Greene County Success Stories

Subversive Malting & Brewing Taps into Downstreet at their Catskill Beer Café

January 11, 2019


Max Ocean and Zane Coffey found the perfect location to bring their ‘Radically Local Farm Beer’ to Greene County.  Their Catskill Beer Café lives in a newly restored storefront between Village Pizza II  and DiStefano’s New York Barber Shop at 414 Main Street, Catskill, NY.

The Grand Opening Celebration on Saturday, January 26th marks a major milestone for these co-founders of Subversive Malting & Brewing, as they continue to embody their passion for craft brewing excellence.


So, What’s so Subversive?

Basically, everything about the way Zane & Max produce their delectable unfiltered brews using their own malt and 100% New York produced ingredients.

AwardWe could begin the story of how these partners got here when The Subversive Boys took home the grand prize in the Ithaca College Business Plan Competition in 2015 – but it goes back even further than that.

Max was born just across the Hudson River, and when Zane’s family relocated from Brooklyn, the two attended the same high school before both found themselves at Ithaca – Max studying journalism, Zane – film & photography.  Zane took a year off in 2013 to travel to Oregon (and catch the craft-brewing ‘bug’). 

Portland, Oregon had the largest number of breweries in the country at that time – and living there for a year, Zane’s hobby evolved into a serious passion. He returned to Ithaca in 2014, changed his major to Environmental Science, and began the task of convincing Max to start brewing as a business as they both turned 21.

Malting came first.

Subverstive-Supply-ChainWhile in the Finger Lakes region of upstate NY, Max experience the impact of the positive legislation and support had on local producers while working at a farm vineyard and winery. This ‘locally-sourced’ concept stuck with him, and while not really being all that interested in beer, Max embraced the idea of establishing a New York State Only Supply Chain that combined high-quality ingredients into signature products with a unique character, responsibility, and appeal.

VenerationAt the time, there were only 3 New York State malters creating base and specialty malts.  Zane and Max’s business plan was to malt brewing quality barley for their own needs first, selling any additional stock as 100% NYS-Sourced.

This has proved a continuing challenge as 2018 was the worst year for spring barley in recent memory and drastically reduced the amount of grain meeting brewing specifications. Until a resurgence in demand that began 10 years ago, New York farmers haven’t focused on growing malt-quality barley since prohibition. 

Brewing Subversive.

Zane-and-maxAfter 3 years of working on their dream business, the Subversive Boys released this on social media:

November 16, 2018 “Happy Friday, Dear Friends. Indeed, it is a happy one for us. Today we got our final approval from New York State to START MAKING BEER. We are happy.”

“Here is a photo of us almost exactly 13 months ago at Brouwerij Rodenbach in West Flanders, Belgium. We were happy then too.”

“The brewing begins tomorrow. The countdown to the opening of The Beer Cafe begins NOW.”


Tapping into Downstreet Catskill

The team bootstrapped their own buildout of the Catskill Beer Café over 2 months, and by the holiday season, were treating visitors to brews that defy traditional categories.

getting readyThe Subversive Method is pantry-driven.  Where most craft brewers begin with the end product (pale ale, IPA, pilsner, stout) in mind, Zane and Max start with the optimal combination of available local ingredients and produce signature batches – essentially creating their own categories.

Not from New England No.2 is a great NYS IPA that gets in a quiet dig at New England crafters that source from outside New England.

DrinkenBiere is simply that – a highly enjoyable NYS Keller Lager that will even satisfy people who think they don’t like craft beer. 

And the Subversive vision doesn’t stop at beer –

The 100% New York Supply Chain also features: Finger Lakes Wines (for any non-beer drinkers in your party); handmade slow-fermented breads from Catskill Bread Co.; locally produced meats and cheeses, and; the amazing Sauerkraut Seth Raw Sour Pickle – the perfect side with a fresh hot pretzel.

Sauerkraut Seth himself will lead Seth’s Sauerkraut Review – a live music montage featuring great local talent performing at the Grand Opening Celebration, Saturday January 26th, 2019.

Max and Zane look forward to welcoming everyone as they strive to work as a vital part of the Greene County business community.  They offer a special welcome to all who appreciate and value of local supply chains creating local products and the jobs that come with them.

All Subversive brews are available by the glass, the flight, or the growler.


If you would like to learn more about the craft beverage community in Greene County, NY download our FREE eBooks!

To get concierge service establishing or expanding your dream business in our 14 Catskill Mountain, Rural Valley and Historic Hudson River towns, contact the Invest In Greene team by email or call 518-719-3285 during regular business hours.

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Topics: Success Stories