Greenport Harbor Brewing Company: Finally, Beer Weather! April 25, 2018

https://greenportharborbrewing.com/

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One view of the tasting room and lawn.

“Well, we’ll just have to come back,” we decided, after sharing one tasting of Greenport Harbor beers left us feeling we’d had enough for one day.  It was finally warm enough to feel that beer should be the drink of choice, so we headed to Greenport Harbor’s large facility on the corner of Peconic Lane and Main Road.  They also have a smaller tasting room in the village of Greenport.

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Two views of the bar tasting room. Note pooch. They are allowed in this room and outside, but not in the restaurant.

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This place is quite large, though it does fill up on summer weekends, with two rooms.  The first one is for ordering beer and tastings, with a side area of GH-related gifts, and the second one is a restaurant area, where dogs are not allowed.  So if you want to get food, be sure you have someone to hang onto your pooch either in the first room or outside while you do so.

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The restaurant room is also roomy.

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The counter where you order food, plus the beers they have at that spot.

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Food menu

You may remember that I noted one could do a walking/drinking tour on Peconic Lane, and end up at GH.  There, you can spend some time sitting outside in the Adirondack chairs or at a picnic table and have lunch.  They have quite an extensive menu of snacks and real food, from the Űber Pretzel for $11.50 to salads, sandwiches, and a lobster roll for $25.  You order at the counter and they give you a square object which vibrates quite violently when your food is ready to be picked up.  We got the Űber Pretzel, which was quite large, very hot, and came with mustard and a warm cheese dipping sauce.  Not bad, but it lacked the yeasty bite of a New York City street pretzel.  Too soft and sweet for me—but we devoured it anyway.

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You also order your beer at a counter, where you can get a tasting of five beers for $12 or glasses or growler fills for varying prices.  The tasting comes in pretty little bell-shaped glasses which fit into a whale-shaped carrier (GH used to sell you the glass, which you then filled with your choice of beers.  We have quite a collection.).  You leave your credit card with the server, who returns it and charges your account when you return the glasses.  Clever.  We saw quite a few people carrying their tasting outside or to a table over on the restaurant side of the place.  We also saw many people just getting glasses of beer and sitting and sipping.  Kids were throwing a Frisbee around outside.

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The rather extensive beer menu.

We stood at the bar and studied the beer menu, which consists of fifteen choices divided into three categories:  Year Round, Limited Release, and The OG (Original Greenport) Series.  Within these categories there are various styles, including lagers, ales, IPAs, stouts, bocks, and a Berliner Weisse.  How to choose?  The server gave us a slip of paper and a pen, and told us to write down our choices.  So we did, going for a variety of styles, writing them down in the order in which we happened to choose them.  (By the way, you can also buy their beers in cans and bottles, often available at local grocery stores and beer distributors.)

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Beers available in cans, but note, no consumption of the cans or growlers while you’re there.

Then she carefully filled the glasses in the order in which we had written them, and returned our slip of paper with instructions to drink them “from head to tail of the whale.”  Wait a second.  We had started by choosing a porter, and our last choice was a brown ale.  Surely that was not the order in which one should drink them!?  She was very happy to write down the best sequence, and as we sipped we decided she had been quite right.  So be forewarned—be sure to ask that question.  As in a wine tasting, order matters.  You don’t want to go from a heavy porter to a light lager, or the lager will taste like nothing.  I think one change GH should make is to automatically have servers point that out.

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Our list, with her added re-numbering for the order in which to drink them.

  1. Tidal Lager        5.3% ABV

The ABV percentage is something you see next to each beer, and it refers to “alcohol by volume.”  It is listed because beers can vary widely in how alcoholic they are, from, in the case of our choices, 5% to 9.4%.  Tidal Lager is described as a “Vienna Lager,” a particular style of lager you can look up on the web.  This version of it is quite light, though also very tasty, with notes of toast and oatmeal cookies.  This is a good summer beer, nice for sipping on the deck on a hot day.

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Our tasting, which was plenty to drink for the two of us.

  1. Maibock 7% ABV

We asked our server about this one, as we were contemplating what to choose, and she launched into a mini-essay on how good it is and how much she likes it.  I can see why.  I described it as a “classic good beer,” full-bodied but not heavy.  My husband said it was “toasty and creamy.”  It has a touch of sweetness, and would go great with spicy grilled sausages (maybe some of the sausages from 8 Hands Farm).

  1. Hopnami 9.4% ABV

If you like a really hoppy, grapefruity IPA, this is the beer for you.  We don’t.  It tastes more like a breakfast juice than a beer, and smells like grapefruit juice, too.  And I think it’s a bit dangerous, because you could easily guzzle it down—and look at the ABV!

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There are some interesting non-alcoholic drinks available as well.

  1. Black Duck Porter 5% ABV

It was easy to decide to taste this one, since it is one of our favorites.  We’ve bought it in bottles from our local supermarket but, no surprise, it tastes better fresh on tap.  This is a lovely dark beer, with tastes of coffee and chocolate.  As we sipped, we reminisced about our favorite pubs in England and Ireland.  It would go great with shepherd’s pie or a nice lamb stew (hold the mushy peas).

  1. Kettle Cookies and Coffee Oatmeal Brown Ale 5.3% ABV

I had to try this one, since it is made with NoFoRoCo (North Fork Roasting Company) coffee.  And yes, it smells and tastes like coffee, like a good espresso with just a touch of sugar. However, I don’t think I would enjoy a whole glass of this. It barely seems like a beer.  Between this and Hopnami, you could have quite the boozy breakfast.

Reasons to visit:  good beer in an expansive setting; nice menu of sandwiches, etc., which, they boast, are often made with local ingredients; the Tidal Lager, Maibock, and Black Duck Perter; generous pour for a tasting; you can fill your growler and take some home; live music sometimes; fun t-shirts.  We’ll be back to try some more.  I calculate we need to come at least two more times to try all fifteen!

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This was sitting by the entrance. I assume it is some piece of “antique” brewing equipment, which fits with the North Fork aesthetic of old farm equipment as lawn ornaments.

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Greenport Harbor Brewing Company: Cold Beer Here! 7/23/16

http://greenportharborbrewing.com/#welcome

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The flag said “Cold Beer.” Hard to resist when it’s 90 out!

Even with breezes off the bay, it was too hot to sit outside at a winery, so we decided the weather demanded some nice cold beer.  Off we went to Greenport, to the original—which they now describe as the “boutique”—site of our favorite East End beer maker.  They also have a huge facility in Peconic, more a beer barn than a tasting room, which is often very crowded.  On Valentine’s Day weekend we walked in there and walked out, as it was clear there were no seats available plus a long line to even get a tasting.

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Look for this sign on a back street in Greenport.

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The slightly confusing menu.

We quickly found a place at the bar in the small upstairs space, and were soon joined by a genial couple who had not been to a beer tasting before.  We had opted to share one tasting flight, and after seeing how generous the pour was, they decided to follow our example.  You get six “tastes” (actually a good-sized glass) for $8.00.  By the way, they no longer give you the glass to keep.  The menu is somewhat confusing, as our new friends found, as they were not sure whether you get each taste for $8 or all six, or which of the many varieties listed are included.  The starred ones, we explained, were in the tasting, and they are served in order from lightest to darkest, or most intense in flavor.  We may have to stop in another time to try some of the other options.  A line on the chalkboard separated the beers that are always available from the seasonal and/or experimental ones.

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The tasting room features changing exhibits of local artists’ works.

We were also on a mission of sorts, as we had brought an empty growler—the refillable jug the brewery uses—to fill with beer for our dinner of barbecued ribs and Harbes sweet corn.

  1. Summer Ale      5.3% (alcohol level)

Of course, since this is the first taste, it is the lightest.  The color is a light gold, the taste is clean and tangy and light, not at all hoppy.  It would be the perfect beer to consume after an afternoon of gardening in the warm sun, as it would go down very easily and was quite refreshing.  It was also our new friend’s favorite, though not ours.  We decided she and I had opposite tastes!

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Summer Ale next to our growler.

  1. Harbor Ale         5.3%

After a quick rinse with water from a pitcher, the server filled our glass with this perennial classic of Greenport Harbor.  It is a reliably good beer, with a touch of bitter hops, and could certainly go with our ribs, though we were not decided yet.

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Harbor Ale

  1. OGB Dry Hop 4.1%

The menu describes this as a “Berliner Weiss,” or in other words a wheat beer. In general, I tend not to like wheat beers, and this is no exception.  “Tastes like flavored water,” opines my husband.  “The Germans can keep it!”  I reply.  The aroma and taste are both rather yeasty, with some funkiness, and it’s quite fizzy.  It might go well in a shandy. We didn’t finish our portion.

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Fizzy wheat beer

  1. Otherside IPA 7.4%

I seem to recall from a former visit that “otherside” refers to California hops, but our server today seems very uninterested in giving us any details unless we ask more than once for information.  He’s much more forthcoming to a young fedora-hatted couple down the bar from us.  This is our favorite so far, quite hoppy, with a fuller mouth feel and more flavor than the Harbor Ale.  I think we’ve found our rib accompaniment.

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Otherside India Pale Ale

5.  Black Duck Porter 4.7%

This is generally my favorite of their beers, I explain to the friendly couple next to us, and he agrees that he likes it.  It’s a porter that would not be out of place in an English pub, with an aroma of coffee and tastes of coffee and chocolate, with just the right balance of sweet and bitter.  If you like dark beer, this is the one for you—but it would not complement our ribs.  Maybe it would go well with shepherd’s pie, or a plowman’s lunch of cheese and bread and pickles.  We’re getting hungry, and we notice that they also no longer put out bowls of pretzels. Oh well.

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Black Duck Porter

  1. Fork and Beans 6%

“American Stout,” says the menu, and the name is explained when the server tells another couple that they actually brew this with coffee beans sourced from the North Fork Roasting Company, a coffee place in Southold that roasts their own beans and has quickly become a popular spot.  This dark brew smells and tastes like a strong espresso.  You could have it with breakfast and think you were getting your caffeine fix for the day!  We both find it a touch too bitter.  I wonder how it would taste topped with whipped cream.

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Fork and Beans, as in North Fork and Roasting Company espresso beans!

Reasons to visit:  the Otherside IPA, the Black Duck Porter, the Harbor Ale; a seasonally changing roster of beers; a hefty and low-priced serving of beer, given the six generous tastes for $8; the chance to fill your growler with nice fresh beer (we did take the Otherside IPA).  For more of a party atmosphere, with music and food often available, you can check out their location in Peconic.

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Greenport Harbor Brewery: The Satellite Location 2/15/15

http://www.greenportharborbrewing.com/

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company's new facility is quite large.

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company’s new facility is quite large.

We were quite pleased when Greenport Harbor Brewery opened up a second location in Peconic, which is more convenient for us to refill our growlers, since we enjoy their interesting and delicious beers.  I really should blog about them several times a year, since, though certain brews are always on the menu, they vary their offerings seasonally.  For example, in the fall we enjoyed their Leaf Pile Ale, and now they offer special winter brews.  Indeed, we visit them more often than I blog about them, as our ever increasing stock of Greenport-Harbor-logoed glasses attests.   You see, the way a tasting works is you are technically paying $8 for the glass, which you then get to keep, and which is filled successively with their six menu items.

The menu offered additional brews not on the tasting list.

The menu offered additional brews not on the tasting list.

It was bitterly cold outside, and blowing snow made parts of the roads hazardous, but still there were quite a few people at the picnic-type tables in the large industrial-style tasting room.  Over in one corner, people from the Fork and Anchor Deli in East Marion had set up a table, where they were selling sub sandwiches, huge pretzels, and bowls of chili, while a little further into the room a band was getting ready to play.  Unfortunately, we had to leave before the music started.  While some people were doing a tasting, others were buying pints.

Food on offer from a local deli.

Food on offer from a local deli.

Band setting up

Band setting up

At the bar, large bowls of small pretzels helped clear the palate between tastes, while our server enthusiastically explained each beverage.  A home brewer himself, he and our son-in-law got into quite a technical discussion of brewing recipes and techniques.  He also told us about upcoming events, including the opening of a restaurant in the space and plans for a pig roast, which had us looking forward to June for another reason besides the end of ice and cold.

The taps

The taps

  1. Harbor Ale        5.3%

The percentage of alcohol in each beer is a usual notation on brewery menus, since beers can vary greatly in how alcoholic they are.  The Harbor Ale is their standard brew, always on the menu, an American pale ale with pleasant citrus notes and a golden color.

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  1. Black Duck Porter 4.7%

This is another standard, and one of our favorites.  If you like dark beer, this is a delicious one to try, with lots of coffee and chocolate tastes. It may be that I was influenced by the fact that it was just the day after Valentine’s Day, but I think it would pair well with dark chocolates.

  1. Otherside I.P. A. 7.5%

The “other side” is the West Coast, as this is made with an assortment of West Coast hops, such as Cascade, which, our son-in-law noted, tend to add a “piney” note.  We agree, and also some citrus tastes and various layers of flavor.

We became fascinated by the light fixtures made from growlers with the bottoms cut off.

We became fascinated by the light fixtures made from growlers with the bottoms cut off.

  1. Longest Night Stout 6.7%

Here is an example of a seasonal brew, as this is made for the winter time.  It is a hearty winter treat, a bit bitterer than the porter, and very flavorful.  Before it was served, we were asked if any of us had a nut allergy, as chocolate with nuts is used in the brewing, as well as oatmeal. The taste led to a discussion of the joys of dark-chocolate-covered orange peel.

  1. Belgian Style Dubbel 6.0%

This is not a misspelling of double, but rather a Belgian beer style.  Our son-in-law lived for a while in Brussels, so we deferred to him. He declared this brew appropriately funky, but not quite funky enough.  Apparently it is brewed on cherries, and follows a style first used in monasteries in Belgium.

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  1. Spring Turning Saison 6.25%

Saison refers to the yeast used in this very tasty and refreshing rye-based quaff.  This is also a Belgian style beer, and our server informed us that Greenport hoped to introduce more Belgian brews in the future, an ambition we applaud, since on a recent trip to Belgium we became quite enamored of the beers, and also of the fact that every sidewalk café seemed to offer its own brew.  (We also noticed that, although I usually ordered the dark brown beer and my husband the light brown one, the waiters in Belgium almost invariably put the dark beer down in front of my husband.  Who knew beer had gender?)

At the end of the tasting, we filled our growler with the Otherside I.P.A. to go with the pizza we planned to get from Michelangelo later that evening.  It went very well.

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Reasons to visit:  you like beer; you love beer; you’re interested in exploring a variety of beer tastes; you want a collection of little glasses; all six of the beers on offer, as well as every other beer we’ve ever tried there; you’re tired of wine (just kidding).

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Room for plenty of people at the new tasting room.

Room for plenty of people at the new tasting room.

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company October 5, 2013

Alert readers will note this photo is from a previous visit.

Alert readers will note this photo is from a previous visit.

http://harborbrewing.com/

Hmmm, you think, brewing company?  That doesn’t sound like a winery.  And you’re right.  In honor of Oktoberfest, we decided to go to a brewery tasting room to sample some local beers, and a very good decision it was, too, though quite a few other people had the same idea, making the room a bit crowded.  Greenport Harbor’s brewery and tasting room are located just off Main Street in Greenport, and we often cut across the bank parking lot to get there.  Since they opened, they have moved the tasting room up a steep flight of stairs (labeled the “Stairway to Heaven”—you may start humming now) to a somewhat rustic room with a bar, plus low stools in the center of the space.  Around the walls they display an ever-changing selection of works of art for sale, so the room also functions as an art gallery.  There are also t-shirts, totes, and hats displaying their clever logo—a schematic map of Long Island emphasizing its whale-like shape, with a star for Greenport.

A sign informs us “No pints, just flights,” which is fine with us, as that’s what we’ve come for.  The procedure is that you pay $8.00 for a glass in which they give you your tastes, and then you get to keep the glass.  We’re amassing quite a collection, I must admit.  If you want to take some home, you buy a “Growler” (so named, according to one theory, for the sound the beer makes as it splashes into the container), which they fill from the tap and top with a screw cap, for $19.  Since our last visit they have added a smaller size for $13, which is perfect for two.  The servings are quite generous, and two could even share one tasting.  You get six samples from their ever-changing menu, anchored by the Harbor Ale, which they always feature.

greenport brewery

1.        Greenport Harbor Ale  5.2%

This is a classic American beer, but better than Bud, and would be perfect with baseball and peanuts.  It is nicely hoppy, with some citrus and unripe pineapple notes.

2.       Black Duck Porter  4.9%

Why “black duck?” we ask our server.  She’s not sure, but thinks it is named for the color—which is indeed quite black—and Long Island ducks.  They try to have names which reflect the local color.  I remember fondly one called DisOrient Harbor which they were forced to discontinue.  Apparently the State in its wisdom thinks it is a bad idea to give alcoholic drinks names which reflect an effect they might have.  I really like the Black Duck, which both smells and tastes a bit like espresso, but also dark unsweetened chocolate and spice.  It would be perfect with kielbasi.  Sometimes they make a similar beer called Canard Noir…

3.       Oyster Stout  4.9%

This is another dark beer, but not nearly as strong and full-flavored as the porter.  Dark beer for those who don’t care for dark beer, opines my husband, who also nails the spice taste we’re trying to identify.  Cardamom!  Do we detect a slight fishy smell, or are we influenced by the name?  They suggest it would be good with oysters, and though I generally prefer white wine with those bivalves, this would work since it would not overwhelm them.

4.       Devil’s Plaything IPA  5.5%

“Made exclusively for Salvation Taco,” the sign reads.  We know the spot, a restaurant in Manhattan we walked into and promptly walked out of, unwilling to bear the extreme noise level.  I do hear their tacos are good, and so is this beer.  It is brewed with hot peppers in it, we are told, and we can sense an underlying chili flavor, though it is not spicy.  The aroma reminds me of tomato leaves.  This is not a beer for sipping, as it is a bit sharp, but I can see how its refreshing taste would go well with spicy Mexican or Szechuan dishes.  There’s a touch of citrus, so I can certainly see this with a bowl of guacamole.

5.       Otherside IPA  7.5%

Why Otherside, inquiring minds want to know.  The hops for this one come from the West Coast, is the answer, huge quantities of Apollo, Cascade, Centennial, and Chiana hops.  Befitting its making, we note a complexity of flavor in this very hoppy beer (please, no happy/hoppy puns).  It would be great with a hamburger and chips or fries.

6.       Leaf Pile Ale  5.4%

Halloween is coming, and so is Thanksgiving, so it is time for pumpkin pie—or pumpkin ale.  We do indeed taste cinnamon and nutmeg and some sweetness.  If you don’t particularly like beer, this might be the quaff for you.  I like it better than I thought I would!

After we finish, our server rinses out our glasses and puts in a paper towel to dry them.  We buy a small growler of Black Duck Porter, which we enjoy later that evening with barbecued pork loin.  Excellent combination.

A view out the window at the brewery, including their interesting sign.

A view out the window at the brewery, including their interesting sign.

Reasons to visit:

You’re walking around Greenport and need a break from shopping; you’ve tried all the wineries and are ready for something different; you like artisanal beer; you want some really fresh beer for dinner; you like interesting beers.

Brewery