Stephen Pominski Jr. has been working on the railroad. Now, he’s also working in a brewery — his own.
Pominski, 52, who works full-time as a trackside tower operator for the Long Island Railroad, has just opened the doors to Long Island’s newest microbrewery, Barrage Brewing Co., in East Farmingdale. He’s been making beer commercially since mid-December after two years of planning and construction. He’s at the brewery between his LIRR job and time at home, often aided by his son, Adam, 25.
“Now, it’s for real,” said Pominski. “But it’s still very daunting. It’s still intimidating.”
Barrage is marking the occasion of its opening with launch parties on Jan. 31 at Morrison’s Restaurant in Plainview and on Feb. 1 at Dave Schultzer’s Bellport Cold Soda and Beer.
In addition to these two outlets, Barrage’s beers will be available by the growler ($13 each) at the brewery – on Sundays only, and, eventually at a growing number of bars, among them The Good Life in Massapequa Park , the Black Sheep Ale House in Mineola, and Hoptron Brewtique in Patchogue, and beer distributors with growler taps around Long Island. He plans to self distribute and eventually get his beers into New York City. “Right now, we want to take care of our close area.
The Barrage brewery consists of a 1-bbl. gas-fired stainless steel brewing system. By doing step infusions, Pominski says he can brew twice a day. There also are 10 42-gallon conical fermenters, some of them housed inside two 8×8 walk-in cold rooms. Bags of malt from German, English and American maltsters are stacked on pallets and bins of specialty malts line a wall.
Financed with savings and investments by relatives and a successful $18,000 Kickstarter campaign, Pominski’s brewery has its roots in craft beer’s first go-round in the New York area, the early 1990’s. That’s when he discovered the flavorful beers available at Mr. Fadely’s Deli Pub in Patchogue, where he also got to know Blue Point Brewery co-founder Peter Cotter. A homebrewer for 15 years, Steve and his wife, Diana, in 2009 converted a small existing room in their home and their garage into a family room, equipped with a 16-foot bar with two taps for his homebrews. Friends raved about his beer and encouraged him to sell it Soon, the family room became a regular stop for friends and the bar in the garage became known as “The Barrage.” In June 2010, stirred by the opening of nano brewery Barrier in Oceanside, Pominski founded his brewery.
But forming a company and getting to the point where you could sell beer are a formidable challenge. After trying to open in Freeport, N.Y. – zoning issues prevented this from occurring— the search was on for a new location. Landlords didn’t want fumes or sewering was inadequate. In March 2012, Pominski found his current location. But other obstacles got in the way. The installation of a gas line was delayed six months as National Grid focused on Hurricane Sandy repairs and then Suffolk County decided his sewer lines weren’t up to code and ordered him to dig them up and replace them at a cost of $17,000.
“It’s been anxiety ridden and overwhelming,” Pominski said,. “Now, it’s a relief. But, he noted, adding that after giving away brews at festivals, now “people are paying for this beer and I have to make sure it’s worth it.”
Pominski is targeting novice craft beer drinkers as well as beer aficionados. His first offering, Fairytale Red Ale, an Irish-style red, “is right down the middle.” Also now on tap are Blackspot, a black rye IPA; Citralization, an all Citra hop American pale ale, and Mclaughlin’s Folly, an oatmeal stout brewed with raisins and vanilla. Other brews, mostly dark and in an Old English vein, will follow, Pominski said. “I really like dark beer.”
The new brewer says he hopes to produce about 300 to 400 barrels of beer during his first year, but admits, “I’ll have to brew a lot.”
You’ll find Barrage Brewing at 32 Allen Boulevard, Unit E. Located behind TJA Auto Collision, less than a block off Route 110. Pull into the driveway along the east side the body shop and count a half dozen or so garage doors. You’ll see Barrage’s name on the window. Call before you go (516) 986-8066.