North Fork Brewing Company: Who Let the Dogs Out? February 17, 2020

https://www.northforkbrewingco.com/

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The logo represents a barn swallow, which has several symbolic meanings.

After the fourth or fifth dog entered, owner in tow, our son-in-law turned to us and said, “I feel as though we should have brought a dog with us.” We had arrived at the North Fork Brewing Company tasting room around lunch time, and almost every person who entered seemed to have a sweet, well-behaved dog with them. (I stopped counting when I got to six!) The room is well adapted to canine visitors, since the brewery is located in a former fire station, with concrete floors and an industrial vibe. Many of the visitors were having a glass of beer and a sandwich, from the food truck outside, while others, like us, had opted for a tasting.

The last time we went to North Fork was exactly a year ago, and that time, too, it was with our daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters after a couple of hours at the Safari Play Space in Riverhead. The girls settled in with coloring books and books, and split a root beer (which W. said went very well with her orange lollipop from Safari), while we tasted and discussed. We decided that the beers had improved over the year. The last time we felt that while we appreciated the creative choices they were making, there was also no beer we wanted to just sit and drink. In contrast, this time there were several we could see getting in a growler, and in fact our son-in-law took home a growler of “It Must Have Been Light, But It’s Darker Now.”

A flight is four glasses of your choice from a list of eleven beers on tap for $9, and comes in a little muffin tin. You write your choices on a little card, and they are put in the pan in number order, with the numbers on the bottom of each spot.

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The number in the bottom of the muffin tin which holds your tastes.

After a little while, we got sandwiches from the food truck, which had a limited menu because, we heard the person in it explain, they had not expected to be open this day. Our daughter is lactose intolerant, so she was delighted to try the vegan cheese and pesto sandwich, which was very tasty ($10). My husband and I shared a grilled cheese sandwich, which was a rather ordinary offering of grilled cheddar on white ($6). The brewery also sells bags of North Fork potato chips for $3.

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In between sips, I chatted with the server, who explained that the logo represents a barn swallow. The barn swallow symbolizes their commitment to be a farm brewery—they grow many of their own hops—and also was a tattoo sailors would get to symbolize their home-coming.

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  1. It Must Have Been Light, But It’s Darker Now 5% Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

This is a dark beer for someone who is making the transition from being a light beer drinker to darker beers. It is dark in color, with a caramel aroma, pleasantly bitter, with a refreshing, complex flavor, lighter than most dark beers. A German bock style, our son-in-law says it compares favorably with bocks he’s had in Germany.

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The flight I shared with my tasting buddy.

  1. Change (In the House of Hops) 9%

Change indeed. This IPA smells and tastes like mandarin oranges. My daughter and I agree on what to drink it with—I say a po’boy sandwich and she says a basket of fried clams.

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They have their own food truck, called the North Fork Chewing Company, parked right outside the tasting room.

  1. Dark Side of Maple 6%

I have liked porters ever since I first tasted one in an English pub many years ago, but I think this one is a bit too sweet. Another of our group says it is “a good porter.” I think it needs more body. You can definitely smell and taste the maple syrup used in making it.

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The menu is sometimes more extensive, but they hadn’t expected to be open on a Monday. I suppose they forgot it was a holiday.

  1. Gaffer’s Hearth 9%

On the other hand, I really like this stout, which is also brewed with maple, plus North Fork Roasting Company coffee. It had a delicious coffee flavor and aroma, with just the right amount of bitterness. Our son-in-law describes it as a “breakfast stout,” and reminisces about a place he went to when he was in college that would serve at breakfast a glass of stout with an egg beaten into it. Really? Much discussion ensues over whether that is a good idea or not.

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The other flight our group had. You can see how cloudy Run the Juice is.

  1. Hold Me Closer Tiny Lager 5%

I’m at the end of my flight, but our daughter and son-in-law have a couple of different choices in their flight, and this is one of them. This is a light, fizzy, German pilsner. Refreshing, but not to be sipped on its own.

  1. Run the Juice 4%

Like many IPAs, this smells and tastes like grapefruit, though this one also has a touch of funkiness. It is cloudy in color. Refreshing.

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You can peek into the brewery itself.

Reasons to visit: you want to go out for a beer and not leave your dog at home alone; all the beers, but especially It Must Have Been Light, But It’s Darker Now; Gaffer’s Hearth; Hold Me Closer; they have their own food truck; convenient to downtown Riverhead.  Note:  Google map directions are not accurate!  They tell you you have arrived when you are actually around the corner from the parking lot.

North Fork Brewing Company: Newbie Joins the Riverhead Clan February 17, 2019

North Fork Brewing Company:  Newbie Joins the Riverhead Clan

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This was formerly a fire house.

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The Mattitaco truck outside the brewery.

https://www.northforkbrewingco.com/

Just a couple of blocks off Main Street in Riverhead, in a former fire house, we found the newest member of the Riverhead craft beer scene, North Fork Brewing Company, joining Crooked Ladder, Moustache, and Long Ireland.  We went there with our daughter and son-in-law, who are both beer lovers, and our two granddaughters, who sampled the home-made root beer for us.  The junior members of our group rated the root beer as very good, with a nice licorice flavor, not too spicy, and “goes well with a grape lollypop.” IMG_6228

With four of us, we were able to sample all eleven brews currently on tap.  If we had not just had lunch at Perabell (I recommend the thin-crust pizza.), we could have gotten tacos from a Mattitaco truck parked just outside the firehouse doors.  They also sell North Fork potato chips.

The space is medium sized, and subscribes to the frequent brewery esthetic of industrial chic.  I’ve noticed that many wineries evoke the rural scene around them, being housed in former barns or buildings that suggest farm structures, while breweries tend to be more factory-like, using repurposed car dealerships or firehouses or other industrial spaces.  Not sure why that is, and of course it’s not true of them all.

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Note the taps made from re-purposed firehouse lockers.

The very helpful and accommodating server explained to us that a flight consists of any four of their brews for $8.  She handed out little cards on which we wrote down our choices.  The four little glasses were carefully placed in a carrying tray with numbers corresponding to the number on the card of each choice.  She noted that if we had trouble choosing, we could get a sip of the beers before deciding on our flight.  However, with a little coordination, we realized that we could easily try all eleven.  We gave up on a strict order of tastes, and there was no offer to suggest a succession, but we did generally try to go from lighter to heavier.  (We overheard a server note that they carry Bridge Lane red and white blend wines, for those who would prefer not to drink a beer.)

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Overall, we agreed that the beers were interesting and quite varied, though we didn’t like any one enough to take home a growler.  Our son-in-law summed it up by noting that this was a good place to come to try lots of experimental beers, but most were too “in your face” to want a full glass to sip with a meal or on its own.

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We have gotten take-out from Mattitaco several times, and liked every variety we’ve sampled so far.

  1. Sticky Bandit IPA 6.9% ABV (alcohol by volume)

The brewery prides itself on acknowledging its North Fork roots, including literally, in that they have a farm where they grow much of their hops.  This is a fresh, nicely hoppy IPA, with lots of grapefruit flavor.  I could definitely see having this with one of Mattitaco’s fish tacos, like the seared tuna one on offer from the truck.

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  1. Run the Juice IPA 6.1% ABV

This tastes like a joint, said one of us (anonymously).  It does have some vegetal notes, plus the grapefruit one expects in an IPA, in this case more like the pith than the fruit.

  1. Pierce the Ale IPA 6.8% ABV

My daughter likes this the best so far of the IPAs, and said it would be refreshing on a hot day.  I said it was like a better version of a Budweiser beer, easy to drink.  This would also go well with a fish taco.

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  1. South Bend Shovel Slayer IPA 6.8% ABV

Some day I’ll have to come back and stand at the bar for my tastes so I can ask how they came up with some of these names.  This is a piney rather than a grapefruity IPA, and my daughter liked this one as well.

  1. Basement Pipe Belgian Dubbel 8.2% ABV

When we were in Belgium, I became very fond of the dubbel style of beer, which tends to be rich, with caramel and raisin flavors.  I also like Raisin Bran cereal, which the taste of this reminded me of.  Very good and refreshing.  If I were to get a glass of a North Fork beer, this would be one contestant.

  1. Take for Ever Sour 6.2% ABV

On the other hand, if I were given a glass of this, I would say thanks but no thanks.  This is a dark, heavy sour beer, brewed with cherries, and tastes both sour and sweet. Last fall, I went to a brewery upstate that specialized in sour beers, and I never dumped so many tastes before.  I say bleh, but, in a perfect illustration of how subjective and individual taste is, this is my son-in-law’s favorite.

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  1. Hop Contagion Imperial 8.25% ABV

Contagion indeed.  This is very hoppy, and more bitter than I like, though balanced with some creaminess.

  1. Dark Side of Maple Porter 6% ABV

My daughter and I both like this one, which reminds me of the glasses of bitter I have had in many English pubs.  It is a bit on the light side for a porter.  My daughter says she could see enjoying this with a serving of Shepherd’s pie, and I agree.  Or maybe with the Mattitaco Ruben taco, made with corned beef.

  1. Bill’s Hyper Local Forecast 5.9% ABV

I didn’t ask about this name, but I assume it refers to News 12’s tag line (this cable-company-sponsored channel specializes in Long Island news, traffic, and weather).  The brewery characterizes this as a “winter warmer,” and it evokes a pumpkin ale, with tastes of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.  A bit too much cinnamon, though not bad in a small dose.

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They kept the firehouse doors, though you enter through a small door on the side. I wonder if they open these in the summer.

  1. Dough’nt Stout Me Now  Imperial Milk Stout 9.3%

I knew right away that I had to try this one, as it is made “in collaboration with North Fork Doughnut Company,” one of my favorite new businesses in Mattituck.  I also tend to like stouts.  This has rich chocolate tastes, and though my son-in-law characterizes it as “too sweet for a pint,” I wouldn’t mind sipping it in a pub, perhaps with an order of chips (a.k.a. French fries).  We are so inspired by our discussion of the North Fork Doughnut Company that our guests stop there on the way home to pick up some doughnuts for breakfast the next day.  One granddaughter, a Girl Scout, is delighted to get a Samoa doughnut, and the other is pleased to have snagged “the last chocolate doughnut!” Alas, they were out of the maple-glazed bacon flavor.

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A Samoa doughnut from the North Fork Doughnut Company. Yum.

  1. Iron Pier Porter 5.4% ABV

My husband and I just recently drove over to Iron Pier beach, on the Sound, within the bounds of Riverhead (so our Southold parking stickers are not valid there), and thought it seemed very nice, with a good-sized parking lot and a little playground.  This porter is made with coconut milk, and though I often like porters, this was not a favorite.  It has a slight metallic taste, which I likened to licking metal, perhaps the source of the name.

Reasons to visit:  you’re making the rounds of the Riverhead breweries; you like to try a wide variety of styles and experimental tastes of beer; the Mattitaco truck; the Pierce the Ale, Basement Pipe, Dark Side of Maple, and Dough’nt Stout Me Now (though, for some people the choices might be quite different!); a pleasant place with generous pours.