Like dotcom stocks and bitcoin, the canned craft beer mania sweeping the country has arrived on Long Island. Microbreweries are canning small quantities of specially brewed beers that sell out in minutes and are sought after in a secondary trading market.
Nowhere is this more true than in the waterfront Village of Northport, where social media posts about “cans dropping from our back Scudder Ave entrance” send craft beer fans rushing to line up at Sand City Brewing Co. Since its opening in fall 2015, Sand City has built a reputation for brewing some of LI’s best IPAs, or India Pale Ale, a heavily hopped beer style. Over the past six months, the brewery has raised its game to a new level with a series of collaboration beers, with several new beers dropping in cans each month.
“We have found collaborations to be a lot of fun and they are really what the craft brewing industry is all about,” said Bill Kiernan, a founder and co-owner of Sand City. “The same way that people love to share beer, breweries love to get together and make beer and share knowledge and techniques. And it’s also just a great way to hang out with some new and old friends.”
Sand City has collaborated with leading craft breweries from Oceanside, New York to Oceanside, California. Bewmaster Kevin Sihler, also a founder and co-owner, is a hoppy beer fan and has pushed the envelope, using a wide variety of hops.
This love is displayed in IPAs like Fade to Jade, brewed with mosaic, citra and Amarillo hops; Second Wave, an IIPA (the extra “I” stands for imperial, meaning it has a higher alcohol content) that is double dry-hopped with citra, simcoe, chinook and mosaic hops; and the cheekily named Oops! I Hopped My Pants, brewed with large amounts of centennial, mosaic, citra and galaxy hops. Sand City’s Mofosaic was its first
single-hopped IPA highlighting the citrusy mosaic hop, and the brewery followed up on this popular beer with its Even Mo’ Mofo IIPA.
In selecting collaborators, Sihler said “It’s true we’ve been focusing a lot on IPA collaborations, but we have some projects that involve barrel aging and other styles as well.”
Among the collaborators last fall were Finback Brewery from Queens, creating Beachfront Avenue, an IIPA made with 420 pounds of pineapple and double dry-opped with mosaic and azacca hops. Magnify Brewing from New Jersey collaborated to produce Maintain Rep, an IIPA brewed with galaxy, nelson, citra and mosaic hops. Two collaborators from last fall are both renowned hop-focused breweries, even though they are located on opposite coasts. Barrier Brewing from Oceanside, LI, collaborated with Sand City to create Even Mo Money, an IIPA based on Barrier’s popular Money IPA brewed with azacca, citra, simcoe and mosaic hops. Horus Aged Ales from Oceanside, Calif., a specialist in barrel-aged beers, collaborated to produce Up the Beach, an IIPA double dry-hopped with galaxy, citra and vic secret, an Australian hop variety.
Looking ahead, Sand City hopes to build on its popularity with plans to continue increasing production capacity. The brewery installed its canning equipment in the summer of 2016 and added more fermentation tanks in early 2017 to increase production 30 percent.
“We have a 10-barrel brewing system and last year we produced approximately 2,400 barrels of beer,” Kiernan says.
While the IPAs have received the most attention, Sand City also brews popular Belgian style beers and its delicious Southdown Breakfast Stout, brewed with locally roasted Brazilian coffee beans from Southdown Coffee in Huntington.
In just over two years, Sand City has become a fixture in Northport’s lively downtown. The Main Street tasting room is near the John Engeman Theater and the famed Gunther’s Tap Room, which is being rebuilt after a fire last year. Named in honor of Northport’s industrial past and the sand mines ringing the harbor at the turn of the last century, Sand City is helping to lead LI’s beer boom.
Northport’s second brewery, Harbor Head Brewing, opened last year and if history is any guide, we can expect a Northport collaboration beer soon.
Sand City Brewing Co. is located at 60 Main St. in Northport. They can be reached at 631-651-2766 or sandcitybeer.com.