Grand Cru Showcases Craft Beer in Hudson Valley

The charming village of Rhinebeck in New York’s Hudson Valley is well known for its historic sites including the Beekman Arms, America’s oldest operating inn, and Astor Courts, once the summer estate of America’s richest family and the venue in July 2010 for America’s most-talked-about summer wedding. Rhinebeck is also celebrated by foodies for its fine restaurants, many of which are spawned by graduates of the renowned Culinary Institute of America in nearby Hyde Park.

But the real buzz in Rhinebeck did not come from the paparazzi following Chelsea Clinton’s wedding – instead it came from craft beer enthusiasts who swarmed around Grand Cru Beer & Cheese Market, which opened in May 2010. Located across the street from the Beekman Arms in the center of the village, Grand Cru is a favorite place for locals and tourists to discover great beers from across New York State and around the world. In addition to an extensive selection of bottled beers, the shop has three rotating taps with mostly New York beers available to take away in growlers. All of the bottled or tap beers can also be enjoyed on premises in the shop’s café section, where they can be paired with selections of local cheeses and smoked meats.

Grand Cru was founded by husband and wife team Mary and Eric Molleur, who both graduated from the Culinary Institute. They wanted to open a beer and cheese shop similar to ones they had seen in New York like Brooklyn's Bierkraft, and decided that Rhinebeck was the perfect spot for the laid-back concept. Response from local beer enthusiasts was very positive. Trish Curthoys, who heads a Rhinebeck accounting firm with several clients in the restaurant and hospitality industry, said, “People here are very supportive of locally grown products, so Grand Cru’s focus on Hudson Valley craft brewers like Keegan Ales and Capt. Lawrence has been a big hit.” Her husband, Richard Von Husen, who owns Warren Kitchen & Cutlery, a store that caters to chefs and local foodies, said, “The Hudson Valley is home to many small farmers and growers producing artisan cheeses and other foods that deserve to be showcased.”

Rod Johnson, one of the original employees at Grand Cru, purchased the shop from the Molleurs in 2012 and has continued to draw crowds looking for local beers and foods. On my visits to Grand Cru, the focus on New York beers has always been clear, with selections from Ommegang, Brooklyn, Ithaca, Sixpoint and Wagner Valley among the beers I enjoyed on tap. The selection of bottled beers was quite impressive, with a full lineup of beers from around New York State including Blue Point, Southampton and Saranac, lots of bomber bottles of California craft beers and many hard-to-find imports including Belgian lambics from Cantillon, Hitachino Nest beers from Japan, and Samuel Smith and Young’s beers from the U.K. Customers can mix and match their own 6-packs and prices are very reasonable.

The cheese and smoked meat offerings at Grand Cru are not as extensive as the beer selection, but the focus is on offering local products that would not be found in supermarkets. Among the cheeses featured on my visits were delicious goat cheese, cheddar and camembert from Sprout Creek Farm in Poughkeepsie and Old Chatham Sheepherding. Dried and smoked sausages, including some made from venison, came from local purveyors including Highland Farm in Germantown. Grand Cru also sells other locally made food products including Wildflower Honey from the Hummingbird Ranch in nearby Staatsburg. The biggest seller, and certainly the most talked-about product, is Old Tavern Pickled Eggs from a Rhinebeck-based pickle maker, Spacey Tracey. I can vouch that these pickled hard-boiled eggs are delicious paired with Belgian-style beers such as Ommegang Hennepin and high octane beers like Brooklyn Brewery’s Buzz Bomb Ale.

Grand Cru holds regular tasting events at the shop including tastings led by local brewers. With its loyal clientele and great location in the heart of the Hudson Valley, I expect Grand Cru to remain a regular fixture in New York’s craft beer scene for many years to come.

Grand Cru Beer & Cheese Market
6384 Mill Street
Rhinebeck, NY
(845) 876-6992

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