We caught up with John Liegey from Greenport Harbor Brewing at the Triton release party at Horace & Sylvia’s in Babylon, NY. The past couple of years have been busy for John and Greenport Harbor, but he graciously took some time to help us inaugurate our new segment we call QnA with DnU.
John met co-founder Rich Vandenburgh in college, where they quickly became best friends, and drinking buddies. Dreams of starting a brewery together had to wait for 20 years and an old firehouse garage, until they started Greenport Harbor Brewing Company in 2009. They’ve quickly built up their varieties to include: Harbor Ale, Disorient IPA, Hopnami, Local Honey Summer Ale, Black Duck Porter, Anti-Freeze, Havre Rouge, and of course Leaf Pile Ale—a Drunk & Unemployed Essential! They have released two new varietals so far in 2011, Triton, a barleywine, and Black IPA.
You started your brewery in the middle of a recession, a bold move. What were you thinking?
(John): Not really thinking. Once we saw the building it was like a switch was flipped. Beer can do that. Also I think impending financial doom kept us very focused. We paid a lot closer attention to every detail and tried to do as much of the work ourselves. Our building was a wreck and needed to be completely rebuilt to be a brewery. We were also very lucky in a lot of ways.
The craft beer movement has taken a strong hold on Long Island. What makes Long Island attractive to you as a brewer?
First, being from here is key. We see ourselves as a Greenport, Long Island brewery. We can’t think of a better place to make beer then Greenport. Come visit and you will know why. It has an awesome connection to both the land and the sea. But being as far out on Long Island as we are doesn’t make it easy for our delivery guy.
I know your beer are like your children but I have to ask, do you have a favorite?
Hopnami would get the best Christmas toys.
Have you had another brewer’s beer and thought, man, I wish I made that?
Not my favorite brewery but I really like [Samuel Adams] Noble Pils.
Cocktail olive, maraschino cherry, fancy umbrella or lemon twist?
Thanks, John! You can find out more about Greenport Harbor Brewery at harborbrewing.com.