Necromantic Brew Co., Long Island’s first gluten-free brewery, is putting the finishing touches on its new taproom in Farmingdale ahead of a planned launch in March. The new taproom is located just down the block from Lithology Brewing Co., giving downtown Farmingdale its own brewers row.
Co-founders Ralph Mandarino and Jesse Silano had been homebrewing gluten-free beers for several years before deciding to go pro in 2018. Mandarino was diagnosed nine years ago with gluten intolerance, also known as celiac disease, which causes an immune reaction in the small intestine to eating wheat, barley, and rye. The beer lover worked with his avid homebrewer friend Silano to develop recipes that matched the taste of popular beer styles while using gluten-free millet, quinoa, and buckwheat, also known as ancient grains.
“We developed recipes for 17 different beers,” says Mandarino, “and we were getting great feedback from fellow homebrewers and local brewery owners.” Mandarino and Silano are members of Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts (LIBME), one of Long Island’s three homebrew clubs.
In searching for a location for the brewery, the partners zeroed in on downtown Farmingdale in part because they were familiar with the village. Mandarino is a native of Farmingdale and 30 years ago his father owned a bakery, Love to Bake, that was on Main Street across from the new brewery’s location. Silano is a native of West Islip and graduated from nearby Farmingdale State.
Necromantic’s location was also the site of a bakery, Rocky & Sons, which operated on Main Street for over 35 years. The partners were attracted to the 2,700-square-foot space, which includes a large basement for storage, and signed a lease in March 2020 as the pandemic shutdown began. Over the next year they built out the space and installed a 3.5-barrel brewing system from California-based Ss Brewtech.
“Parts of the system had to be adapted for our special needs,” said Mandarino, “mostly because milling of the ancient grains we use produces more powder than milled wheat and barley.” The partners reworked their recipes for the new system and expect to have 10 beers on tap regularly.
The beer lineup will include a range of popular styles such as India Pale Ales (IPAs), amber ales, brown ales, porter, and stout. Silano said, “We don’t plan to have lots of seasonal beers because we want people, including non-celiac beer lovers, to be able to taste a variety of styles and decide what they like.”
An estimated 3 million people in the U.S. have celiac disease, but while gluten-free food items are now more widely available, there are only 17 dedicated gluten-free breweries in the U.S. that handle zero ingredients containing gluten. Necromantic will be a dedicated gluten-free brewery, meaning that the possibility of cross-contamination is eliminated, and the brewery will serve only gluten-free snacks. Several restaurants nearby, including High Tide Taco Bar, offer gluten-free menu options that can be delivered to the brewery.
The news of a gluten-free brewery coming to Long Island has been greeted with enthusiasm on social media and Mandarino and Silano are excited to begin welcoming patrons to the taproom. They are also excited to welcome fans of horror movies, their other passion and the inspiration for the name of the brewery. Necromancy refers to black magic and the conjuring of spirits, which for the partners includes brewing excellent gluten-free beers.
The brewery’s taproom will feature a 26-foot-long bar and several big screen TVs playing horror movies. “We want to recreate the vibe that Jesse and I had when we were homebrewing late at night and watching our favorite scary movies,” said Mandarino. Necromantic also plans to have theme nights and other events to keep beer enthusiasts entertained while enjoying some scary good brews.
Necromantic Brew Co. is located at 253 Main St. in Farmingdale. For more info visit necromanticbrewco.com.
Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.
Correction: an earlier version of this story reported Necromantic Brew Co. was the first gluten-free brewery in New York State. It is the first on Long Island.
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