We’re catching up with some Beersmiths of yesteryear, seeing what they’re up to, and where this wild world of craft beer took them. We couldn’t think of anyone better to start out with than our beloved bearded wonder, the legendary Sean Ryan Donnelly– C0-Owner and Brewer for Port Jervis NY’s Fox ‘N Hare Brewing Company. Sean was with us in the “catch-all” years- though he might have spent most of his hours holding court in the QNS Tap Room for the throngs of regulars who’d come to love him, you’d just as likely catch him helping in the back, jumping on the bottling line, representing SingleCut in the market/festivals, or playing on the SingleCut QNS Stage (he’s a Banjo man, too!). Let’s hear from Sean:

Q: Tell us EVERYTHING about Fox ‘N Hare and where SC fans can see you!

A: Fox N Hare is a small town brewery, bar, and restaurant that my friend and business partner, David Krantz and I opened in 2017, in the historic downtown of Port Jervis, NY.  Many NYCers may recognize the name from the west of the Hudson train line that takes its name from Port Jervis, the last stop on the commuter rail. Our brewery is located just two short blocks from the train station.
We are focused on quality and consistent craft beer made in a variety of classic and modern styles, made from scratch comfort food and small batch spirits, all served in a relaxed, cozy atmosphere.  Our motto is “Not a beer bar. Not a whiskey bar. Not a cocktail bar.  Just a bar with great beer, whiskey and cocktails. Comfort food in a comfortable space.”  We fully embrace the revitalization of Port Jervis and the incredible growth the small city has seen in both Ecotourism and seasonal attractions like the Delaware River, the Appalachian Trail, over 50 miles of hiking and biking trails that are walking distance from the commuter rail, and soon to be projects like two world-class Disc Golf courses, and even the potential for a White Water Park on the river itself in the near future.

We do VERY little distribution.  Our model is very much the opposite of most breweries in today’s market.  We are focused on on-premise sales primarily.  We did invest in a small canning line recently and have begun distributing to a handful of local bottle shops and beer bars in Orange and Sullivan counties. The only place you are guaranteed to get a pint of my beer is in our taproom!

Q: How long have you been a beer obsessive and what led you to Craft Brewing?

A: I worked at a beer bar in Midtown Manhattan for two years called The Ginger Man.  Their enormous beer selection (70 rotating draughts, ~200 bottles, 2 or 3 casks) opened my eyes to the seemingly endless variety of styles that existed in the brewing world.  As someone that obsessively wants to know how things work, I started home brewing in my tiny Astoria apartment and was quickly bitten by “the bug”.  After homebrewing for a couple of years, a friend of mine, Amanda Meyer, had taken over the Tap Room at SingleCut and offered me a job pouring pints.  For me, it was a dream come true!

I spent the next four and half years working at SC with my eyes and ears open, soaking up everything I could from Rich and his team of rockstar brewers. I helped out wherever I could, delivering kegs, juicing oranges, doing events with the sales guys, etc.  It was an amazingly supportive and engaging place to work. SingleCut even paid for me to take the Cicerone exam (spoiler alert: I passed!). I learned so much from my time at SC that has paid so many dividends building out and running my own place.

Q: Where are your roots and how did that help play into your style of making beer?

A: My roots are very much in the homebrewing and classic craft scene.  I got into craft beer before the rise of the New England IPA, when IPAs were bitter, clear and malt-balanced. So as heretical as it sounds, I still prefer that to a hazy one on most days (don’t hate me!!!). I also have a deep love for classic German styles.  I mean, seriously, say what you will about Germans:  those dudes can brew. Kölsch, Pilsner, Hefeweizen, Bock, Rauchbier, the list of (in my humble opinion) styles that have been perfected over decades goes on.

My primary focus as a brewer is on a large variety of styles that are consistently high-quality homages to classic German, British, Belgian and American styles.  Another saying we have around FnH is “Same Beer, Different Day”. I try to keep the same 12 to 14 brands year-round to ensure that we maintain our large variety of styles.  This again is very different from many breweries these days that have 20 IPAs, a Sour and an Imperial Stout on draught in their taproom and you never know if your favorite beer will be available when you go in.

Q: What was your go-to record in the SingleCut Tap Room?

A: Parliament, “Mothership Connection”.  Doesn’t get much more funky than that. Put that album on and try not to smile and boogie.

Q: What’s your go-to record for FnH?

A: Little Green Cars, “Absolute Zero”.  I embarrassingly just discovered this album late last year and am in love.

Q: Where are we eating and hanging out in Port Jervis after we gorge at FnH?

A: We have a vegan café called Fogwood & Fig that is to DIE FOR.  I know a lot of people cringe when they hear “Vegan” but this place makes “plant based” food that would sate even the most carnivorous appetite. For hanging out, I would suggest the out-of-doors.  The two outdoor stores downtown, Actions Bikes & Sawkill Creek Outfitters are a great place to hang and rent equipment to get out into the great wilderness that surrounds our little city.

Q: The Time Honored Question: What 3 beers and 3 albums are you taking to the desert island?
A: Ooooh.  Such a difficult task. I will do a pairing for each.
1. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – The Beatles “Rubber Soul” – Epitome of an American Pale Ale.  My go-to when options are limited. The album is the sweet spot in the Beatles discography.
2. SingleCut Billy 18-Watt – The Dave Brubeck Quartet  “Take Five” – All the lupulin goodness, none of the hangover.  I miss this beer!  Any album with a title track in 5/4 wins in my book.
3. Fox N Hare Primitive Pils – John Prine, “John Prine” – The bonus of owning a brewery is you get to brew beer the way you want it brewed. To me, it is the perfect pilsner. I sell just enough to cover what I drink. Ha! The album makes me feel such a variety of emotions every time I listen to it.

Go visit Sean at Fox ‘N Hare in beautiful downtown Port Jervis- open Wed-Sunday