A special anniversary calls for a special celebration, so Port Jeff Brewing marked its 10th anniversary in October with a three-day party featuring 10 bands. The brewery opened its doors for business on Chandler Square in downtown Port Jefferson on Oct. 15, 2011, one year after its founding by brewer Mike Philbrick.
Philbrick said, “We wanted to do something wild to thank everyone in the local community and across Long Island who have supported us all these years.”
Port Jefferson is a historic harborfront village and a bustling transportation hub as a terminal for the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Cross-Sound Ferry. In the 1990s, the village was home to one of Long Island’s first brewpubs, James Bay Brewing, which had a loyal following but closed in 1998 after four years.
At the time of its opening in 2011, Port Jeff Brewing was one of about a dozen breweries and brewpubs open on Long Island. In recognition of these craft brewery pioneers, Port Jeff’s anniversary party was capped by a cask ale celebration featuring cask ales from Port Jeff and three other breweries that have been around for more than 10 years – Long Ireland Beer Company, Spider Bite Beer Company, and Blue Point Brewing. Po’Boy Brewery, which opened in nearby Port Jefferson Station in 2017, also served several cask ales.
Philbrick, a Pennsylvania native, started out as a homebrewer and after catching the brewing bug, received formal training at the World Brewing Academy at Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago. He also worked as an apprentice brewer at Iron Hill and other Philadelphia area breweries before launching Port Jeff Brewing.
Port Jeff Brewing has a 7-barrel brewing system and a small tasting room, which is open seven days a week and regularly has 12 beers and a cask ale on tap. The brewery is well known for its hoppy ales including the flagship Party Boat IPA, Schooner Pale Ale, and seasonal Shiznit IPA. “We are a strong believer in using locally grown hops and other ingredients in our beers,” said Philbrick, “including hops from Condzella’s Farm in Wading River and Wesnofske Farms in Peconic.”
Other popular beers include Beach Beer, a Belgian-style wheat ale brewed with coriander and orange peel, and Port Jeff Porter, with coffee and chocolate overtones. Port Jeff has several full-bodied beers to help fight the winter chill, including Starboard Oatmeal Stout, Overboard Russian Imperial Stout, Ice Breaka Winta Warma, and Cold North Wind Barleywine.
Over the years, Philbrick and Port Jeff Brewing have won many awards for their beers at statewide and national competitions. In April 2019, Port Jeff Brewing won two top awards at the TAP New York Festival, the F.X Matt Memorial Cup for Best Craft Brewery in the state and the Governors’ Brewers Cup for Best Craft Beer in the state for Trippel H Strong Belgian Ale. This was the first time a brewery won both cups in the same year.
Port Jeff produces about 1,500 barrels of beer per year and in 2014 was the first brewery on Long Island to begin canning its beers, which helped increase distribution across the Island and into New York City and Westchester. The brewery also distributes kegs and special release bottles to restaurants and retail beer stores.
The brewery sponsors regular events at its tap room including weekly bingo, live music on weekends, and a free summer concert series. Port Jeff is also the sponsor of an annual 15K Run to the Brewery in May known across Long Island for its painfully steep hills and its legendary afterparty. “The race that runners love to hate” is just one of the reasons that Port Jeff Brewing continues to be a brewery that Long Islanders have come to love for more than 10 years.
Port Jeff Brewing Company is located at 22 Mill Creek Rd. in Port Jefferson. For more info visit portjeffbrewing.com.
Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.
For more food and drink coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/food-drink.