This Month’s Featured Article

Brews & Blooms at Slow Fox Farm Brewery

By Published On: May 1st, 2024

In 2016, Matt and Miranda Mobley began their search for land in the Hudson Valley region, looking for a place where they could grow food and create a gathering place for the local community.

Matt, who grew up in Florida, was raised working on his family’s cattle ranch and in a number of restaurants they owned in the Tampa area.

When he moved to New York City after college, he met his now-wife, Miranda, and they quickly bonded over their love of food. They spent time working together in various farm-to-table restaurants in the city and honed their vision for what would become Slow Fox Farm.

After looking at land for a couple of years, they closed on their spot in Rhinebeck, NY, in 2018, and Slow Fox Farm Brewery was born.

Well, sort of.

The land wasn’t functioning as a farm at the time that Matt and Miranda purchased it, so they quickly got to work getting the ground de-rocked and irrigation systems put in. From there, they redid fencing, and within the first year were growing crops and raising animals on the property. In 2021 they opened their farm store, and in 2022 got the brewery up and running.

In the brewery

When Matt was in college, he spent time brewing beer as a hobby, but got much more serious about it when he and Miranda moved to Rhinebeck. 

“It started with years of intense home brewing and refining of recipes. Then it moved to scaling up and getting to know the commercial equipment and processes,” Matt explained. 

Comparatively speaking, Slow Fox is a pretty small brewery. They work on a three and a half barrel system, which means they only produce about 100 gallons of beer per brew. It all starts with the water. Matt said that they’re very lucky to have great water at the farm, which was one of the things that sold them on the land initially. From there, they combine the water with malt, which they get from Hudson Valley Malt, located in Germantown. 

“We’re lucky to have a locally grown product that is malted in an old-world style. It leads to a lot more complexity and flavor, and it doesn’t have to travel far, which is nice, too,” Matt said. 

Following the brewing process, the beer goes on to ferment for three weeks to two months, depending on the style. They then keg it and can it for serving and selling in the store. 

They currently have eleven beers on tap, including “Bad Helen,” an American Pale Ale; “Baby Hippos,” a New England IPA; and “Yard Bird,” a sour brewed with szechuan peppercorn and hibiscus and aged on black currant and plum.

In addition to its own beer, the tasting room features a fully stocked bar that offers a variety of NY State liquors, wines, and ciders as well as thoughtfully crafted cocktails that change seasonally and feature farm-grown ingredients. 

Slow Fox also hosts food trucks every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It works with a number of wood-fired pizza trucks, Brooklyn Oyster Party, and a handful of great local chefs. 

In the coming months, Slow Fox is moving into wholesaling, so you can look forward to seeing its beer appearing at various stores and vendors in the Hudson Valley region. 

Regenerative farming + taking care of the animals

Slow Fox Farm comprises a total of 53 acres of land with 23 acres of cleared fields and 30 acres of woods. It currently grows all flowers and vegetables on a little over one acre of usable ground. 

Matt manages a small herd of Scottish highland cattle and raises pigs and broiler chickens. “We’re also adding some ducks this year just for entertainment and because we love duck eggs.” 

As far as the horticulture side of things, Flow Fox grows a wide variety of vegetables, but it specializes in bagged salad greens, cooking greens, tomatoes, and peppers. It plants a half an acre of pick-your-own flowers, which will most likely open to the public in June. 

This coming season will also see the very exciting addition of a Hops yard. Matt plans to install trellising poles this spring/summer and plant around 200 cascade-variety hops in the fall. 

Matt and Miranda employ fully organic practices, which means they don’t use herbicides or pesticides. They weed everything by hand and for insect control, they love to use predatory pests and beneficial nematodes in their soil. This naturally combats the insects they don’t want without spraying any organic pesticides. They also utilize plastic mulch to cover and protect the soil, which they roll back when it comes time to plant. Matt and Miranda employ rotational grazing techniques and make sure all animals are raised as humanely and naturally as possible. 

As far as preparation goes for the upcoming season, Miranda just finished seeding the spring plants, while Matt has been catching up on projects and ramping up production in the brewery.

As the season progresses, the garden is a daily activity. Miranda spends most of her time planting, weeding, and harvesting while Matt manages the animals and brewery.

They typically have up to five different beers fermenting or needing to be packaged at any time. 

“And of course, there’s always weeding to be done and fences to repair,” Matt laughed. “We’re also getting pigs in another three to four months, and they’re always a handful.”

Creating connections

For Matt and Miranda, the biggest reward has been getting to know everyone in their community and making so many new friends. 

“Farming is oftentimes a very isolating job, you’re out there 95% of the time not talking or interacting with the people who are enjoying what you’re growing,” Matt said. “We centered a lot of our work around the store so that we get to meet our neighbors, and it’s been really great.”

On Saturday, May 4, Slow Fox will be hosting its annual spring fest. There will be craft tables set up for kids, food from Chef Misto, and plenty of beer. Additionally, it also hosts a cascarones egg smash. An Italian tradition, eggs are hollowed out and the shells are filled with confetti. Getting one broken over your head is supposed to be a symbol of good luck.

This season Slow Fox is offering two community-supported agriculture programs, which are available for purchase online – one for produce and one for pick-your-own flowers and herbs. The produce CSA starts the first week in June and ends the last week in October. The subscription consists of an array of vegetables that Slow Fox grows and will change as the season progresses. The flower and herb CSA also starts around the first few weeks of June and concludes either the last week in October or the first week in November – weather dependent. Both CSAs are offered on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

Slow Fox partners with a handful of other local farms to keep its store stocked with great products from around the region. It has fresh sourdough bread delivered weekly from To Have and Have Not Farm in Clinton Corners, farm-raised steelhead from Hudson Valley Fisheries, and various vegetables it doesn’t grow from Thousand Leaf Gardens and Mx Morningstar Farm. “When we don’t have our own pork we get that from Kinderhook Farms. They practice great animal husbandry, and we love their products.”

“We have a casual, laid-back, relaxed vibe here at the farm, and that’s the feedback that we get from customers, too,” Matt said. “We’re very accepting and we want everyone to feel comfortable here. Come on a weekend and check us out.” •

Slow Fox Farm Brewery is open on Fridays from 3-8pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 12-8pm. Visit in person at 41 Lake Drive, Rhinebeck, NY, or online at Follow Slow Fox on Instagram and Facebook @slowfoxfarm to stay up to date on special events and food truck schedules.