Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Brewery showcased the power of a great “third place”

Thanks for the memories, Peekskill Brewery

The brewery was how we first discovered Peekskill after a day trip with some friends up to Anthony’s Nose from NYC. Post-hike beers sounded nice, so we pulled out our phones, and suddenly we found ourselves at the Peekskill Brewery, and in turn, in this cool little city on the Hudson.

It wasn’t long before we were considering moving to Peekskill, a city we’d never heard of before that fateful stop at the brewery.

A few months later we purchased our Peekskill home, closing the deal with the editor of this very newspaper. After receiving the keys to our new old home, we headed straight to the brewery to celebrate our official residency in our adopted hometown.

A month later we walked from the Peekskill Metro North station with two roller bags containing the last items from our Brooklyn apartment and met up with some new Peekskill friends at the brewery — they had organized an unofficial “Welcome to Peekskill” party for us before we rolled those bags up Hudson Avenue and finally settled into our exurban digs.

Fast forward almost seven years and the memories made at Peekskill Brewery are innumerable. Friends, family, food, fun, community, coalition, connections, music, dancing, hooping, the list goes on.

Oh, forgot to mention beer.

That’s how much more than just a brewery this place was to us, and to so many in the community. The beer was just an excuse to gather and connect as folks sharing the common bond of finding ourselves in this little bend along the Hudson River.

Big cities have sports teams to unify their diverse populations — populations that on an interpersonal level may have very little in common.

In small cities, I think our breweries serve the same role.

Peekskill Brewery proudly wore the name PEEKSKILL on its sleeve and it made us all proud of that silly-sounding Dutch portmanteau we call home. We would don our PB swag and proudly represent our city. When we’d see PB on tap or in cans in another other city we’d gloat “we’re from Peekskill!”

It’s silly, but it’s also true.

And we’re not alone. On Instagram, Jeanne Muchnick of Lohud posted about the brewery’s closing and the response was overwhelming. 144,702 views, 976 likes, 242 comments, and 3,063 shares. Everyone is seriously bummed out and mourning the loss of Peekskill’s riverfront institution.

But what was it about the brewery that creates this type of response?

Simply put, Peekskill Brewery was one of Northern Westchester’s great third places.

A “third place” is a place in a community that’s not home and not work. It’s a place where the larger community can gather regularly and informally to foster relationships, make connections, and just have a good time. Third places are essential in creating a “sense of place,” transforming cities from mere places to live into  places that are full of life. 

We’re lucky that Peekskill has its share of third places. The Peekskill Coffee House, which recently celebrated 20 years in business, is without a doubt an incredible third place. There’s also our many pubs, barbershops, corner stores, churches, public parks, and even our nacent public space experiments like Esther Place.

But Peekskill Brewery probably stood above them all in pure third-placeness thanks to its ideal location, scale, diversity of offerings, local pride boosting branding, and of course, its core product which just happened to be a social lubricant. This combination of factors explains why it was like a magnet, drawing locals and visitors alike — and in cases like ours, converting visitors to locals.

That’s the power of a great third place.

They can be the best marketing, economic development, conversion, and retention tools in a city’s civic arsenal. In our case, Peekskill Brewery was the top of the funnel and we went all in, not only becoming Peekskill residents and taxpayers, but becoming voluntary Peekskill cheerleaders.

Those friends we went hiking with when we discovered Peekskill Brewery all those years ago? We convinced them to move up to Peekskill a year after we did, and a few years after that they started a third place of their own: Benny’s Brown Bag. So if you find yourself enjoying a tasty Benny’s sandwich one of these days, know that you can trace your lunch’s lineage all the way back to the Peekskill Brewery.

And because of that, the Peekskill Brewery will be missed but never forgotten. Its impact on Peekskill was real and transformative.

Best wishes to all the owners, staff, and friends as they reorient. And best wishes to Peekskill as we reorient. Let’s be inspired by what Peekskill Brewery accomplished and do all that we can to create and support more amazing third places in our humble city on the Hudson.

Dennstedt is the founder of Peekskill Exurbanist and can be found on and on Instagram as peekskill_exurbanist.