The Locke and Groton areas have a new brewery and tasting room on Route 90. Summerhill Brewing, located just past Equip Auto Body shop, held its grand opening on Oct. 12 at its brand new facility.
Owners Sallee and Jeff TenEyck, along with their son Kurt McDonald and their daughter-in-law Megan, first began their business licensing their garage, located on 384 Champlin Road in Groton, as a microbrewery in 2016. The business’s new location – a 3,000-square-foot building featuring a seven-barrel system, commodious tasting room and a patio outside– is on the same tax parcel that the family owns.
“We wanted to start small to see if it was going to be a viable business,” Sallee said. “I retired in 2014, and we were home brewing. My son always had an interest in making beer. He made some hard cider and things like that. We invited some people over and did some tastings informally. Just to see if, ‘Do you like our beer? Do you have any suggestions? Do you think it will sell?’ … It wasn’t too long before we realized we either had to get bigger or get out, because we had such a nice response and following that we couldn’t handle everybody in the garage.”
Kurt is a chemist at Cornell University, and he created just about every brew on the brewery’s menu, such as the “Millard’s American Ale,” which is a “variation on American Light Ale utilizing all malted grains instead of rice and corn,” and the “Summer Hillbilly Raspberry Wheat,” which is an “Amerian wheat recipe utilizing malted wheat, barley and Munich (barley) malt for the body” with an added raspberry puree.
“We do some seasonals,” Sallee said. “We do a maple stout. We use our maple sap for that. We do a pumpkin ale. As a brown ale, it’s a little bit different. We use a pumpkin puree. We use seasonal fruits in our wheat beer. We grow some of our own fruits. We grow some of our own hops as well.”
Megan has a culinary background and will be running the tasting room.
“We do a chili pepper beer, and she does the mixture of the chili peppers from beer,” Jeff said.
“We’re doing a beer and junk food pairing for Halloween,” Sallee said. “We’re going to do cheese and beer pairings. We work with Sinfully Sweet down in Homer. She’s going to bring some of her fudge up and do a fudge and beer pairing.”
Sallee said the business utilizes several local products in creating its brews. For instance, they purchase their maple products from Happy Jacks Maple Syrup in Locke, and their hops from places such as Ledyard Farms in King Ferry, NY and Skaneateles Hop Farms in Moravia.
The brewery’s new location is licensed as a microbrewery and a farm brewery. In order to receive a New York farm brewery license, one’s beers must contain 60 percent of New York hops and 60 percent of any other ingredients must be grown in New York. Some of their beers that don’t meet those requirements, like “Plato’s Haze,” which is a “New England style IPA hopped with El Dorado and Mosaic,” are brewed under the business’s microbrewery license.
Jeff and Sallee said they do not plan on selling their beers to bars or in cans.
“We want to keep it more community-oriented,” Sallee said. “Just have people come in and try some beers and sit maybe sit [outside] and just relax … a destination for them to come. That’s kind of what our goal and business plan is.”
Beginning on Oct. 17, the tasting room will be open from 3 to 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, 1 to 8 p.m. on Saturday and 12 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The brewery itself is not open to the public.