Tag Archives: Great South Bay Brewery

Random ingredients, beer styles drawn from a hat, are the focus of a club’s unusual homebrewing competition

Jaclynn Brandi ready to pour beers at homebrewers group competition,

Jaclynn Brandi ready to pour beers at homebrewers group competition,

Inspired by Food Network’s “Chopped,” a homebrew club’s members concoct some beers with unusual flavors. Stout with vanilla and Mexican chilies tops them all.

By Alan J. Wax

Borrowing a page from the Food Network show “Chopped,” a Long Island homebrew club sponsored an unusual brewing competition that required entrants to brew a beer using key ingredients drawn from a hat.

The competition run by Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts involved the brewing of various beer styles with random, often-unlikely ingredient combinations, testing the creativity of those involved.

LIBME logoThe contest got underway in early March, when ten teams were formed and a drawing held to determine who would brew a particular style and what flavors were to be added to each brew.

The combinations:

– Porter with wood chips and chocolate

– Amber ale with smoked malt and cherries

– Brown ale with tea and blueberries.

– Black rye ale with ginger and cinnamon

– Pale ale with coconut and blackberries

– IPA with hot peppers and peaches

– ESB with honey and coffee

– Rye IPA with orange peel and basil.

– Roggenbier with raspberries and licorice root

– Stout with vanilla and Mexican chilies.

Brewing ensued in April and club members judged the resulting beers at a June meeting using drinking pleasure as their guide instead of BJCP style guidelines. The winning beer is to be brewed at Great South Bay Brewery in Bay Shore, New York.

Some of the teams took liberties, One used Sambuca and Chambord liquors instead of licorice and raspberries, while others used such exotic additions as avocado honey, Ethiopian coffee, and ghost pepper chilies—among the hottest on the planet.

My team, led by Brian Giebel, a research chemist with a PhD and aspirations of becoming a professional brewer, concocted an Earl Gray-tea infused English brown ale with blueberries.  After an online team consultation about recipe formulation, the beer was made at Giebel’s garage-turned-home brewery in Smithtown, New York. Our recipe included 9 pounds of Maris Otter malt, 12 oz. of Special Roast malt and 8 oz. each of crystal 40L, Victory and chocolate malt and just 2 oz. of East Kent Golding hops. One-third oz. of Earl Gray team in a mesh bag was added at flame out for 5 minutes. Two pounds of frozen blueberries were added to the secondary after two weeks of fermenting with rehydrated SAF04 yeast.  The berries sat in the secondary for about 20 days and the beer was then kegged.

Despite my participation, the beer we produced was not my favorite – and not my least. I felt the Early Gray tea added astringency.  Giebel said he was pleased with our beer, noting that he would’ve left it home were he unhappy.

My favorite, however, was the porter with chocolate and wood chips, which finished third. Its brewers, led by Thomas Fox, who worked at Chelsea Brewing in New York City, substituted chocolate malt for the confection and used cherry wood chips soaked in Sailor Jerry spiced rum.  The flavors were reminiscent of a Black Forest cake.
Close behind, at least for me, was the pale ale with toasted coconut, blackberries and and raspberries. Though the berry flavor wasn’t pronounced, the beer’s biscuity malt and coconut notes reminded me of a coconut macaroon cookie.

Competition organizer Chris Kelly and his team brewed a rye IPA flavored with orange peel and basil along with Amarillo and Citra hops. It scored third.

The vanilla and pepper infused stout was the crowd favorite, finishing first.

Other brews were less successful. The Sambuca and Chambord infused beer came across as a high-alcohol beer cocktail that was undrinkable in my opinion.

“I was looking for an excuse to get people together to brew,” Kelly said explaining the rationale for the unusual competition. Working with Andrew Luberto, a national BJCP judge, he fine tuned the idea. He said the group would hold a similar competition again, adding that he hopes to improve on the concept.





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High on the hog at Craft Beer and Pork Festival at the Topping Rose House

Bacon and chicharrones

Bacon and chicharrones

Executive chef Ty Kotz slices porchetta.

Executive chef Ty Kotz slices porchetta.

The boys of Crooked Ladder Brewing.

The boys of Crooked Ladder Brewing.



So full.

That’s how I felt as I left the Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton, Long Island, having sampled just more than two dozen local brews and an eye-popping buffet of pork dishes.

It had been a very pleasurable, sunny May 3 afternoon at the Craft Beer and Pork Fest put on by the Topping Rose, a small luxury hotel and restaurant operated by celebrity chef Tom Colicchio.

There was not a bad beer among those poured by a coterie of area brewers—Crooked Ladder, Great South Bay, Greenport Harbor, Montauk, Moustache and Southampton Publick House. In fact, every beer worked incredibly well with the Topping Rose’s chow. And, it was also my first opportunity to sip the brews of Crooked Ladder, a nine-month-old microbrewery in Downtown Riverhead.

But, there was no doubt that the food was the star of the event.

Indeed, chef de cuisine Kyle Koenig, who instigated the event with his beverage director wife, Jessica, remarked that attendees, about a hundred by my guess, were focused more on the food rather than the beer.

It was hard not to.

On each table, a bowl of house-made chicharrones and a vase with crisp strips of bacon tempted sippers as sweet smoke drifted into the Topping Rose’s catering space from the pool deck, where executive chef Ty Kotz was overseeing the grilling of four kinds of house-made sausages, split pork shoulder and pork shawarma—all bursting with flavor.

I was completely enthralled by the spicy, roasted porchetta, which Koenig said was spiced after a walk through the kitchen’s spice closet, pork belly marinated in Indian spices and a zesty French garlic sausage.  A house-made pate, meanwhile, matched delightfully with Greenport Harbor’s Curvaison, a bottled brew made with 2011 Martha Clara Vineyards sauvignon blanc grapes.

And the only non-pork edibles — Montauk pearl oysters from the Montauk Shellfish Co.— were a big wet French kiss from the sea, deliciously cold, briny and fresh and a perfect foil for any of a number of IPAs available.

Besides Greenport’s Curvaison, I found several other brews particularity noteworthy, among them Moustache Brewing’s easy drinking Milk and Honey Brown Ale, Crooked Ladder’s well-balanced 70 West IPA, Southampton’s Maibock and Great South Bay’s reformulated summer sipper Blonde Ambition.

And I had another unexpected find, the locally produced, hand-crafted Miss Lady Root Beer, produced in Amagansett by Rowdy Hall manager Theo Foscolo using sarsaparilla, licorice root, anise, honey, brown sugar and raw sugar, and molasses. Very different and, after all that beer, refreshing.

All in all, not a bad way to spend a May Saturday afternoon. Let’s hope Topping Rose does it again next year.

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Long Island craft beer and pork in all its glory at a Bridgehampton fest on May 3


Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton, NY

Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton, NY

Topping Rose House, the small, but tony Bridgehampton hotel and restaurant built in 1842 and now overseen by celebrity chef Tom Colicchio, is joining forces with a handful of Long Island breweries May 3 for a Pork & Craft Beer Festival.

Colicchio’s 75-seat farm-to-table restaurant features produce grown on the property’s one-acre Topping Rose Farm as well ingredients from other local farmers and fishermen.

We’re not just talking about pork BBQ and sausages, though there’ll be five kinds of house-made sausages available. Food offerings will include sliders; chicharrones and bacon; charcuterie, terrines and rillettes including prosciutto Americana from La Quercia, an Iowa producer that uses heritage breeds; hand-carved pork belly schwarma, Montauk pearl oysters, potato rolls and pretzels, along with local vegetables. DeBragga, the well-known New York City meat wholesaler, is supplying the event with Niman Ranch pork.

Beers will be poured by Southampton Publick House, Great South Bay Brewery, of Bay Shore; Moustache Brewing Co., Long Ireland Brewing and, Crooked Ladder, all of Riverhead; Port Jeff Brewing Co. and Montauk Brewing Co.

The event is the brainchild of Topping Rose House chef de cuisine Kyle Koenig and his wife, Jessica, the restaurant’s beverage director, who’ve spent time sampling the local brews.

The event opens to VIP ticketholders at Noon and at 1 p.m. for those with general admission tickets and goes until 4 p.m.

Topping Rose House, 1 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike,  Bridgehampton. (631) 537-0870. For more information or to reserve a space, email: mpoore@craftrestaurant.com




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Great South Bay Brewery’s Bay Fest brightens a grey day with new brews

BAYFESTThe skies were threatening as Great South Bay Brewery’s Bay Fest neared its opening moment.  Crowds waiting for admission were herded inside the vast brewery in Bay Shore, Long Island, as a cast of 18 brewers beneath a white tent in Great South Bay’s back lot hung their banners and prepared their taps.

Inside the vast 39,000-square-foot brewery— two-thirds the size of a football field — live music from Tradewinds, a 12-person cover band with a powerful horn section, made the day more festive. So did the bits of sun that peaked through the grey clouds of May 11. At 1 p.m. yellow-shirted security personnel gave the okay and within minutes the tent was wall-to-wall with fest goers.  More than 1,000 tickets had been sold for the event, certainly the largest event of Long Island Craft Beer Week, a regional celebration of mostly local brews that continues through May 19.

And, it seemed as if all 1,000 attendees, many of them beer devotees, some not, had arrived at the same time. The professional brewers inside the tent were besieged for tastes of the more than 40 ales, lagers and stouts available.

The host brewery’s beers, not surprisingly, were ubiquitous throughout the fest. Under the tent and inside the brewery, Great South Bay’s Blood Orange Pale Ale, a refreshing summer brew, could be found on tap or on cask.  The cask version was especially enjoyable.

Inside the tent at Great South Bay Brewery's Bay Fest

Inside the tent at Great South Bay Brewery’s Bay Fest

Other brewers offered staples from their respective repertoires and a few experimental, one-off special brews.   For me, tasting new and unusual beers is the whole point of attending a beer festival.

Port Jeff Brewing, its tap-truck parked adjacent to the tent, offered attendees two variations on India Pale Ale, its citrusy Hop Star, which is brewed exclusively for Superstar Discount Beverage stores, and its more aggressively hopped sibling, Party Boat IPA.

Just steps away, Paul Dlugokencky, the owner-brewer of Blind Bat Brewery in Centerport, offered samples of a staple, Long Island Potato Stout, and its sweetish Spring Folly, an as-yet-unreleased beer in the Belgian ale style flavored with coriander.  Though billed as a springtime brew it will undoubtedly give as much refreshment come the summer.

Bay Fest Blind Bat

Blind Bat’s Paul Dlugokencky offers samples of this brews

Across the tent, brewer Joe Hayes of Black Forest Brew Haus in Farmingdale poured a beer called Fritz, a full-flavored, albeit somewhat murky, brew made with rye in the style of Steam Beer. The beer, Hayes said, isn’t yet available at the brewpub.

Meanwhile inside the brewery, hungry attendees lined up 30 deep for a chance to chow down on pulled pork sandwiches, smoked turkey legs or pretzel from Bobbique of Patchogue.

A less frenetic atmosphere and, for sure, the most interesting beers of the day, could be found in the brewery’s tasting room, where home brewer groups and brewery wannabes poured their wares.

Alas, despite good intentions, I did not get to sample Peaches and Scream, a brew made with scorpion chili peppers, among the world’s hottest, by homebrewer Mike Napolitano of Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts. Warned that it would kill my taste buds, I had waited. By the time I was ready, however, the keg had been kicked.

But I did get the opportunity to sample the exemplary Irish-style gruit made by Tim Dougherty of the Brewers Collective, a homebrew group that has plans to brew commercially. The gruit, a style of beer brewed before in the days hops became a necessary ingredient, offered up a fruity, floral aroma followed by balanced sweet and savory notes on the palate from the inclusion of barley, oats, elderflower, yarrow root and juniper berries.

Matthew Titmus, right,  of Outer Brewing describes a beer to Barry McLaughlin, craft beer specialist at Clare RoseA different flower, camomile, made an appearance in a light wheat ale poured by Matthew Titmus of newcomer Outer Lands Brewing Co.  Outer Lands’ name stems from the geological nomenclature for Long Island, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Block Island. The brewery, as yet unlicensed and with no home, also poured its mouth-filling, bitterish Good Mojo IPA and a stellar, if understated, espresso stout.

Regrettably, by 3:30 p.m. with 90 minutes remaining in the fest, many brewers were out of beer and had packed it in.

While some attendees might have faulted the wall-towall crowd and the early finish to some kegs, Great South Bay Brewery’s first Bay Fest nevertheless was a good time event. With better planning and more beer (or smaller pours), it can only get better if  the brewery chooses to repeat it next year.


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Hurricane Sandy collaborative relief beer, Surge Protector IPA, makes debut

Surge labelThe culmination of 13 weeks of effort involving a group of Long Island brewers has come to fruition.

The group’s collaborative beer, Surge Protector IPA, makes its debut today (Jan. 22). Proceeds from sales of the beer will go to help victims of Hurricane Sandy and Barrier Brewing Co., whose Oceanside, Long Island, brewery was decimated by the storm surge.

After six weeks of emails, meetings and brainstorming, the group on Dec. 4 produced a collaboration brew at Blue Point Brewing Co. in Patchogue.  Each of the breweries — Barrier Brewing Co., Blind Bat Brewery, Blue Point Brewing Co., Great South Bay Brewery, Greenport Harbor Brewing Co., and Long Ireland Beer Company – donated an ingredient.

Surge Protector IPA initially will be released in six locations on Long Island and in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens. They are:

Beginning Jan. 23 the beer, bottled by Blue Point, will become available across the Long Island.  Clare Rose is distributing the beer. The group also is selling commemorative T-shirts.

Sandy Relief Beer started as a video project by photographer Matt Furman and freelance journalist Niko Krommydas, but evolved into a collaborative relief effort involving the eight local breweries.

Long Island Cares, Inc. will receive one-half of all proceeds from Sandy Relief Beer.

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