Holbrook’s Spider Bite Beer Co. Celebrates 12 Years of Award-winning Beers
One of Long Island’s most decorated craft breweries, Spider Bite Beer Co., will celebrate its 12th anniversary in May with a party at its taproom in Holbrook featuring live music, a food truck and a special anniversary beer release.
According to owner and brewmaster Larry Goldstein, the special beer is an adaptation of 12 Legs Imperial Pale Ale, which is usually brewed at 8% alcohol by volume but for the dozen-year celebration will be a smooth 12% ABV.
Goldstein, who was raised and now lives in Nesconset, came to the brewery business after starting out in medicine. He graduated from State University of New York (SUNY) Stony Brook with a degree in Biology and headed to Atlanta to study for a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. While there, he discovered craft beer and began studying up on beer styles.
“Craft beers were just starting to become popular then,” said Goldstein, “and I tried to taste as many styles as I could from breweries like Sierra Nevada, Pete’s Wicked Ale and Sam Adams.”
He soon started homebrewing and then volunteered as an assistant brewer at a local brewpub, which set him on the path to a new career. With encouragement from his wife, Goldstein took brewing courses at the American Brewers Guild and served an apprenticeship at The Lost Abbey/Port Brewing in San Diego.
Goldstein is not the only brewer on Long Island who started out in medicine – others are Rick Sobotka of Great South Bay Brewery, who is still a practicing anesthesiologist, and Manny Fajardo of Somerset Brewing, who worked at hospitals in Manhattan before starting his brewery in West Hempstead.
Goldstein said, “My background in basic sciences and organic chemistry definitely helped me out when I started taking courses in brewing, giving me a better understanding of how yeast works and other processes.”
Goldstein decided to return to Long Island to start a brewery and launched in 2011 as a contract brewer working with an upstate New York brewery. Spider Bite got off to an auspicious start by winning several medals at the 2012 TAP New York Festival and the F.X. Matt Memorial Cup for Best Craft Beer Brewery in New York State.
Goldstein then pursued his dream of having his own brewery and taproom on Long Island, finding a 1,500-square-foot industrial space in Holbrook and installing a 1.5 barrel brewing system. The taproom opened in February 2015 and regularly has eight beers on tap, with a wide range of styles from West Coast IPAs to Belgian ales and Russian Imperial Stouts.
Spider Bite continued to contract brew and can its beers at breweries in upstate New York and Massachusetts before switching several years ago to contract brew at Great South Bay in Bay Shore. Prior to the pandemic, Spider Bite was distributing its beers in upstate New York and New Jersey but is now concentrating on Long Island with its distributor Boening Brothers, with Goldstein estimating Spider Bite’s annual volume at about 1,000 barrels.
Goldstein has continued to rack up awards for his beers including a second F.X. Matt Memorial Cup at Tap New York in 2017, in addition to two silvers and a gold medal for Boris the Spider Imperial Russian Stout. Other awards include four medals in 2019 at the 3rd Great International Beer Competition and a gold medal in 2020 at the New York State Craft Beer Competition for Open Wide Double IPA.
Spider Bite has been part of the rapid expansion of the craft beer industry on Long Island in the past 12 years and Goldstein thinks there is still room to grow. “As long as people get into the business understanding how hard they’ll have to work to run a successful brewery,” said Goldstein, “I think they’ll find a receptive audience here on Long Island that will embrace good craft beer.”
Spider Bite Beer Co. is located at 920 Lincoln Ave. #5 in Holbrook. For more information visit spiderbitebeer.com.
Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.