Bernie Kilkelly

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.

New York State Craft Brewers Hold Inaugural Beerfest at Belmont

The festival debuted on Saturday

The trade group that represents craft breweries from all across New York State held its first annual beerfest on Long Island this past Saturday at Belmont Park Racetrack.

More than a 1,000 craft beer lovers enjoyed a beautiful late summer day watching the horses run from the final turn, while tasting delicious craft beers from around Long Island and New York State. The New York State Brewers Association (NYSBA) partnered on the event with Starfish Junction Productions, Long Island’s premier producer of beerfests and other craft beverage festivals, to organize the event.  

“We were pleased with the turnout for a first-time event,” said Andy Calimano, co-owner of Starfish Junction, “and we’re excited that this will become an annual event for Starfish and the New York craft brewers.”

NYSBA was founded in 2003 to serve as an advocate for craft breweries and brewing-affiliated businesses in the state.  The group has been a major driver in the rapid growth in craft brewing in New York, with the number of breweries more than quadrupling in the past six years to 415 statewide at the end of 2018, including more than 50 breweries and brewpubs on Long Island.  

Over 50 craft breweries from every region of New York State participated in the festival at Belmont, with many brewery founders and brewers on hand to pour samples and talk beer with festgoers. Long Island craft breweries were well represented, with brewery founders including Larry Goldstein of Spider Bite Beer Co. in Holbrook, which recently celebrated its 8th anniversary; Sarah and Tim Dougherty, co-founders of The Brewers Collective in Bay Shore; Greg Martin of Long Ireland Beer Co. in Riverhead; Lauri and Matt Spitz of Moustache Brewing in Riverhead; Bryan Murphy of Barnshed Brewing in Hicksville; and Kevin Cain of Lithology Brewing in Farmingdale.  

Other Long Island breweries participating included Blue Point Brewing, Greenport Harbor Brewing, Saint James Brewery and Sand City Brewing.  In addition to watching and rooting for the horses, festgoers enjoyed playing lawn games and snacking on treats from several food trucks.  

For more information on the New York State Brewers Association visit newyorkcraftbeer.com.

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

Montauk Brewing Company: Long Island’s Fastest-Growing Brewery

Montauk Brewing Company co-founder/brewmaster Eric Moss and co-founder/head of marketing Vaughan Cutillo.

Montauk has always been a great place to enjoy a beer after a day at the shore, but now it’s also a major craft beer destination, thanks to homegrown Montauk Brewing Company.  

In just seven years, Montauk Brewing has grown to become one of the top 100 craft breweries in the U.S. based on sales volume. According to the Brewers Association, Montauk’s production increased 22 percent in 2018 to 39,000 barrels, making it the second-largest brewery on LI behind Blue Point, which produced 90,000 barrels. What makes this growth remarkable is that Montauk is distributed only in the New York Metro area.

“We have no current plans to open new markets because we think we can go deeper in our current area with package distribution and especially draft sales to pubs and restaurants,” says Vaughan Cutillo, the brewery’s sales and marketing head.    

It was founded in 2012 by three buddies from East Hampton High School: Cutillo, Eric Moss, and Joseph Sullivan, who is no longer involved in daily operations. Moss attended college in beer-crazy Colorado and took up homebrewing. After returning home, he and his friends hatched a plan to start a brewery in Montauk. It was established in a building that formerly housed Montauk Woodwork, owned by Vaughan’s father.    

When it first opened, the brewery had just a small pilot brewing system to experiment with recipes. The founders decided to contract brew their beers in upstate New York and then shifted to Wachusett Brewing in Massachusetts. Recently Montauk added a second contract partner, Two Roads Brewing in Connecticut.

After three years of construction and wading through red tape, Montauk opened its production brewery in 2015 with a 7-barrel system that brews beer for consumption in its tap room and for keg distribution on Long Island. The tap room is open seven days a week in the summer from noon to 8 p.m. and has a laid-back, family- and dog-friendly vibe with a large outdoor patio with picnic tables. Beers are available in pints and flights, and to take away in crowlers and growlers.  

“First and foremost, we are committed to producing the highest quality beer,” says Cutillo. “We have passionate fans of our beers so we have to work hard to keep beers in stock, especially during the busy summer season.”

Moss, who serves as brewmaster, formulated recipes for beers that are both flavorful and easily drinkable. Driftwood Ale, the first beer Montauk released in 2012, is a smooth English Pale Ale with a copper color and toasty flavor. Two other core beers are available year round, with the flagship Wave Chaser India Pale Ale (IPA) more hop-forward but well balanced, and the lighter Session IPA with more citrus and floral aromas. It also offers a seasonal Summer Ale, Watermelon Session Ale, and other seasonal beers such as a Pumpkin Ale.  

This has been a busy year for Montauk Brewing, with the addition of a fourth core beer to its lineup. Just in time for summer, Montauk introduced a crisp German-style Pilsner made with Sterling hops for a light, refreshing taste perfect for enjoying at the beach.

Montauk also produced a special anniversary beer, Lucky IPA, a hazy New England-style IPA.  The beer was canned in four packs of 16-ounce cans and sold exclusively at the tap room, quickly selling out all 150 cases. A similar version dubbed Juicy IPA is now available on tap at the brewery and Cutillo says Montauk has plans to do more 16-ounce can drops on a quarterly basis.

One of Montauk’s savviest decisions was to package their beer only in cans, with distinctive packaging featuring bright colors and nautical graphics.  

“We felt cans were perfect for our lifestyle brand,” says Cutillo, “since we want people to enjoy our beers on the beach or at other outdoor activities.”  

Montauk Brewing Co. is located at 62 South Erie Avenue in Montauk. For more information visit montaukbrewingco.com.

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

Great South Bay Brewery Afloat With Success

The GSB team including Rick Sobotka (3rd from right) celebrating Gold Medals at TAP New York

One of Long Island’s best craft breweries, Great South Bay Brewery, was founded in 2009 by fourth-generation brewer Rick Sobotka, whose family tradition dates back to his great-grandfather distilling whiskey in Poland. 

Growing up in upstate New York, where his father was an award-winning homebrewer, Sobotka took up brewing and later apprenticed at breweries in San Diego and Colorado while pursuing his medical studies in anesthesiology. After settling down on LI and establishing a successful practice, he decided to follow his dream.  

“I really enjoy anesthesia as a career, but I always knew one day I would start my own brewery,” Sobotka says.

Sobotka enlisted Greg Maisch, who began his brewing career at Blue Point Brewing, to serve as head brewer and GSB quickly built a reputation for inventive, high-quality, award-winning beers. One of the original beers, Blood Orange Pale Ale, is now GSB’s best-seller, with distribution in cans and bottles across the tristate area.   

In 2012, the brewery set up shop in a 39,000-square-foot building on Drexel Drive, which houses a 30-barrel brewhouse with its own canning and bottling lines. It features a 4,000-square-foot tasting room and party space, which is open every day except Tuesday and features regular weekly events such as Game Night on Mondays and Trivia Night on Thursdays, in addition to annual festivals with live music. BayFest has grown into one of the Island’s most popular beer fests and Punktoberfest has become a mainstay.

GSB has also partnered with the Greater Long Island Running Club to host popular road races, including the annual Mardi Gras Run to GSB in February and the inaugural Aloha Run to GSB that will be held on August 18. 

“It has been great to see the overlap between the beer world and the fit world,” says GSB’s general manager Rob Donahue. 

Since its founding, a wide variety of GSB’s beers have won gold medals, ranging from lighter brews such as Pilsner Lager, Kismet Saison and Jetty Ale to more robust beers like Nauti Girl IPA and Hog Cabin Maple Bacon Porter. 

Great South Bay Brewery
Great South Bay Brewery’s Blonde Ambition Summer Ale. (Credit: Great South Bay/Facebook)

Sobotka has also been a strong supporter of the homebrewing community and start-up breweries. For the past several years, GSB has hosted the annual homebrew competition of Long Island’s oldest homebrewer club, Brewers East End Revival (B.E.E.R.). GSB hosted the Handgrenades Homebrew and Craft Beer Club in June for a Big Brew Day at which club members brewed at GSB and received ingredients and brewing tips.  

Many start-up breweries have used GSB’s brewhouse to contract brew their recipes and some have continued to contract brew at GSB to meet demand for canned and bottled beer. One of the newest start-ups brewing its beers at GSB is not a stranger to the brewhouse. Billy Powell, head brewer at Sand City Brewing Company, began his brewing career at GSB and is now making his own beers using GSB’s brewhouse under the Nightmare Brewing label.

In 2016, GSB sublet 15,000 square feet of its space to Fire Island Beer Co., which set up its own brewhouse and planned to open a tasting room. Those plans fell through in 2018 and Fire Island Beer shut down, but the space recently gained a new tenant, Ghost Brewing Co., which plans to open its brewery and tasting room this summer.   

Ghost Brewing’s new brewmaster is Paul Komsic, who moved over from Patchogue’s BrickHouse Brewery, where he was head brewer for more than eight years at the popular brewpub. At Ghost Brewing, Komsic will helm a 15-barrel system and plans to focus on wood-aged beer, including working with a barrel maker in Medford. 

Based on past experience, we can expect to see collaboration beers between GSB and its new neighbor in the near future. GSB brewed a collaboration IPA in 2017 with fellow Bay Shore breweries DUBCO and Brewers Collective, and recently brewed a collaboration Kiwi Sour with Brewers Collective that will be on tap for thirsty beachgoers this summer. 

Great South Bay Brewery and Ghost Brewing Company are located at 25 Drexel Drive in Bay Shore. For more information visit greatsouthbaybrewery.com or @ghostbrewingco on Facebook.

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

Small Craft Brewing Company Makes Waves

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

Just one year after opening in Amityville, Small Craft Brewing is letting its sails unfurl with a major expansion of its brewery production and distribution, including canning its beers for retail sales.  

Small Craft was founded in 2014 by brothers Gerard and Greg Sims, who grew up in Wantagh and started homebrewing more than 10 years ago. After a long search for a location to open a brewery on the South Shore, they came across a CrossFit gym in Amityville that was outgrowing its space and planning to move.  

“We thought the space was perfect for us,” says Gerard, “so we talked to the Village of Amityville and they were receptive to the idea of having a brewery in the village.”  

The brothers signed the lease for the 2,200-square-foot space at 66 Merrick Road in late 2016 and installed a two-barrel brewing system. After the tasting room was built out, the brewery officially opened to the public in March 2018.

When Small Craft opened both Gerard and Greg held full-time jobs outside the brewery, Gerard in network security and Greg as a teacher. Gerard moved to the brewery full time soon after its opening and Greg joined him full time last fall as they made plans to expand.  

An additional 1,700 square feet of space became available in their building last summer and the brothers took the space with the intention of adding more brewing equipment. Early this year, they took delivery of a five-barrel unitank and two 10-barrel unitanks, which enable brewers to ferment, carbonate and filter a brew all out of the same tank.  

“We are using the five-barrel unitank to increase production for the tasting room and outside accounts,” says Gerard, “while the 10-barrel unitanks will produce beer for canning.”  

Small Craft will bring in a mobile canner to start and sell four packs and six packs of cans at its tasting room and local beer stores.

Small Craft initially obtained a New York State farm brewery license, which requires it to use a certain percentage of ingredients produced in New York. After opening, the brothers decided to apply for a combined farm brewery-microbrewery license, which provides more flexibility as they increase production and begin retail sales.

The first beer scheduled for canning will be Nauti Thoughts, one of several New England-style India Pale Ales (IPAs) that Small Craft has brewed in its first year, experimenting with different combinations of hops.  

“We don’t have a flagship beer yet,’ says Gerard, “so we’ll be canning several of our beers and figure it out as we go along.” 

Small Craft brewed dozens of different beers in its first year, covering a wide range of styles ranging from lighter beers like South Shore Blonde, Haka pilsner hopped with New Zealand hops and Berried Treasure fruit sour with four kinds of berries, to darker beers such as Bow RYEder Black Rye IPA, Bay House Brown Ale and Dream Boat Irish Stout.   

The majority of Small Craft’s output is sold at its tasting room but the brewery has been supplying kegs to a growing number of pubs on the South Shore including Ridgewood Station Tavern in Wantagh, Corner Galley in Massapequa, Tap Room in Massapequa Park, and Restoration Kitchen & Cocktails in Lindenhurst.  

Small Craft’s tasting room typically has 12 beers on tap and sells pints and flights, along with crowlers (32-ounce freshly made cans) to take away.  The comfortable room, which is kid and dog friendly, has a seating area with a big-screen TV for sporting events along with counter seats overlooking the brewhouse. The brewery sells cheese plates made by Slates & Plates but patrons are also welcome to bring in food.  

The brewery has developed a loyal following in the local community and can be rented out for birthdays and other family parties as well as community events. In March, the Small Craft Running Club was launched with weekly meetups on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. for a three-mile run or walk. All participants get a well-earned $1 off pints when they return.   

Small Craft’s tasting room is open 5 to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 1 to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, making it a great place to stock up on the way to Jones Beach or to stop off on the way home to cool off.  

Small Craft Brewing is located at 66 Merrick Road in Amityville. For more information visit www.smallcraftbrewing.com.

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

Blue Point Toasts World Environment Day

Patchogue’s Blue Point Brewing held a special event on June 5 to celebrate World Environment Day at its new tap room and restaurant, Blue Point Brewpub.  

World Environment Day, first held in 1974, was established by the United Nations as its main vehicle for raising awareness and promoting action for the protection of the environment. Blue Point hosted local environmental groups to share information on the initiatives they are currently working on. Among the groups on hand were West Islip-based Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island (CRESLI), Sayville-based Save the Great South Bay, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services promoting activities at the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge in Shirley.

Blue Point has partnered with one local group, Islip-based Seatuck Environmental Association, on the Half Shells for Habitat oyster and habitat restoration project. Recycled shells from the raw bar at Blue Point Brewpub, along with shells from other participating restaurants, are returned to Long Island’s estuaries, where they help young oysters grow and combat coastal acidification.

As part of the move to its new brewery, Blue Point is also participating in the Trees for Tribs program run by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The program seeks to reforest small creeks and streams that feed larger rivers and lakes, to help prevent erosion and protect water quality. Blue Point recently planted beach plum, bayberry and red cedar seedlings on the south side of the brewery’s property near the Patchogue River.

To help raise awareness at the event and produce more oyster shells for recycling, Blue Point Brewpub offered a free pint of Good Reef Ale with every dozen oysters.

The outdoor beer garden area at the entrance to the brewpub is now open and the brewpub regularly features live music from local musicians.

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


Homebrewers Vie for Long Island Bragging Rights

Award winners at the BEER Brew-off including Chris Bonacorsa (3rd from left), winner of the Brewers Cup

Long Island’s homebrewing community met up for some friendly competition on Saturday at the 23rd annual BEER Brew-off organized by Brewers East End Revival, Long Island’s oldest homebrew club.

More than 230 entries were judged at Great South Bay Brewery in Bay Shore and awards were presented to winners in 27 categories. In addition to 24 different beer styles, ranging from American IPAs to German Wheat Beers to British and Irish Stouts, homebrewers competed for awards in the cider category and two categories of mead, which is fermented with honey and is growing in popularity on Long Island.

In addition to category winners, awards were presented for the homebrews judged Best of Show, with the 1st Place Best of Show prize going to Gregg Kelley for his Mango Bango mead, the winner in the Spiced/Fruit Mead category. Kelley, who also won two other 1st Place awards (one as a co-brewer with Justin Hansen and Mark Williams) along with a 2nd Place and a 3rd Place award, is currently vice president of Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts (LIBME), another homebrew club based in Suffolk County.

The coveted Brewers Cup award was won by Chris Bonacorsa of the Handgrenades Homebrew Club, based in Nassau County. Bonacorsa’s Saison Ale, which was the winner in the Belgian Saison category, was selected by Larry Goldstein, founder and brewmaster at Spider Bite Beer Co. in Holbrook, to be brewed and served at Spider Bite later this year.

The winner of the Pete Algerio Memorial Award, given to the best stout brewed by a BEER club member, was Bill Ports for his Risky Business Imperial Stout. This award is given annually in memory of the late Pete Algerio, who was a founding member of the BEER club and was a multi-year Brew-off award winner in the stout category.

The award was especially poignant for Ports, who said, “This was a bucket list item for me since I knew Pete well and brewed with him many times.”

Ports will now have his name memorialized on the award’s plaque at Karp’s Hardware and Homebrew Shop in East Northport.

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

Long Island Summer Beerfest Preview

2018 Golden Keg winner of the Brew'd Competition, Long Ireland Beer Co.

With Long Island now home to more than 40 craft breweries, a great way to sample the diversity of locally produced beer without driving all over is to attend a beer festival, which there are plenty of this summer.   

A new beerfest called The Whales, Ales & Salty Tales festival will be held June 8 at the Whaling Museum and Education Center on Main Street in Cold Spring Harbor. It features craft beers from 10 local breweries along with homebrewed beers from Long Island’s three homebrew clubs: Brewer’s East End Revival, Handgrenades Homebrew Club, and Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts. There will also be locally made mead from W.A. Meadwerks in Lindenhurst.  Festivalgoers can tour the museum’s exhibits and enjoy live music including sea shanties from the band Sampawam’s Creek. All proceeds from the festival will benefit the museum’s education programs including summer camp scholarships for families in need.

Great South Bay Brewery will hold its 7th annual Bay Fest on June 1 at the brewery in Bay Shore. Along with tastings of the award-winning beers of GSB, fest-goers will enjoy beers from dozens of other craft breweries from across the Island and the tristate area. Local bands will be rocking out and a variety of food trucks will be on site. VIP tickets are available that provide early access to the festival to meet the brewers.

LI’s largest summer beer festival, the Long Island Craft Classic, will be held on August 10 at Heckscher State Park in East Islip. The new location has allowed festival producer Starfish Junction to expand the offerings beyond craft beer to include a larger selection of wine and hard cider. The festival also features a variety of food from one of the Island’s best barbecue restaurants, Bobbique in Patchogue.

The Craft Classic will again feature the Brew’d Competition, a unique brewing competition for Long Island’s craft breweries. All of the competitors must use a special ingredient in their beer, which is preselected through an online vote. The winning beer is then picked through a popular vote of festivalgoers. The winning breweries get bragging rights and a Golden Keg that can be displayed at their brewery for a year.

Just before the official end of summer, the 4th annual Fresh Hop Festival will be held on Sept. 21 at Jamesport Farm Brewery on the North Fork. Jamesport Farm Brewery is located on a 43-acre farm, L.I. Hops, which grows hops and barley for its own craft beers. Fest-goers are able to sample beers made with fresh, or wet, hops, which are picked in the peak season of September and used immediately.  The festival will feature live music from local musician Andy Putnam and food from Christopher Michael Catering.

The Fresh Hop Festival will also feature selections of pumpkin beers, signaling the end of summer beer season and the coming of the fall beer season, including the start of Oktoberfest.        

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


Bay Shore Alive by the Bay
Third annual event will be held on Main Street in Bay Shore on July 2, 16, and 30, and Aug. 13, with a rain date of Aug. 20 if one festival gets cancelled due to weather. The street fair, organized by the restaurant committee of the Bay Shore Chamber of Commerce, will feature live music, arts and crafts vendors, activities for children and more. Sponsors include Destination Unknown Beer Co. and Blue Point Brewing.

Farmingdale Music on Main
July 11 and 25, and Aug. 8 and 22, with rain date of Aug. 29.  There will be live music on Main Street in Farmingdale Village with food and craft beer from sponsors including Croxley Ales, Lithology Brewing, Dark Horse Tavern, Library Café, That Meetball Place, Nutty Irishman and more.

Patchogue Alive After Five
18th annual event on June 27, July 11, July 25 and Aug. 8 with a rain date of Aug. 22.  The street fair features six stages of live music, food trucks, craft vendors, activities for children and more. Sponsors include Blue Point Brewing, BrickHouse Brewery, Patchogue Beer Project, Bobbique and others.

Riverhead Alive on 25
July 3 and 18, and Aug.1 and 15 with a rain date of Aug. 22.  There will be live music on eight stages, food trucks, local wine and craft beer from local breweries including Moustache Brewing, Long Ireland, North Fork, Greenport Harbor and more.

Six Harbors Brewing Company: Huntington Homebrewers Turn Pro

Beertenders Frank and Joe at Six Harbor's tap room in Huntington.

Pubs in bustling downtown Huntington have for decades served the public’s growing demand for craft beers. Now, thanks to Six Harbors Brewing Company, beer lovers in Huntington can enjoy delicious craft beer brewed right in the community.

Huntington natives Mark and Karen Heuwetter founded Six Harbors in 2016 and opened their tap room in May 2018. Located just a few blocks north of Main Street on New York Avenue, the brewery’s tap room is open seven days a week and has become a popular destination for visitors from across Long Island.   

Mark Heuwetter first homebrewed in college but then took a hiatus as he built a family and a successful career in asset management for 25 years. He took up homebrewing seriously about 10 years ago, joining some of Long Island’s homebrew clubs, including the Handgrenades Homebrew and Craft Beer Club.  

“I learned a lot from the other homebrewers and saw that several of them were making the transition to going pro and opening their own breweries,” says Heuwetter.  

He also gained knowledge of the beer business from a craft brewery owner in his family, brother-in-law Ed Raven, who founded Greenpoint Beer & Ale Co. in Brooklyn after a long career as a salesman for Brooklyn Brewery and his own beer importer, Raven Brands.   

After deciding to start a brewery, Mark and his wife Karen decided they wanted to locate the brewery in their hometown and in 2017 purchased a building just blocks from their home. They settled on a nautical theme for the brewery, naming the brewery and many of their beers after Huntington’s six harbors: Centerport, Cold Spring, Duck Island, Huntington, Lloyd and Northport.

The 2,500-square-foot building, which formerly housed a dry cleaner, now has a 10-barrel fermenting system, with four of the steel fermenting tanks forming the backdrop for the tap room’s bar.  

“We don’t have a full mash brewing system because of restrictions from the town,” says Heuwetter. “So instead we have a small pilot brewing system that we use to perfect our recipes.”  

Heuwetter sends his recipes to a friend in New Zealand who does the mashing and other brewing steps to make a concentrated wort, which is then shipped to Huntington for the addition of water, other ingredients, and the fermenting process.

“This is a unique arrangement that is working well for us now,” says Heuwetter. “But in the near future we would like to have our own full mash brewing system so we can ramp up production more easily.”  

Heuwetter said he is talking with the Town of Huntington about building a new brewery and restaurant in a development planned for Huntington Station.  

“We’ve seen the success of craft breweries on Long Island like Greenport Harbor, which expanded from its original brewery to a larger second location in Peconic with a restaurant, and we’d like to follow that model,” says Heuwetter.

Six Harbor’s tap room has a cozy lounge area with a fireplace and a private event room that holds 40 people.  

“We’ve had corporate events where we do beer tastings, birthday parties and some weddings,” says Heuwetter. “We also offer the room to community groups for events, and for fundraisers we donate the cost of the room.”  

The tap room is kid friendly and dog friendly, and in the summer garage-style doors open up to a patio with communal seating.  

The tap room typically has 10 beers on tap, with a full range of styles ranging from lighter wheat beers and pilsners to more robust IPAs and stouts. One of the most popular beers is Bay Hill Blues, a blueberry wheat beer that started out as a seasonal but has become a year-round favorite.  Beers can be taken away in cans, which are canned fresh at the bar.

More than 90 percent of Six Harbor’s production is currently sold at the tap room, but beers are also available at select local pubs, restaurants and beer stores, including Old Fields Barbecue, Babalu, Bin 56 and Shoreline Beverage in Huntington and The Lark Pub & Grub in East Northport.  

That means it’s a good time to come to port and try a taste of the harbor.

Six Harbors Brewing Company is located at 243 New York Avenue in Huntington. For more info visit sixharborsbrewingcompany.com

Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com

Massapequa Offers Fresh Take on Burger and a Beer

Mary Abrams serves a burger and a beer at New York Burger Bar

Massapequa’s best-known burger joint, the iconic All American Hamburger Drive-In, has been serving up delicious burgers at reasonable prices since 1963. Today, Massapequa is still a go-to destination for burgers, but for a different reason.

Over the past decade, a host of gastropubs and upscale burger joints have opened in Massapequa that not only serve tasty burgers but enhance the experience with great craft beer. The start of the community’s gastropub boom can began with The Good Life on Park Boulevard in Massapequa Park in 2010.

The British-themed pub, with a red phone booth serving as its front door, blazed a trail with 22 beers on tap and 70 more craft and imported beers in bottles. Even more noteworthy was the inventive take on pub food including British staples like fish and chips and shepherd’s pie, along with tasty wings, mac and cheese, and sandwiches, also called butties as in England.  

The Good Life’s burger menu has more than 10 different varieties including its flagship burger topped with Gruyere cheese, blue cheese fondue, and bacon jam. For burger lovers looking for alternatives to beef, The Good Life has turkey, black bean veggie and vegan burgers.  

In 2016, the gastropub trend continued on the main drag with the opening of The Tap Room, an offshoot of the popular Patchogue pub that opened in 2011. The Tap Room upped the craft beer game with 36 taps focused on Long Island craft breweries, including a tap tower dedicated to Blue Point Brewing Company beers.  

The Tap Room’s menu includes pub favorites like wings, tacos, and mussels pots, and features seven different burgers that can be made as beef, turkey or veggie patties, including a whiskey burger with Jameson-infused bacon. The menu also features sliders including slow-braised short-rib sliders with melted Gruyere cheese and horseradish sauce.

The newest addition to the downtown scene is The Dark Horse Tavern, which opened last fall.  The Massapequa Park location is the third for Dark Horse Tavern, joining sister pubs in Rockville Centre and Farmingdale. Dark Horse Tavern offers 17 beers on tap and a pub menu highlighted by 21 different flavors of wings and 10 different burgers. The flagship Tavern Burger is made with sirloin, topped with Cheddar and special Dark Horse sauce, and served on an English muffin.

On the south side of Massapequa are two burger-focused restaurants that also highlight craft beer. GM Burger Bar, part of the George Martin restaurant group, opened in 2015 in the Southgate Shopping Center on Merrick Road across from Massapequa High School. The family-friendly restaurant greets diners with a bucket of hot popcorn and offers bottled craft sodas and milkshakes for kids. For burger lovers seeking adult beverages, GM Burger Bar has eight beers on tap including Barrier Brewing’s popular Money IPA, and an extensive bottled craft beer selection.

Burgers at GM Burger Bar can be created by the diner with a choice of beef, turkey, chicken or veggie quinoa patties, a variety of cheeses and other toppings, and multiple bun options including gluten-free rolls. There are also 13 specialty burgers, mostly made with beef but some with turkey, chicken and the Ahi Five-0 made with grilled ahi tuna with sweet chili glaze and pineapple on a King’s Hawaiian roll.  

New York Burger Bar, which opened in 2015 just a few blocks from All American Drive-In on Merrick Road, quickly shot to the top of Best Burger lists on Long Island with its Juicy Lucy burger. It’s made with a proprietary blend of prime beef, stuffed with American cheese, and topped with caramelized onion, tomato, pickles, and creamy house sauce on a torta bun. There are 15 other specialty burgers or diners can create a burger by choosing the protein, bun and toppings separately, with protein choices including Kobe beef, aged Prime beef, turkey, ahi tuna and veggie.   

The Juicy Lucy and other delicious burgers at New York Burger Bar can be enjoyed with one of the 20 draft beers on tap, or with homemade milkshakes, bottled craft sodas, or an old-fashioned New York egg cream.   

The “all-American” love for burgers remains strong in Massapequa as new favorites and new traditions are established.      

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

Barrier Brewing Wins Statewide Best Brews Contest

Oceanside’s Barrier Brewing Co. took home the prize for Best Brew of New York State last week at a competition held at the Brookfield Place shopping, dining and office complex in lower Manhattan.  

Barrier’s Shadows and Dust, a New England-style IPA, received the most votes from attendees at the final round, beating out beers from two New York City breweries (Harlem Brewing and Bronx Brewery) and two from upstate (Syracuse’s Empire Brewing and Captain Lawrence Brewing from Westchester).  

Barrier Brewing reached the final round of the competition by beating out four other Long Island craft breweries in an earlier round on Feb. 28.  Those breweries were Blue Point Brewing, Greenport Harbor Brewing, Oyster Bay Brewing and Montauk Brewing. Preliminary rounds were also held for five breweries from New York City and five from Upstate New York.

All four rounds of the Best Brews of New York competition were held in the Winter Garden of Brookfield Place, which was transformed into a biergarten highlighting the beers from across New York State paired with food from Brookfield Place’s top eateries. All proceeds from beer sales, which totaled over $60,000, will be donated to Habitat for Humanity.

Barrier has won statewide competitions before, including the F.X. Matt Cup for Best Craft Brewery in New York State at the 2011 Tap New York Festival. Barrier’s brewmasters Evan Klein and Craig Frymark started out as homebrewers but honed their craft working together at Sixpoint Brewery in Brooklyn.

Barrier moved into its current location on New Street in Oceanside near the East Rockaway Long Island Rail Road station in 2013, just a few months before Superstorm Sandy. The brewery sustained huge damage from Sandy’s flood waters but rebounded quickly with the support of other craft breweries from around New York State.

Barrier expanded production in 2016 and is currently canning several of its beers for distribution across Long Island and in New York City, including its popular Money IPA.

Long Island beer lovers can taste the winning beer and all of Barrier’s wide range of beers at the brewery’s tap room, open every day except Tuesday. Barrier’s beers, including Shadows and Dust, will also be featured at a Taps and Apps event on April 6 at Heneghan’s Tavern in Point Lookout.

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