The Brewmaster: Nikki Cavanaugh, Co-Founder and Co-Owner of Rushing Duck Brewing Company

By Julia Sexton / Photography By | May 15, 2017
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Owner of Rushing Duck Brewing Company in Chester enjoys a beer.
Being the boss, Cavanaugh isn't brewing as much as she'd like. But she still plays a major role in developing new brews.

Nikki Cavanaugh wouldn’t let poverty keep her from a good time; she learned to how to brew in college because she couldn’t scrounge sufficient beer money. It’s this just sort of can-do attitude that led her to open Rushing Duck in 2012 with husband, Dan Hitchcock. Since then, Rushing Duck beers have been flowing from Saratoga to New York City, where they can be found at craft beer meccas like Manhattan’s Blind Tiger Ale House and Brooklyn’s The Owl Farm.

Nowadays, Cavanaugh has been bumped upstairs. She spends her days running Rushing Duck’s taproom or grudgingly piled high in bills. She says she misses “the tranquility of just brewing every day,” but, happily, Cavanaugh still takes part in the development of new brews. Two of her proudest achievements are Rushing Duck’s flagship Naysayer’s Pale Ale and, her particular favorite, the brewery’s Beanhead Coffee Porter. That beer is brewed with Guatemalan beans that have been roasted by the women-owned Java Love Coffee, located in the Catskill town of White Lake, NY. As Cavanaugh lovingly puts it, “Those two beers are our babies.”


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