually rather modest, multi-generational family operations making relatively small amounts of beer. Compared to those family-run, old-world beermakers, very few American brewers have the same approach to their breweries. But the Suarezes were inspired all the same.
The couple began to look for a place to start their own brewery, one that would combine Dan’s creative force and Taylor’s entrepreneurial business acumen. Hoping to replicate their idyllic, bucolic charm of their time in Vermont, they sought property around the Hudson Valley, settling on Livingston, New York.
But perhaps a greater factor in their choice of location was family. Dan’s brother, Nick Suarez, and his wife, Sarah, live 15 minutes away in Germantown. Here, the other Suarez couple opened the restaurant Gaskins together, and Dan was on hand to fit their draft system for them. Both sets of their parents live within driving distance as well, Dan’s in Connecticut, and Taylor’s in New Jersey.
Today, Dan is the brewmaster, while Taylor runs the business side of the operation. Dan is obsessed with not just the taste and the smell, but also getting the mouth-feel of the beer right. This has led to the brewery specializing in lighter ales and lager, or Dan’s “crispy little beers.” It’s become their unofficial slogan, it’s even on their growlers. The flagship brew being his Wheat Pale Ale, Crispy Little.
Having brought their business to fruition and not content just to live among family, Dan and Taylor decided to start their own. In 2016, they gave birth to their first child, Enzo, and they all live together in Livingston with their dog, Vanah.
Family dog Vanah. Photo Credit: Suarez Family Brewery
The Suarez Family Brewery is located at 2278 Route 9, Hudson, New York. Tasting Room hours: Wednesday 4 - 7 PM, Friday & Saturday 12 - 7 PM, Sunday 12 - 4 PM (until Labor Day). To reach the brewery: (518) 537-6464.