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Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

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Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Kidd Squid Brewing Co,  founded by Rory Patrick McEvoy and Gráinne Coen, is a local brewery based out of Eastern Long Island.

Kidd Squid Brewing Co, founded by Rory Patrick McEvoy and Gráinne Coen, is a local brewery based out of Eastern Long Island.

Kidd Squid Brewing Co,  founded by Rory Patrick McEvoy and Gráinne Coen, is a local brewery based out of Eastern Long Island.

Kidd Squid Brewing Co, founded by Rory Patrick McEvoy and Gráinne Coen, is a local brewery based out of Eastern Long Island.

Kidd Squid Brewing Co,  founded by Rory Patrick McEvoy and Gráinne Coen, is a local brewery based out of Eastern Long Island.

Kidd Squid Brewing Co, founded by Rory Patrick McEvoy and Gráinne Coen, is a local brewery based out of Eastern Long Island.

Kidd Squid Brewing Co,  founded by Rory Patrick McEvoy and Gráinne Coen, is a local brewery based out of Eastern Long Island.

Kidd Squid Brewing Co, founded by Rory Patrick McEvoy and Gráinne Coen, is a local brewery based out of Eastern Long Island.

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Tapping Into A New Trend: Breweries Are Popping Up Everywhere

Springs Brewery, co founded by Lindsay Reichart and Gunnar Burke, is a small brewery based out of Eastern Long Island.

Springs Brewery, co founded by Lindsay Reichart and Gunnar Burke, is a small brewery based out of Eastern Long Island.

Springs Brewery, co founded by Lindsay Reichart and Gunnar Burke, is a small brewery based out of Eastern Long Island.

Springs Brewery, co founded by Lindsay Reichart and Gunnar Burke, is a small brewery based out of Eastern Long Island.

Springs Brewery, co founded by Lindsay Reichart and Gunnar Burke, is a small brewery based out of Eastern Long Island.

Springs Brewery, co founded by Lindsay Reichart and Gunnar Burke, is a small brewery based out of Eastern Long Island.

Springs Brewery, co founded by Lindsay Reichart and Gunnar Burke, is a small brewery based out of Eastern Long Island.

Springs Brewery, co founded by Lindsay Reichart and Gunnar Burke, is a small brewery based out of Eastern Long Island.

Rob Raffa, owner of übergeek in Riverhead, New York.

Rob Raffa, owner of übergeek in Riverhead, New York.

übergeek in Riverhead, New York.

übergeek in Riverhead, New York.

übergeek in Riverhead, New York.

übergeek in Riverhead, New York.

Lenny Van Vliet pouring beer at übergeek in Riverhead, New York.

Lenny Van Vliet pouring beer at übergeek in Riverhead, New York.

übergeek in Riverhead, New York.

übergeek in Riverhead, New York.

Sammy Schuchman,

Sammy Schuchman, "beer tender", and Ken Johnson at the bar at übergeek in Riverhead, New York.

authorCailin Riley on Jun 24, 2022

For decades, wine tasting has been a big part of the tourism economy on the East End, on both forks but particularly on the North Fork. While wineries remain popular destinations for tourists and locals alike, another kind of alcoholic beverage has been receiving the same esteemed treatment in recent years.

Local breweries, offering a wide array of craft beers, have exploded in popularity in recent years, and sampling different styles and flavors of beer, created by local artisans — many of whom started off honing their skills at home — has become a big-time activity and pursuit for many people. From Wading River to Riverhead and as far east as Sag Harbor and Springs, several different breweries and brewing operations are putting their own personal stamp and style on the craft of beer making, giving both summer visitors and year-rounders another fun and interesting way to spend their leisure time. Here’s a look at some of the brewing operations and tasting rooms from around the area.

Long Island Farm Brewery, Manorville
 

A 4,000-square-foot, beautifully renovated former potato barn is the home of one of the newest and most popular breweries in the area. Long Island Farm Brewery is part of Waterdrinker Family Farm, an 80-acre property that has become a popular year-round destination. Brothers Kirk and Joe Weiss, whose family owns the farm, and their lifelong friend, Nick Giuffre, opened the brewery in May 2021, and it has been an even bigger success than they anticipated, Giuffre said.

The barn serves as both a tasting room with a 20-tap system behind the bar and a brewery production center, where brewmaster Brian “Thor” Smith (his long blond hair and bushy beard earned him that nickname) works his magic. The brewery serves a wide variety of beers, as well as local wines and ciders, and an eclectic rotation of food trucks visit the farm, setting up right outside the brewery, giving visitors a chance to have some food while they sample the beers. There’s also live music every Saturday and Sunday.

Experimenting with new flavors, styles and ingredients seems to be a passion for most brewers, and that’s true at Long Island Farm Brewery. Giuffre was touting a new beer, dubbed “Easy Gose,” a raspberry gose, which is a kettle sour wheat beer, brewed in honor of the traditional German style, with coriander and sea salt and fermented with locally sourced ripe raspberries.

This summer, they will also celebrate the return of the first beer ever made in the brewery, aptly named: The Waterdrinker, which will also be available to go in four-packs.

“One of the things we’re working on is our beer to-go options,” Giuffre said. “We want people to be able to enjoy our craft beers in their own backyards, at the beach or on any occasion.”

Also returning this summer is the “Sunny Honey,” an ale made with local honey and sunflower seeds, which is offered during the farm’s sunflower festival during the first week of July.

Long Island Farm Brewery has the advantage of being located on a farm that is a popular year-round destination for all kinds of people, from families to teens to couples. They may not necessarily be heading to the farm for the beer — the annual tulip festival, sunflower festival, pumpkin picking season and Christmas festivities are their own draw — but it means the brewery gets a varied kind of crowd, which Giuffre likes.

“Families, or people on dates will come for the farm and then find themselves coming into the brewery, not really as craft beer drinkers, but they’re open to trying new things,” he said. “We pride ourselves on having something for everyone. We have lots of beers that are very approachable, so it’s a good introduction to craft beers, and it can change the mindset that some people have about craft beer. Not every beer is crazy hoppy or hazy. There’s lots of different styles.”

They even offer root beer on tap as a fun nonalcoholic option.

Ubergeek, Riverhead
 

When Rob Raffa’s sister gave him a home beer-making kit for Christmas in 2012, Raffa wasn’t necessarily super into beer or beer making, but he tried it anyway. What he created came out horrible, an outcome that would lead some to give up. It had the opposite effect on him.

“I don’t have a defeatist personality,” Raffa said. “It really bothered me on a visceral level, and so I said, OK, let me study and read up and find out what I did wrong. It brought me down a rabbit hole, and the problem was I didn’t know where to stop, and before I knew it, I was commercially brewing.”

Raffa is now the owner and operator of Ubergeek Brewing, a commercial brewing operation and tasting room off the beaten path at 400 Hallett Avenue in Riverhead. The space is the former home of Moustache Brewing Company, where Raffa worked as the head brewer for five years before striking out on his own and working out a deal to take over the space. In addition to the indoor tasting room, there’s also an outdoor seating area with picnic tables, and plans are in the works to open an outdoor beer garden on the other side of the building by August. Ubergeek celebrated its first anniversary in the new location in April.

Before moving into its current location, Ubergeek had an initial reputation for making high ABV (alcohol by volume) content beer, typically 8 percent and above. That changed recently, with Raffa saying he realized that, from a business standpoint, it would be smart to make some lighter beers.

Two of those have ended up being bestsellers, including one called “Rockets Don’t Fuel Themselves,” a bohemian pilsner that Raffa describes as “crisp and clean,” with a 4.1% ABV.

The beers are just as flavorful and inventive as the names — which Raffa comes up with — suggest. Another best-seller is a 6.4% ABV IPA called “A Casualty Of Circumstance.”

“I’ll just wake up sometimes at 2 a.m. and jot down notes in my phone, just things that dawn on me,” Raffa said with a laugh when asked about the inspiration for the beer names. “They’re all mind states. If anyone wanted to psychoanalyze me, they could just look at the beer names. I have to hold a few names back so they don’t commit me.”

Another crowd favorite, according to Raffa, is a fruited tart called “Existential Meltdown Is A Vibe,” part of Ubergeek’s “Is A Vibe” series. It has a deep red hue, made with blackberries and raspberries, and will be back on tap at the beginning of July.

Another July headliner, for the high-tolerance crowd, is the 10.4% ABV “What If We Nuke The Moon,” an IPA that Raffa said has “a deceivingly high drinkability.”

With such a wide range of ABV among its offerings, Raffa said he’s made it a bit easier on his bartenders — often called “beertenders” — and patrons by offering the higher ABV beers in smaller glasses.

What makes Ubergeek stand out from several other breweries and tasting rooms in the area is the way it’s committed to fostering the booming culture of craft brewing in the area. Rather than looking at new brewing operations as competition he should work to snuff out, Raffa has embraced other up-and-coming brewers working to set up their own operations. Lindsay Reichart and Gunnar Burke of Springs Brewery are at Ubergeek several times a week making their beers, a setup that’s working for them for now, until they are ready to open their own brewing operation in Springs.

“If you look at it from a bird’s eye view, we’re competitors, but we really want each other to succeed,” he said. “I feel like we buy into the theory that a rising tide raises all ships. If one of us does well, I think we all benefit.”

Raffa said the proliferation of breweries in the area in recent years, particularly in Riverhead, has not hurt his own business and likely helped it.

“It’s really become a destination,” he said. “So many times I speak with individuals who say they made the trek to Riverhead specifically for the quantity of breweries.”

He added that while the North Fork has a long established tradition of being a mecca for wine enthusiasts, Riverhead has emerged in recent years as a brewery destination, fittingly located at the gateway to North Fork wine country.

“People are starting to approach beer as if it's wine tasting,” he said. “It’s less about consumption and more about art.”

Kidd Squid, Sag Harbor
 

Eight years ago, Rory McEvoy embarked on a new hobby, dabbling in brewing his own beer at home. It was largely a pursuit to keep him busy through the winter, something to do when the cold weather set in and not much else was going on. McEvoy, born and raised in New York City by Irish parents, had been coming out to the East End during the summer months for most of his life. In 2008, he and his wife, Grainne Coen, purchased a home on Shelter Island, and as time went on, they and their two young sons began spending more and more time in the area. Before long, they were living in Sag Harbor full time, moving to the village mainly for the reputation of the school district, McEvoy said. Eventually, something else in Sag Harbor caught McEvoy’s eye — a “for rent” sign at the building adjacent to the Sag Harbor Garden Center, which was taken over by Linette Roe after being sold by the former owners, Phil and Diane Bucking. The Buckings still own the building, and McEvoy signed a lease with them, ready to make his dream come true.

While Sag Harbor village code currently does not allow for a brewing operation, the space looked to McEvoy like the perfect venue for a tasting room. Kidd Squid is currently set up as an alternating proprietorship, meaning it does its brewing off site, at locations like Ubergeek, Long Ireland, and North Fork Brewing. It is also set up as a farm brewery — meaning that at least 80 percent of its ingredients are sourced from New York State, a percentage McEvoy said his brewery easily exceeds.

Sag Harbor has always had a reputation as a drinking town, with plenty of bars and restaurants up and down Main Street and small side streets, so McEvoy said it was a bit of a surprise that a brewery or beer tasting room was not already an established business in the town. He said the current lack of allowance in the code for a brewing operation is of course part of the explanation but times have changed as well.

“The brewery scene is very different, and there are so many more than there were 10 years ago,” he said. “There’s more of a market now and more of a willingness to try esoteric beers.”

As for the name, it’s part homage to the infamous Captain Kidd and part inspiration from the imagination of a 4-year-old boy — McEvoy’s son — who dubbed the first beer McEvoy ever brewed at home as “Spirit Squid.” Combining those elements “just sounded cool,” McEvoy said.

Fittingly for a farm brewery, a nod to Mother Nature is a big part of the Kidd Squid brand so far. McEvoy said he releases beers on a full moon, and names them accordingly. Thus far he’s had beers named for the Strawberry Moon, Flower Moon, Hare Moon and more.

“The idea is that every full moon will have a beer dedicated to it,” McEvoy said.

McEvoy added that his brewing operation is also releasing a line of sour beers (or tarts) using a “cool new yeast” from the Philadelphia area.

McEvoy also touted the first beer that Kidd Squid offered commercially, a gose (pronounced go-zah), a traditional German beer that was made with Amagansett sea salt and coriander, which has a tart, effervescent lemon flavor, McEvoy said, and a light alcohol content. He said the tasting room will offer a range of flavors and ABV content as well, likely focusing on lighter beers in the summer and darker, higher ABV beers in the winter months. He said he’s also excited to work on collaborations with other companies in Sag Harbor, saying he’d love to create a coffee stout.

As far as the aesthetic of the tasting room, McEvoy said he eschewed the traditional brewery vibe of exposed wood and a “semi industrial” look in favor of whites and vibrant, floral motifs, an homage to the fact that flowers and plants are still being sold next door.

While Kidd Squid beer will be the star of the new tasting room, as a farm brewery, it will also showcase local goods and will be allowed to have a retail arm to showcase products from Sagaponack Farm Distillery and local wineries like Channing Daughters and Wölffer Estate Vineyard.

Springs Brewery, Springs
 

On the surface, a background in architecture may not seem like a natural segue into the commercial craft brewing industry. But for couple Lindsay Reichart and Gunnar Burke, it has worked out just fine so far.

Reichart and Burke are the duo behind Springs Brewery, a small brewery with strong local ties to the area where Reichart grew up and that Burke now also calls home. Architects by trade, they fell in love with craft beer several years ago, trying their hand at making their own at home while living in Brooklyn. As they became more adept over time, they decided to start their own business venture. They’ve been brewing commercially since last August, making the trek to Riverhead several times each week to brew their beer at Ubergeek. Their long-term goal is to open their own commercial brewing operation in Springs, in what is currently the home of Hampton Auto Collision on Springs Fireplace Road, which is owned by Reichart’s father. They will take over the space and turn it into a brewery once he retires.

For now, they are continuing to build their brand, focusing on the importance of having “a sense of place,” Reichart said.

“We’re really inspired by the seasonality and landscape here,” Reichart said, adding that they try to source as many local ingredients as possible. Springs Brewery did a pop-up at the Springs General Store earlier this year and has been selling its products at the Springs Farmers Market at Ashawagh Hall every Saturday.

Even where they’re selling their beers — and to whom — matters to the couple.

“We view the beers like our babies,” Burke said. “We want to make sure they’re going to a nice home.”

Springs Brewery beers are sold at a few retail locations, and several restaurants, including Rowdy Hall, Townline BBQ, Sen and Clam Bar, to name a few.

They’ve also created some unique partnerships, both for the beer itself and the overall marketing. Reichert and Burke have used barley grown at Treiber Farm and processed at Amber Waves Farm in their beer, which they dubbed Treiber Pilsner. (Pete Treiber, owner of the eponymous farm, also did the artwork for the label).

Springs Brewery has also partnered with Greg Kessler, who runs “The Hoppy Acre” on Town Lane.

This summer, Reichart and Burke will bring back their popular IPA “Lazy Lightning,” which they said “is the closest thing to a flagship beer for us.” They’re also planning to brew a summer beer using foraged beach plums. Another favorite, they said, is their “Promised Lane,” an IPA with locally sourced honey.

They’re also excited to continue artistic partnerships as well. In addition to having Treiber do artwork on cans, they’ve also included other local artists in that process, such as Charles Ly, Emma Turner and Brianna Ashe.

Peconic County Brewing, Riverhead
 

When Jeff Schaeffer decided he wanted to open a brewery, he knew he’d have to do more than just make great beer. He’d need to create an equally unique and enjoyable experience for customers. So when he laid eyes on the 8,500-square-foot space available at 221 East Main Street in Riverhead, he didn’t hesitate to snatch it up.

That’s how Peconic County Brewing was born.

“When I found that location, I knew it would be big enough to have a full kitchen, and it had the expansive deck that overlooks the Peconic River,” he said. “And of course the space to make some really great beer.”

Schaeffer, who grew up in Southampton and now lives in Patchogue, said his vision of opening his own brewery took three years to come together. While working as a district sales manager for Sysco for a decade prior, he started to fall in love with craft beer, and so he made it his mission to visit every brewery on Long Island, with the goal of gaining an understanding of the beer and brewery scene on the island.

“I quickly learned that Long Island had some really great beer,” he said. “So I knew if I was going to have my own place, it really needed to be special to stick out from the crowd.”

In just a little more than a year in existence, Peconic County Brewing has done just that, and Schaeffer said that head brewer James Miller has been “knocking it out of the park.”

“Our slogan here is ‘simply beautiful beer,’” Schaeffer said. “We want beer that isn’t intimidating and that everyone can enjoy.”

PCB beers are all named after something that represents areas that would have been in Peconic County (if such a county ever came into existence). There’s “Cooper’s Summer Ale,” a light, crisp, easy-drinking beer named after the famed ocean beach in Southampton, as well as “Hampton Haze,” which Schaeffer said has been a big hit in restaurants and on store shelves. He describes it as “a hazy, New England-style IPA that has a soft citrus taste that makes it extremely crushable.”

When it comes to his thoughts on what’s behind the explosion in popularity of breweries, Schaeffer has a simple answer — they’re fun.

“Breweries are a blast,” he said. “I think the spike in popularity is because of how different an experience it is from just going to a bar. A group of friends getting flights of beer and talking about what they like and what they don’t like is instant conversation. People have so much passion for beer, they talk about their favorite beer the same way they talk about their favorite sports team.”

Schaeffer said he hopes that anyone with that kind of passion for beer makes their way into his brewery, and he promises an experience they’re sure to enjoy.

“Having a cold PCB beer on our deck listening to live music, enjoying the best giant pretzel you ever had while overlooking the Peconic River is the beer drinking experience I always dreamed about,” he said. “And it’s the one we want all our customers to experience all summer long.”

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