Despite challenges from the ongoing pandemic, Long Island’s craft brewing industry continued to grow in 2021, with new breweries opening and established breweries expanding. Beer enthusiasts cheered the return of beerfests in the fall and Long Island’s homebrewing clubs returned to in-person meetings and competitions.
One sure sign of the industry’s resilience is that all nine breweries that opened new taprooms in 2020, including several that opened during pandemic shutdowns, were going strong at the end of 2021. One of those breweries was HopWin’s Brewery in Bay Shore, which opened for business in April 2020 but had to wait a few months before having customers in its taproom. HopWin’s has developed a loyal following and the brewery finally held a grand opening party in September 2021.
The number of brewery taprooms on Long Island continued to climb in 2021, reaching 53 taprooms compared to just 21 at the beginning of 2016. In February, Peconic County Brewing opened in downtown Riverhead, making it the capital city of craft brewing on Long Island with six breweries.
One of those Riverhead breweries is ubergeek Brewing, now located at the former location of Moustache Brewing. Rob Raffa, former head brewer of Moustache and founder of ubergeek, took over the brewery and taproom of Moustache in April when Moustache’s founders decided to switch to a contract-brewing model.
Sand City Brewing of Northport opened a second location in March in Lindenhurst. The new 10,000-square-foot location, dubbed Sand City South, has a 20-barrel brewing system, double the size of the brewing system at Sand City’s Northport location that opened in 2015.
Long Island Farm Brewery opened a new taproom in June at its brewery in Manorville. In addition to being a New York State-licensed farm brewery, it is located on a working farm, the 80-acre Waterdrinker Family Farm & Garden. The brewery uses ingredients from the farm such as honey in its beers and has plans to grow its own barley and wheat on the farm.
Beer lovers welcomed the return of in-person beerfests in the fall, including several Oktoberfest events in September. In Bay Shore, Destination Unknown Beer Co. (DUBCO) held its Dubtoberfest and T.J. Finley’s Pubic House held its 14th annual Oktoberfest celebration.
Out in Riverhead, Greenport Harbor Brewing Co., Long Ireland Beer Co., and Garden of Eve Farm Brewery held Oktoberfest celebrations, and Tanger Outlets in Deer Park held its first Oktoberfest craft beer festival.
Some of Long Island’s most popular beerfests returned including Whales, Ales & Salty Tales in October at the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum. The Long Island Craft Classic adjusted its timing and location from its usual August event at Heckscher State Park to an October event with horse racing at Belmont Racetrack.
Cask ale fests remained popular and Brewers Collective Beer Co. in Bay Shore held its Indie Cask Fest in October. Also in October, Port Jeff Brewing had a cask ale event as part of its three-day 10th anniversary party featuring 10 bands. The Blue Point Cask Ales Festival returned in grand style in November with a sold-out crowd enjoying beautiful fall weather while tasting cask ales from more than 50 breweries in the parking lot of the brewery in Patchogue.
A popular attraction at many of these festivals were homebrews from Long Island’s three homebrew clubs, Brewers East End Revival (B.E.E.R), Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts (LIBME), and Handgrenades Homebrew and Craft Beer Club (HHCBC). The clubs were able to resume in-person monthly meetings in 2021 and hold competitions, with B.E.E.R. holding its 24th annual Brew-Off Homebrew Competition in May after being forced to cancel the competition in 2020.
Looking ahead, craft beer lovers on Long Island can look forward to the opening of more new brewery taprooms in 2022: Necromantic Brew Co., a gluten-free brewery in Farmingdale, Root + Branch in Copiague, and Take Two Brewery in Bay Shore. Cheers to new beers in the New Year!
Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.
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