One of Long Island’s original farm breweries, Saint James Brewery, recently doubled its production capacity at its brewhouse in Holbrook and is planning to expand distribution and possibly open a second taproom in 2024. The brewery’s owners opened its first taproom in St. James on the North Shore in 2020 and according to founders and co-owners Jamie and Rachel Adams, they are exploring potential locations on the South Shore.
“Our taproom in St. James is doing well,” said Rachel, who handles marketing and distribution, “and we continue to self-distribute to bars and restaurants and sell our beers at local farmers markets.” She added, “With our expanded production capacity we are looking into the possibility of adding a taproom on the South Shore to make it easier for customers there to taste and purchase our beers.”
The History of Saint James Brewery
Saint James Brewery was founded in 2012 by the husband-and-wife duo after Jamie, an avid homebrewer, began to get rave reviews for his Belgian-style ales and decided to go professional. He began production at a 2,000-square-foot facility in an industrial park in Holbrook in 2013 and gradually built out a 7.5-barrel brewing system. This fall, the system was expanded with the purchase of new fermenters and brite tanks, doubling capacity to 15 barrels.
“We’re excited about the expansion,” said Jamie, “which will enable us to brew more of our Belgian-style ales while also ramping up production of our popular English-style Deep Ascent beers.” Jamie brews the Deep Ascent line of beers with yeast strains cultivated from beer bottles recovered from a ship that sank south of Fire Island in 1886. Jamie was part of a group of divers who explored the wreck of the S.S Oregon, a luxury transatlantic passenger liner owned by Cunard (which later built the Titanic). The Oregon sank, but unlike the Titanic had just one casualty among 852 people on board.
According to Jamie, the salvaged beer bottles were intended to be served to first-class passengers and contained at least three different strains of yeast, including English ale yeasts.
“We were able to propagate the yeast from the bottles to make yeast cultures that we continue to use for Deep Ascent,” said Jamie. Deep Ascent was launched in 2019 and currently includes standard British beer styles including India Pale Ale (IPA), Extra Special Bitter (ESB), and porter, all naturally carbonated in 750-milliliter bottles.
Saint James Brewery’s Future
Saint James is committed to being a certified farm brewery despite the increased requirements for using ingredients grown in New York State. When the farm brewery law was first passed in 2012, the requirement was to use 20% of ingredients grown in the state, but that was raised to 60% in 2019 and will increase to 90% on Jan. 1, 2024.
“We continue to focus on using locally sourced ingredients and supporting local farmers,” said Rachel. “Many of our beers are made with 100% of ingredients grown in New York State, including hops from Condzella’s Farm in Wading River, which is now part of the Hop Growers of New York cooperative.” Saint James sources local fresh fruit for many of its Belgian ales, including apricots from Briermere Farms in Riverhead, and the blonde ale Chérie is made with local honey from Promise Land Apiaries in Mattituck.
In addition to Belgian-style ales, Jamie brews several IPAs using a variety of hops and helped with brewing this year’s Long Island Brewers Guild collaboration beer, We Care A Lot, a double dry hopped modern IPA with Sabro, Idaho 7, and Cashmere hops. The charity beer was brewed and canned at Blue Point Brewing in Patchogue with proceeds benefiting Long Island Cares/The Harry Chapin Food Bank.
On a recent visit, the St. James taproom was busy with many regular customers enjoying the relaxed, comfortable atmosphere. Patrons are encouraged to bring in food from nearby restaurants including Del Fuego Tex Mex, Spuntino Brick Oven and Yeros Greek food. Above the 12 taps is a framed schematic of the S.S. Oregon and local art decorates the room.
After finding the location in St. James in 2019 and building out the space for a year, Jamie and Rachel held a grand opening on March 14, 2020, just five days before the March 18 Covid-19 lockdown on bars and restaurants. They quickly shifted to take-out sales and survived the initial weeks of the shutdown. “We were very fortunate to have strong support from the people of St. James and happy to be accepted by the community,” said Rachel. “We look forward to continuing to grow on Long Island and serve our loyal customers.”
Saint James Brewery’s taproom is located at 430-13 N. Country Rd. in St. James. For more information visit saintjamesbrewery.com.