Alternative medicine

Opening of a craft brewery in Mt. Vernon; Alternative medicine offers 5 beers

A new brewery has opened in Mount Vernon.

Alternative medicine brewery opened Dec 18 but then closed due to omicron and holidays. It reopened in January, had its ribbon cut on March 17 and now serves five beers as well as cider, wine and snacks.

All of this is something of an achievement for the two owners who still have their day jobs and started this project at the start of the pandemic. Jordan Hahn, who works as a computer engineer, and Tom Ryan, a sound engineer, keep it running by brewing two to four times a week, often alternating when they do.

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They also make it work by altering what Hahn initially calls their “grand plans.”

“When we first came up with the concept, it was a 14-barrel brewhouse,” he said. “But then, because of the pandemic and all the issues around it, we scrapped that plan and decided to do a barrel.”

They have, however, set up their infrastructure in such a way that they can easily increase their capacity. They are already beginning to be able.

The Alternative Medicine Brewing Company bar in Mount Vernon, pictured March 23, 2022. The brewery offers a selection of beers brewed on site.

The entire operation is housed in a city building dating back to 1903. The pair retained the original exposed floors, brick and steel to create a unique industrial-looking interior space that can accommodate up to to 70 people in a long bar, a vaulted brick VIP room and plenty of tops and tables. It also has a pool table and a library that hosts a variety of games.

If you’re lucky and can be there on a day when they’re preparing, you can watch the process, through a door, from the main space.

As for the beer, expect five freshly brewed froths, including Juice Cleanse, a hazy IPA with what Hahn calls “a wet hop bite”; Commander Ryan’s Irish Red Ale, similar to a traditional Irish Red but with a hint of rye; MVNY Cream Ale, named after Mount Vernon and featuring 97% New York-grown beans and 100% New York-grown hops; G13 (official name: Ginger Triskaidekaphobia), a stout with lots of ginger and dark chocolate (and only available in four and eight ounces due to its high alcohol content); and Soursop Hard Seltzer, a prosecco-like dry seltzer that some people like with orange juice on weekends as a beer.

By summer, they’ll have seven drinks (likely six beers and a seltzer) and a guest cider on tap. They will also have bottles and cans available. Hahn said a West Coast IPA would likely be launched next.

Commander Ryan's Irish Red Ale from Alternative Medicine in Mount Vernon is similar to a traditional Irish Red but with a hint of rye.  Photographed March 23, 2022.

Plus, they age their 13% Imperial Stout in a bourbon cask from Warwick’s Black Dirt Distillery; expect it to be ready for release on their first anniversary in January 2023.

It all started with a home brew kit

The story of alternative medicine began 15 years ago and is like many others in the industry: both men love beer. Hahn was a home brewer who started tinkering with a kit his girlfriend (now wife) bought him. Eventually, he asked his friend Ryan, who had a house in Yonkers (and a bigger space than Hahn’s apartment in Inwood) if he could move his equipment there.

The founders of Alternative Medicine behind the bar of their new Mount Vernon brewery.  Jordan Hahn is on the right;  Tom Ryan is at left.

The two soon began brewing together, tinkering with the recipes they developed. And then, over what Hahn said was “probably too many glasses of beer”, he thought: why not open their own brewery? They found the space, a former Portuguese restaurant, through a social media post (and a survey from their current owner) and started working on its renovation themselves.

Fortunately for them, they are practical. And have friends who are handymen. The bar, which seats 13 stools, was made of wood the two found hidden under trash when they redid the space. Turns out it was Douglas fir harvested in the late 1700s that once had life as floor joists. The bar is now the centerpiece of the room.

What sets their beer apart, according to Hahn, is that they use traditional recipes that they put their own spin on, so everything has a slightly different interpretation. With the Irish Red Ale, for example, Hahn said he took a classic recipe and added rye to the cereal bill, which gave it a subtle, spicy kick. They also use as many New York ingredients as possible.

Don’t expect food (other than popcorn and nuts), although you can easily order from Caribbean Soul Food Delight next door or any other place nearby (they have local spot menus). The two also plan events with food trucks on the road.

There is also occasional live music. A standing battery sits in front of the beer making equipment. It turns out that Ryan is also a guitarist and the drums belong to his band, The Patroons.

Beer taps at the Alternative Medicine Brewing Company in Mount Vernon, pictured March 23, 2022. The brewery offers a selection of beers brewed on site.

If you are going to

Address: 29 Elm Ave, Suite 1A, Mount Vernon. 914-530-3269, alternative (If you are mapping on GPS, put 7 Portugal Place as that is where the entrance is).

Hours: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday; noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

FOR YOUR INFORMATION: Ryan and Hahn plan to introduce a beer club with special benefits for members, such as specialty beers, a locker to store their own glassware, and alternative medicine items such as t-shirts and pins.

Car park: Metered neighborhood parking in addition to a municipal lot at 16E E. Prospect Ave. between Park and North 3rd. The nearby MTA lot is also largely unused on weekends.

Jeanne Muchnick covers food and meals. Click here for her latest posts and follow her latest culinary adventures on Instagram @lohud_food or through the lohudfood newsletter.