W-Central Nominees:

Spinelli headshot

Chris Spinelli – ROC Brewing, Rochester New York

Elected 11/7/16

Co-founder and CEO of Roc Brewing Co., LLC located in Rochester, NY.  Roc Brewing opened in 2011 with a small 1BBL system with a brewpub and our flagships contracted.  In 2014 Roc scaled up to a 7BBL brew house with all production in house and now employees 10 people with canning and draft accounts in five cities across NYS.  Locally I helped to found the 585Brewers group, which is a monthly meeting of local brewers building a community through common experience.  I have worked with the NYWCC to help build and promote NYS beers at the center.
Purpose Statement:
My goal and purpose for joining to the board is to help grow and promote NYS Craft Beer and build upon the great job the previous board has done to make this state great for craft beer.




Joe Bustos – North American Breweries, Rochester New York


Joe Bustos is the Senior Manager of Corporate Quality Assurance for the Genesee Brewery in Rochester NY. Joe is a lecturer at the MBAA Packaging Technology course and has worked on the technical quality aspects for all the brands underneath North American Breweries, including Magic Hat Brewing Co, Pyramid Brewing Co, Portland Brewing Co, and Labatt USA.

Joe first started homebrewing while studying at California Polytechnic for biochemistry. It was a natural progression to learn more about the microbiological and chemical process behind making beer. Immediately after college Joe worked in the yogurt industry in Napa Valley, CA, primarily working on packaging and microbiological testing. When the opportunity came up to work in the beer industry Joe moved 3000 miles from California to Rochester NY to work at the Genesee Brewery. One of the first projects was to assist in setting up a 75-barrel state of the art yeast propagation system.

Since the move Joe has lived in downtown Rochester, frequently working with local craft brewers on laboratory analyses and setting up taste training events for the local Rochester brewing industry members.

Purpose Statement:

For as long as I can remember I’ve been called an introvert, academic, even bookish (whatever that means). I’ve always had an easier time understanding the scientific process than understanding people. Going to school for biochemistry just made sense, and becoming a brewer was just biochemistry on a larger, albeit more fun scale. What goes in (water/malt/yeast/hops) must go out (beer/CO2).

Working at Genesee Brewery, under North American Breweries has afforded me the opportunity to work with breweries of all sizes. Through my work with the Magic Hat and Pyramid brands, I’ve developed an understanding for the problems that craft breweries face when trying to distinguish themselves amongst all the other options. With Labatt USA, I learned the intricacies of running an international and multi-site operation. At Genesee, I work side-by-side with people who have seen the ups and the downs of the industry, as well as study underneath the pioneers who developed the methods of testing that are used throughout the industry today.

I came into the industry with an aptitude for science and a willingness to work the long hours. Moving up through the ranks, I’ve learned to work outside of my comfort zone and though it may have taken longer than I’d like to admit, I’ve realized that I can’t do everything by myself no matter how many hours I work. When I finally realized the team’s success was paramount to my own success, I found that we could accomplish things that no one person alone could do by themselves. We’ve revolutionized the Quality department at Genesee. In just five short years, it has become arguably one of the best brewing production labs in the country.

Working with everyone to create events, like the Genesee Brewery’s Tap It Forward Fest, and helping to organize the monthly meetings for the local brewers (585 Brewers) has shown me just how much interest, cooperation, and passion there is within our industry. It’s this passion for learning and team building that I’m hoping to bring to the New York State Brewer’s Association. It’s the mixture of understanding that we can only succeed as a team and knowing that we must all maintain the highest standards for our products that makes the NYSBA and myself a good fit.

I’d be honored to represent the W-Central Region on Board of Directors for the NYSBA. Thank you for your consideration.

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Mark Neumann – President of Upstate Brewing Company, LLC, Elmira New York


Mark grew up in Horseheads, NY and attended college at SUNY Utica-Rome where he received a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. After college Mark moved to Los Angeles and had a successful career starting as Project Manager, and progressing to Business Development Manager, Assistant GM, and finally Vice President and General Manager of a $15MM regional construction company. Mark was an active member of the Engineering Contractors Association, a construction trade association. In Los Angeles, Mark learned how to homebrew and began experimenting with various beer styles.

A job opportunity arose for Mark’s wife Angela with Corning Incorporated and they made the decision to move back to New York and start a brewery. In 2011, Upstate Brewing Company was founded. It took approximately a year to find a suitable building, purchase the brewing equipment and receive approval for federal and state licenses.

Upstate Brewing Company opened for business in spring of 2012 and produced 50bbl of beer that first year. Since then, Mark has worked diligently to grow the Upstate Brewing brand. He has cultivated relationships with a number of distributors throughout the state while at the same time growing taproom sales at the brewery.

Mark pushed to have Upstate Brewing be one of the first breweries in NY to start canning their beers in 16oz cans. This has led to a great number of opportunities including two consecutive years of having the beers available at Citi Field for all New York Mets home games.

Two expansions at the brewery (2014 and 2016) have helped increase onsite sales as well as brewery capacity. Anticipated production for 2016 is 1,400 BBLs. Upstate Brewing currently has three employees to manage brewing production as well as taproom operation.

Purpose Statement:

If elected to the NYSBA Board, I will help further the growth of the NY brewing industry. We have a wealth of talent in the state and I believe NY should be one of the premier beer destinations. I will utilize my experience for the duration of my time on the Board to push NY to the forefront in the minds of craft beer fans locally and nationally.


Capital Region Nominees



Kevin Mullen – Rare Form Brewing Company, Troy New York

Elected 11/7/16


Kevin Mullen is the owner and head brewer at Rare Form Brewing Company, a farm brewery in Troy, New York. Kevin started in the industry as a bartender for a craft beer-focused bar in Colorado in 1998. Since then he has lived and breathed the craft beer culture working with brewers in Colorado, Washington, and New York. With more than seven years of non-profit administration experience, Kevin has started three non-profits, currently sits on the board of two, and did post-graduate work on the effectiveness of non-profit boards. Since Rare Form has opened, Kevin has been a part of numerous NYSBA events and lobbied at the capital to represent the needs of all breweries in New York.

Purpose Statement:

As a board member I would strive to use my collective experience, knowledge from fellow brewers, and passion for the industry to help advocate for farm breweries and all breweries in the capital region and across New York. I firmly believe that all breweries, no matter of size or license, can work together and create an environment that everyone can grow in.


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Erik Budrakey – Browns Brewing, Troy New York

Erik Budrakey has worked in the craft beer industry in one form or another for more than 23 years.  Erik started his craft beer journey in Fort Collins, CO as the GM for a brew-on-premise before taking over as manager of Coppersmith’s Pub in Brewing in 1998.  Upon returning to NY in 2003 Erik became the Craft Beer Division Manager for DeCrescente Distributing.  In 2012 Erik led the division to win the Craft Beer Distributor Achievement
Award by the BA and NBWA.  The following year DeCrescente was recognized as the Craft Beer Distributor of the Year in the nation.  Budrakey is a beer lover and Certified Cicerone that has worked directly with more than 30 different craft breweries on developing their branding and marketing strategies for the Capital Region of NY.  Now serving as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Brown’s Brewing Co in Troy/North Hoosick, NY, Erik is happy to be back on the brewers side of the table.
Purpose Statement:
I have worked closely both with the BA and the NYSBA in different capacities.  For the BA I have spoken at various conferences and panels on the marketing of small craft breweries.  With the NYSBA I served on a board to help develop the craft beer quality certification program and have worked independently to promote “all things NY Craft Beer”.  I look forward to utilizing my experience in various roles to work with the NYSBA to be the best that we can be.

 Hudson Valley Nominees

Nikki Cavanaugh – Rushing Duck, Chester New York
Elected 11/7/16

I graduated with a BA from The College of New Jersey and a Masters of Social Work and Public Policy from Rutgers University. I started working in the craft beer industry as a bartender in 2009 and continued until 2015 at craft-centric bars. In 2011, my husband, Dan, and I decided to open Rushing Duck Brewing in Chester NY. We opened our doors in 2012 as one on the first breweries in Orange County. Rushing Duck is a small family owned brewery that has grown tremendously in the last 4 years.

Purpose Statement:

The New York State Brewers Association’s efforts to improve laws in NY over the past 11 years has changed the industry dramatically and with these changes comes the need to expand the services and responsibilities of regional board member.

I believe that efficient communication between the NYSBA and member breweries is extremely important for growing and improving the NYSBA as an organization and our industry as a whole. Especially as more and more breweries open up, it is imperative that an open line of communication exists from the breweries to the NYSBA so that problems and concerns can be understood and addressed accurately. It is also of great importance that there is good communication from the NYSBA to the breweries to ensure that the breweries are up to date and aware of all of the initiatives the NYSBA has accomplished as well as future plans to help us grow as an industry. To accomplish this, I would organize a quarterly meeting within the Hudson Valley to discuss these issues and have an open door policy where breweries can contact me at anytime with any issues.

I would also work to improve the synergy between the breweries of the Hudson Valley and other related local businesses such as cideries, wineries, and distilleries. The Hudson Valley is a thriving tourist destination with people coming from all over to visit the great local businesses we have. I believe that opening a dialog with these other local businesses where cross promotion is encouraged would give us access to an untapped resource of customers that otherwise not be familiar with us.

Finally, I would like to initiate a program to help educate our local bars and restaurants about the great beer being produced in the Hudson Valley to encourage more of them to pour local beer. Many bars and restaurants seem to be stuck in an outdated mindset that local beer is inferior to beer from other parts of the country. I would like to make a point in helping these establishments understand that the quality and freshness of local beer is something unique to our area, and a valuable tool to set their business apart from the rest.

Bridging the communication between the hudson valley and NYSBA by having quarterly meetings to discuss the issues affecting HV breweries. Creating synergized tourism with local businesses including cideries, wineries, and breweries Discussing how we get hudson valley restaurants to pour HV beer.


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Hutch Kugeman – Brewery at CIA, Hyde Park New York

Originally from Connecticut, Hutch began his brewing career at the award-winning Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City, OR.  In 2002 he moved across the country to take a position at Great Adirondack Brewing Company in Lake Placid, NY.  While at Great Adirondack he received several GABF, World Beer Cup, North American Beer Awards, and TAP NY medals and was featured in Beer Advocate Magazine.  After 8 years at Great Adirondack and a stint at Ithaca Beer Company Hutch moved to the Hudson Valley in 2010 as founding brewer at Crossroads Brewing Company in Athens, NY.  During his 5 years at Crossroads the brewery was recognized with multiple medals at GABF and World Beer Cup as well as the Matthew Vassar Cup for Best Brewery in the Hudson Valley in 2010.  In 2015 Hutch was selected for his current position working with Brooklyn Brewery and the Culinary Institute of America at the newly built Brewery at the CIA, a combination production and educational facility.  At the CIA he works with culinary students to create beers for the restaurants and student commons of the campus that reflect the high standards of the school while teaching the students more about brewing and the world of craft beer.  Hutch is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the American Brewer’s Guild.

Purpose Statement:
I’d like to run for a seat on the board of the NY Brewer’s Association representing the Hudson Valley. After 14 years+ of brewing in NY, including the last 6 in the Hudson Valley, I’ve seen our industry grow from struggling to replace macro-lagers and imports on tap, to the current wide spread availability of great beer in every corner of the state.  It’s an exciting time to be part of the craft beer industry here in New York.  The current board has done a fantastic job of advancing our agenda in Albany and I’d like to help continue that work. I believe I can connect with all of the Hudson Valley breweries and provide the support you need to grow your businesses and brew great beer by being your voice on the board.  My current position at the CIA provides me with great connections inside and outside of the craft beer industry as well as allowing me the free time to work on behalf of the NYSBA.  I’d love to see us get to 100% brewery membership in the association as well as further tap into the craft beer retailers and customers who support us through the Beer Enthusiast program and Association Allied membership.  I also want to be able to provide education resources and training to our members by sharing the knowledge and experience many of us have.  Many of us talk to our friends or search the internet when we have a question about ingredients, technique, or equipment. I’d like to create a network through the NYSBA for sharing the information that we have all gained through our collective experiences.  We’re doing great things here in the Hudson Valley and through the NYS Brewer’s Association.  I believe I can help the board continue and grow our efforts by representing the Hudson Valley.  Cheers!

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Tom Crowell – Co-Founder/Owner Chatham Brewing, Chatham New York


Tom is the co-founder of Chatham Brewing, which will be celebrating its first decade of operation in December.  Tom can trace his love for brewing back to his childhood when he made root beer alongside of his parents’ basement experiments. He refined his skills in the late 80’s in Vermont, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in biology and environmental studies and grew into an award-winning homebrewer.  His first commercial brewing experience was in 1995 when he worked as the project manager and assistant brewer for Harbor Brewing, a pioneering project on the waterfront in Brooklyn led by Dick Ponzi of Bridgeport Brewing.  That project afforded him the opportunity to work with brewers from Long Island to Memphis.

Upon moving to the Hudson Valley, Tom worked on farmland protection and conservation with the Columbia Land Conservancy.  There he was exposed to the great variety of agricultural ventures blossoming in the valley and the connection to protecting our resources (clean water and fresh ingredients) and producing quality craft beer.  Seeing the opportunity for farm-based beverage production, Tom founded one of the first farm distilleries in the State before retuning his attention to craft beer. Chatham Brewing started with a 3.5 bbl brewhouse in 2006 and has since expanded seven-fold, anticipating production in 5,000 barrel range this year. Two-time winner of the Mathew Vassar Cup for Best Craft Brewery in the Hudson Valley at TapNY, the Chatham brand is now widely recognized throughout the Hudson Valley.

Purpose Statement:

As the Hudson Valley Representative to the NYSBA board, I would endeavor to continue the fantastic work that has been accomplished in recent years by the Association.  In the ten years that I have been involved with brewing in the Hudson Valley, we have seen unprecedented growth in the Industry. The recent streamlining and advancements with the SLA law have been monumental and are thanks in a large part to the work the NYSBA. I would strive to keep the open dialog with Albany going and push for continued reform to benefit of all NYS brewers, regardless of the class of license they hold and would work to see a more equitable and fair system evolve for delivering our products to the market.

The growth in the industry is the result of the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of our fellow brewers, but ultimately can be traced back to the consumer embracing the products being produced.  To that end, quality control needs to be in the forefront of all brewer’s daily agenda.  The NYSBA can play a critical role in education among its members, and is well positioned to be a clearinghouse for shared knowledge and technical skills.

The Hudson Valley is perfectly situated to be the epicenter for food and beverage tourism in the State.  I would like to see further efforts to promote this as an economic development strategy for the region, building cross-promotions between allied industries and the agri/culinary tourism. I think there is the opportunity for New York to develop programs for craft beer that would rival strong programs already in place in states like Vermont and North Carolina.

We are fortunate to be brewing in this time of explosive growth, but we need to realistic about future forecasting and need to continue to work hard to ensure continued success.  I would be honored to represent the Hudson Valley on the NYSBA board.  Thank you.




Tommy Keegan – Owner of Keegan Ales, Kingston New York

In the early 1990’s New York native Tommy Keegan began his (home)brewing career in San Francisco, CA while serving in The US Coast Guard.  After four years of active duty, Tommy studied at San Francisco State University, earning a BS in Biochemistry while working at Anchor Brewing Company.  Tommy went on to the Master Brewers Program at UC Davis, serving as the program’s first “Class Leader” and became a member (by examination) of the Institute of Brewing, London, recognizing him globally as a Master Brewer.

Upon graduation, Tommy moved back to New York where he accepted a position as a lab manger in the Neurobiology and Biophysics Department at SUNY Stony Brook before convincing Blue Point Brewing Company to hire him as head brewer.  After several years at Blue Point, Tommy moved to Kingston in the Hudson Valley where he opened Keegan Ales in early 2003.  Established as a well known regional leader in the craft beer arena for over 13 years, Keegan Ales now serves markets on the East Coast from the Canadian border in Vermont and New York to Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia.

Purpose Statement:

I suppose that if you’re reading this, it’s because you enjoy and have respect for a good beer, specifically one brewed in our corner of the world, the Hudson Valley.  I know that’s why I’m taking the time to write this.  With the experience that comes from over 13 years of founding and operating a brewery and tackling the obstacles common among us, I will be an asset to the NYSBA Board.

When I opened Keegan Ales in 2003, we began by brewing and self distributing kegs and growlers to local bars, restaurants and beverage centers.  Since then, we have added bottling, a restaurant, moved from self distribution to working with a distributor (now 17 in 9 states) and recently added canning to our portfolio.  We have worked with contract brewers to help us bridge the gap of growing pains and have acted as a contract brewer for other breweries, helping guide young brewing entrepreneurs.  Each of these accomplishments comes with its own set of challenges and obstacles.  It is these experiences that I believe makes me qualified to represent you in the NYSBA.  Thank you.
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Scott Vaccaro – Founder, Captain Lawrence, Elmsford New York


Starting as a curious 17 year old home brewer, I have spent that last 21 years of my life dedicated to the beer industry.   After brewing my first 5 gallons on the stove of my parents’ house as a high school junior, I embarked on a journey that has taken me across the country, the Atlantic and back again, all in the name of beer.

As an 18 year old home brewer I decided that if I was going to make this my life’s work the best thing I could do would be to enroll at the leading brewing school in the country – UC Davis.   After receiving my BS in Fermentation Science from UC Davis, I took my first professional brewing job as a brewer at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.   I spent just over two years learning from the pioneering brewer what it takes to make quality beer and how to do things right.

After being in CA for 6 years it was time to move back to the East Coast to be with family and friends…..and to open up a brewery.

In august of 2005 we put the jack hammers into the floor, at our original Pleasantville location, and 4 months later we were brewing our first batch of beer at Captain Lawrence Brewing.

I have taken Captain Lawrence Brewing from a two man operation to a 25,000 bbl/year brewery, now in our second location with 40 employees.   We spent 5 years self-distributing, many of which I drove the truck myself.   I have worked and enjoyed every single job in the brewery – tasting room bartender, packaging, cellar, brewing, delivery, sales, maintenance, toilet washing. I have done it all and still love what I do all these years later.


Purpose Statement

The brewing industry and community has given so much to me over the years, I feel it is my duty to take all the experience and knowledge I have accumulated and to give back. When I opened Captain Lawrence in 2005 there were only 48 brewers in New York.   The community was small and we all did our best to help one another.   In the past 10 years I have been involved in a number of important lobbying efforts that have changed the way we all do business as brewers in New York.

Past Accomplishments

Franchise Reform – I worked closely with the NYSBA board in helping to lobby the state to pass the ground breaking reform that has “unchained” us all form the shackles the wholesalers of New York once bound us in.   I sat across the table from the Sheehan brothers and the New York State Wholesalers Assoc and the Governors top aids along with other members of our association arguing the facts of reform and lobbying for our rights in heated debates.   We persevered though Governor Patterson veto of our bill and continued to fight for what was right until Governor Cuomo finally signed the bill, 8 years after the process began.

Tax Reform – After the Shelton Brother decided to sue New York State to strip New York brewers of our valuable and vital state excise tax exemption we all were caught off guard.   I worked closely with the NYSBA board to lobby our elected officials to give back a portion of our exemption.

Plans for the Future

Excise Tax Reform – As a board member I would work with our elected officials in Albany to increase the threshold for the exemption on excise tax barrelage so that growing brewers do not have to worry about hitting the upper limit of the exemption and pay excise tax on beer that would have been exempt five years ago. Just as the Brewers Association has been fighting to roll back the Federal Excise tax in brewer, we should be doing the same in NY as the best way to fight a tax increase is to always be fighting for a reduction so we are never caught off guard again.

Sales Tax Exemption on Keg – I would make it a priority to lobby New York State to change the sales tax policy on keg purchases. All the other equipment we purchase as manufacturers in NY is exempt from sales tax, for some reason kegs are not. This should be a focus of the Board, as it effects brewers of every size in our state.

Direct Shipping – I believe that we should be fighting to be given the same rights as the wineries of this state. With the growing number of breweries creating beers that command prices as high as bottles of fine wine, it would be a huge advantage to be able to ship directly to consumers, just as the wineries are allowed.   We are all allowed to self-distribute, and all have the right to sell directly to the consumer from tasting rooms, I do not see a logical reason for not allowing us to ship directly to consumers. There is no reason that wineries should be give this right and not brewers.

There are so many other issues that we need to tackle and I am dedicate to acting on them on your behalf. If I am lucky enough to get your vote I will work tirelessly to focus the board on the things that matter most to the growing breweries of New York. We have come so far in the past ten years, but we need to be looking 10 years ahead so that we can continue to grow all our businesses.

Phil Vallone
Phil Vallone – Owner, Roscoe Beer Company, Roscoe New York
Phil Vallone, Founder of The Roscoe Beer Company, producers of the Trout
Town line of beers is committed to producing high quality beer and enhancing
the experience of Craft beer enthusiasts.  He is the owner of several
successful and well respected transportation entities in New York State and
has served as an industry Association President for 2 years, continuing to
serve on its executive Board.
Purpose Statement
It is important to Phil that the concerns of
the small craft brewers are heard and their interests protected.  The
mission statement of the Roscoe New York Beer Company includes a commitment
to its community to develop a long term, sustainable product and destination
while providing meaningful employment and giving back to the community when
it can.