A Q&A with Tin Barn Brewing

When you’re looking for a fun hideaway to unwind with a good beer, good food and good people, Tin Barn Brewing is just the spot you’re looking for! You’re invited to settle in at one of their taprooms, enjoy a favorite brew or try something new (they release two new beers every week), and let yourself mellow out at this family and woman-owned brewery that asks only one thing of you: enjoy yourself.

Father-daughter duo Dale and Lauren VanPamelen are the creators of Tin Barn, whose flagship location is in the Hudson Valley. Their newest taproom, located in Dundee, overlooks stunning vineyards and eight miles of Seneca Lake.

We wanted to learn the backstory behind this partnership and what motivates them to brew and serve each day – and it quickly became clear that Lauren and Dale’s passion and joy for what they do is poured into every pint glass and square foot of their business.

“You can do anything you want to do, so go out there and do it! Just be ready for some hard work – it feels good.”


– Lauren VanPamelen

Brittany: Let’s take it from the beginning; how did Tin Barn start?

Dale: Lauren brought home a one-gallon brew kit a long time ago and said, “Let’s brew some beer!” I laughed and told her it’s not possible to brew beer at home, but eventually we gave it a try. We brewed one gallon of brown ale, and it was pretty good! We eventually started buying more brewing equipment, and after I sold my business at the time and was looking for something else to do, Lauren said, “Let’s start a brewery!”

Lauren: It’s true! I started with a one-gallon kit in the kitchen and no clue that I wanted to do this as my profession, which I LOVE. The only thing I’d add to Dale’s story is that we may have been splitting a few beers when that last line happened!

Brittany: I love that! It’s really neat to hear that what started as one gallon of beer has flourished into an entire brewery. What are each of your individual roles?

Dale: Lauren brews all the beer and she has about four or five people in the brewhouse that help her. I carry the beer from our Hudson Valley location to our Finger Lakes location, and the biggest part of my job is drinking beer with customers! I love talking about beer and learning what customers think is good about it and what they’d improve.

Brittany: Sounds like every day is a good day!

Lauren, did you ever imagine brewing beer being a full-time passion and that you’d eventually own and run a brewery?

Lauren: Absolutely not! When I was 23, I didn’t know craft beer existed yet and I didn’t drink beer at all, so it wasn’t anywhere on my radar as something I wanted to do. After I found craft, my whole life changed! Now, I think I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.

Brittany: That’s very inspiring – you just never know when or how you’ll find your calling. I read a statistic that women account for 23.7% of brewery owners, compared to 75.6% of men – however, it’s still really encouraging to see more women at the forefront of the brewery industry! Did you encounter any adversity when getting Tin Barn up and running? And if so, what helped you overcome it?

Lauren: I’ve got to say, there were plenty of hurdles to jump while opening this business, but no adversity related to my gender. Most of our concerns were related to water and turtles which seems crazy out of context!

Brittany: Sounds like we might need a follow-up conversation to get the scoop on that!

After checking out Tin Barn’s website and social media platforms, it looks like you all have a really fun atmosphere. Is this by design or the result of the natural energy you pour into what you do?

Lauren: We put a lot of effort into creating this atmosphere. We definitely wanted to create a warmer vibe where you feel comfortable and can hang out, and not like you’re in a library or fancy restaurant where you have to whisper. But that being said, I think a lot of it happened naturally by who we are, the amazing crew that helps create the Tin Barn experience, and the awesome customers that come through our door.

Brittany: What do you enjoy the most about what you do?

Lauren: I think it would be impossible to list one thing I enjoy the most. I love the production aspect and brewing – it’s hard work that makes you feel happy, and we have fun creating the beer. I love the crew that we work with in the tasting room. I love the customers that come through our doors and the crazy weekends filled with live music and happiness.

Brittany: That is awesome! And it’s so good to hear that you both really love what you do – that enthusiasm really shines through your entire business.

How about each of your favorite brews? I’m a lager girl, myself…

Dale: IPAs are my thing. Lauren loves sours – she makes very delicious sours that are fruity and easy to drink. They’re great year-round but perfect for summer.

Lauren: Fruited Sours and New England IPAs – I pretty much brew what I like to drink!

Brittany: What’s the secret to a great sour ale?

Lauren: Bacteria! I love kettle souring and the flavor profile I get from the bacteria we use.

Brittany: Now, I absolutely must touch on the food offerings. Do each of you have a favorite Tin Barn food menu item?

Lauren: You can’t beat the pizza and fresh cut fries. It’s a little boring but I love a Margherita pie with pepperoni on top.

Dale: Yes, we make really good pizza in our pizza oven – it’s humongous, with a 55-inch rotating stone. We also have a great taco menu at our Finger Lakes location – so now I’m torn between whether I like the tacos or the pizza better! We’re also looking at barbecue smokers so we can add that to the menu.

Brittany: Hey, pizza, tacos and barbecue all pair fabulously with a beer. I don’t think you can go wrong either way!

Let’s talk special events. Tin Barn had a keg drop for New Year’s Eve, which I think is so fun and unique, and very fitting. Do you host other special events like this?

Dale: We love themed days! Our Christmas tree lighting is pretty popular, complete with snow machines, music and a light show. We also do a winter luau where we dress the whole place up like you’re in Hawaii – we place grass skirts along the bar, put Adirondack chairs out with some sand and turn the heat up to 84 degrees so you really feel like you’re there! We also get fun bands that play tropical-like songs, and of course, everyone has to wear a Hawaiian shirt.

Brittany: That’s awesome, and I’m sure much appreciated during the winter months! I’d love to hear more about the live music performances.

Dale: Initially, it wasn’t in the plans to have live music. Fast-forward and we have up to nine- and ten-piece bands now! In fact, one of our most popular performances is an 80s-themed band, and we usually have to turn away 80 to 100 people when they play here.

Brittany: Very cool. To wrap up, what’s next for Tin Barn Brewing, and what can guests look forward to?

Dale: There’s a lot of new things coming down the line right now in terms of hops and yeast, and how we take those, innovate and constantly evolve our beer – especially IPAs. We’re working on that a lot this year because as things evolve, people’s tastes change.

Brittany: Lauren, anything exciting brewing on the sours front?

Lauren: We always have something exciting brewing! I am excited for the warmer weather so I can get into brewing some easy drinking fruited sours. I’m also very excited for some of the next Melted Gelatos I have geared up. Melted Gelato is one of our heavily fruited sour series – it drinks like a smoothie and is more like a dessert. On top of fruit, I may add ice cream soft serve mix, marshmallow, peanut butter or anything else crazy I can dream up!

Brittany: Wow, all of that sounds fantastic! What advice do you have for women looking to start their own business?

Lauren: I would say the advice is the same no matter what the industry: You can do anything you want to do, so go out there and do it! Just be ready for some hard work – it feels good.