Long Island Craft Beer Week May 13 thru 22, 2011

“B” is for Long Island Craft Beer Week

The Beer Diviner

Photo courtesy of The Beer Diviner, posted on Facebook.

The 2013 Long Island Craft Beer Week, May 10–19, is off and running, and the amount of events with local breweries, bars, and restaurants is staggering. It’s a great time for craft beer lovers, new or old, to try experimental styles from local favorites or new offerings from Long Island breweries that have just entered the market.

Now what to start with…

Now what to start with…

On Friday, May 10, I went to a beer-tasting featuring The Beer Diviner, a nano-brewery based in Cherry Plain, New York. Dave, from Bellport Beer and Soda, was hosting the inaugural event for The Beer Diviner beers on Long Island. Dave will be selling The Beer Diviner bottles going forward, when they make their way down the Hudson River. Pouring samples were Long Island native, Greg Back, assistant brewer at The Beer Diviner, and the lovely and very knowledgable Jeanine Amella, who has her own beer blog, The Beer Maiden. They shared four beers: Original Pale Ale, Very! Brown Ale, Ancient Gruit Ale, and Got Your Back Stout, the bronze medal winner at TAP NY for Best Individual Craft Beers in the Hudson Valley.

Matt Titmus from the Outer Lands Brewing Company

My fellow taster, Matt, from the Outer Lands Brewing Company

During the tasting, I was lucky enough to meet Matthew Titmus, founder and brewer of Outer Lands Brewing Company, a new brewery on Long Island. He was just as interested in the tasting The Beer Diviner’s beer as I was. We chatted about his beer, his first festival jitters, and the challenges of getting started in the industry. After tasting the beers, I decided that my personal favorites were the Ancient Gruit Ale, a very old style of beer flavored with herbs instead of hops, and the Got Your Back Stout, an imperial oatmeal stout made with coffee. Of course, that didn’t stop me from buying a bottle of the Very! Brown Ale, too.

Photo property of Great South Bay Brewery facebook

Photo courtesy of Great South Bay Brewery, posted on Facebook

On Saturday, May 11, it was off to a cloudy first annual Bay Fest, hosted by Great South Bay Brewery in Bay Shore, New York. After almost a year of construction, it is in the final phases of brewery equipment testing, and with any luck, it will be brewing its first batch by the end of the month in its new home.

Bay Fest had 20-plus brewers in attendance, but I was a little “worn” from my tasting with The Beer Diviner and Bellport Beer and Soda —thanks Dave—so I was a little more selective in the beer I decided to partake of. I focused on the smaller breweries this time. Here was my tasting for the day:

  1. Blind Bat Brewery: Spring Folly, an 8.5% ABV Belgian-inspired ale. It attacked my taste buds with citrus but left the palate refreshed. Alcohol? What alcohol?

  2. Spider Bite Beer Co.: White Bite, a 4.5% ABV wheat ale. Don’t be fooled be by this wheat beer. It starts off clean, but ends with a hoppy bite.

  3. Barrage Brewing: McLaughlin’s Folly, a 5.7% ABV oatmeal stout flavored with vanilla. A classic oatmeal stout, with vanilla and coffee notes. It has a medium mouth-feel without being syrupy. Surprisingly easy-drinking for mid-May.

  4. Outer Lands Brewing: Chamomile Wheat, a 4.7% ABV Bavarian-style hefeweizen, infused with organic chamomile. What a fun hefeweizen! A perfect balance between banana, floral, and citrus.

  5. The Brewers Collective: Gruit, a 4.5% ABV ale made with herbs but no hops. This is my second gruit-flavored beer this week. Is this going to be the 2013 summer-breakthrough style?

    The brewers collective showing how it's done.

    The Brewers Collective showing how it’s done.

    Who knows? I love it! Stagweizen, a 7% ABV weizen-style beer made with cherries, soaked in Red Stag bourbon. I’m glad I had just a small sample of this beer, because I might still be sleeping the tasting room. It was too easy-drinking. I assumed with the bourbon and cherries, it would have been pretty straightforward in taste, but it was surprisingly complex.

There were so many more breweries I wanted to try, like Montauk Brewing and Rocky Point Artisan Brewers, but most of the beers were tapped out in no time. But that’s always a good sign when the brewers leave the festival with nothing but empty casks, their banners (yes, people, those are their banners), new fans, and good stories.