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Long Island breweries, bars to celebrate Craft Beer Week May 6-17

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By Alan J. Wax

Long Island: get ready for Craft Beer Week.

Long Island’s craft beer industry and its supporters in the hospitality and retail trade are readying a week-plus long celebration of the region’s breweries and beers. It runs from May 6 to May 17, which of course, is more than a week.

Breweries, bars and restaurants will be running special events to mark the celebration. So far, 21 breweries have signed on along with 20 restaurants and bars, three retailers and two wholesalers.

David Schultzer, owner of Bellport Cold Beer & Soda and the lead organizer of Long Island Craft Beer Week, says the celebration is designed to create awareness of Long Island breweries and beers and to attract mainstream beer drinkers to craft beer. “While the focus is Long Island beer and breweries, we need to get more people into craft beer.”

Nevertheless, he said, other states, such as Oregon and California, sell a far greater proportion of locally produced beers than New York.

“We don’t do a good job of letting people know we exist,” he says. Moreover, he said, with the growing number of small breweries opening in the region, brewers will be fighting for the same piece of the pie—and survival, unless they attract legions of new imbibers. “If you don’t expand that customer base, how can you survive?”

The first big event of Long Island Craft Beer week is the May 6 kickoff, Long Island Craft Beer Cares, a charity beer and food tasting at the Melville Marriott Hotel to benefit the Long Island Cares food bank; the Lustgarten Foundation, which raises funds to fight pancreatic cancer, and the New York Bully Crew, a pet-rescue organization.

A collaboration brew — Long Island Craft Cares — developed and brewed by Great South Bay Brewery, of Bay Shore; Port Jeff Brewing, 1940’s Brewing Co., of Farmingdale; Barrage Brewing Co. of East Farmingdale, Blue Point Brewing Co. of Patchogue, and BrickHouse Brewery, also of Patchogue, will debut at the charity event.

Breweries represented at the Long Island Craft Beer Care event include: Blue Point; Great South Bay; Barrage; 1940’s ; Port Jeff; BrickHouse Brewery; Brooklyn Brewery; Sixpoint Brewery, Brooklyn; Spider Bite Beer Co., Holbrook; Blind Bat Brewery, Centerport; Destination Unknown Beer Co., Bay Shore; The Brewers Collective, Farmingdale; Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, Bronx Brewery and Southern Tier Brewing Co., Lakewood, New York.

Beers, Burgers Desserts of Rocky Point, The Tap Room of Patchogue, Noodles & Co., of Garden City, Verde Wine Bar of Deer Park, The Trattoria, St. James will be among area eateries serving up delicious food to accompany the local craft beer at the Craft Beer Cares event. Tickets are $55 and can be purchased online at Eventbrite.

Free Long Island Craft Beer pint glasses will be available and can be ordered online and picked up on May 7 at these locations: The Tap Room, Patchogue; Savoy Tavern, Merrick; Beers Burgers Desserts, Rocky Point; Brewology, Speonk; Lil’ Left Coast, Bellmore; Bobbique, Patchogue and Eat Gastropub, Island Park.

The celebration’s other big event is Bay Fest, a beer festival featuring dozens of breweries at Great South Bay Brewery, i25 Drexel Ave., Bay Shore on May 16. Twenty-seven  breweries — at last count — and several home brew clubs will be pouring samples of their wares. There’s a general session from 1:30 to 5:30 pm with tickets $40 online and $15 for designated drivers. A VIP session, which starts at 12:45 p.m. $55 per person and $15 for designated drivers. Tickets are available at Ticketfly.

In addition to the host brewery, participating brewers include Port Jeff Brewing, BrickHouse Brewery, Blue Point Brewing, Barrage Brewing, 1940’s Brewing, Montauk Brewing Co., Oyster Bay Brewing, Barrier Brewing of Island Park, Southampton Publick House, Riverhead’s Crooked Ladder Brewing, Goose Island Beer Co. of Chicago, Two Roads Brewing of Stratford, Connecticut, Brooklyn Brewery, Ommergang, Greenport Harbor Brewing, Long Ireland Beer Co. of Riverhead, Adirondack Pub and Brewery of Lake George, Third Rail Beer Co. of Manhattan, Southern Tier, Samuel Adams, Destination Unknown, and Lithology Brewing, Farmingdale.

The big events sandwich a multitude of smaller, but no-less exciting events. You’ll find them listed at the Long Island Craft Beer week website.

Hope to see you at one them.


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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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Picks for Long Island Craft Beer Week

LI CBW logLong Island’s beer community celebrates itself during Long Island Craft Beer Week (LICBW) May 10-19 with a dizzying collection of festivals, special tastings, tap takeovers and more.

LICBW, which actually runs 10 days, is a collaborative venture created by brewers, bar owners and beer event promoter Starfish Junction Productions to raise awareness of the thriving local craft beer scene and promote patronage at local establishments.

This third annual event appears to be bigger than in the past. And with good cause.

The craft beer scene on Long Island has exploded with the opening of new breweries and new places to imbibe.

In the past 12 months brewers Spider Bite Beer Co., Rocky Point Artisan Brewers and Montauk Brewing swelled the industry ranks in Nassau and Suffolk Counties to 15, for now. At least four more are planning to open their doors in the months ahead.

Among new taverns specializing in craft beers include the Black Sheep Ale House in Mineola, the Tap Room in Patchogue and Croxley’s in Smithtown.

What’s more beer distributors and retailers are adding new brands to their portfolios and shelves, respectively, and on the retail level, an increasing number of growler filling stations. Moreover, many dining spots, such as Jackson’s in Commack and Roots Bistro Gourmand in West Islip have embraced craft beer, providing additional locations for beer aficionados to please their palates.

Homebrewers, too, will be participating with a competition sponsored by the Brewers East End Revival home brew club on May 18 in St. James. And, Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts is sponsoring the Golden Tap Awards.

The week’s organizers are dispensing free pint classes across Long Island on May 9 and Untappd, the mobile beer-logging app, will offer badges for those who make it to at least two of the venues participating in Long Island Craft Beer Week.

All told, there will some 80-plus events taking place over the 10 days—11 if you count the kickoff events of May 9. While many of these events will feature fine beers, not all will be Long Island focused.  Troublesome for some Long Island purists, perhaps. But for enthusiasts who want to sample interesting beers, these days ahead offer nothing but excitement.

With so many events on the calendar, what do you do?  Here are my top 10 plus 1 recommendations.

May 9, 6-11 p.m. Croxley’s, Farmingdale, hosts an Official Pre-Party Cask tasting that features a mix of local and domestic cask-conditioned crafts and food, too.  Get there early as these casks often are drained quite quickly. $24.95.

May 10, 6 p.m. TJ Finley’s Public Housewww.tjfinleys.com, Bay Shore. Long Island Craft Beer Week Kickoff Party featuring a PAYG Blue Point Brewery tap takeover as well as a special offering from the Patchogue brewery.

May 11, 1 p.m.- 5 p.m.  Bay Fest at Great South Bay Brewery in Bay Shore. A tented beer fest featuring 20-plus mostly local breweries. Tickets are $40 in advance, $50 at the gate.

May 12,  7 p.m. to 4 a.m. If you can leave mom for a while—or take her with you—get over to the Black Sheep in Mineola for special tapping of Keegan Ales Super Kitty, an American strong ale with honey and plenty of hops conditioned for six months with oak chips

May 13, 6 p.m-2 a.m.  The Tap Room in Patchogue is offering a Dogfish Head tap takeover with 12 lines devoted to such rare brews as 120 Minute IPA and World Wide Stout. PAYG.

May 14, 6 p.m. Golden Tap Awards Gala
 89 North, Patchogue. Long Island’s beer Oscars, Emmys and People’s Choice Awards rolled into one to honor Long Island’s beer innovators and pioneers. Awards will be presented to winners in all aspects of the craft beer industry including bars and breweries, based on online polling and an official panel judging. Tickets include the awards show as well as a cocktail hour before the show with light fare. $55.

May 15, 7:15pm – Midnight. Barrier Brewingwww.barrierbrewing.com beer dinner at Press 195www.press195.comin Rockville Centre, featuring five Jewish-Latin inspired dishes paired with five electric brews from Barrier. Tickets are limited and purchase in advance at bar. $70 including tax and tip.

May 16,  8 p.m.-11 p.m. Black Sheep Ale House, Mineola, veers north with a Maine Beer Co. ‎ tap takeover and Organic Cheese Pairing. Maine Beer’s entire line up of beers paired with small batch organic cheeses from Silvery Moon Creamery in Portland, Maine. Mo, Titus, Mean Old Tom, and Peeper will be available on draught. There also will be beer flight/cheese pairings with 5-oz. pours of each draft and pours from Lunch and Zoe bottles. PAYG

May 17, 7 p.m.-4 a.m. Back to the Black Sheep in Mineola for a special cask. This time it’s Port Jeff Brewing’s Wet & Wild Wet-Hopped
Sour Ale, a wet-hopped brett-laced sour ale. PAYG.

May 18, 3-7 p.m.TJ Finley’s Public House, Bay Shore, puts on 10-plus casks of local and regional beers and BBQ. $40 in advance; $55 at the door.

May 19.  2-4:30 p.m. It’s an all-grain home brew tutorial at The Lark in East Northport, NY 11731
with Alan Talman of Karp’s Hardware and Homebrew. $10 donation to benefit a local animal shelter. Reservations required.

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Jan. 26 Long Island Nano Cask Festival to feature many one-off brews

2013-nanocaskfest (1)

One of my favorite small time beer fests is almost upon us — the Long Island Nano Cask Ale Festival.

Sponsored by Rocky Point Artisan Brewers, this Jan. 26 festival features a small group of small brewers pouring unique brews in a cozy venue, the North Shore Beach Owners Club House in Rocky Point. To keep it comfortable organizers plan to sell only 150 tickets. The festivities start at 3 p.m.

It’s an opportunity to sample exciting local brews—many of them one offs brewed especially for this event —without having to elbow your way to the tap.

What makes this event special is that the brews are served from casks with natural carbonation rather than forced carbonation. Our friends across the Atlantic call cask beers “Real Ale” and it was the traditional way of serving beer until forced carbonation came along. To the uninitiated, that’s why British beers have a reputation for being warm and flat.  To be honest, these beers are neither. A cask beer generally is served at cellar temperature and, if done right, can be downright creamy and flavorful.


Scene from last’s year’s nano festival. (Rocky Point Artisan Brewers photo)

To be sure, there’s always disagreement among beer aficionados about which beers are best suited to be served on cask.  British-style beers and some Belgians work best, to my taste. Those extreme beers with tons of hops just don’t work. They need the carbon dioxide to offset all that bitterness.

In addition to the host brewery, other participants include Barrage Brewiing, Blind Bat Brewery, Ghost Cat BrewingGreat South Bay Brewing, Greenpoint Harbor Brewing, Montauk Brewing, Port Jeff Brewing and Spider Bite Brewing. Also, Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts, a local home brew club will be pouring various homebrews, including an expresso-flavored cider from award-winning home brewer Bobby Rodriguez and Frank Filacchione’s rauch beer.

421410_338113679560636_1970184522_nAmong the commercial offerings  lined up are a vanilla smoked porter from Spider Bite, which also will pour an India pale ale brewed with a  new hop variety, Belma (described as having tropical citrus notes).

Blind Bat, meanwhile will pour a sweet potato saison, while the new Montauk Brewing Co. is bringing what it calls an eastbound brown ale fermented with espresso beans from Hampton coffee company

Port Jeff Brewing will be bringing a birch stout and a version of Schooner Ale flavored with cherries.

Barrage Brewing will have two casks: Ravens Shadow, an oaked rum raisin porter, which I believe they poured at last year’s nano fest, and FairyTale Red Hop Ale, an Irish red ale  dry hopped with Amarillo and citra hops.

Tickets, $40 each, include a tasting glass, unlimited beer samples and live music. Crazy Beans, of Miller Place, and Bite Me Cakes, of Sound Beach, will supply the eats. This year, as an added feature there will be a farmer’s market taking place, where produce will be available for purchase and growlers of beer will be sold during the final hour of event.

For tickets go to Rocky Point’s web site.

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