Bernie Kilkelly

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Kilkelly is the publisher of the authoritative LIBeerGuide and a frequent contributor to such publications as Ale Street News and The Gotham Imbiber. Reach him via libeerguide@gmail.com.

Long Island Beer Fests Brew Up Summer Fun

Summer means not just beach season, but also beer festivals. (Photo by Karl Mischler)

With locally brewed craft beer now widely available across Long Island, the region’s beer festival organizers have begun offering attendees a more diverse experience beyond just  tasting lots of different suds.

A great example is the evolution of LI’s premier summer beer festival, the Long Island Craft Classic, being held this year on Aug. 11 at Heckscher State Park in East Islip. In its inaugural year of 2007, the festival was known as the North Fork Craft Beer Festival and held on the grounds of Martha Clara Vineyards in Jamesport.

“We had no idea at the time that craft beer on Long Island would take off the way it has,” says Andy Calimano, owner of Bay Shore-based festival company Starfish Junction Productions. “We had just a handful of local breweries, so a large part of the festival was bringing in craft beers from around the country to educate people about different styles.”

Calimano and his wife, Lynda, founded Starfish Junction in 2005 and saw an opportunity to produce professionally run festivals in the specialty beverage sector. In addition to local beer and hard cider festivals, they also produce the Coffee & Tea Festival NYC, which just held its 13th annual show in March, and beer fests off LI.

Starfish Junction staged its first beer festival in May 2007 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The positive response led to the North Fork Festival and a fall festival at the Uniondale arena. The beer festivals moved to Belmont Park while the coliseum underwent renovations. After its reopening, the fall festival moved back to the coliseum and the spring festival stayed at Belmont.

After eight years on the East End, Starfish Junction moved its summer festival further west.

“As part of the Taste NY program, New York State wanted to hold a festival in central Suffolk County,” Calimano says. “In addition to New York craft beer, the festival now also focuses on New York wine and hard cider.”

Rechristened the Long Island Craft Classic, the festival was held at the new, easier-to-reach location last year and, according to Calimano, was a great success.

“Many of our festivalgoers are coming out in groups to meet up and taste some beers and listen to music, and then going out after for a nice dinner,” he says.

This year’s Craft Classic will again feature a unique brewing competition for Long Island craft breweries, with the winner selected by festivalgoers. All the competitors in the Brew’d Competition must use a specially preselected ingredient in their beer. The winner of the 2017 Brew’d Competition, made with the special ingredient of peach, was a collaboration beer from Destination Unknown Beer Co. in Bay Shore and Greenport Harbor Brewing, a Berliner Weisse-style ale called Fuzzy Flamingo.

One of the hallmarks of all Starfish beer festivals is connecting with local charities to raise awareness and funds. This year’s main event will help three charities: Islip Arts Council; Kids Need More, serving child cancer patients; and the National Heritage Trust, which supports parks, conservation and historic preservation across New York State.

For more information on the Long Island Craft Classic, visit licraftclassic.com.

CRAFT BEER AT SUMMER STREET FESTS

Craft beer is a big part of free summer street festivals on Long Island, including:

Farmingdale Music on Main
July 12, July 26, Aug. 9 and Aug. 23. Live music on Main Street sponsored by Lithology Brewing, Croxley’s, Dark Horse Tavern, Library Café, That Meetball Place and more.

Patchogue Alive After Five
17th annual event on July 19, Aug. 2, 16 and 23. Six stages of live music, food trucks, craft vendors, activities for children and more. Sponsors include Blue Point Brewing, BrickHouse Brewery, Bobbique and others.

Riverhead Alive on 25
July 5, 12 and 26, and Aug. 9. Features live music on eight stages, food trucks, classic car show, local wine and craft beer from local breweries including Moustache Brewing, Long Ireland, Greenport Harbor and more.

Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.

Long Island Catches Royal Wedding Fever

Cardboard cutouts of the royal newlyweds greet customers at Stew Leonard's.

British colonists settled Long Island nearly 400 years ago, but the connection remains strong, as shown by local celebrations of the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

On Friday, Stew Leonard’s in East Meadow gave a local couple the royal treatment by hosting their wedding at the store with all the trappings, including royal wedding cake.

Rudy and Nadine Michaud were married by Hempstead Town Clerk Sylvia A. Cabana in a royal-styled wedding with many store workers dressed in medieval costumes.

Following the ceremony, Stew Leonard’s French-trained baker, Beth Leonard Hollis, served her royal wedding cake replicating the actual royal cake using lemon and elderflower flavors.

The cake was available for sale to serve at the many royal wedding viewing parties being held across Long Island.

Another local retailer, Total Wine Spirits & More in Westbury, got into the royal wedding spirit by hosting a tasting event on Friday for London-based Broker’s Gin.

Founded in 1997 by Martin and Andy Dawson, their gin is produced in England and is now distributed in all 50 states.

Long Island Craft Beer Week 2018 Kicks Off

LI's craft brewers are united to celebrate their booming industry and give back to charity.

The annual celebration of all things craft beer on Long Island kicks off Friday with a Cask Ales Festival in Farmingdale and runs through May 20 with a slew of brew-related festivities.

LI beer week’s opening festival will be held at That Meetball Place in Farmingdale from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., with unlimited samplings of cask ales from 11 breweries and happy hour pricing on taps, wine and food.

The theme of LI Craft Beer Week 2018 is East meets West, and the cask ales at the Farmingdale festival will focus on Suffolk County breweries. The East End will be represented by Montauk Brewing and several North Fork breweries will be pouring, including Greenport Harbor Brewing, Jamesport Farm Brewery, Long Ireland Beer and Moustache Brewing. The fun will continue in Farmingdale on Saturday with a Town Takeover on Main Street, with opportunities to meet and greet brewers from many LI craft breweries. 

On the following weekend, the main events will shift to Suffolk County and the focus will be on Nassau County breweries. A Cask Ales Festival on May 18 at L.I. Pour House in Port Jeff Station will feature special cask ales from Oyster Bay Brewing, Garvies Point Brewing, Lithology Brewing and Long Beach Brewing Company. The celebration in Suffolk will continue on May 19 with a Town Takeover in Patchogue.

Long Island Craft Beer Week also provides an opportunity for craft beer lovers to give back to the community through the Craft Cares “Can for a Can” food drive. Limited-release cans of this year’s collaboration brew, Craft Cares Bi-Coastal IPA, will be available at participating breweries, beer bars and retailers in exchange for donating cans of food for Long Island Cares-The Harry Chapin Food Bank. 

Craft Cares Bi-Coastal IPA was a collaboration among 24 LI breweries along with local producers of malt and hops. The brew combines two popular beer styles, the West Coast IPA and New England IPA, using Cascade, Nugget and Tahoma hops from Condzella Farms in Wading River, Route 27 Hop Yard in Moriches and L.I. Hops in Riverhead. Bi-Coastal IPA was brewed at Fire Island Beer Co. in Bay Shore on March 20, then dry-hopped and canned on April 3, with canning donated by The Malt Man mobile canning services and labels by DWS Printing in Deer Park.

Dozens of events will take place during the 10-day celebration, including the chance to pick up a free commemorative pint glass and wrist band for exclusive offers throughout the year.

Details on all events for Long Island Craft Beer Week can be found at licbw.us.

Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.

Related Story: New Brews Join Long Island Craft Beer Boom

Related Story: Long Island Craft Beer Guide

New Brews Join Long Island Craft Beer Boom

Left to right are Patrick Harten and Brett Blau of Long Beach Brewing, with Luke Heneghan of Heneghan’s Tavern, which bought one of their first kegs in April, and Dan Scandiffi of Long Beach Brewing.

As the annual Long Island Craft Beer Week returns with dozens of events from May 11 to 20, there’s lots to toast, from new microbreweries opening to established beer makers expanding.

Since New York State created a farm brewery license in 2012, the number of craft breweries on LI more than tripled from 12 to 44 today — 26 of which are farm breweries that use locally grown ingredients.

“The vast majority of these breweries are small manufacturing businesses that support their local communities and create thousands of jobs,” says Paul Leone, executive director of the New York State Brewers Association.

The association says the economic impact of the beer industry statewide is generating $4 billion. Several communities across Nassau and Suffolk are hoping to reap similar benefits from breweries opening this year.

Small Craft Brewing Co. in Amityville opened its tasting room in March, and Harbor Head Brewing in Northport opened a sampling room in January next to the Whale’s Tale Restaurant in the Britannia Marina.

Eastern Front Brewing Co. in Mattituck is getting ready to open its new tasting room pending final permits. In Huntington, Six Harbors Brewing Company will open its new brewery and tasting room on New York Avenue soon.

Long Beach Brewing Company recently began commercial distribution of kegs from its new brewery on Lawson Boulevard in Oceanside, where it plans to open a tasting room this summer. That brewing will share its facility with another farm brewery, Flying Belgian with the two companies using the same brewing system.

Westhampton Beach Brewing Co. is putting the finishing touches on its brewhouse and tasting room in the Hampton Business District. In Riverhead, North Fork Brewing Company installed its new brewhouse in January in the old Second Street firehouse. North Fork Brewing is located in the same building as Long Beard Brewing Co., which is applying for a farm brewery license. Both breweries hope to open tasting rooms by summer.

A new brewery in Patchogue, Patchogue Beer Project, has installed its brewing equipment and plans to open its tasting room this summer, becoming the third brewery in town after long-established BrickHouse Brewery and Blue Point Brewing.

Secatogue Brewing Company hopes to become the first brewery to open in West Islip, with a summer debut.

In addition to the new breweries, older LI breweries have been growing and expanding. Fire Island Beer Company, founded in 2009, is close to opening a tasting room at its new brewery in Bay Shore, in the building it shares with Great South Bay Brewery on Drexel Drive. Brewers Collective, established in Bay Shore in 2014, opened a larger tasting room in January.

Moustache Brewing in Riverhead, founded in 2012, is quadrupling the size of its brewery, including an expanded tasting room that is expected to open by summer. 1940s Brewing Company, a Holbrook farm brewery founded in 2014, is increasing production and adding staff in its brewery and sales operation. It was recently recognized by the Brewers Association as one of the 50 fastest growing craft breweries nationwide.

The most dramatic expansion is taking place in Patchogue, with Blue Point’s new 60,000-square-foot brewery taking shape on the former site of Briarcliffe College on West Main Street. The building will include a tasting room overlooking the brewhouse and an outdoor beer garden expected to open by summer.

As LI Craft Beer Week prepares to kick off with a cask ales festival in Farmingdale, the local brewing community will give back with its annual “Can for a Can” food drive. Beer lovers can get a can of special Craft Cares collaboration beer by donating a can of food to Long Island Cares. According to Dave Schultzer of Bellport Cold Beer and Soda, one of the organizers, in 2017 the drive collected 3,500 pounds of canned food and this year hopes to top 5,000 pounds.

LI CRAFT BEER WEEK EVENTS
• May 11 cask events in Farmingdale.
• May 12 Town Takeover in Farmingdale. Brewers will be in attendance for attendees to “meet and greet.”
• May 14 Pint Glass Pickup night. Each glass will include a wristband allowing patrons access to a variety of special offers (also to be listed on website) at participating breweries and restaurants to encourage patronage year round.
• May 19 cask event in Port Jeff Station.
• May 20 Town Takeover in Patchogue.
• Can for a Can Food Drive runs throughout Long Island Craft Beer Week at all participating locations. Donors of three or more non-perishable food items get a 16-ounce can of Craft Cares Bi-Coastal IPA.

For more information on Long Island Craft Beer Week 2018 and the Craft Cares “Can for a Can” food drive, go to licbw.us.

Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.

Blue Point Holds Last Bash at River Avenue Brewery

Blue Point's cask master Jim Richards (right) overseeing the tapping of the First Firkin at the 15th annual Cask Ales Festival.

Blue Point Brewing held the “absolute” last beer festival at its original River Avenue brewery in Patchogue on Saturday, according to co-founder and brewmaster emeritus Mark Burford. 

Thousands of festival goers enjoyed a sunny spring afternoon at the 15th annual Cask Ales Festival tasting cask-conditioned ales brewed by 70 breweries from across Long Island, the U.S. and even a few from England, where cask ales were first produced hundreds of years ago. 

In opening the festival, Burford joked that last year’s Cask Ales Festival was billed as the last at River Avenue, but construction of Blue Point’s new brewery on West Main Street took longer than expected.  Now scheduled to open this summer, the new 60,000-square-foot brewery on the former site of Briarcliffe College will feature a tasting room overlooking the expanded brewhouse and an outdoor beer garden.

Blue Point was founded on River Avenue in 1998 and held its first Cask Ales Festival in January 2004 in the middle of a blizzard, with many people making it to the festival on cross country skis and snowshoes. Since then, Blue Point has led the way in popularizing cask ales on Long Island and the festival has grown to become one of the largest cask festivals in the U.S.

Cask-conditioned ale, often called “real ale,” is unfiltered and naturally carbonated without the addition of nitrogen or carbon dioxide, producing smooth beer with intense flavors. Blue Point’s cask master Jim Richards pulled out all the stops for the last festival at River Avenue, serving 14 cask ales with unique ingredients including wasabi and ginger (Sushi Prop Stopper IPA), dried mint cacao nips (Armchair Stout Mint Chocolate) and dragon fruit and habanero (Dragon’s Breath). 

Richards also brewed several collaboration beers using ingredients from local companies such as Amagansett Sea Salt (Everything Bagel Ale), Martha Clara Vineyard (Beach Plum Goes Rose Soaked Oak), Montauk Rum Runners (Coconut Rum Dopplebock) and King County Distillery (Kings County Armchair). 

In addition to cask ales from craft breweries, Long Island’s three homebrew clubs – Brewers East End Revival, Handgrenades Homebrew Club, and Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts – served dozens of homebrewed cask ales, ciders and mead. Also on hand to provide food to hungry festivalgoers were local food trucks from Bobbique, Chiddy’s Cheesesteaks, Island Empanada and Brockenzo’s Pizza.

Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.

Oyster Bay Brewing: Soft Beers, Big Flavor

Oyster Bay Brewing Company
Oyster Bay Brewing Company

Just a few miles away from Theodore Roosevelt’s Sagamore Hill home, in the heart of downtown Oyster Bay, is a brewery that would satisfy the thirst of Teddy’s Rough Riders.

Oyster Bay Brewing Co. was founded in 2012 by longtime friends Gabe Haim and Ryan Schlotter, who bonded over their shared love of beer. After home-brewing many batches, they followed their dream and opened a brewery. At the time, Nassau County had only one brewery: Barrier Brewing in Oceanside.

The brewery opened for business in June 2013 in a 1,400-square-foot space on South Street that barely housed a 3-barrel brewing system and small tasting area. Word quickly spread and the tasting area started to overflow with visitors. But the brewery reached a tipping point after the founders, both lifelong Islanders fans, brewed a special beer in 2015 for the Islanders’ last season at the Nassau Coliseum.

“We named it ‘Barn Rocker’ after the nickname for the coliseum and we couldn’t keep up with demand,” said Haim.

The crisp, lightly hopped ale helped make Oyster Bay Brewing a household name among Islander fans and craft beer fans across Long Island. It proved so popular that the Islanders requested it the next year at their new home at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and the Mets requested it at Citi Field Haim and Schlotter needed to expand but they didn’t have to look far for a new space.

In late 2015, the brewery closed for a short time and reopened the following year around the corner in a 6,000-square-foot space on Audrey Avenue. The new space, located next door to an Oyster Bay institution, Canterbury’s Oyster Bar & Grill, had ample room for a 15-barrel brewing system and a spacious tasting room.

Around this time, the founders hired a new brewmaster who could fully utilize the new system. Oyster Bay brought in Ivan Dedek, a graduate of Oregon State University with a degree in Fermentation Science, who apprenticed at Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, near where he grew up. He had also been a research and development brewer at Sam Adams in Boston and a supervising brewer at Schmaltz Brewing.

Last year, Oyster Bay made a major investment in canning equipment and new fermentation tanks that increased production by more than half. According to Dedek, the brewery should be at an annual production level close to 2,500 barrels by the end of the year. The new canning line makes both 12-ounce and 16-ounce cans, which will come in handy this summer for supplying expected orders from Citi Field.

In addition to pumping out Barn Rocker, Dedek has been experimenting with beer styles ranging from pilsners and German-style Helles lagers to porters and stouts, including an Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels and pinot noir wine barrels. Oyster Bay recently brewed a collaboration beer with KCBC (Kings County Brewers Collective) from Brooklyn.

The beer, cheekily named The Adventures of Troutman and Oysterboy Downunder, was brewed using only hops from the Southern Hemisphere such as Motueka and Vic Secret. Dedek is experimenting with other recipes, including a Gose made with Ethiopian coffee beans from neighboring coffee shop Southdown Coffee, and Baymen’s Oyster Stout brewed with two dozen Oyster Bay oysters added to the boil in the last five minutes.

Oyster Bay Brewing began distributing its beers through Manhattan Beer in 2015, focusing primarily on Long Island and NYC. Distribution expanded to Connecticut last year and, according to Haim, will focus on the current locations this year.

“We want to control our growth as much as possible,” says Haim.

Both Haim and Schlotter quit their day jobs to focus full time on the brewery.

“Ryan is heading up marketing and sales, spending a lot of time on the road,” says Haim, “and I’m overseeing our brewery operations.”

This commitment is clearly paying off as Oyster Bay Brewing was recently voted the 2018 Bethpage Best of Long Island winner for Best Craft Beer Brewery. The brewery is celebrating its fifth anniversary in early June, and as it has done for each anniversary, will brew a special beer to mark the occasion. Haim says the weekend-long celebration will include special collaboration beers and a party with food from local restaurants.

The celebration will surely include a few pints.

Oyster Bay Brewing Co. is located at 36 Audrey Avenue in Oyster Bay. They can be reached at 516-802-5546 or oysterbaybrewing.com.

Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.

Sand City’s Tasting Room Reopens in Northport

Sand City is serving up hoppy flights in the heart of downtown Northport.

After an outpouring of support from fans near and far, Sand City Brewing got approval from the Village of Northport to reopen its tasting room on Main Street and welcomed beer lovers back on Sunday. 

After closing four months ago for renovations to its walkway, Sand City’s permits were temporarily revoked by the village zoning board after complaints about excessive crowds and noise, some related to the long lines that form for new can releases of the brewery’s popular beers. 

At a public zoning board meeting on March 28, dozens of Sand City supporters came out to express their positive view of the brewery and its impact on the village. According to co-owners Bill Kiernan and Kevin Sihler, Sand City also received “overwhelming support from people online through post and petitions, and in letter writing to our local officials.”  The tasting room will resume regularly scheduled hours today, open from noon to 8 pm. 

As the Press reported in February, Sand City first opened its tasting room in fall 2015 and quickly established achieved cult status for brewing some of Long Island’s best IPAs (India Pale Ale, a hoppy brew).

In the past year, the brewery’s fame has spread across the country through a series of collaboration beers with well-known craft breweries from California to Virginia to across Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island.      

Sand City Brewing is located at 60 Main Street in Northport.  They can be reached at 631-651-2767 or at sandcitybeer.com.

Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.

 

Small Craft Brewing Sets Sail in Amityville

Brothers Gerald and Greg Sims opened Small Craft Brewery in Amityville.

One of Long Island’s newest craft breweries, the nautical-themed Small Craft Brewing in Amityville, opened its tasting room for the first time to the public over the weekend.

Small Craft was founded in 2014 by brothers Gerald and Greg Sims, who grew up in Wantagh and started homebrewing 10 years ago. After deciding to turn their hobby into a business, they began searching for a location on the South Shore.

“We looked from Wantagh to as far east as Lindenhurst, but everything was very expensive and didn’t have what we needed,” said Greg.

But then Greg happened to work out at a CrossFit gym in Amityville that was outgrowing its space and planning to move. The brothers thought the space would be perfect for their brewery and they signed a lease at 66 Merrick Rd. in late 2016.

After installing a two-barrel brewing system at the end of last year, Small Craft obtained its New York State farm brewery license, which requires it to use a certain percentage of ingredients produced in New York. One of their beers, the crisp Wanser’s Cut wheat beer, is made with 100-percent ingredients from the state.

Gerald and Greg share the brewing duties and currently have nine beers on tap, covering a wide range of styles from German-style Ketcham Kolsch to Depth Charge IPA to dark beers such as Bay House Brown Ale and Dream Boat Stout.

Small Craft’s comfortable tasting room has a bar and seating area, as well as counters where patrons can enjoy flights and pints while overlooking the brewhouse. The tasting room will initially be open on weekends with plans to expand hours in the summer.

Once the brothers get a feel for how much beer is being consumed in the tasting room, they hope to begin distributing kegs to local bars and restaurants. But from a sample of their suds, it’s safe to say Small Craft will have smooth sailing ahead.

Small Craft Brewing is located at 66 Merrick Road in Amityville. They can be reached at 631-464-0186 or on Facebook at @SmallCraftBrew.

Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.

Long Island Breweries Band Together for ‘Craft Cares’ Collaboration Beer

Long Island craft brewers met up March 20, 2018 to brew up a charity beer.

Brewers from 19 of Long Island’s craft breweries joined forces Tuesday at Fire Island Beer Co. in Bay Shore to brew a special beer for charity. 

The collaboration beer, Craft Cares, was brewed for the “Can for a Can” food drive held during the annual Long Island Craft Beer Week, running this year from May 11 to 20. Beer lovers will be able to exchange a can of food for a can of Craft Cares at breweries and select beer bars to benefit Long Island Cares/The Harry Chapin Food Bank, which serves the hungry and those with food insecurity on Long Island.

Dan Moss of Fire Island Beer

“Craft Cares is a great way for Long Island’s craft brewers to give back to the community while celebrating the camaraderie of local brewers from Nassau and Suffolk and strengthening the partnership between the breweries and the establishments that sell Long Island craft beer,” said Dave Schultzer of Bellport Cold Beer and Soda and one of the organizers of Long Island Craft Beer Week.

Last year’s “Can for a Can” food raised more than 3,400 pounds of food. 

The recipe for this year’s collaboration beer was called an ‘Intercoastal IPA’ by Paul Komsic, head brewer at BrickHouse Brewery in Patchogue. 

“We wanted to bring together influences from all across the U.S. and in Europe, so the recipe includes yeasts from both California and England,” said Dan Moss, head brewer at Fire Island Beer Co. “The malt was donated by Country Malt Group and includes a percentage of malts from New York State to meet the New York farm brewery standards

“All of the hops were donated by Long Island hop farms, including Condzella Farms in Wading River, Route 27 Hop Yard in Moriches and L.I. Hops in Riverhead,” he added.

In addition, the canning of the beer will be donated by The Malt Man mobile canning services and labels by DWS Printing in Deer Park.   

More info on Long Island Craft Beer Week will soon be available at www.licbw.us.

The participating Long Island breweries involved in brewing 2018 Craft Cares are:

1940’s Brewing Co., Holbrook
Barnshed Brewing, Hicksville
Barrage Brewing, Farmingdale
Brewers Collective, Bay Shore
BrickHouse Brewery, Patchogue
Destination Unknown Brewing Co., Bay Shore
Fire Island Beer Co., Bay Shore
Great South Bay Brewery,  Bay Shore
Greenport Harbor Brewing Co.,  Greenport
Lithology Brewing, Farmingdale
Long Ireland Beer Co.,  Riverhead
Port Jeff Brewing Co.,  Port Jefferson
Montauk Brewing Co.,  Montauk
Moustache Brewing Co., Riverhead
North Fork Brewing, Riverhead
Oyster Bay Brewing, Oyster Bay
Saint James Brewery, Holbrook
Sand City Brewing Co.,  Northport
Spider Bite Brewing Co.,  Holbrook

Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com

Long Ireland Brews Up Good ‘Craic’ in Riverhead’s Polish Town

West of downtown Riverhead is historic Polish Town, which pays tribute to the traditions of Poland’s welcoming spirit demonstrated at the Polish Town Fair that attracts thousands every August.

Since 2011, another proud European heritage of fun entertainment, called ‘craic’— pronounced “crack,” it means fun in Gaelic — has been celebrated in Polish Town at the Long Ireland Beer Company brewery and tasting room. It was founded nearly a decade ago by longtime friends Dan Burke and Greg Martin, who, like many home brewers, dreamed of their own brewery. They apprenticed and contract brewed their favorite recipe at Connecticut’s New England Brewing Company. They set up shop after getting a positive response to this beer, which they named Celtic Ale.

“We must have home brewed this beer 60 to 70 times in our garage,” says Martin, “until we got the recipe to where we wanted it.”

They settled on a 9,000-square-foot Pulaski Street building that formerly housed an Agway store. Long Ireland became such an integral part of the neighborhood that in 2014 it brewed the special Polish Town Pilsner for the Polish Town Fair’s 40th anniversary. The Polish-style lager, made with pilsner malt and traditional Saaz, Czech and Tettnang hops, is so popular that it is now available all year.

Year-round offerings are still led by the flagship Celtic Ale, a malty red ale similar to Irish Reds like Smithwick’s but with richer malt flavor and lower carbonation. The recipe uses four malts: two-row pale malt, caramel, Vienna and chocolate. Flaked oats and honey give it a sweet flavor with hints of toffee, one hop, Willamette, provides just mild bitterness for a smooth finish.

Other popular beers include a refreshing Raspberry Wheat and seasonal brews such as Summer Ale, Pumpkin Ale, Winter Ale, NoFo Farmhouse Saison Ale, Chocolate Porter, and the delicious Black Friday Imperial Stout, released on the day after Thanksgiving. One of Long Ireland’s original offerings, Breakfast Stout, was retired but replaced by a dry Irish-style stout, Hooligan Irish Stout, which may soon join the year-round offerings.

Long Ireland also recognized growing demand for hoppy pale ales and IPAs by brewing special beers including single hopped beers like Mos Def Mosaic IPA and Balor IPA, made with Citra hops and named after a one-eyed giant from Irish mythology. The brewery also uses hops from local farms, such as the Fresh Hop Co-Op Session IPA brewed last fall with a blend of Centennial and Chinook hops picked from L.I. Hops in Jamesport and Wesnofske Farms and North Fork Hops in Southold.

The brewery kept up with the canned-beer trend and last year shifted production from bottles to cans. A recently installed canning line will produce 50 cases per hour of both 12-ounce and 16-ounce cans.

“The new line will give us more flexibility to do short runs of innovative beers that we can put out to local beer stores that have really supported us,” says Martin.

Long Ireland has been distributed across LI and New York City by Clare Rose since 2012 and hopes to expand distribution later this year.

“We’re currently producing around 4,000 barrels a year,” adds Martin. “But we’ve got plenty of room to expand at this location.”

Long Ireland is also well known for the popular events it hosts at the brewery. The Long Ireland Pintwood Derby is a take-off on the old Boy Scout car races, and draws sellout crowds to the brewery. Its Halfway to St. Patrick’s Party in mid-September and 5K running races are held in summer and fall.

Long Ireland also hosts fun events during the week in its tasting room, including Retro Video Game Night in collaboration with East End Gaming and Vinyl Night with Riverhead’s Sunday Records. Local business Brew Crew Cycles, just relocated next door and the brewery will continue to be a popular stop on the group bike tours offered  beginning in April.

“We love to do cross-promotions with other local businesses and help our community grow and thrive,” says Martin.

Long Ireland Beer Company is located at 817 Pulaski St. in Riverhead. They can be reached at 631-403-4303 or longirelandbeer.com.