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Can-tastic! Long Island Breweries Look to Aluminum

It’s what defined “craft beer” from “macro” for a long time—craft in glass bottles, big beer in cans. Canning has become cheaper and lighter, but, more importantly, there have been improvements in canning technology so the beer doesn’t react to the can, producing off-flavors. These developments didn’t go unnoticed by small breweries wishing to cut costs while preserving the taste of their crafted brew. By switching to cans, breweries achieve greater penetration into beach venues and sporting arenas that don’t want the waste and hazards of glass bottles. Canning is increasing within Long Island’s breweries, some having made the leap, with more planning to jump to aluminum.

Blue Point Brewing Company

Two cans of Blue Point Brewing Toasted Lager  Two cans of Mosaic Session IPA from Blue Point Brewing

No surprise that being one of the elder statesmen of breweries on LI, Blue Point was one of the first to start canning in 2012. Blue Point’s canned beer includes its flagship Toasted Lager, the popular Summer Ale, White IPA, and Toxic Sludge, and most recently Rastafa Rye Ale and Mosaic Session IPA.

Montauk Brewing Company

Cans of Montauk Brewing Driftwood Ale, Summer Ale, Session IPA, Hop Blonde Ale, and Arrowhead Red Ale This brewery at the end of Long Island’s South Fork began canning in 2014. Now, you can find its beers all over the Island, even at impressive venues like Citi Field. Its lineup includes Driftwood Ale, Summer Ale, and Session IPA.

Montauk Brewing is also releasing Hop Blonde Ale, a 5% ABV, hoppy American blonde ale made with Nugget and Ahtanum hops in the beginning of September, and Arrowhead Red Ale, a 5% ABV, Irish red ale, which will be released by the end of the year.

Port Jeff Brewing Company

Cans of Port Jeff Brewing Party Boat Session IPA, Beach Beer, and Overboard Port Jeff first canned its Party Boat Session IPA, and it was an immediate success. Never one to be ordinary, Port Jeff began canning four-packs of their H3 Trippel, a Belgian-style ale, and Overboard, a Russian Imperial stout in 2015. In June, Beach Beer, a Belgian-style wheat beer, was also added.

Great South Bay Brewery

Cans of Great South Bay Field 5 Golden IPA 2015 was the Year of the Can for GSB and its Field 5 Golden IPA. It also introduced Long Island to the “Crowler,” a 32oz. can filled to order in GSB’s tasting room with any choice of beers on tap. Personally, I want to see its popular Blonde Ambition American Blonde Ale and Blood Orange Pale Ale in six pack. I can only hope.

Blind Bat Brewery

Aluminum bottles of Yorker Ale, Commack Common Ale, Echolocation IPA, Midnight Train to Jodhpur, and glass bottles of Purgatory Porter and Hells Gate Golden Ale Blind Bat has been appearing at farmers markets with something shiny and new. Instead of cans, its using aluminum bottles. Some of the new bottles are Commack Common Ale, Echolocation IPA, Midnight Train to Jodhpur, an American black ale, and Yorker Special Bitter.

Barrage Brewing Company

Barrage is looking to release two of its beers in cans before year’s end. First, will be their American IPA Galaxy Beast. Initially the cans will only be available for sale at the tasting room, so don’t look for them at your local distributor… yet.

NB: Photos taken at Bellport Cold Beer and Soda in Bellport, New York, except for Montauk Brewing Company and Blind Bat Brewery which were provided by the breweries.

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Photos from Long Ireland Brewery’s 1st Pintwood Derby

From a spark of inspiration within the mind of Long Ireland Brewing’s Dan Burke, to the surprise hit of the summer, the DnU team were thrilled to be amongst the two hundred people that experienced the Pintwood Derby, on Saturday, July 26, in Riverhead, New York. There’s talk of making this an annual event, and, if so, look out competitors! The DnU Generic Wheeler will be burning across the finish line faster than I can complete a sentence, which is actually a long time if I’m being completely honest—sometimes I do run on.

Posted in busman’s holiday, field trip.

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Beer, Beats, and Bicycles: Honoring Ed Hahne

Ed Hahne Memorial Beer Brunch Poster Over 200 people packed into the main room of Bobbique in Patchogue, New York, on Saturday, June 20, to snack on brunch bites, hoist a pint for a good cause, and to share memories of Ed Hahne, for the Ed Hahne Memorial Beer Brunch.

Ed Hahne, music educator for over 40 years, Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts (LIMBE) treasurer and cycling enthusiast, tragically passed away last July. His loss was deeply felt within the Long Island beer community, where his presence and friendly smile welcomed everyone at breweries and events.

Spearheaded by LIBME, Eric Rifkin, owner of Bobbique, and Andy and Lynda Calimano from Starfish Junction, the proceeds of the brunch and silent auction brought just under $7500 for two great causes: The Ed Hahne Memorial Scholarship, presented to a student and marching band member from Ed’s alma mater, Stony Brook University; and, Recycle-A-Bicycle, an organization helping “to foster youth development, environmental education, community engagement, and healthy living.”

The recipient of the Ed Hahne Memorial Award and Scholarship for 2015, Dan Wood, played during the brunch. Dan was chosen from a pool of eleven nominated students, and exemplified, as the Ed Hahne Award site states:

… [The] band member who best captures the spirit of Ed Hahne, a music educator for 41 years. The recipient should be one whose enthusiasm and humor are contagious, whose friendship transcends class time, and who encourages and inspires dedication to superior performance.

Lee Ann Hahne, Ed’s widow, spoke at the event, saying her husband felt he was the “luckiest guy in the world” to be apart of this community. The memorial brunch was one of the ways that the community showed how lucky we were to have Ed. Encouraged by the substantial turn out, the organizers are hoping to make this a yearly event.

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Long Beard Brewing finds its place in Riverhead

Long Beard Brewing Logo

Logo courtesy Long Beard Brewing

The lease has been signed and key is in hand. After three years of searching and plenty of waiting, Long Beard Brewing finds a new home in Riverhead, New York, at the former East 2nd Street firehouse, just two blocks away from Main Street.

When we spoke in 2014 to Paul Carlin and Craig Waltz, brewers and co-owners of Long Beard, they had their eyes fixed on Long Island’s booming beer town:

Paul and Craig of Long Beard Brewing

Paul and Craig
Photo courtesy of Long Beard Brewing

“We feel, right now, [Riverhead] is our best option for a number of reasons. The first is it’s a destination spot. Riverhead has become a hub for craft beer on Long Island. You can’t argue that. We have done a lot of research and spoken to a lot of people to help make that decision. One of the more important aspects of our brewery will be our tasting room. We want people coming in droves! Being in Riverhead will make that easier. Look what’s going on there! You are in wine country, in a town that is putting effort in revitalizing main street and bringing in much needed business and tourism. The town, itself, is friendlier to our industry, and the beer tours will be always coming in with business. It just makes sense.”

East 2nd St Firehouse in Riverhead, New York

The 2nd St Firehouse
Photo © Google Maps

They are taking over part of the firehouse, about 3,000 sq. feet, and will begin construction on the brewery portion first, with a tasting room to follow. Long Beard Brewing becomes the forth brewery in Riverhead, with neighbors Long Ireland Brewing, Moustache Brewing, and Crooked Ladder Brewery turning Riverhead into a Brewmuda Triangle. (Good pun, but wouldn’t it be Brewmuda Rectangle? — ed.)

Inside the empty 2nd St firehouse where Long Beard Brewing will open its brewery

Inside the empty 2nd St firehouse where Long Beard Brewing will open its breweryInside the new space where Long Beard Brewing will open.
Photos courtesy of Long Beard Brewing.

Long Beard is ready to start its next chapter—getting its beer into the market. Paul is excited for the future of the brewery location, saying, “This gives us tons of room for growth and a sweet kick-ass tasting room that [when completed] will have a look and feel that will make you to never want to leave!”

Follow Long Beard Brewing on Facebook and Twitter.

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Ferment-Me-Nots : Questions to avoid asking your new local brewer

Recently attending the one-year anniversary party of Moustache Brewing—it seems like yesterday it was just breaking ground to its brewery in Riverhead, New York—with a pint of Milk and Honey Brown Ale in my hand, I started to think of other Long Island brewery births I have witnessed. I have watched many go from home brewer, 3-bbl systems, their first van, their first bottling line, to seeing them sell beer out of state.

Two plastic pints of Moustache Brewing beer, one amber and one dark, by a paper bag with Moustache’s logo


It’s no surprise. The Brewers Association just listed NY 2nd in new brewery openings, 67 in 2014, and a 54% production increase over last year. There are five Long Island breweries I know of that are in the process of getting licenses, leases, or opening tasting rooms. It’s a small community, and there is a good chance you’re a friend or a friend-of-a-friend of a brewer.

Talking to brewers—and attending a grand opening or two—I have come across questions that seem to pop up every time a new brewery rears its foamy head. They’re starting to get old, and some, frankly are starting to make me cringe. Maybe it’s because I’ve asked a couple of these questions, too (d’oh!). I think it’s time for “new brew” etiquette. Why look at me, I’m the Emily Post of beer!

> Q: Can I have a free t-shirt or pint glass or…?

T-shirts and other items are a popular way to get the brewery’s name out into the public. Friends may ask, “Hey who’s that? Where are they?” This merchandise is also a source of income, small it may be, that help fund that brewery. Don’t assume that the brewery is giving away swag for free. Don’t get bent out shape when the friendly volunteer behind the counter asks for your credit card. If you want something, ask how much it is, even if you know the brewer. Don’t put him or her in an awkward situation. If you get it for free—sweet! If not, pony up and help the brewery out.

> Q: I invested in you in Kickstarter, so why can’t I get a free…?

A line of Long Island brewery imprinted pint glasses

One of my many brewery “investments.”

Many breweries use or have used Kickstarter to help with some aspect of their business plan. Kickstarter is a crowdfunding website. Funders donate money to a business, and when it reaches its goal funders get something in return. It could be something as simple as a sticker or as grand as getting to name a beer depending on the amount donated. However, people are beginning to demand a lot for their $15. Why can’t I get free beer? Can I get a discount on that tulip glass? Why don’t I get first crack at bottle releases? Hey, you gave your money; you got your t-shirt. That’s it. The brewery is not beholden to you. Believe me, they really, really appreciate your donation, but you got something in return. Breweries are in the business of making beer, not comping their special customers. And speaking of free beer….

> Q: I know the brewer, so why can’t I get a free…?

I know the brewer, too. I know lots of them. I don’t expect free beer from any of them, at any time. Remember that awkward situation with the swag? Don’t do the same thing with the brewer’s source of income. Full disclosure, some brewers give me free beer—like, all the time. But I don’t expect it or demand it whether or not I know the pourer. Don’t make the employee behind the taps uncomfortable by saying, “Me and the brewer, we’re like best buds. She gives me free beer all the time!” Plunk your dollars down, and maybe next round you’ll get a free refill. If you do get a freebie, sneak a few dollars into the tip jar. Every dollar helps a brewery grow. Now, don’t you feel better?

Coming soon-ish sign on Blind Bat Brewery’s soon-to-open brewery

Best. “Coming Soon” Sign. Ever.
Photo courtesy: Blind Bat Brewery

> Q: When are you opening?

I’m positive when this question gets asked, a brewer loses his wings. We can’t help it. I understand; I really I do. We just want to know when we can get our hands on the wonderful, new deliciousness. Breweries try their best to give a grand opening estimation, but something always happens. ALWAYS. The inspector is on a two-week vacation, or the gas line is in the wrong spot. Congratulation, they’ve found asbestos! Better questions are, “How’s things going?” or “How are you doing?” It gives the brewer a chance to vent her frustrations but also relate all the good things that are happening at the brewery construction.

> Q: Why don’t you make more beer?

Stainless steel kettle and fermenter tanks

This costs more than my Saturn when it was a new, plus a side order of a tricked-out Kia.

Maybe because you are distracting them? Do you know how much those shiny new steel vessels cost? Holy crap balls! Yeah, that much. A lot of new brewers work two jobs to make ends meet—the one where their building their brewing business from the ground up, literally, and their actually-getting-paid full-time job. They have limited time. Maybe they can only brew at night or on the weekends, searching for the right balance of brewing, working the tasting room, brewery paperwork, etc. So be kind. Give them the time they need.

Also, please try not to disturb a brewer at work. Some have to brew when the tasting room is open. Your desire to chit-chat doesn’t help them when they should be cleaning kegs. Let the brewer be your guide. Wave hello, then walk away. Have patience with a new brewery. It may not be at your favorite bar yet, but give it a year or two. It’ll be there. Soon-ish.

Posted in booze etiquette, drunken missives.

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Lagunitas Olde GnarlyWine

Lagunitas Olde GnarlyWine

  • Spiced apple
  • Sweet! with that ol’ Lagunitas hoppiness and spice.
  • Pleasantly bitter

2015 limited edition. 10.6 ABV. 22oz. bottle.

I probably review more barelywines than the average beer drinker ever drinks in a lifetime. I admit, I am searching for a easily accessible replacement for The One. So please indulge me as I review yet another bitterly sweet high-alcohol barleywine. I tell you with pure intentions, once you get into the barleywines, nothing is the same.

A bottle of Lagunitas GnarleyWine with a glass filled with the dark caramel-colored beer.

A GnarlyWine barleywine.

I approached the Lagunitas Olde GnarlyWine with trepidation. Unlike many of my peers, I haven’t found a Lagunitas beer that I enjoyed. Its beers are consistent, for sure, displaying a hop spice that just overwhelms me. Whatever it does, it does well, but it’s just not my wheelhouse.

But I’m not one to pass up a chance for that barleywine experience.

The nose got me worried. I sensed that copper flavor that is endemic to many barleywines. It’s something I’ve resigned myself to, as it seems like it’s a usual accompaniment to the process. (Not The One, of course. Never The One.) So my first sip came as a surprise. There was intense sweetness in the malt—candy sweet. That Lagunitas hop blend was lurking in there, too, but the malt slammed in first, blending excellently with the bitter hops beneath. I thought the sweetness was too intense at first, but each sip became more relaxed as the hoppiness built up a nice foundation to complement the malt. Here is a Lagunitas that I can enjoy.

Of course, it’s a limited release, and it’s not even on the Lagunitas website. So I doubt I’ll have much more time to enjoy it. It’s not The One, but it’s in the ballpark, which is all I ask for. I found the 22oz. for $5, too, so it’s extremely reasonably priced. And after consuming the bottle, everything becomes a little bit fuzzy, a little bit sweeter, and that’s a gift I’ll always treasure.

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Dogfish Head Piercing Pils

Dogfish Head Piercing Pils


  • Floral pear
  • Sweet; Frontal hop kick that overwhelms the other flavors
  • Unique pear tea flavor that lingers

12oz. bottle; 6% ABV

As a big fan of pear juice in my alcohol, trying Dogfish Head Piercing Pils was inevitable as soon as I saw it. And in a pilsner-style? Be still my beating heart.

Chilled to a comfortable 45°(F), the golden pils poured into my glass with just the right amount of suds and the wonderful aromas of pear and elderflower. This was going to be great, I thought. But the first sip smacked my palette with spicy hops. Of course. I know that to be a serious beer in this modern world, the hops must be ramped up ever higher.

Piercing Pils. It’s right there in the name, Fervere!

After my initial hop shock, I tasted some delightfully playful flavors. The pear tea brings complex botanicals that really work well with a pilsner. Piercing Pils has the sweetness and gravity that I look for in good pilsners—it pours a bit more heavy than the color would suggest. The snootful of aroma that surrounds each sip is highlighted by those tea botanicals and a subtle, acidic pear scent. It starts with a unique promise and ends with that promise paid off, but, in the middle, those sharp, spicy hops seem to come from a different beer.

Listen, I’m going to enjoy my 4-pack. This isn’t a beer that’s double-hopped-up-the-wazoo. Compared to the mildest IPA, the hops in Piercing Pils are barely there. It’s a very enjoyable, unique beer, and it’s certainly possible that everyone else will find the dual flavors complementary rather than clashing. But humble ol’ me, well, I taste the clash in what otherwise would be a sublime brew.

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Clase Azul Reposado

Clase Azul Reposado

  • Warm, mellow smoked wood
  • Sweet! Fruitiness combined with that classic tequila smokiness
  • Smooth. Creamy. Just another sip.

The key to drinking well on the cheap is to be in the right place at the right time. I found myself in the company of a respected business owner, Mr. A~ of the Hamptons, just as he was toasting his success with a bottle of Tequila Clase Azul Reposado that was given to him as a gift by another pillar of East End society. As shot-size glasses were poured and raised, I offered my opinion that this was a sipping tequila, which got me in the good graces of my host.

I love tequila. It doesn’t enjoy the same cachet that whiskey does for those with oh-so sophisticated tastes. But this is an error. Smoky, with flavors that go beyond the usual esters found in hooch, good tequilas manage to clearly stay tequila while offering novel notes of fruit and candied nuts. And on the scale of what pairs well with the perfect fruit—lime—tequila is tops. Where is whiskey in that scale? On the bottom, son, way on the bottom.

Yes, my opinions tend to contradict each other depending on what’s in my glass. Tequila happened to be poured the night of the toast, so, assuredly, it was my favorite.

A white ceramic bottle of Clase Azul Reposado with blue-leaf motif and and embossed silver agave leaf

A beautiful hand-painted bottle of Teuqila Clase Azul Reposado

And, my dear readers, what a tequila to sip! Clase Azul Repasado was sweet and fruity, smooth and rich. Laughing at those who slammed down their shot as if it were some horrid “gold” tequila offered on the cheap in a sports bar (lick the salt first!), the boss and I took our time to sip and appreciate the magic in that handmade bottle. Surely, this would be my one shot at this excellent tequila coming out of that bottle of art. The price must be insane.

I don’t give Patron much thought, except to note to anyone that would listen that’s it’s just overpriced hype. But here, the Patron-effect makes it seem like a $90 bottle of tequila isn’t outrageous. Clase Azul Repasado is surely worth it, comparatively; although, I’m sure I’ll not get the chance to try it again at that price. There’s always luck, though—being in the right place at the right time.

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Long Island Craft Brewers to Look for in 2015

We’ve got several new breweries opening in 2015 in Long Island. We’ll be looking for them at local bars, restaurants, beer distributors, and in tasting rooms. Here’s where it’s all happening:

Farmingdale, New York

A Taste of Long Island, a specialty private-use kitchen, and now brewery, will be home to three nano-breweries who will be crafting at the location. They include 1940’s Brewing Company with brewer Charles Becker, Po’Boy Brewery with brewer Bobby Rodriguez, and The Brewer’s Collective with brewers Sarah Dougherty, Tim Dougherty, Mike DePietto, Brad Kohles, and Dan Russo.

Logos for 1940s Brewing, Po Boy Brewery, and The Brewers Collective

Bellport, New York

Bellport BrewingBellport Brewing Co. with brewers Brian Baker and Chris Kelley. This brewery has been quietly working under the radar and is looking for a tasting room in Bellport. We’re sure to see Bellport Brewing at upcoming beer events.

Holbrook, New York

Saint James BrewerySaint James Brewery with owners Rachel and Jamie Adams—Jamie is also the brewer. They’ve poured at many local craft beer events, but now St. James may have a possible tasting room by the new year.

Squarehead BrewingSquareHead Brewing Company with brewer Dave Jordan. We discovered its brews at the North Fork Craft Beer Festival in 2014, and we’re hoping to see more from it in the upcoming year.

Spider Bite BrewingSpider Bite Brewing Co. with brewer Larry Goldstein, just received its license to open a tasting room and micro-brewery. Spider Bite is not new brewery—you can find their beer in four- and six-packs across Long Island—but it had no official location. There’s talk of a possible future brew with ties with a certain online beer blogger.

Northport, New York

Cow Harbor BeerCow Harbor Beer Company is slated to start brewing in early 2015, if all construction goes as planned. Its first brews should be available to the public by spring.

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Craft Beer New Kids, No More:
Part 1—Yonkers Brewing

So, after two years of struggling with supplies, regulations, licenses, and the always constant outflow of money, you finally open your brewery. Congratulations! You’re the new kid in town! If you’ve done your marketing homework correctly, local media are knocking on your door to publish your story. You’ve received constant calls and emails from beer distributors, bars, and restaurants wanting to get your beer on tap. Twitter and Instagram are abuzz with pictures and good reviews. But six months later, the spotlight fades. Now what?

In this five-part series, we ask local New York breweries what happens when the spotlight has dimmed, the fanfare has quieted, and the not-so-newsworthy hard work of running a business begins. This week, we talk to Yonkers Brewing Co. co-founder, Nick Califano.

Yonkers Brewing Co.

  1. How are your relationships with those first restaurants, bars, and distributors when you opened compared to now? Do they continue to support you?

    (Nick): Bars and restaurants are very eager to be a part of “the next best thing.” Luckily, we have been embraced by our local bars and restaurants not only in the beginning, but throughout our two years in the market. It’s easy to “talk the talk,” to get on the shelves and on the taps in the beginning, but it’s that “walking the walk” that keeps you there. We work for their support every day and have produced high quality beers that people enjoy and will hopefully continue to enjoy for years to come.

  2. How important is social media to a small brewer—being engaged with your customer? Is it possible to be too engaged?

    Engagement is a top priority, and we consider it one of the perks of being a growing business. We are lucky enough to have the ability to get to know our customers via social outlets. We try and create personal connections with our consumer base so they view us as an entity beyond “just a craft brewery.” Social media allows us to get to know the consumers and allows the consumers to get to know us, so make sure you get to know us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

  3. Events are a large part of getting your brewery recognized at the beginning. Do you continue to attend them? Does the cost factor and return-on-investment become bigger concerns now that you are more established?

    Nick Califano of Yonkers Brewing Co.

    Nick Califano likes the display behind him.

    Events are essential in building your brand. We take advantage of most events in our local market as well as peripheral markets we expect to break into in the near future. We have stayed on the event path as we are firm believers in the value of face-to-face marketing. It’s not too often you get to lead a customer through the intended experience of your product. The investment mounts in both time and product, but we still believe it’s all worth it.

  4. How do you balance your current brewing situation and your future expansion needs?

    Co-Founders John Rubbo and Nick Califano

    Yonkers Brewery co-founders, John Rubbo and Nick Califano

    What’s balance? (Laughs) It’s hard to imagine a true balance between current needs and future needs. It’s very easy to get caught up in tomorrow and forget about the sales needed today to get you there. We work hard every day to build the foundation for tomorrow. Sure, we think about our growth constantly and are always planning the next steps, but you have to stay grounded and take it one day at a time. Plus, it helps when you have a good business partner so you can split the focus!

  5. What is the most important thing for your business right now?

    Our community is the most important thing to us right now. They have been our biggest fans throughout this whole process. They see the power of a small business like ours and how it can jump start our neighborhood and our city, and they have championed the brand like no other. They are our biggest cheerleaders and without their support we would not be where we are today.

Thanks, Nick! We’re behind you 100%!

Next time, we talk to Barrage Brewing.

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