At the Suarez Family Brewery in Hudson, New York, you will not find the kind of beers that owner and founder Dan Suarez refers to as “gimmick beers.” By that he means the kind of adjunct-laden or excessively-hopped brews that, in his view, have defined the current beer zeitgeist for far too long. No stranger to the way the beverage has been increasingly fetishized—he formerly worked at Vermont’s cult Hill Farmstead Brewery—Suarez founded the company two years ago with the mission of “bringing beer drinkers back to earth.”
Today, the brewery focuses on just three different style categories: crisp, unfiltered lagers in the German mold, such as his extremely refreshing “Palatine Pils”; mixed-culture fermented ales, “country beers” that are aged in former wine barrels; and what Suarez refers to as “crispy little beers,” which generally fall under the template of pale ales. To Suarez, the simplicity of these classic styles actually makes them so much more difficult (and rewarding) to execute well. So in lieu of flamboyance, the thread that runs through all his beers is an obsession with skill and precision—the sort of hard-earned technical prowess that is capable of transforming even the simplest pilsner into something genuinely eye-opening.
So what is Suarez doing when he’s not hanging out at his tasting room or obsessively refining one of his pilsner recipes? Here, he tackles our Lookbook Questionnaire to share his favorite album, his fond memories of a certain beachside empanada shack in Uruguay and his love of riesling and Muscadet. —Zachary Sussman
Brewer and proprietor at Suarez Family Brewery.
What do want to be when you grow up?
Children’s book author.
Best thing you ever drank:
Drie Fonteinen Kriek on cask served through a sparkler at the Drie Fonteinen café.
Worst thing you ever drank:
There’s a lot of poorly made/toxic sour beer out there.
First time you ever got drunk:
Ecuadorean fire water when I was a kid. I rode a donkey afterwards.
If you had to listen to one album on loop, for the rest of your life, what would it be?
This is My Country by The Impressions.
What’s the weirdest hobby you currently have or have had?
Singing at people.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?
That it’s all going to be OK.
Weirdest cocktail experiment you’ve ever attempted:
I went through a phase of making different iterations of a low-ABV cocktail I dubbed the “shitty soda.” One of the rules of the shitty soda is that it has to be finger stirred.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not eating, drinking or drink-making?
Walking in the woods.
Weirdest drink request you’ve ever gotten:
People frequently order “Palestine” Pils here at the brewery (we make a beer called Palatine Pils).
Your favorite bar, and why:
The pub at De Dolle in West Flanders. Their brewery reminds me of Pee-wee’s Playhouse, yet it has a European antique vibe to it at the same time. The beers taste especially good sitting in that pub.
Best meal you’ve ever had:
We ate every meal over the course of our two days on the beach in Uruguay at this little empanada shack that blew my mind. The shack itself was on this tiny rickety boardwalk that jutted out into the ocean, so you could feel the ocean mist spraying you as you were eating there. All they had was a deep fryer and they were frying up empanadas packed with super fresh clams or mussels. They also offered buñuelos, which are tiny fried dough balls with green onions in the batter served with lime wedges and salt. They had empanadas filled with dulce de leche for dessert, and that was the extent of their menu. I often wish I could relive this.
What’s your go-to drink in a cocktail bar?
Honestly, I’m always down to try different white wines. I love Muscadet, riesling or white Burgundy, but I’ll usually try a white wine that’s new to me.
In a dive bar?
If they have Campari, I’ll drink Campari and soda. If they don’t, I’ll have a whiskey and soda or a shitty beer.
Your preferred hangover recovery regime:
I just wallow in it, unfortunately.
The one thing you wish would disappear from drink lists forever:
I’ll get flamed for this, but Fernet-Branca or Underberg. Also, overly adjunct-laden gimmick beers.
The last text message you sent:
“Bung it and chill it to 40”