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Super Neat Beer Adventure, Yes!

Five Things to Know About Lithology Brewing Company

Fledgling, award-winning beermakers debuting soon

According to new research—prepared for the New York State Brewers Association and the New York Wine and Grape Foundation—the number of craft breweries in New York has more than doubled between 2012 and January of 2015, from 95 to 207. The state’s craft beer industry grew by 59 percent from 2013 to 2014, with a total economic impact estimated at $3.5 billion.

An area once scarcely inhabited by locally produced beer, Long Island evolved into one of New York’s craft-brewery hubs during this period of prosperity—and its future seems poised for continued success. In an article last month, WPIX noted that “the number of microbreweries on Long Island has doubled in just the last three years,” this while detailing Port Jeff Brewing Company’s involvement with a local homebrewing contest and the amateurs behind likely the area’s next debuting beermaker: Lithology Brewing.

owners of Lithology Brewing Company
(L-R) Marc Jackson, Kevin Cain, Manny Coelho, and Lee Kaplan are the owners of Lithology Brewing Company.

After starting the traditionally arduous application process last September, Lithology Brewing’s four partners—Marc Jackson, Kevin Cain, Lee Kaplan, and Manny Coelho—secured a federal license this February. They now await only state approval to sell their beer. “It’s a mysterious thing from what I’ve heard. It just comes in the mail. It could literally happen at any moment,” Jackson said. “When it does, we’ll start brewing right away. We’re ready.”

As the foursome anticipate starting commercially, these are five things to know about Lithology Brewing:

1) Lithology’s partners started brewing together in 2007. They have more than 20 years of combined experience. “Kevin and I shared an apartment in Deer Park and we’d brew in our kitchen, a really cramped space,” Jackson said. “Lee and Manny are college buddies and so we eventually started rotating brew days: Wednesday at our place, Friday at Lee’s… As far as recipe development it helped because sometimes we’d each brew the same beer with a little twist. It helped us to see what worked and what didn’t. We could really refine them, and that’s what we want. We’re the meticulous type.”

2) When I ask about the genesis of the company’s name, “Lee and I have environmental science and geological backgrounds, we were both scientists at one point,” Cain said. “We’re interested in rock and sediment as a whole, and Lithology is the study soil and sediment characteristics. These are earth’s natural water filters, and we all know the importance of water in beer. The connection seemed to be a perfect fit.” Jackson added: “Our water is what makes New York’s pizza and New York’s bagels unique. And beer is right up there with those. We’re fortunate to be able to brew with such great water on Long Island. Our name pays homage.”

3) Lithology will launch operations from Farmingdale’s A Taste of Long Island, which has a small brewery dubbed The Craft Microbrewhouse at A Taste of Long Island in its commercial kitchen. Jim Thompson, who owns Taste with his daughter, was a homebrewer in the 1990s. After a two-decade hiatus, he returned to his hobby and started this hub for fledgling brewers last summer, enabling them to rent and share his facility while remaining separate companies. This agreement is referred to as an alternating proprietorship and allows newcomers to function as a brewery without investing in a space. The Craft Microbrewhouse is used by Thompson, its host, and three tenant brewers: 1940s Brewing Company, The Brewer’s Collective, and Po’ Boy Brewery. Lithology will become the fourth.

3) A win at Hoptron Brewtique’s annual Beer Fields Homebrew Competition last June pushed Lithology’s partners to pursue brewing professionally. As promotion for the next competition at this year’s Beer Fields on June 27, which we alluded to earlier, they recently joined Port Jeff Brewing to make a larger batch (over 200 gallons) of their winning American IPA. Port Jeff’s version, Beer Fields IPA, will debut this weekend. “It’s a malty IPA and the Lithology guys are a nice laid back bunch,” said Michael Philbrick, Port Jeff’s owner and brewmaster. “We had a good day brewing the beer and it’s cool running into them at the various events in the beer community as they start to cut their teeth in the business.”

4) According to Cain, their initial focus is “to put out balanced styles, straightforward beers. As we grow and develop, we’ll introduce more complex recipes we’ve been working on for the last three or four years. I’d say we have about seven solid beers at this point.” Lithology will launch with two of these liquids. The first is L.B. I.P.A., the recipe used to win at Beer Fields. A “well-balanced IPA between malt and earthy hop profiles that’s very drinkable and should cater to everyone,” Cain said, it was originally made for Jackson’s wedding two years ago. The second, Lithology Brown Ale, also received an accolade recently: a bronze medal in the English Style Brown Ale category at the New York International Beer Competition (NYIBC). “I always wish more people made brown ales, and that’s what pushed us to have one at the forefront,” Cain explained. He describes Lithology Brown as “chocolaty, nutty, and malty. Plus a kick of hops to balance those flavors.”

5) Lithology has launched a campaign on Kickstarter to help raise startup capital. The crowdsourcing platform’s use by prospective breweries is not unprecedented on Long Island: Riverhead’s Moustache Brewing Company and Farmingdale’s Barrage Brewing Company both used Kickstarter successfully before opening, while Destination Unknown Beer Company, slated to open next month in Bay Shore, has already surpassed its current campaign’s goal by more than $500 with three days remaining. Lithology’s has raised over $17,000 to date. It must reach $35,000 by April 30 or the company will receive nothing. “We’re starting a brewery one way or another, but the Kickstarter will help us get off on the right foot and speed up the process for us to get out beer on the market,” Jackson said. “It’s money to buy more kegs, money for a truck and so on.”

Niko Krommydas
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Irish-Inspired Beer Brewed on Long Island

Drink BrickHouse's Carrickfergus Cream Ale and Long Ireland's Hooligan Dry Irish Stout on St. Patrick's Day

In our March issue—and more specifically, in my latest Red Zone column—I offered Long Ireland Beer Company’s rowdy, rambunctious, and newly released Hooligan Dry Irish Stout as a locally made alternative to the universally available Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day.

I still endorse that endorsement fully, but before the holiday’s arrival tomorrow, I want to offer a second Irish-inspired beer brewed on Long Island, one that returns today for a second consecutive year, capable of delivering a similar taste of ubiquity’s flipside: BrickHouse Brewery & Restaurant‘s Carrickfergus, a nitrogenated cream ale aged with whiskey-soaked oak. If that description just evoked a Huh?, join me for a terse history of the cream ale, yes?

Label for BrickHouse Brewery & Restaurant’s Carrickfergus Cream Ale.

A style indigenous to the United States (one of only two; California common is the other), the cream ale was originally devised by ale-only breweries in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic as a response to the instantly popular lagers introduced by German immigrants in the mid-1800s. This newcomer, which resembled the German-grown kölsch to some degree, shared mucho with the lager: the crisp palate; the pale color and brilliant clarity; the use of adjuncts like corn and rice to lighten body; and the warmer fermentation temperatures. It proved a successful retaliation, too. Before the start of Prohibition, cream ales were among the country’s most commonly consumed.

As innovation continues to liberally steer the craft-beer Cadillac, the modern-day cream ale has become tough to categorize neatly; almost every brewery to embrace the style seems to have a unique interpretation. Florida’s Cigar City Brewing makes a potent cream ale spiced with cumin and lime peel and aged in tequila barrels named El Murcièlago, for example, while Swamp Head Brewing’s Wild Night is one also made in Florida, but infused with Tupelo honey. North Carolina’s Fullsteam Brewery, meanwhile, fuels El Toro with grits.

BrickHouse’s Carrickfergus is another cream ale that defies strict categorization. While flaked maize is part of the grain bill, brewers Paul Komsic and Arthur Zimmerman are using the classic style as a sudsy springboard to innovation. Their recipe includes oats—“We figured they would provide some slight creaminess and a silkier mouthfeel,” says Komsic—and honey malt, “To let a lite honeyish sweetness interact with the corn,” he adds.

Their springboarding also continues after brewing, as Komsic and Zimmerman soak medium-toasted oak chips in a jar of Jameson for the duration of Carrickfergus’ fermentation. Once fermentation is complete, the now-Irish chips are added to the fermenter to fornicate with the liquid for roughly six weeks. This period injects more sweetness and notes of whiskey and oak, and boosts the beer’s alcohol content to 7.5 percent ABV. The final product is “smooth, sweet, whiskeyish, and subtly fruity,” Komsic says.

Another noteworthy thang: Carrickfergus is nitrogenated, or carbonated with a blend of nitrogen and carbon dioxide, to impart a creamier texture. Though many cream ales are also nitrogenated, including Empire Brewing’s eponymous version, the “cream” is not directly related to this process. Guinness is not a cream ale, but it is undeniably the world’s most popular nitrogenated beer, furthermo—oops! This blog is not about Guinness.

BrickHouse Brewery & Restaurant’s Carrickfergus Cream Ale Long Ireland Beer Company‘s Hooligan Dry Irish Stout are both available now.

Niko Krommydas
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Spider Bite Beer Company’s Taproom Set to Open

Spider Bite Beer Company unveils its eight-draft taproom in Holbrook Saturday

Image: Spider Bite Beer Company
Image: Spider Bite Beer Company

When Spider Bite Beer Company unveils its eight-legge, err, eight-draft taproom on Saturday, for the first time in over three years, people will drink its beers—not at some bar in Massapequa Park or some restaurant in St. James, or any venue where the alcohol stage is shared with other breweries, but at its headquarters in Holbrook, a bright-ass singular spotlight. At 920 Lincoln Avenue, the menu will always only feature Spider Bite.

This is undeniably a milestone for Larry Goldstein and Anthony LiCausi, the two longtime friends and neighbors who started the company in 2011, but it’s not the only one to celebrate tomorrow. The other milestone occurred last month, when Goldstein, brewmaster, began brewing in the adjacent warehouse space previously used for storage. Spider Bite has cleared the cobwebs to make beer in Holbrook!

When I visited their 1,500-square-foot operation last week, seven 1.5-barrel fermenters were happily filled with developing beers, while the taproom—essentially a small room with a small bar and a few stools—was still morphing from its previous form (the brewery’s office). As the duo swiftly painted its walls an airy beige-ish color, I asked about their first major event appearance in 2012, at TAP New York. TAP annually awards one brewery the F.X. Matt Memorial Cup for “Best Craft Beer Brewery in New York State” and that year, from a pool of over 50, Spider Bite won. This effectively announced the brand’s arrival with a bullhorn.

“I was ecstatic,” Goldstein recalls, “but not entirely,” he quickly adds as his tone shifts to irked. “‘They don’t even make their beer, so how can they win?’ That’s what I heard some people say about us.”

The hissy-fitters, to some extent, were correct. Since launching Spider Bite, Goldstein and LiCausi have contracted the production and packaging of their core offerings—first with Butternuts Beer & Ale, then with both Butternuts and Cooperstown Brewing simultaneously, and now with Mercury Brewing. This practice is generally accepted in the wineiverse, but it’s often a target of harsh (and sometimes childish) criticism in the craft-beer industry—not only from drinkers, but also from brewers, who claim the liquid yielded is inauthentic and inferior. I’ll refer to a quote from Cigar City’s founder, Joey Redner, for my stance on the contract-brewing issue: “There is nothing magical about owning the equipment you brew on ... The beer is either good or it is not good. A beer is not more good because you own the gear it was made on.”

While the host brewery has changed during Spider Bite’s three-plus years of aliveness, its base has remained at 920 Lincoln Avenue, located in an industrial area near Sunrise Highway. When Goldstein and LiCausi started leasing the unit, one of many in a large brick warehouse, the goal was to start brewing to supplement their outsourcing within a year. That didn’t happen.

“Time just flew by,” he reflects. “You start dealing with the matters involved with contracting your beer, making sure everything is working out on that end, and you start losing sight and steam on the building of your own thing. Before we knew it, it was three years later.”

Despite the flak-wrapped poop flung from some, Goldstein does not regret their decision to outsource production: “It helped us get the ball rolling. It gave us a faster initial start being able to supply more locations from the beginning.” He pauses. “But things taste sweeter now, definitely.”

The sweetness Goldstein is tasting likely derives from Spider Bite’s plans for Holbrook, which include not only brewing a slew of new recipes, but also recipes that were only brewed once or twice as exclusive offerings for major local events, like the North Fork Craft Beer, BBQ & Wine Festival. As its core “alerachnids”—the newest is Fundur, a crushable light-bodied and low-alcohol IPA presenting wonderful grapefruit and floral aromas—will continue to be contracted elsewhere on a large scale for distribution (they will also appear at the taproom occasionally), only experimental species will be bred at the brewery, for the brewery, in small amounts. The idea, Goldstein says, is to offer “stuff you can’t get anywhere else but the taproom.”

“I already know a ton of beers we’re making soon,” he continues. He reveals some before I leave: the five dissected below this story, and Bohemia Raspberry, a bottle-only blonde ale spiked with Brettanomyces yeast and aged with fresh raspberries. There are also plans to pour stored kegs of Boris The Spider, my favorite of Spider Bite’s beers, from the last four winters simultaneously.

As a brewmaster, Goldstein is the sum of his recipes. Whatever he chooses to make at Holbrook, each will taste sweeter than anything he has ever brewed before.

Larry Goldstein discussed some of Spider Bite’s new beers made at, and made for, Holbrook (some are available this Saturday, Feb 21.):

Silk Spinner Porter//5.1% ABV: I don’t want to call this a “session” porter since most porters fall into that category to begin with, but the label seems to fit the profile of this beer perfectly: light, refreshing, and way too easy to drink; the last is especially true. This hits all the buttons on a traditional porter: dark brown color, roasted cocoa aroma and flavor, and again, just easy to drink. We brewed this a few times in 2013 and plan to keep it around in the tasting room regularly.

P.I.T.A. IPA//6.6% ABV: This is the first beer we brewed on the new system, and everything that could have went wrong that day, it went wrong: bloody hands, hurt backs, yeast splattered all over the walls. Despite all the chaos, though, the finished product tastes great. It has a golden color, medium body, moderate bitterness, a dry finish, and we hopped it with Citra and Centennial the whole way through—finished off with tons of dry-hopping. This lends big citrus and tropical fruit aromas to the IPA and makes it pop out of the glass.

Ale X//11.5% ABV: We brewed this beer for our friend and neighbor, Alex Beauchamp, whose been a big supporter of the brewery before we were even a brewery, back when we were just brewing in my garage. He’s a huge fan of Simcoe hops, so we decided to make an imperial black IPA that’s intensely hopped with it. Whenever we make a black IPA, our goal is to have it look black but not have the roastiness that can occur in the style; this way, the hops can pop out. Ale X is no different: it’s somewhat dry, the alcohol is mostly hidden, and the hops are at the forefront. I get a nice lemony character from the Simcoe, actually.

Melba’s Toasted Imperial Brown//7.0% ABV: Another beer brewed for one of our dear friends, this is for Melissa Barrett, who has designed most of our labels, six-pack holders, posters—anything you can think of, she’s helped out. This is our way of saying thanks. Melissa’s favorite style of beer is a brown ale, so that’s what we made: a medium-bodied brown ale with a smidge of sweetness and some nice chocolate flavors. We were thinking about adding coconut to play off the “Toasted” part of the name, but we figured that would be too much. Here, it’s just all about the brown ale. We hope she likes it enough to get “toasted” off of it, because she’s really important to us.

Rophenia//10.0% ABV: Anyone that knows me knows I’m a huge fan of The Who. We’ve named three or four beers after them and Rophenia, our Belgian quad, is a play on their album, Quadrophenia. Here, the Belgian yeast provides fruity esters which gives those dark fruit flavors synonymous with the style. It’s ruby-colored, full-bodied with a light sweetness, and despite the ABV, it’s really easy to drink. We made this originally in 2012 for the North Fork Craft Beer, Wine & BBQ Festival at Martha Clara, and again, this will be a regular beer in our tasting room, only made in limited amounts. Yet another reason to come visit us.

Spider Bite Beer Company’s taproom opens Feb 21, from 3:30pm to 7:30pm. It will sell pints and flights in-house and growlers to-go. Its regular hours of operation are: Thursdays, 4pm to 8pm; Fridays, 3pm to 8pm, Saturdays and Sundays, 12pm to 4pm.

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Pioneer Brewers: 1940’s Brewing Company

Charles Becker's foray into professional brewing follows in the footsteps of his great-grandfather and father

Pioneer Brewers is an ongoing series profiling Long Island’s first brewery for alternating proprietorships, The Craft Microbrewhouse at A Taste of Long Island, in Farmingdale. The second installment explores 1940’s Brewing Company, owned and brewmastered by…

Charles Becker, owner and brewmaster of 1940’s Brewing Company. Image: Doug Young

“I’m retired now,” says Charles Becker, his voice emanating from a speakerphone in my father’s office in Long Island City. A long silence follows his statement, which, due to my father distractingly shoving a Daily News story on the lowly New York Knicks in my eyeballs, I have mistakenly interpreted as “I’m tired now.” Uh. I’m tired, too. I’m gonna take a nap with my cat when I get home, I finally reply. Becker quickly corrects me before I start discussing our matching sleepwear: “Oh no. Retired, not tired. I actually feel the opposite of tired now—I started this second career! Age is nothing but a number. At 63, when most are thinking about slowing down or doing it, I did this. It’s something I really wanted to do.”

This, the “something I really wanted to do,” was launch 1940’s Brewing Company. A resident of Old Bethpage, Becker became the first of The Craft Microbrewhouse at A Taste of Long Island’s three tenant brewers (Po’ Boy Brewery and The Brewers Collective are the others) to start making, packaging, and selling beer from the commercial kitchen’s new brewery last September. His foray into professional brewing follows his great-grandfather, Joseph Weingand, who worked at a brewery—unknown to Becker, but based in New York City—during the 1800s, and his father, Walter Becker, who ascended the rungs of Rheingold Beer to assistant brewer during a 41-year career at its Brooklyn facility. Becker fondly recalls filling his father’s ornate mug at Rheingold’s annual company picnics as a child. “I was also filling my own mug, trust me,” he laughs.

Before his father started at Rheingold, which, at its apex during the 1960s, was the one of the country’s largest breweries, he graduated from the U.S. Brewers Academy in 1940; the same year, he married Becker’s mother. “That’s why I picked the name 1940’s. Family is very important to me,” Becker says. This importance is also evidenced in the close relationships with his two children and, subsequently, their love of beer: he homebrews regularly with his daughter, Anne Marie, while Joseph, his son, handles 1940’s branding.

Becker started homebrewing in 2008, in his fifties and nearing the end of a 40-year accounting career. He joined the Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts (LIBME) and made beers with the island’s largest homebrewing club to serve at the North Fork Craft Beer, BBQ & Wine Festival, the International Great Beer Expo, and other annual events attended to gain exposure and recruit new members. His first brew with LIBME was a red ale named Bloody Charlie’s Red Ale. “People liked it. It ran out in a few hours. It gave me confidence to keep going.”

A nod to Becker’s German heritage, 1940’s flagship is a hefeweizen, Hefie Injustice. His interpretation of the classic wheat-driven ale is “pretty by the book, crisp and unfiltered with nice flavors from the yeast,” he says. Hefie is one of four around-the-globe beers made already by Becker for his new brewery, all inspired by the “ones my father and great-grandfather likely brewed and liked to drink back then.” The others are Arsenal, a nicely balanced English-style IPA brewed with East Kent Golding and Fuggle hops; 838, a roggenbier (German for “beer with rye”) named for Becker’s father’s time in the Navy aboard the LST-838 during World War II; and Inna, an Irish dry stout sweetened with lactose. “They’re all easy to drink. That’s what I like to make.”

(L-R) Jim Thompson, owner of A Taste of Long Island, and Charles Becker. Image: Doug Young

According to the brewery’s Facebook posts, Becker has already delivered 1940’s to some of Long Island’s best-for-beer places: Hoptron Brewtique, T.J. Finley’s, Bellport Cold Beer & Soda, and BBD’s are some of the recents, though the likeliest spot to consistently find 1940’s is A Taste of Long Island’s specialty grocery store, which sells beers—in-house pints and to-go growlers—only made at The Craft Microbrewhouse.

Jim Thompson, who we profiled first in Pioneer Brewers, is Taste’s owner and host brewer. He’s planning to add 10 more drafts to the store’s current draftage of three later this month to accommodate the deluge of new liquids. Before the expansion, the first opportunity to taste this unique group together is this Saturday at The Nutty Irishman in Bay Shore. The launch event will also feature the professional debut of The Brewers Collective...

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Pioneer Brewers: A Taste of Long Island

Brewing is the latest addition to Farmingdale's A Taste of Long Island

Pioneer Brewers is an ongoing series profiling Long Island’s first hub for alternating brewery proprietorships at A Taste of Long Island in Farmingdale. The first installment explores the host brewery, A Taste of Long Island Craft Brewery, operated by…

Jim Thompson recently unearthed his copy of Charlie Papazian’s The Complete Joy of Homebrewing from his garage. The book, once a regular read, now exists solely as a worn vestige of his former hobby: its cover is frayed and most pages are dog-eared; its spine is more wrinkled than a rhinoceros’ skinsuit. “It was in storage for a long time with the rest of my brewing stuff,” Thompson admits, pouring us a pair of beers.

Jim Thompson, co-owner of A Taste of Long Island in Farmingdale, has started a unique brewery in his commercial kitchen. Image: Doug Young

A homebrewer during the ‘90s, “when everything was extract in cans,” Thompson eventually shelved Papazian’s influential guide and stopped brewing with friends. “I started a family and life just got in the way,” he explains. The majority of his time now is dedicated to A Taste of Long Island, owned with his daughter, Courtney Citko. They provide a rentable commercial kitchen to small and budding food businesses, hosting roughly 50 rotating clients who “make and package everything from cookies to tomato sauce,” he says. The demand for their 800-square-foot space has only grown since opening in Farmingdale in 2012. “It’s hard for startup food entrepreneurs to find a good built-to-code kitchen in this area. We saw the need for it.”

Christine Goldfuss, owner of Christine’s Sweets, uses Taste to make her company’s eight types of cookies. She agrees with Thompson, telling the New York Times last year, “This has been a dream of mine for a long time. The sticking point was always trying to find a commercial kitchen.” Goldfuss, like many of Taste’s clients, also benefits from the company’s other component, an adjacent specialty grocery store that sells her products. (“One-third of our selection are goods made by our clients,” Thompson beams). It’s my first visit to the 400-square-foot store on Main Street, and my mother is with me, though our agendas are discernibly different. While she indifferently orbits the tiny room on a quest for “something sweet,” my objective is specific: I came to taste some beers from Thompson’s new in-house brewery, A Taste of Long Island Craft Brewery.

A Taste of Long Island Craft Brewery’s Farmingdale Blonde Ale. Image: Doug Young

After a hiatus of two decades, Thompson has returned to brewing—though now, with the proper federal and state licenses and equipment, he’s using his commercial kitchen, not his home, as the site to make beer as A Taste of Long Island Craft Brewery. His first release, Farmingdale Blonde Ale, debuted in September. It’s a “clean and crisp beer accessible to all the Miller and Bud drinkers,” he says. This was followed by two variations using Farmingdale’s recipe as a base: Honey Blonde Ale, brewed with honey from Raleigh’s Poultry Farms and Country Store in Kings Park, and Honey Harvest Ale, brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger. Both beers are available now.

Similar to Goldfuss and Taste’s other food-based clients, licensed brewers can rent the kitchen’s new brewing equipment, which includes a 125-gallon mash tun and two 55-gallon brew kettles (fermentators must be purchased by the tenant), to make beer. Thompson is operating his brewery as a hub for alternating proprietorships, defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau as an “arrangement in which two or more people take turns using the physical premises of a brewery. Generally, the proprietor of an existing brewery, the ‘host brewery,’ agrees to rent space and equipment to a new ‘tenant brewer.’”

A growing trend in the industry, the alternating proprietorship model is being utilized by small brewers deciding to eschew traditional—and costly—startup methods. In New York City, Grimm Artisanal Ales, Radiant Pig Craft Beers, and Third Rail Beer all rent space and equipment at large facilities to make their beers, while Evil Twin Brewing and Stillwater Artisanal Ales have both become popular brands by brewing as tenants, or gypsies, internationally. Thompson is the first to launch a home for alternating proprietorships on Long Island. As of now, he’s agreed to host three companies (more are forthcoming): 1940’s Brewing Company, Po’ Boy Brewery, and The Brewer’s Collective. This trio will have the opportunity to brew, package, and distribute their beers without the financial risk of launching a brick-and-mortar operation. “They don’t have to find a warehouse and spend $500,000 on equipment, rent, electricity, and so on. But it’s basically like owning a brewery—everything is brewed and packaged by the brewer and they pay their own taxes,” Thompson says.

“It’s not much different than a person coming here to make cookies,” he adds, though he also admits a lot of planning and restructuring was needed to accomodate the new endeavor. Thompson converted the building’s narrow basement into an area for storage and fermentation, for example, and it’s already stuffed with ingredients and equipment. He estimates tenants will brew at Taste “for only three or four years before opening their own brewery,” though, “so we’ll have the space to keep adding new brewers to the roster. I’m already getting tons of phone calls. I really think this can become the first launchpad for startup breweries on Long Island. We’re like a group of pioneer brewers,” he says.

While Thompson is confident of his brewery’s chances for long-term success, he’s still uncertain of an optimal setup to serve beer at his store. He’s using a kegerator with three drafts now, but already anticipating a flood of forthcoming beers from himself and his clients, he’s planning to upgrade to 10 drafts before Christmas. Another uhhhhhhh is the lack of seating. Thompson is selling beer to-go in 64-ounce growlers and 22-ounce bottles, but serving pints on-premise with only one table and two chairs won’t exactly draw a sizable crowd. “I have a lot of decisions to make eventually,” he says. “For now, though, I just want to get all the kinks worked out with all the brewers coming in. That’s the main focus here. We’re gonna be making a lot of beer.”

Filling Bottles at A Taste of Long Island. Image: Doug Young

After we taste Farmingdale Blonde, deliberately more refreshing than complex, Thompson pours me a beer from the second brewer to launch at Taste: Charles Becker, owner of 1940’s Brewing Company. Becker, a homebrewer from Old Bethpage, is focusing on German styles with his new company. He started brewing at Taste in…

Chapter II: 1940’s Brewing Company

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