SCHOHARIE COUNTY – You can get beer at Wayward Lane Brewing.
Tucked into the rural, rolling hills of Schoharie County, Wayward Lane bills itself as a “true farm brewery,” and it’s easy to see why.
The brewery and taproom occupy a refurbished 19th-century barn where hops — the green, pine-cone-like flower that is a key component of beer — were once dried, pressed and stored for market.
Though it’s been decades since the property was a fully functioning farm, those who visit might feel transported back in time by the thick, wooden beams, high ceilings and simple yet tasteful decor that pays tribute to a rich agricultural history.
Wild hops can still be found in the hedgerows, and the grounds are home to chickens and bees. A vintage sign advertising dairy equipment sold by a previous owner hangs on one wall, antique “scuppets” used to shovel hops on another.
For the four 30-something friends who founded Wayward Lane, this legacy was a major selling point — an opportunity to draw upon the traditions of the past while creating a new and modernized farm experience centered on beer.
The brewery is such a perfect fit for the property’s scenic 65 acres that one might be surprised to learn it wasn’t originally part of the plan at all.
The dream for a brewery began in Colorado, where childhood friends and Boulder natives Adam Rosenthal and Kyle Bergen hoped to break into the beer business with a brewery of their own.
Like many professional craft brewers, the two began as homebrewers, hobbyists who made beer for their own pleasure and fulfillment.
[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”66″ display=”basic_imagebrowser”]“Drinking is, of course, where it all starts,” said Rosenthal, Wayward Lane’s head brewer. “You don’t learn to love beer without consuming a lot of it.”
In Colorado, Rosenthal and Bergen struggled to find a location for their brewery.
So when an old friend, Andrew Rowles, invited them to check out his family farm in upstate New York, they decided to go.
A Massachusetts native, Rowles met Rosenthal and Bergen while attending the University of Boulder Colorado, where Rosenthal also studied. In 2014, he moved back east with a desire to reinvigorate the Schoharie County farm – acquired by his grandparents in the 1960s – that he had often visited as a child.
“I always envisioned doing something with it,” Rowles, who serves as Wayward Lane’s farm manager, recalled.
When Bergen, Rosenthal and another college friend, Abbie Hansen, finally did visit in 2017, “their eyes lit up,” he said. “There’s more freedom here. There’s more opportunity for us to stand out and do something unique.”
The barn was in pretty rough condition when Rosenthal, Bergen and Hansen — who serves as taproom manager/events coordinator — arrived in the town of Schoharie in 2018 with plans to convert it into a seven-barrel brewhouse.
All told, the restoration/brewery buildout took about two years.
While the original woodwork remains, new supports were added and the barn, which dates to the mid- to late 1800s, was raised so a new foundation could be poured.
Next door to the brewery/taproom is a smaller metal shed that expands the taproom space.
There’s also an outdoor “bier meadow” for larger events and get-togethers, and Rowles has planted an orchard that will produce fruit to flavor beer made on-site.
Wayward Lane offers a variety of tasty craft beers, both on tap and in cans to purchase. In mid-March, the offerings included a West Coast-style pale ale called Inhale and a Berliner Weisse — a sour, German-style beer brewed with mango and prickly pear.
“We work really hard to make a high-quality product,” Rosenthal said.
One of Wayward Lane’s special features is a coolship, a brewing vessel that looks a little bit like a large metal bathtub and is used to make what Rosenthal calls “spontaneous beer” or “wild ales.”
Hot wort — unfermented beer, essentially — is poured into the coolship to cool, and the airborne yeasts and bacteria inoculate the beer naturally, kick-starting fermentation and giving the beer a flavor that is the result of its surrounding environment.
Not all of Wayward Lane’s beers are made this way.
The majority of the beer is produced via what Rosenthal called a “clean fermentation” process — in large metal tanks, using lab-grown yeast cultures rather than the yeast in the air for fermentation.
Wayward Lane has a full schedule of events lined up that includes live music, yoga and food trucks.
Since the taproom opened in the spring of 2021, the brewery has become a community gathering spot, as well as a destination for beer lovers from throughout the region.
“We’ve been welcomed here,” Rosenthal said. “Everyone is happy to have us here.”