Broken Bow Brewery, which started as a home-brewing operation in the Lamothe family’s Bedford Hills home in 2002, is just one of the dozen or so craft breweries that has popped up in the county over the last several years.
The family-owned business, which opened August 17 of last year by former Merrill Lynch wealth manager Lyle Lamothe, has quickly attracted a rabid fan base. In its first month of operation, Lyle’s son—Michael Lamothe, founding partner and head brewer—whipped up about 10 barrels. Now, they’re moving approximately 100 barrels a month, self-delivering to stores like Stew Leonard’s, Fresh Market, and A&P, and quenching the thirst of diners at restaurants like Mambo 64, Burrata, and L’inizio. Aside from the 100-plus locations in which Broken Bow is sold, Westchesterites flock to the brewhouse’s tasting room, which sits stoically on Marbledale Avenue in Tuckahoe, the site of a former tile factory. But Westchesterites aren’t the only ones showing love; its Broken Heart Stout won the Judge’s Award Gold Medal at the Citi Field Bacon and Beer Classic last year.
We wanted to find out what all the hype was about, so we went, camera in hand, to check out Broken Bow’s brewing process.
Photography by Chet Gordon
Broken Bow Brewery’s brewhouse and tasting room, the site of the former Westchester Tile Co. factory on Marbledale Road in Tuckahoe.
As one of the few breweries that cans its own beer, Broken Bow has stacks upon stacks of empty, conditioned beer cans waiting to be filled. “Conditioned cans are the hottest segment of the craft-beer market,” says founding partner Lyle Lamothe.
Head Brewer Michael Lamothe working at the brewhouse’s tanks, which came from a now-closed brewery in Himi, Japan. Michael and Lyle flew to Japan to inspect the tanks in person before shipping them via cargo ship across the Pacific, through the Panama Canal, and up the Atlantic.
As part of the grain-milling stage of the brew process, cellerman Jordan Holder dumps grain into the hopper, which cracks the grain stones. They’ll transfer anywhere from 650 to 900 pounds of grain
into the hopper during one batch.
During the mashing in stage, the grain fills the tank on the left side of photo No. 3. It takes about 25 minutes to fill the tank, where the grain is mixed with water, and a rake rotates inside, stirring the mixture like oatmeal.
Kathy Lamothe measures out chocolate malt to add to the grain to brew a stout.
Kacey Lamothe performs a gravity test (testing sugar content) on Broken Bow’s Irish Red Ale in her “lab.” By “boxing” the beer (pouring it back and forth between glasses), she removes all carbonation. She then places a hydrometer into the liquid—if it floats, the sugar content is just right. That’s why it’s important to remove the carbonation.
Jordan Holder kegs Broken Bow’s Halfte, which sat in the fermentation tank for a month. He hooks up a sanitized valve to the top of the keg, which lets out some of the pressurized air as the beer fills the keg.
No, Michael Lamothe is not getting drunk on the job. This is a test. (Really.) He sips on a special English pale ale, called Parson’s Glebe, to test the carbonation level, which is something that is done daily. Since it needs a bit more carbonation, they’ll let it sit in the fermentation tanks a bit longer.
The final product of Broken Bow’s brewing process—a cool pint of an IPA. In the brewery’s tasting room, beer is poured out of a sink, which they converted into taps, a small remnant of the old tile factory.