Foodie Tour: Liquids Too September 16,2018

Foodie Tour:  Liquids Too

IMG_5688

For years we’d seen the posters advertising the North Fork Foodie Tour (This is the 12th annual one.), but somehow we’d never managed to go.  The dates or the weather never quite worked, but this year it was scheduled for a weekend we were free and the forecast was for a beautiful day, so we stopped in to the Mattituck Florist and bought two tickets for $25 each.

You bring your ticket to whichever stop you choose to go to first, where volunteers at a little table sign you in and give you a wrist band, which then gives you admission to the rest of the sites.

There are twenty in all.  I laid out a somewhat ambitious itinerary which we ended up scrapping, visiting only three of the stops on the tour.  However, we felt we had gotten our money’s worth.

IMG_5670

Our first stop was Browder’s Birds, on a back street in Mattituck. http://browdersbirds.com/

IMG_5669

They have a bunch of bee hives, too.

We got there in time for the 11 a.m. tour, led by Mr. Chris Browder himself.  He told us that he’s had anywhere from 15 to 50 people in past years, but this time it was just us and one other couple.  After sampling a yummy quiche made with Browder’s eggs, we set off across the field to the mobile chicken and turkey coops. Along the way we learned about the rewards and perils of raising fowl—the satisfaction of hands-on work, the depredations of foxes—and the methodology he uses.

After reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Chris visited one farm described in the book, where the farmer uses a system of mobile hen houses to move his chickens from one square of pasture to another.  Chris decided to put the same system into effect on his organic farm.  We could see the denuded earth where the coop had just been and the new growth where it had been the previous week.

The chickens eat a diet of insects and greens they get from the field plus organic feed.  We were struck by the total absence of any foul odors, as you sometimes find around chicken coops.  Chris explained that the constant movement of the coops keeps everything clean.  Then he showed us how he can move the lightweight coop himself, and how when the chickens realize he’s about to start pulling it they line up along the front of the coop so they can move along with it.

IMG_5674

The surviving turkeys seemed as curious about us as we were about them.

He also showed us his one turkey coop, which had originally held 60 young turkeys.  Unfortunately, a fox got into the coop a week or so ago and killed 29 of them.

IMG_5671

They also sell sweaters knit with wool from their sheep.

After our tour of the fields, we returned to the area near the house to check out the greenhouse-like structure where the baby chicks live until they are big enough to be out in the field.  We also learned about how the Browders slaughter their chickens themselves, in a very humane and efficient way.  We then said hi to the sheep and ducks, which like to hunker down in the shade next to the house.  Finally, we looked over the little store, which is open on weekends and Friday afternoons, where they sell their chickens, eggs, duck eggs, home-made honey, brining mixture, etc.  Since this was our first stop, we weren’t ready to buy anything, but we promised we’d be back.

It was almost noon, and I saw from the tour booklet that Greenport Harbor Brewery was giving a tour at noon of their Peconic facility.  Despite being caught behind a tractor on one leg of our journey, we made it there just as the tour was beginning.  https://greenportharborbrewing.com/

IMG_5675

No, this silo is not decorative. It actually is used to store the grain they use to make beer.

Rich Vandenburgh, one of the co-funders of Greenport Harbor, led the tour.   An engaging and amusing guide, he explained all the stages of making beer as well as regaling us with some stories from his years with the brewery.  If you ever go on the tour, make sure you hear about the strange scrapes on the high ceiling of the storage room.  We learned about hops and barley and grain and yeast.   Among other things, we learned about how they try to be responsible about the environment at the brewery.  They plan to install a water catching system so they can use rain water, and another system which captures the CO2 from the brewing process which can then be reinjected into the beer to carbonate it.  The spent mash goes to farms for animal feed and mulch.  Because it tastes sweet, the animals really like it, including the bison at Tweed’s bison farm on Roanoke Avenue.  Rich related how when the bison catch sight of the truck approaching the farm they hurry over to the fence, eager for their treat.

It was almost one o’clock by the time we had finished seeing the bottling room and asking all the questions which Rich patiently answered.  Then we showed our bracelets at the bar and were told we could each have three free tastes of any beers we liked.  After all that walking and standing around, we were ready for a respite, so we bought a big pretzel to go with our beers.  Although we’d been to Greenport Harbor twice in recent months, they already had some new beers for us to taste.  We sipped Tidal Lager, Lawn Chair ale, Devil’s Plaything, Respect to Process, and Black Duck Porter, which remains my favorite, but we liked them all.

IMG_5680

The bottling machine. They are in the midst of bottling their fall special, Leaf Pile Ale. We saw the bags of nutmegs, etc., they use for the pumpkin pie spice flavor.

Where to go next?  We could have headed to Craft Master Hops, to learn about how hops are harvested, or to Shared Table Farmhouse, to see a “homesteading operation,” or any of a number of other places, but we decided to rest until 3 p.m., when a tour was scheduled at Macari Vineyards.

http://macariwines.com/

IMG_5682

The grapes look great, but are not quite ripe yet.

We checked in for the final time with the Foodie Tour volunteers, and headed around to the back of the property where a group of foodies—some of whom we recognized from the brewery tour—gathered.  We were soon joined by two employees of the winery who laid out a platter of cheeses and crackers and served us tastes of three of Macari’s wines.  As we sipped, our guide explained the philosophy behind each wine and how it was made, as well as some background on the Macari family and how they had come to own a winery.  Joseph T. Macari, Jr., started making wine with his father in their cellar in Corona, Queens.  We also learned a little bit about their commitment to biodynamic farming.  Common to all three places we visited was concern for the environment and a sincere commitment to making a great product.

We started with the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, a zesty, crisp, refreshing white.  I agreed with the guide that it would pair well with local oysters.  Then we moved on to the 2016 Chardonnay Estate, a very nice steel-fermented chard.  It was interesting to hear his discussion of the differences between the grapes and how they were treated.  We ended with Sette, a red that mixes half merlot and half cabernet franc.  The wine is named for Settefratti, the town in Italy to which the Macari family traces their roots.

IMG_5685

This machine is used to separate the grape juice from the skins.

Well-fortified, we headed inside to tour the various aspects of the wine-making facility, from huge steel tanks with precise temperature control to stacks of oak barrels where wine is aged.  Our guide’s parting words were that our Foodie Tour wrist bands would get us 10% off any wines in the winery.

 

And that was the end of our day.  Though we only got to three of the twenty possible sites, it was a thoroughly satisfying experience.  I hope that next year weather and timing cooperate so we can do this again!

Advertisements

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

https://greenportharborbrewing.com/

IMG_5171

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.

IMG_5182

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

IMG_5183

IMG_5184

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.

IMG_5185

The restaurant room is also roomy.

IMG_5186

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

IMG_5176

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.

IMG_5180

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.

IMG_5174

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.)

IMG_5175

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.

IMG_5178

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.

IMG_5179

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!

IMG_5177

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!

IMG_5173

IMG_5172

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.

Jamesport Farm Brewery: Playing It Safe                            September 2, 2017

https://www.jfbrewery.com/

b sign

We’d been watching the sign on Sound Avenue as it kept reading “Coming Soon,” so when we saw that Jamesport Farm Brewery, the newest brewery in town, was open for tastings, we wanted to check it out.  Then when visitors arrived at our house who appreciate both wine and beer, we knew it was time.  So off we went, up the bumpy road and past a somewhat misleading sign that seems to send you left when the tasting room is on the right.  The parking lot and surrounding area is still a work in progress, but the tasting room is quite ready for guests, and so is the expansive lawn outside, where children romped and groups clustered around umbrella tables with pints of beer.  A food truck offered lunch items, but we headed into the large room and sauntered up to the bar.  We were glad we had arrived early, since by the time we left there was a line for the bar.

b lawn

b table

The menu on a large chalkboard offers seven different beers, plus a couple of ciders from Riverhead Cider House and a Palmer chardonnay.  A tasting of four is $10; pints are $6 each, and you can also refill your growler for $15 ($5 for the bottle).  We decided to get two tastings so we could try all the beers, with one member of the group preferring Captain Cook’s Razzmatazz for his choice.  That’s a raspberry-flavored cider that he liked but tastes to me like flavored children’s medicine.  In general, we liked the beers, but felt that they were somewhat ordinary.  A small brewery could take more chances with at least some of their brews.

b sign inside

b reuse

Our server was enthusiastic and friendly, offering her opinions on our choices and suggesting an order in which to taste them which was not exactly the order on the board, and we felt she did a good job.  The beers list the alcohol content, which can vary quite a bit.  Each serving fills a small glass.  By the way, the word “farm” in the name of the brewery is not just for decoration:  many of the ingredients for the beers—and in some cases all the ingredients—are grown on the premises.  they grow hops and barley, among other ingredients.  You can take a tractor-drawn tour to check out the farm, $15 with a pint and $10 without one, and we saw a group heading out for one as we left.  Even the bar is built using locally sourced recycled materials!

b pets

  1. Haybaler           5.4

An American pale ale made from 90% homegrown ingredients, this first choice was a not complex, light, slightly citrusy ale.  Our friend said she could see drinking it on the beach, as it would be a pleasant hot weather quaff.

b hops

One of the offerings in the gift shop.

  1. Sound Avenue Summer              5.5

With this blonde ale we had a difference of opinion.  Our friend said if she had a pint of this she wouldn’t finish it, while I liked its yeasty, honey, bready taste.  I opined that it would make “a good breakfast beer,” while she said it was not “beery” enough.

b duo

  1. Rows ‘n Hoes 6.6

When we inquired as to the name, our server chuckled and said it fit with “the farm theme,” adding that this was a “smooth” IPA than the Northville, which we tasted next to it.  It uses all New York State-sourced ingredients.  We detected tastes of smoke and tobacco, and found it not as hoppy as one would expect from an IPA, and more like an ale.  Again, we had a difference of opinion, as I liked it more than my friend did.  However, she said she could see drinking it with braised beef, where its bitterness would complement the richness of the dish.

b food truck

Food truck menu

  1. Northville IPA 5.2

“Beer,” opined my friend, “should have a beery taste.”  And this one did, meeting with general approval as having a hoppy, grassy, citrusy taste.  She also said it reminded her of a Session ale.  Because it was brewed specially for the grand opening, it may not always be available.  Breweries do tend to vary their offerings by the season, and our server told us that their pumpkin ale would be arriving soon.  Of course.

b pickles

Our favorite local pickles: try “Dill Death do us Part.”

  1. Ribbit Red Ale 6.3

This is made by a different brewery which shares the premises with Jamesport, called Tweaking Frog.  We had a discussion over whether New York State would allow Tweaking Frog to use the word tweaking, since you’re not allowed to use names for alcoholic products which imply that they will affect your take on reality (or something like that).  In any event, this American Amber/Red ale is heavy on the yeast, with a slightly caramelized flavor, almost malty.  I like it and my friend didn’t dislike it.

  1. Ex-Wife 5.8

Apparently, the ex-wife is bitter, because this is an “Extra Special Bitter,” also made by Tweaking Frog.  It does leave a bitter taste, but is surprisingly light for a bitter.  Our friend who is drinking the raspberry cider likes this one.

b brown

  1. Barnswallow Brown 5.3

My favorite of the day, this is a Brown Ale that is sweet and dark, with a burnt toast aroma and chocolate flavor.  I prefer a heavier dark beer, like Guinness, but this would do.  If I were getting a pint, this is what I would choose.

b cider

The cider

  1. Captain Cook’s Razzmatazz

Raspberry flavored cider that tastes like flavored children’s medicine, from the Riverhead Cider House.

b shop

Reasons to visit:  you want to check out the new brewery in town; tractor tours; a pleasant place to hoist a pint, especially the outside area; you have dogs or children in tow; Greenport Harbor is full; the Northville IPA and the Barnswallow Brown, plus the Haybaler if it is a hot day; a nice gift shop where you can buy the equipment to make your own beer.

b home brew

You can buy a kit and learn to make your own beer, but beware–many owners of breweries started this way!

b flower sign

b vats

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.

green light beer

  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.

green foam

  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.

green wall

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).

green building

Room for plenty of people at the new tasting room.

Room for plenty of people at the new tasting room.

Crooked Ladder: A Straight Deal 8/16/14

http://crookedladderbrewing.com/

The Crooked Ladder Brewery is part of the scene on Main Street in Riverhead.

The Crooked Ladder Brewery is part of the scene on Main Street in Riverhead.

Eight tastes for $9.00—and by tastes they mean about a quarter of a glass—of freshly made craft beer (plus you get to keep the glass) qualifies as a good deal in my book.  We shared one tasting, and felt we’d had plenty to drink.  Downtown Riverhead is working hard at revitalization, with lots of interesting restaurant options, the New Suffolk Theater for live performances, and increasing numbers of formerly empty storefronts being filled, and part of that is the home of Crooked Ladder.   Located in a storefront on Main Street, the brewery has an attractively designed small tasting bar with stools in the front and a view of the beer making equipment in the back.  You may be able to find street parking, but if not, there are free lots behind the stores on both sides of the street.

When we entered we were given a menu of tastes which had information about each beer, which was fortunate as the server’s spiel was limited to, “Here’s the Kolsch.” The information included the ABV (Alcohol by Volume) and IBU (International Bittering Units) for each beer, which I’ve included in case this interests you.  Though the IBU measures the bitterness contributed by the hops, it doesn’t actually tell you how bitter the beer might taste, since the taste is a function of the balance among the various ingredients.  In addition to the tastes, you can also buy growlers, $20 for 64 ounces or $15 for 32 ounces, with a discount if you bring back the bottle for a refill.  At the bar with us were a large group of talkative guys who asked that the TV be tuned to ESPN and a pair of women quietly doing a tasting.

The brewing equipment

The brewing equipment

  1. Kolsch  6% ABV, 32 IBU

This is described on the menu as a German Ale, and it is a mild, fairly light beer, which would be fine on a hot day after working in the garden.  We felt it was pretty tasteless, a good choice for someone who doesn’t really like beer.  “Better than Coors Light, I suppose,” I said.

Summeritis seems like something one would enjoy catching.

Summeritis seems like something one would enjoy catching.

  1. Summeritis 5% ABV, 21 IBU

Summeritis is a fitting name for another fairly light-tasting beer made with “Crystal hops.”  It has a somewhat citrus/orange aroma and pleasant bitterness.

  1. Peach Wheat 5% ABV, 22 IBU

Another self-explanatory name—a wheat beer brewed with the addition of 40 pounds of peaches to each batch.  I don’t usually care for wheat beers, but this one is a pleasant drink, and also good to serve people who think they don’t like beer.  Slightly cloudy in the glass, it has a bit of peach smell and taste.  I could imagine sipping it while resting in a hammock on a hot summer day.

Note the faint cloudiness of the Peach Wheat--and also the generous serving!

Note the faint cloudiness of the Peach Wheat–and also the generous serving!

  1. Gypsy Red 5% ABV, 28 IBU

So this name begged for an explanation, which was forthcoming from our server.  “It’s our flagship beer, “she told us, “the first one we made.  At the time we had no permanent home, and were roaming around, doing brewing in one place, bottling in another, tasting somewhere else.”  Hence Gypsy.  This is my favorite so far, a tasty ale with a reddish color, an aroma of spice and cocoa powder, and a good caramel flavor that would go well with burgers.

5.  Scottish Ale 6% ABV, 13 IBU                                                                                                           Scottish style ale (duh), this is a dark beer with an almost meaty smell and smoky taste that would complement barbeque really well.   It’s about this point that we notice that the server is rinsing our glass after every taste, using a neat device next to the taps that delivers a quick fountain of water to the inverted glass.

6.  Four Day Weekend APA 2% ABV  40 IBU

Why Four Day Weekend?  No idea, said the server.  This is described as an American Pale Ale, using Warrior, Simcoe, and Citra hops—and it is hoppy.  Now this one I really like.  I think it would be good with almost anything.  The aroma is somewhat flinty—wet iron I say—with an unusual and complex flavor.

  1. 70 West IPA 6% ABV  70 IBU

Since the brewery is located at 70 West Main Street, the genesis of this name is fairly evident.  The notes inform us that four different varieties of hops go into this beer, plus some dry hops for another element.  Good balance of bitterness and flavor, this is another beer I could see buying.  Certainly we like it better than any beers at Long Ireland Brewery.

I tend to prefer dark beers, like this porter.

I tend to prefer dark beers, like this porter.

  1. Ponquogue Porter 6% ABV  35 IBU

Named for a bridge that spans Shinnecock Bay, this porter transports us to an English pub.  If you like a dark beer, this is the one for you, with its tastes of somewhat sugary coffee balancing the bitterness of the hops.  Though I prefer Greenport Harbor’s Black Duck Porter, this one is also quite good.

photo (6)

Reasons to visit you like craft beer; you’re interested in walking around Riverhead to see the progress that has been made in its revitalization; you have some time to kill before dinner or after lunch at one of Riverhead’s restaurants (We’re especially fond of the bison dishes at Tweed’s.) or after a visit to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday; the Gypsy Red, Four Day Weekend APA, 70 West IPA, and Ponquogue Porter.  Note that during the week they may be closed or may not open until 3 PM, so check the hours before you go.

photo (8)

Long Ireland Beer Company November 2, 2013

http://www.longirelandbrewing.com/

beer sign

If you are heading to the North Fork hoping to make a stop at a brewery, I recommend you drive all the way to Greenport and go to the Greenport Harbor Brewing Company.  Bypass the Long Ireland Beer Company in Riverhead unless saving the cost of gas is your primary consideration.  Why?  Let me tell you about my experience at Long Ireland on a warm, sunny November Saturday afternoon.

We found the plain, industrial-style building on Pulaski Street fairly easily (you can just turn onto Pulaski from Main Road), and walked into the equally plain tasting room, packed with mostly twenty-somethings enjoying their beers.  If you just want a lot of beer for not much money, Long Ireland is a bargain.  For $8.00 you get a glass, which you may keep, which holds 3.5 ounces of beer, and you get to try six of their beers on tap.  A bowl of pretzels graces the bar.  They also offer pints for $5.00 and growlers for $15, for most of the offerings, as well as bottles for a few of the beers for $6.

When we finally got the attention of the server—to be fair, there were a fair number of people for two servers to keep up with—we told her we wanted to do a tasting.  “Okay,” she said, plunking two glasses down in front of us.  “How does it work?”  I asked.  “Is there any order to the tastes?”

“No order, “she said. “Just tell me what you want.”

“What can you tell me about the beers?”  I asked, in a vain attempt to figure out which to get.  For an answer, she pointed me to a list of available beers, eleven in all, with the only information on the sheet being the alcoholic content.  I overheard one customer saying to her friend, “Which has the most alcohol?”  Not really my concern.  So we decided in order to get to try all the types we would each get a full tasting, sharing tastes as we went.  Then two choices were deleted.  So we ended up with ten tastes in all, plus one repeat for both of us. At no time did either server tell us anything about the wide variety of beers on offer.

1)       Celtic Ale                           5.5% alcohol

This is a fairly classic ale, not very exciting, not particularly hoppy or interesting, but an okay basic beer.  By the way, in case you haven’t noticed already, there is a definite Irish theme, with Celtic symbols on the taps.

2)      Winter Ale                         7.2%

I don’t know why this is a “winter” ale, but it has a slightly darker color than the Celtic Ale and some citrus notes, though it is a thin-tasting beer.  Both of these are available in bottles.

3)      Wet Hopped Pale Ale

Not on the menu, this one is only available in bottles, and the server opened a bottle and then gave everyone in the room a small taste of it.  We thought it was a good summer beer, very fresh tasting.

beer bottle

4)      Kolsch                   5%

The taste of this one reminded me of the very ripe grilled pineapple we made for dessert a few weeks ago.  Not very hoppy, it is on the light side of a German-style beer.

5)      Pumpkin Ale                      5%

Inevitable at this season.  Did I want it with a cinnamon sugar rim?  Oh, yes.  Good choice.  The beer itself is just okay, but with the rim it is quite enjoyable.  Like drinking dessert.

The special glass for the pumpkin ale, with a cinnamon sugar rim, which is not the tasting glass.

The special glass for the pumpkin ale, with a cinnamon sugar rim, which is not the tasting glass.

6)      10 Nutty Years                  5%

Do you like Corona?  This has a bit more taste than Corona, but still could have benefitted from a lime.  I wanted to ask about the name, but gave up getting the server’s attention.

7)      E.S.B.                                     6.5%

Though the initials stand for Extra Special Bitter, this is not particularly bitter.  It is like an English bitter, which we came to enjoy on our first visit to England during a warm summer week, when we realized that the bitters tended to be cooler than the other beers on tap.  You can taste the hops in this one, and also a slight wheaty-pancakey flavor.

8)      I.P.A.                                     7.3%

We seem to have reached the initials part of the menu.  India Pale Ale is what these initials stand for, and it is my favorite so far.  On the blackboard it ways “West Coast Style,” but no one tells me what that means.  I’d be happy to drink this with a burger.  This one is also available in a bottle.

9)      Double IPA                         10.5%

Hmmm…sort of funky, a bit of dank cellar, but actually not bad.  It would be good with a sweetish barbecue sauce on ribs.  If you buy this one in a bottle or growler, it costs more than the others.

10)   Breakfast Stout                 3.5%

Back before coffee became the universal breakfast drink, people started the day with some form of alcoholic drink, usually beer or hard cider, both more reliably germ-free than water.  I would guess this is an homage to that custom.  I’m startled by the strong coffee taste, and when I go on Long Ireland’s web site I discover that it is actually made with coffee—and also flaked oats and milk sugar.  Breakfast, indeed.  You could have a pint of this in a cozy pub and enjoy drinking it on its own, though it is certainly no competition for Guinness.

If you’re counting, you realize we should have two more tastes here, but two choices have been taken off the board, so we both opt to end with the Pumpkin Ale, which is at least fun to drink.  Oh, and the servers do rinse your glass with the new taste as a transition between beers, a nice touch.

beer taps

Reasons to visit:

Really none, unless you are determined to go to a beer tasting and you don’t have to time to go to Greenport.  On the other hand, you do get a fair amount of beer for not much money.

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