Mark Jesse loves his hometown of Tupper Lake and wants to share this love with his community and travelers alike. He, with his business partner Joe Hockey, opened Raquette River Brewing in 2013. If there is any indication of Mark’s love, it’s Raquette River Brewing. What started out as a small tasting room with two barrels has grown into a ten barrel operation with a recently finished, and stunning, indoor Beer Hall. I sat down with Mark to talk about the brewery’s development, his vision for the future, and his newest project with his partner, Suzanne, the Faust Motel.
Mark had the idea to start a brewery after he retired from his first career. He began researching breweries across the country for ideas and to see what was out there making waves. After checking out the eclectic beer selection on tap at Raquette River Brewing, I see the inspiration he culled from across the country, which adds to the brewery’s originality and take on some of the finest trends in brewing today. According to Mark, the most popular beer on tap today at Raquette River Brewing is the Mango Wheat.
Other beers include Strawberry Wheat, Hefeweizen, Citrus Sour, and a selection of ales. In total, Raquette River Brewing has 12 different beers on tap, which is no small feat. My friend Kat and I settled on a flight of beer because there were too many interesting options. Our choices for the flight included the Mango Wheat, Imperial Pale Ale, Imperial Pumpkin, and Extra Stout. After tasting them all, I can’t say I have a favorite because each one was unique, but I do have extra love for the Imperial Pale Ale because — like every other beer drinker in America — I love IPAs. This one had a nice, hoppy finish. I love the boldness of IPAs and this one was crisp and bitter. The Extra Stout was also nice and chocolatey. I can see why people love the Mango Wheat, it's got the right blend of fruity and malty.
As we tasted our selection of beer, Kat and I talked to Mark about what his vision for the brewery is and how that has changed over time. He explained to us all the ways Raquette River Brewing is planning on expanding. We sat in the Beer Hall, which is an elegant space immersed in delicate yet prominent lighting. There is a wooden bar and a massive fireplace with a beautifully adorned wooden mantle. All of the stonework and woodwork was done by locals. Dan King is one such local talent and artisan that designed and made the chandelier. One significant value that Mark shares with his co-owners is the do-it-yourself attitude and the desire to collaborate with the local talent.
We spent much of the time that afternoon talking about how Mark wants the brewery to be a welcoming space in Tupper Lake that highlights the best parts of this community. He sees the brewery as a place where everyone is welcome, which is why the space is so big. He wants families, pets, locals, and travelers to feel at home in the place. In fact, this vision will be further expanded into two acres, which they just purchased. The brewery also collaborates with different community groups to host events like story slams and open mics, in addition to hosting regular live music performances.
Just talking to Mark that afternoon demonstrated his generosity and how it has helped to shape the welcoming feel of the place. During our talk, plenty of people would come up to him to say hello or to ask him to join in a game of foosball. This friendliness and openness has translated into the brewery’s atmosphere and into his new project, just next door.
With his partner, Suzanne, Mark has revived the Faust Motel. The Faust consists of eight cabins on one acre of land, within a stone’s throw of the brewery. Each cabin has its own unique design, both inside and out, and was completely renovated by Mark. Again, the do-it-yourself attitude and skills this requires has created a cozy, welcoming space. Each cabin includes its own retro style refrigerator to keep your beer cold and ready when you return back to the cabin after a day of adventure. The details in each cabin are what make it a special place. Not to mention, Faust has a Tesla and electric car recharging station out front.
In four years, Raquette River Brewing has turned from a two-barrel operation into a ten-barrel operation with 12 beers on tap. Mark said they soon plan on expanding even that number of barrels. It’s easy to see why people love this place because the beer is definitely top notch (you can pick up a growler if you can’t stick around), the food trucks offer delicious food, but the space is what adds to the brewery’s overall experience. This level of care and quality is also apparent in Faust Motel. Drop in some time and chat with Mark. He’s an interesting guy, and yes, the beer is some of the best local craft beer you can get in the Adirondacks.
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