The Hudson Valley recently lost two icons of the craft beverage industry: Tommy Keegan, founder of Keegan Ales, passed away at age 50, and Gable Erenzo, owner of Gardiner Liquid Mercantile and former chief distiller at Tuthilltown Spirits, died at age 41.
In 2003, Keegan invested in the city of Kingston when he converted an empty building into Keegan Ales, which became one of the region’s most recognizable breweries. He introduced his award-winning brand to locals by first giving away free beer and then by hosting local artists and musicians.
“I’m sure every brewer or brewery owner will tell you the same story about Tommy: how when they first opened, he popped by to shake their hand, trade some beer, and offer help if they ever needed it,” says Geoff Wenzel, research-and-development brewer at Industrial Arts Brewing.
“He just realized that being a part of the community is also being a steward of the community,” says Lisa Hantes of Keegan, her husband of 14 years.
Gable Erenzo was at father Ralph Erenzo’s side when he founded Hudson Whiskey producer Tuthilltown Spirits and changed the beverage game in the region forever. The Erenzos were some of the first to bring distilling back to New York State — and the Hudson Valley — since the era of Prohibition. In partnering with a heritage farm from Ulster County, Gable Erenzo established Gardiner Liquid Mercantile and his own small-batch distilling company in 2015.
“Losing Gable so young was a huge blow not only to his friends and family, but to the craft beverage industry in the Hudson Valley,” says friend Yancey Migliore, co-owner and cofounder of Whitecliff Vineyard and Winery in Gardiner. “He had only just begun to make the contributions that a full lifetime would have brought.”