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WHEN I MOVED from Wisconsin to Boston, the first person I met in my first class at Suffolk University was Michael Barcone. We became fast friends and he eagerly invited me to visit his family home in the Catskill Mountains. I couldn’t get over how that “fairy land” of the Hudson River School paintings was real and I fell in love. Three years later, in my last year of college, while Mike was teaching History at a high school in Boston, my dad died from the cancer with which he had been diagnosed only eight months before. The energy of Boston was not the place for me to comfort my loss. Mike’s dad encouraged us to move here, to a home of our own—to do… something, to make… something. He certainly had us inspired but for what? While I was packing boxes and day-dreaming about mountain hikes, picnics in old pasture fields, and wildflowers; Mike and his dad were talking each other into bigger and bolder ideas. Just as we moved the first carload of boxes into the barn on the family land, Mike’s dad died suddenly. The strength I was just beginning to believe would return to me was snatched away. I was numb and poor Mike was powering through the necessary motions to keep everyone together while in agonizing disbelief. One is warned never to make life-altering decisions in times of extreme joy or grief. Our move to the Catskills, our engagement and marriage, our home and our decision to open a brewery here were all

decided on in the most painful year of our lives and we regret nothing—except maybe that one Airedale puppy. It took us four years to brew our first beer at West Kill Brewing. Those years were filled with a thousand questions that each had a hundred potential answers. Nothing was easy, nothing went smoothly, and it felt like nothing worked. Every move we made was haunted by our desperate wish to have a dad there to tell us what to do next or at the very least to tell us to keep going. No one actually stopped us however, and a few people even said that what we were doing was “kinda neat” so we let ourselves thrive off of that overwhelming enthusiasm. Here we are. The brewery has been producing beer for one amazing year. Sometimes I take a moment, while Mike and I are serving beer on a Friday night in the West Kill Taproom, to wonder if people finally see us as the stable, business-owning husband and wife—expecting their first baby—or if we are still just those foolishly self-confident kids of that “new generation.” Our inspiration to make wonderful beers that capture our love of the Catskills has never left us and only gets bigger every day. How can I explain to everyone that each beer is created to not only be a great tasting beer, but also to cheers the daily struggle of work and life that we all facesometimes alone and hopefully together? Nothing feels as good as a hard days work and a West Kill beer to celebrate. —Colleen Kortendick

2173 Spruceton Road, West Kill, NY 12492 • (518) 989-6462 • • see listing page 32

Profile for Watershed Agricultural Council

2018-2019 Guide to Pure Catskills Products  

2018-2019 Guide to Pure Catskills Products