Since Mean Max Brew Works opened its doors in 2014, owners Matt Barry and Dave Walls have drawn in patrons with a large, comfortable space, along with a vast, creative menu of distinctive (and delicious) craft beers.
Nearly a decade ago, the brothers-in-law began home testing their recipes, combining unique ingredients with traditional brewing methods, which gained the accolades of family and friends. This support encouraged Matt and Dave, along with their respective wives, Anne and Jill, to build their downtown Glens Falls business.
The local-minded farm brewery & taproom grew into a popular gathering spot, booming with weekly trivia participants, dart league members, and countless patrons supporting live musical performances. Unable to host large crowds as of March 2020, the team has taken a step back this year, reviewing new opportunities and collaborations.
“The silver lining of the pandemic is that it has been a chance to build new relationships, and to solidify existing ones,” shared Jill.
Learn how the Mean Max team has pivoted and stayed positive, often leading efforts to keep not only their business – but the collective community – united and thriving.
In It Together
Since its beginnings, Mean Max has been a “BYOT” (Bring Your Own Takeout) facility. The business does not serve food, but encourages patrons to support local downtown businesses and eat within Mean Max. This enables customers to enjoy Mean Max’s atmosphere and space, plus their beverage menu of 24 on-tap beers, New York State wines, and craft cocktails made with locally distilled spirits.
The pandemic provided another chance for Glens Falls neighbors to support one another.
“At the start of the pandemic, The Queensbury Hotel offered takeout family meals,” recalled Anne. “Their team would ask customers if they wanted Mean Max beer to-go with their dinners. Likewise, we told our customers of all the takeout options in town.”
As the warmer weather approached bringing more outdoor diners, nearby Ridge St. restaurants Farmacy and Radici partnered with Mean Max, creating special menus to accommodate patrons utilizing the tap room’s ample space.
“It’s a win for everyone, safely helping to expand all of our customer bases,” said Dave.
Collaborations within the craft beverage industry have also stayed strong.
“We loved how Springbrook Hollow Distillery widely distributed their hand sanitizers to their partners and the community,” said Anne.
Mean Max and Springbrook carry one another’s products. When Mean Max switched to strictly pick-up and delivery, a complimentary hand sanitizer was included with orders.
Also in March, Mean Max joined Other Half Brewery, and many other breweries around the world, to brew All Together Beer with 100% of profits supporting the hospitality industry devastated by COVID-19.
In June, Mean Max brewed Black Is Beautiful, a worldwide collaboration hosted by Weathered Souls Brewing in San Antonio, TX. Profits from the full bodied 10% ABV Stout went to the Glens Falls Branch of the NAACP.
Mean Max has also put greater focus on their self-distribution efforts in 2020, and is now distributing to six counties of New York State.
“This has been a challenge with nearly no days off,” shared Matt, who indicated that a nationwide shortage of cans – driven by demand of canned beverages during the pandemic – is the latest threat to craft beer. Putting forth that collaborative spirit, there have been times Mean Max has had to help others to be able to can their beers at all.
“But being small has really paid off. We’ve been able to concentrate on this piece of the business and grow it substantially.”
Even during these challenging few months, Mean Max has hired a new bartender and a part time production member of their brew crew.
“We’re feeling good,” said Dave. “I call it guarded growth. We are continuing to grow slowly in the sustainable way we want to do it.”
Their Customers – Not So Mean
At the pandemic’s start, Mean Max offered delivery, and many customers continued to support – and heavily tip – the staff through on-site pick-ups.
As customers embraced outdoor activities, many brought along cans from Mean Max’s Great Range IPA series, honoring local points of interest such as “Roostercomb,” (a New England IPA named after one of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks) and “Tahawus” (an American IPA named for an Adirondack ghost town). Mean Max fans often share photos of hikes throughout the region, featuring their celebratory beers on social media.
The warmer weather also brought many patrons to Mean Max’s outdoor seating area. Creamsicle beers, in flavors like strawberry and pineapple (“light, happy beers,” says Anne) were popular summer choices. Dark beers also have clear fans, and a definite favorite is “All Fluffed Up,” a peanut butter and fluff porter.
“I think no matter the recipe, it’s always beer-centric,” said Dave. “You’ll taste the flavors but it’s a beer first and foremost.”
In recent weeks, New York guidelines have changed in response to increasing COVID-19 cases, forcing restaurants and breweries to close by 10 p.m.
“We are a site people visit after going to restaurants,” said Dave. “While we are conscientious, and feel guidelines are important, we’re also a final wind-down destination, so this setback is difficult for us, our staff and customers to juggle.”
Treat Your Beer Lover
As the holidays approach, Mean Max remains committed to local-minded philosophies and seeing downtown Glens Falls shine.
Mean Max has a new selection of merchandise perfect for gifts, as well as an exciting new collaboration.
“We’ve been working with Yankee Distillers for awhile, but this is the first time we’ve put our products together in a gift pack,” said Dave.
The Beer and Bourbon Bundle includes beer and bourbon glasses, plus a limited edition shotgun porter aged in Yankee Distillers bourbon barrels, and Yankee Distillers’ straight bourbon.
Set your calendars! “Small Brewery Sunday” is the holiday we didn’t know we needed!
The premise, created by the nonprofit Brewers Association is simple: Beer lovers can support small and independent craft breweries by visiting and supporting taprooms and brew pubs.
Small Brewery Sunday takes place on Sunday, November 29. Mean Max will be open and encouraging local support on this day and throughout the entire holiday season.
Mean Max Brew Works is located at 193 Glen St. in downtown Glens Falls. They are open Tuesday-Thursday starting at 5:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday starting at 3:00 P.M. Follow them on Facebook, or on Instagram at @meanmaxbrew.
Special thanks to The Julie Snyder Team, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, for supporting this story.
Says Scott Warden, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson: “We are happy to support Mean Max Brew Works and encourage the community to stand behind them during these challenging times. The brewery has brought a lot to Glens Falls since opening– great music, a friendly atmosphere, and of course, excellent beers! Their stouts and porters are a must-try!”