Southpaw Brewing Company Opens in Yaphank
Long Island’s newest craft brewery, Southpaw Brewing, opened on June 4 in Yaphank and is getting rave reviews from customers for a grand slam of tasty craft beer, inventive craft cocktails, comfortable ambience and delicious pub food, featuring brick oven pizza.
Southpaw Brewing is named after one of its five partners, Thomas Neidhart, who is left-handed and also owns Southpaw Construction in Wading River. With this kind of start, the brewery is on its way to becoming one of Long Island’s best-known southpaws since Carl Yastrzemski (born and raised in the Hamptons).
The new brewery is located in The Shoppes retail section of The Boulevard mixed-use complex on a 322-acre site at the interchange of William Floyd Parkway and the Long Island Expressway. The site formerly housed the Parr Meadows quarter-horse racetrack that operated from 1977 to 1986, which is probably best known for hosting a Woodstock Music Festival 10th anniversary concert with a crowd of 18,000 seeing many of the original performers.
Southpaw is a family affair, with Neidhart’s cousin James Economou serving as a partner and general manager, his sons T.J. and Michael who work at Southpaw Construction as partners, and their close friend Matt Rappa as a partner. Rappa has owned and operated pizzerias and restaurants in Suffolk County for many years, including La Bistro Pizzeria in Wading River.
Economou played football at college in New Haven and then coached college football at several schools including Fordham University in the Bronx and Campbell University in North Carolina. During the pandemic, he moved back to Long Island to be closer to family and started working with his cousin Thomas at Southpaw Construction. They decided to launch Southpaw Brewing, with Southpaw Construction handling the design and build-out of the restaurant, while drawing on the restaurant experience of Rappa.
Southpaw’s 3,000-square-foot interior has multiple options for patrons, with plush seats at the 22-foot-long bar and plenty of indoor seating, along with outdoor dining on the patio and an outdoor lounge area with comfy couches and a firepit. When the weather is good, there are garage doors that open up to let the indoor crowd enjoy.
“We are a very close-knit family and got support and encouragement from lots of family members,” said Economou, “including suggestions for design elements like the cracked glass panels behind the bar.” As executive chef, the partners enlisted Douglas Taveras, who previously worked at several of Rappa’s restaurants and has extensive experience with making pizza.
The centerpiece of Southpaw’s kitchen is a gleaming Marra Forni rotator brick oven, which can use wood or coal and bakes a crispy flat-crust pizza in 3 1/2 minutes. Southpaw’s menu offers more than 12 varieties of pizza including delicious soppressata and hot honey, jalapeno popper, New York-style vodka sauce, and gluten-free classic. The menu also includes a wide range of appetizers such as short rib nachos, Bavarian pretzels, and deep-fried duck wontons, along with a variety of burgers, sandwiches and salads.
The food at Southpaw is the perfect complement to its craft beers, which are contract brewed in Oyster Bay and served in flights and pints using the innovative Bottoms Up dispensing system. Beer is dispensed through the bottom of the glass and then kept in place with magnetic disks, avoiding spillage from foamy taps. “With this system we expect to get above 95 percent usage from our kegs,” said Economou, “which is well above the usage from typical tap systems.”
Southpaw usually has 10 beers on draft, with several IPA styles including Hazy IPA, New England IPA, Double IPA and Mandala IPA made with hops from New Zealand. For the summer the beer menu includes a refreshing Blonde Ale and an American Lager, along with a delicious Peach Ale. In addition to the beer lineup, Southpaw has a full bar offering a diverse selection of craft cocktails including creative takes on martinis, old fashioned, and margaritas.
The Boulevard complex, launched in 2015, is being developed by Rose-Breslin Associates over 10 years and already has a 146-room Hilton hotel and about 500 townhouses, apartments and independent living units out of more than 1,100 planned. Long Islanders who want to live 20 minutes away from visits to Riverhead’s craft breweries and the North Fork wine country can now have a great brewery and restaurant to come home to.
Southpaw Brewing Company is located at 501 Boulevard E. in Yaphank. For more information visit southpawbrewing.com.
Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.