There’s a new kid on the block in Yonkers, and he’s brewing beer on Main Street. Ray Girard — formerly of Barrier, Rockaway, and Brooklyn breweries — took over the reins as Yonkers Brewing Co.’s head brewer shortly after the departure of Dave Hartmann in the first half of 2018.
We caught up with Girard to rap about beer and what he does when he’s not dry-hopping tasty brews.
How’d you get into brewing?
My father was a homebrewer in the early-to-mid-’90s. I was more into skateboarding and hanging out with my friends than washing and filling bottles of something I couldn’t drink.
In college, I worked at a package store and pub. It turned me on to a lot of regional breweries and classic styles of beer. The local brewery for me was Wachusett [Westminster, MA].
When I moved to New York in 2004, the craft-beer scene started to grow. I lived near Mugs Ale House and Spuyten Duyvil in Brooklyn; both had amazing selections of beer at that time. The more I was exposed to new breweries and styles, the more curious I became about the process. In 2005, I ordered my first American pale-ale homebrew kit. I was hooked.
What were the first craft beers that you truly loved?
Original Sam Adams Spring Ale — a German-style Kolsch back then — Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Wachusett IPA, and Saison Dupont — to this day, my “desert island” beer.
What do you bring to Yonkers Brewing Co.?
Balancing a love and knowledge of traditional and modern styles allows me to welcome new craft drinkers here and keep seasoned beer lovers excited about us. Our “Cocktail Sour” program features a Moscow Mule-inspired Berliner Weisse and eventually a piña colada sour! Soon, we’ll have an imperial stout aged on white oak and cocoa nibs, and a tropical IPA with lactose. In 2019, we’ll collaborate with breweries in Westchester, NYC, and hopefully beyond.
When you’re not brewing, what do you like to do?
Spending time and traveling with my partner, Emily, and our hound dog, Bo. Adventures to Maine and Vermont are favorites. Cooking. Renovating our century-old home also keeps me busy. I also own more than 250 vinyl LPs.