Four years after signing a lease for a space in Copiague, Root + Branch Brewing opened the taproom of its gleaming new brewery in July. Located in a building under the tracks of the Copiague Long Island Rail Road Station, the taproom features a bright, airy indoor bar with lots of seating as well as a large outdoor patio with picnic tables.
Co-owners Ryan Mauban and Anthony Sorice met while bartending at Tørst, a bar and restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, known for its curated beer program. Sorice, a Wantagh native, was a homebrewer and decided to take the leap to brewing professionally as an assistant brewer at Threes Brewing in Gowanus, Brooklyn. He later brewed at LIC Beer Project and Evil Twin Brewing in Queens.
“We both dreamed about having our own brewery,” said Mauban, “and started to look for a space before we had even formed the company. It helped that our skills were complementary, with me planning to run the taproom while Anthony would handle the brewing.” In addition to Tørst, California native Mauban ran beer programs at other restaurants in Brooklyn.
Finding Root + Branch Brewing A Home
In 2018, while looking for a permanent home for their brewery, the partners began gypsy brewing at Twelve Percent Beer Project in Connecticut, which gave Sorice a chance to perfect his recipes. They later switched their gypsy production to Great South Bay Brewing in Bay Shore, where their hazy IPAs began to develop a loyal following at monthly can drops.
After meeting with government officials from various towns and villages across Long Island, the partners settled on a 4,000-square-foot space in the hamlet of Copiague, which is part of the Town of Babylon. The space required extensive renovations and the buildout, which began in early 2020, was then complicated by pandemic-related delays.
Root + Branch Brewing has a 10-barrel brewhouse and the taproom will typically have 12-14 beers on tap. Sorice continues to be known for hoppy pale ales and hazy IPAs brewed with a wide range of hops, including Citra, Simcoe, and Mosaic. For the summer, he also has sours on tap including the delicious Et Al, a wheat sour IPA brewed with German Hallertau Blanc hops that is light and refreshing at 2.5% alcohol by volume (ABV).
Sorice is also focusing on Belgian styles including witbier, and the brewhouse has wine and spirits barrels for sours and barrel-aged beers. A new beer is tapped every Thursday and several beers are available for takeaway in cans and growlers.
The name and branding of Root + Branch Brewing were inspired by a literary group and its Root + Branch Magazine started by one of Sorice’s college professors and his friends when they were studying years ago at Harvard. The intellectual and libertarian leanings of the group are reflected in the minimalist black-and-white labels and esoteric beer names like Fear, Life and Fate, Death Party and Everyone Levitates Above Their Own Sea of Hell (a double IPA with 8% ABV).
“I studied history in college and graduate school,” said Sorice, “and originally thought of being a history professor. Using this name in our branding and being able to display some of the old magazines in our taproom is a shout-out to my continued interest in history and philosophy.”
Mauban and Sorice said they appreciated the support of the Long Island beer community as they navigated the journey from being gypsy brewers to finally being able to open their permanent home. “We have been very fortunate,” said Mauban, “and we look forward to welcoming people to our new location to have fun and enjoy the great beer that Anthony is making.”
Root + Branch Brewing is located at 360 Marconi Blvd. in Copiague, but parking is on Railroad Avenue and taproom is across from 54 Railroad Ave. Patrons are welcome to bring in food, and pets are welcome on the outdoor patio. For more info visit rootandbranchbrewing.com.
Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.