Justin Behan adapted his love of brewing and history to contribute to the community, filling an empty Main Street storefront while making great beer at Green Wolf Brewing Co.
His love of hop history promises a little of the past goes into every pint he makes using the latest tech and old-school techniques like grinding regionally-sourced grains by hand … or feet, rather. His modified stationary bike processes the ingredients with the most local source possible – himself.
As a New York licensed farm brewery, Green Wolf sources most of its ingredients from the immediate area – even aging one ale in discarded bourbon barrels from a local distillery. That gives Justin’s German- and Belgian-style brews a flavor that you will only find in Central New York.
Justin: New York state, not only was hops king in New York state this used to be the brew central of the country. Pinder Brothers was the largest hops field, at one point it was the largest hops field, in New York state. They were around from mid 19th century until 1953. Nineteen fifty-three was the last crop under cultivation and the next year they went over to corn. That’s why I’ve named our Imperial IPA Pinder’s Imperial in homage of the largest in the county, the largest hops field and for a while the largest in the state. It’s exciting to see especially on hops yards grow, expand and blossom around the state and around here. I wish I had more time to talk with more farmers but it’s something that’s paramount to Green Wolf Brewing Company is trying to at some point to get to 100% or nearly 100% of our malt and hops grown locally.
About six years ago I started home brewing. I’d been interested for a few years, it just took me a while to pick it up. Once I made that first batch of beer it was just profound. I put this beer together and it tasted good, that first batch was incredible. I’d share it with people and their eyes would light up and it was like “Oh my God, this is really good. You made this?” The aromas from the mash and opening up a bag of hops and that wonderful floral and citrus aroma, it was just spellbinding, captivating, it was alive, it was magic. It was science and it was magic. It dawned on me it’s not only a tasty beverage but it’s also a community.
I’m very excited about the growth of the Brew Central network and bringing all of us together in upstate New York, all of the distilleries and breweries and creating more brew trails. It’s a wonderful profession to be in. Everybody, all the breweries, the brewers, everybody is so cooperative and so nice, so excited. Brew Central is right in the middle of that.
Tap room hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 2 to 10 p.m. Saturdays; and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays with live music every Saturday starting at 7 p.m.