NEW PALTZ, NY—Headquartered in New Paltz and produced in Saratoga, Smart Beer is New York’s first and only organic beer company.
Since its launch last November, the fledgling brand has seen its distribution rapidly expand. Smart Beer’s IPA and Golden Ale are offered in Westchester, New York City, and Long Island, and this July, the company hit another milestone when its organic products hopped the border into New Jersey.
“When I had the idea for Smart Beer five years ago, I was transitioning out of the music industry,” says Smart Beer founder, Gabriel Heymann. “What I loved about the craft beer industry, was that it really reminded me culturally of what the music industry had just gone through: this renaissance where independent, local music became the mainstream thing that people were really into. When I talked to people about my idea, they believed I could create it; that home brewers could become beer companies. That’s really the ethos of the craft beer scene; that it does start local and it does start small.”
All of the organic grains and hops used in Smart Beers’ products are grown in the United States, and over time, Heymann hopes to source even more local ingredients.
“The goal is to work with local farmers to increase ingredient production as close to home as possible,” he says.
The brand was also created based on the idea that drinking beer is a social activity that brings people together.
“People get together for a beer to share ideas, or to meet people for the first time,” Heymann says. When people spend time chatting over a pint, he says, they are also inadvertently advertising their values through the products they choose.
“Standing at a bar, you’re drinking with friends, and it’s kind of a billboard representing who you are,” Heymann says. “Now more than ever, the products that we purchase, the things we’re involved in, say so much about us. I think all of the products we spend our money on have that potential to make a statement about who we are and what our values are. I realized that drinking beer had the opportunity to do that as well.”
After ending his music career, Heymann became a yoga instructor, and counted among his friends Pilates teachers, surfers, snowboarders, and others looking for a beer that fit their healthy lifestyle. In short, the company’s dedication to using local, organic ingredients sprang from a desire to create the type of beer that Heymann and his friends wanted to drink themselves.
“I really wanted to create a great-tasting, refreshing, organic beer that fit my lifestyle and my friends’ lifestyles,” he says.
This “For Us, By Us” mentality has quite literally shaped Smart Beer’s products.
“We feel we are our target audience. I created these beers for me and my friends. It felt like if we created the taste profile we were looking for in collaboration with brew masters and experts, we could really have a great product. And, we do.
This feature is part of the Hudson Valley Pollinator Series, a tribute to the individuals and businesses that are forging the way to a more resilient and self-reliant economy through their boldness, innovation, and continued care for the people and environment around them.