Welcome to your new farmstand bar
SARANAC LAKE — The new location of Hex & Hop Brewing, on Broadway in Saranac Lake, looks less like a taproom than a speakeasy.
A tiny brick storefront with a crimson door in a former pickle shop, Saranac Lake’s latest bar is the opposite of the first Hex & Hop in Bloomingdale, a big space with an even bigger outdoor tented patio where folks can drink pints under the Adirondack sky.
The new brewpub is the second venture from Ethan Mikesell and Nick Delaini, who opened the Bloomingdale taproom in July 2019, making beer that combined Mikesell’s love of beer with Delaini’s expertise in beekeeping.
The Saranac Lake location quietly opened on Aug. 22, serving 32-ounce “crowlers,” as in can-plus-growler, which are big cans of locally brewed beer that are pulled, capped and sealed at the long wooden bar that dominates the narrow room.
The cans are sold strictly to-go right now, thanks to the pandemic. Also sold to-go are jars of honey and maple syrup, and fresh produce from nearby farms sourced from the Tri-Lakes Regional Farmers Cooperative, a co-op project recently started by area farmers.
A cooler stocks more produce, plus noodles, flowers and botanicals from local producers. So you can order at the bar and then pick up potatoes, onions, carrots, lacinato kale and heirloom tomatoes while the bartender cans your Honey DIPA, Summer Crush or Moose Jam.
“We got the idea from going to the farmers market,” said Mikesell. Hex and Hop began attending the winter Saranac Lake farmers market held inside the Hotel Saranac, and has been at both the Saranac Lake and Lake Placid farmers markets since the spring.
“We wanted to make it more like a farm incubator,” said Mikecell, “to maximize the profits that go back to the farms.” The produce at the taproom is hyper-local, from small-volume farms. Mikesell also has the opportunity to buy any produce that doesn’t immediately sell, and put it to use in either their own kitchen or to nearby restaurants such as the Left Bank Cafe, two doors down.
“We’ve been open a total of five days, and we’ve already gotten interest from other vendors,” said Mikesell, who will likely start selling baked goods from a local bakery soon.
“You just have to start living in it,” he said, about seeing what else will stock the shelves and also if there will be any seating added.
“We may have to get creative, but right now we’re going to wait for restrictions to lift to go to pints,” he said about the physical distancing mandate. “We don’t want to push those boundaries.”
Mikesell and Delaini are also mindful of the inherent issue that bars and breweries face, with or without a pandemic. “We have a lot of fans in Saranac Lake that are conscious of driving and consumption,” said Mikesell, noting that many Saranac Lakers can now walk from their homes to get Hex & Hop beer.
Due to the new taproom’s licensing, the beers sold there are only those classified as farm beers — those made with a majority of New York malt and hops — which means that it doesn’t have the full menu available at the Bloomingdale location.
“It fits with the theme,” said Mikesell of the beer available at the new place. “It’s part of the New York ecosystem.”
On a recent afternoon, bartender Mikayla Ploof tipped foam from a full can, sealed it with a machine near the taps that looked a steampunk espresso machine, then set the can down next to a basket loaded with corn and melons. If you’ve ever dreamed of a farmstand bar, here it is.