Oyster Bay Brewing Co., Long Island’s newest craft brewer, is a bit hard to find. When it opens in mid-June, beer aficionados can expect to find what its owners say are drinkable brews.
Located in the back of a two-story brown and tan building whose 76 South Street address it shares with a baseball-card shop, the Oyster Bay Brewing Co. is opposite Jack Halyard’s Restaurant and its front door faces the Oyster Bay Town Hall parking lot. There are no signs indicating its presence as yet and, in fact, the brewery’s tasting room won’t open to the public for about two weeks.
When it does open, however, its owners, Gabe Haim, 30, of Bayville, and Ryan Schlotter, 31, of Centerport, will offer tastings and growler fills of their IPA and amber ale, along with T-shirts, sweatshirts and pint glasses.
It’s not a big place. Once the home of a Mexican restaurant, the space had been vacant for the past six years. Now, it accommodates a hand-built tasting bar, a half dozen 3-barrel fermenting tanks and a 3-barrel brewing system. All the tanks are temperature-controlled. Dozens of empty kegs line a shelf near the 15-foot ceiling of the white with brown wainscot walls.
“It all fits nice and snug in here and we’re all spec’d out for expansion,” says Schlotter.
A community associated with Teddy Roosevelt and Billy Joel, Oyster Bay, Schlotter said also has great water for making beer. Until 15 years ago, he noted, area residents waited on line to get their water from a nearby natural spring.
The opening will mark the culmination of two years of planning by the pair, who both work at Rallye BMW, and who after experimenting making home brew from kits, decided making beer is what they wanted to do with their lives. They’d considered opening a restaurant or a pizzeria, but a visit to Indianapolis, where Haim’s wife’s cousin, Kevin Matalucci, is head brewer at the Broad Ripple Brew Pub, sealed the deal.
They rejected the idea of starting as a contract brewer as some brewers on Long Island have done. “You just fax your recipe in,” said Schlotter, adding there was little satisfaction to be gained.
Besides, they wanted their beer to be closely identified with Oyster Bay, a community associated with Teddy Roosevelt and Billy Joel. Oyster Bay, Schlotter said, also has great water for making beer. Until 15 years ago, area residents waited on line to get their water from a nearby natural spring, he noted.
They found their site, ordered equipment and received their federal brewers permit in March followed by their state license on April 19. After learning how to use their equipment they brewed their first batch of IPA on May 19. An amber will follow and then, perhaps a wheat. Meanwhile, Schlotter said they are tinkering with a stout recipe.
Ryan says brewing on their system, compared to home brewing, is like making a wedding cake versus a cupcake. “It was a learning process,” he added.
Schlotter said they expect to brew three times a week and keg all of their production and self distribute. So far, they’ve got a list of 30 potential outlets for their beers.
“Everything will be drinkable,’ Schlotter said, noting their beers will be flavorful, but aimed at the widest array of beer drinkers. Beer geeks, he said, may be disappointed by that notion.
OBBC IPA is an easy drinking brew with a barely perceptible 9 percent abv. Rich caramel malt notes balance the citric bitterness of the beer, which was sampled from a bottling of an earlier test run.
“We’re at the happy medium where it’s a very drinkable beer but still true to craft beer flavor and prices,” said Schlotter.
St. James Brewing moving closer to reality
The owners of St. James Brewing Co. say they are close to finding a location for their proposed brewery.
Jamie Adams, who is currently in construction, and Tom McCarthy, a financial advisor, told a May 20 meeting of the Brewers East End Revival home brew club that they hope to lease space soon in St. James off Jericho Turnpike. The brewery will specialize in Belgian-style brews. Adams said he has been home brewing for 20 years.
Great South Bay Brewing starts up its kettles
Great South Bay Brewery of Bay Shore, brewed for the first time at its own facility in a Bay Shore industrial park, producing a batch of its Blonde Ambition on its 30-barrel system.