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

New Long Island Craft Brews on Tap in 2019

Father and son team of Brad and Dave Jordan, owners and brewers at SquareHead Brewing in Holbrook.

The craft beer industry continued to expand across Long Island in 2018, with six new breweries opening taprooms, bringing the total number of brewpubs and breweries with taprooms to 35, compared to just nine at the end of 2012.  

Growth on Long Island is part of a statewide trend, with New York State now having 418 craft breweries, more than double the number in 2012. The main driver of that increase was the farm brewery law that went into effect on January 1, 2013, with more than 200 farm brewery licenses issued, including 27 on Long Island. Even more growth is expected on LI in 2019, with eight more breweries planning to open new taprooms.

“This growth wouldn’t happen without the unprecedented support from Governor Cuomo and state legislators who continue to cut red tape and pass meaningful legislation for the brewing industry,” said Paul Leone, executive director of the New York State Brewers Association.

LI’s newest brewery is SquareHead Brewing Company in Holbrook, which was founded by father-and-son team Dave and Brad Jordan and is licensed as a New York State farm brewery.  The name comes from a slang term for a Scandinavian, according to Dave Jordan, who is half Swedish. 

The founders live a few blocks from the brewery and built most of the brewery themselves.  Getting permits for the taproom took years, but the Jordans took advantage of the long wait to perfect recipes, including unusual beers such as Pistachio Pilsner and more traditional IPAs and stouts. They also barrel aged several beers, which were served at the grand opening and are available at the taproom, which is initially open on the weekends.   

Other brewery taprooms that opened in 2018 include Harbor Head Brewing in Northport (January), Small Craft Brewing in Amityville (March), North Fork Brewing in Riverhead and Six Harbors Brewing in Huntington (June) and Westhampton Beach Brewing Co. (July).  

In addition to new breweries, many older breweries expanded their production and taprooms in 2018 to keep up with demand, most notably Blue Point Brewing in Patchogue. LI’s largest craft brewery began production last July at its new 60,000-square-foot facility on West Main Street and plans to open a new tasting room and outdoor beer garden in 2019.  

Other craft breweries that expanded last year include Garvies Point Craft Brewing in Glen Cove, which went from a 3.5-barrel system to a 10-barrel system; Destination Unknown Beer Company (DUBCO) in Bay Shore which expanded from 3 barrels to 10 barrels; BrewSA Brewing in Freeport which installed two new 7-barrel Unitanks; and Moustache Brewing in Riverhead, which quadrupled the size of its brewhouse and taproom.   

Looking ahead to 2019, several breweries are producing beer and just waiting on permits to open their taprooms. These include Eastern Front Brewing in Mattituck, Patchogue Beer Project, Secatogue Brewing in West Islip, and HopWins Brewery in Bay Shore. Blind Bat Brewery, which has been brewing small batches of beer since 2008, is close to opening a bistro in Centerport that will serve locally sourced food along with Blind Bat beers. Bellport Brewing has changed its name to Sunrise Ales & Lagers and plans to open its new brewery and tasting room on Sunrise Highway in Bohemia in early 2019.

In Nassau County, Long Beach Brewing and Flying Belgian Brewery have started construction on the new brewery and tap room that they will share in Oceanside, with plans to open in early 2019. Bright Eye Beer Company, formerly Point Lookout Brewing, has signed a lease for a 5,000-square-foot space on Park Avenue in Long Beach across from the LIRR station. The new brewery will feature a 15-barrel brewhouse and a taproom, with plans to open in late summer 2019.

While there seems to be no limit to craft beer’s growth, the market has become more competitive. Two breweries closed in 2018, including Tweaking Frog Brewing, which most recently had been sharing the brewing facilities at Jamesport Farm Brewery. Fire Island Beer Co., which was founded in 2009 and moved in 2016 to space in Bay Shore shared with Great South Bay Brewery, unexpectedly shut down in the fall. However, these situations seem isolated and the rising tide of craft beer seems destined to lift more craft breweries to success in the new year.  

For a complete list of Long Island breweries with taprooms, check out

Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of

The Brewers Collective: Holding The Party Line

(left to right) Bartender Rob Cubbon and Co-Owners Mike Stetson and Tim Dougherty at TBC's Tap Room in Bay Shore

Beginning as a homebrew club and growing into an experiment in collective brewery ownership, The Brewers Collective Beer Company (TBC) tap room debut last year in a Bay Shore industrial park scored a coup.

TBC hopes to increase production while maintaining its unique approach under the motto “Revolutionary Brewing.” Several of the original club’s comrades worked together in the information technology sector and enjoyed sampling the homebrew of their colleague Joe Vella.  

“Joe made a really delicious pumpkin beer,” recalls Tim Dougherty, a TBC founding co-owner.  “I got tired of having to wait for him to brew, so I bought equipment and started brewing myself and then with other club members.”

The club’s fiercely independent camaraderie and communal brewing inspired its name and distinctive logo featuring a beer bottle in place of a hammer crossing a sickle — a throwback to the former Soviet Union flag.

“From the start we wanted to share the brewing responsibilities and other work involved in building our brewery,” says Dougherty.  

The club also became known for its focus on herbal ales, including gruit ales made without hops, similar to beers from ancient times.

As the homebrew club became more active and gained recognition at local festivals, the idea of going professional took hold. A core group of nine club members incorporated and obtained a New York State farm brewery license in 2014. The new brewery also took advantage of the brewery incubator program at A Taste of Long Island in Farmingdale, where several other LI craft breweries launched.   

After perfecting its recipes on a larger brewing system, Brewers Collective found space in Bay Shore and began construction of a three-barrel brewhouse and a small tasting room, with almost all the work done by the owners. The positive response encouraged them to move to a larger space in the same complex, which opened in February.  

The expanded tap room has become a popular stop for L.I. Brew Bus tours and also features live music on the weekends. With 24 taps, TBC offers a wide variety of year-round offerings and seasonal brews. The five current co-owners — Tim and Sarah Rich Dougherty, Michael Stetson, Terry Gillen and Mike Depietto — all have their own special recipes and share brewing of core brews such as Proletariat Pale Ale and Mattyweizen wheat beer.  

As a farm brewery, TBC uses locally grown ingredients in its beers, including herbs such as sage, lemon balm, heather and hibiscus flower for its gruit ales like Pitcish Heather Gruit. For its fall pumpkin ale, Witchbinder, TBC used roasted and caramelized Long Island cheese pumpkins from Corwith Farms in Water Mill.

According to Dougherty, TBC’s next stage of growth will involve expanding to a seven-barrel or 10-barrel brewing system. This growth will help satisfy the thirst of TBC’s Skeleton Army, its mug club playfully named after an anti-temperance movement that battled the Salvation Army in late 1800s England.  

Like most armies, the Skeleton Army marches on its stomach, including an appetite for tasty craft beers.

The Brewers Collective Beer Company is located at 1460 N. Clinton Ave. in Bay Shore.  For more info visit

Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of

BrewSA: Freeport Craft Brewery Donates Proceeds to Veterans Groups

Head brewer Peter Tripp fills a growler at BrewSA

Freeport’s famed Nautical Mile has become a craft beer destination with the additions of The Craft House, The Beer Garden, the Nautical Mile Craft Brew Fest and a craft brewery, the BrewSA Brewing Company.

Long Islanders Tom Limerick, Steve Walley and Billy McLaughlin — who met while working on Wall Street and bonded over their love of beer opened the brewery and taproom in 2017.  

“We realized that the most popular lagers in the U.S. are all foreign owned,” says Limerick. “We decided to make a lager with 100-percent American-grown ingredients.”  

The founders also wanted to support veterans, so they donate 25 percent of BrewSA’s profits to veterans’ charities and donate beer to fundraisers for such groups.

BrewSA typically has 12 beers on tap, according to Head Brewer Peter Tripp, who joined the brewery in July after having run Homebrews & Handgrenades, a homebrew supply shop in Baldwin, for the past five years.

The core beers include American Pilsner and Pilsner Light, Wheat and Cherry Wheat, and American Pale Ale and Double IPA. Tripp has begun to introduce his own recipes, such as a New England IPA and a Pumpkin Ale.

BrewSA will soon be installing two seven-barrel Unitanks, which allow brewers to ferment, carbonate and filter a brew all out of the same tank.  

“With the Unitanks we’ll be able to do one-off seasonal beers,” says Tripp, “like a Gingerbread Cookie Brown Ale for the holidays.”  

American Pilsner was their first. After perfecting the recipe and contract brewing the beer in Wisconsin, BrewSA looked to build a brewery on Long Island and quickly settled on Freeport.  

BrewSA took over a large building that housed a boat repair company and installed a 15-barrel brewing system with capacity to produce 10,000 barrels a year. The spacious taproom looks out on Woodcleft Avenue and the canal, with the brewhouse visible behind the bar. Patrons can order food from local restaurants to be delivered to the brewery.

“I knew the Nautical Mile would be perfect for us,” says Limerick. “There are so many great restaurants and people can stop at our taproom before or after a meal.”  

BrewSA Brewing Company is located at 180 Woodcleft Ave., Freeport. They can be reached at 516-721-9332 or

Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of

With Beer, Blue Point Brewing Lobbies Congress To Give Voters Election Day Off

Blue Point Brewing has been active in local community affairs since it was founded 20 years ago in Patchogue. But now that the brewery is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev and distributed in all 50 states, Blue Point is also taking on important national issues such as getting more people out to vote.

Jenna Lally, a Long Island native who took over as Blue Point’s president a year ago, thinks people need time off from work to get to the polls. So Lally launched the Voters’ Day Off initiative to encourage Congress to make Election Day a national holiday.

“We know many Americans are eager to vote,” said Lally. “But in the last midterm elections, 60 percent of eligible voters didn’t vote because of work or school conflicts. We all deserve time to be able to exercise this fundamental right.”

In true Blue Point fashion, the initiative centered around a special beer, Voters’ Day Off, a hoppy brew that Lally described as a hybrid East Coast/West Coast IPA. The beer was sold at Blue Point’s tasting room in Patchogue and at several events on Long Island and in Brooklyn, with proceeds going to benefit the nonprofit voter registration group Rock the Vote.

The beer can’s label featured a petition to Congress with a place for the drinker to sign. Blue Point collected thousands of the cans, which Lally and Blue Point’s co-founder Mark Burford delivered to the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC on Oct. 24.

Blue Point also took out a full page ad in The New York Times announcing the initiative and launched the petition on, where it has garnered 50,000 signatures.  

“I’m very encouraged with the response to the initiative,” said Lally. “We plan to continue doing this every election season until Congress makes this change.”

In the meantime, Blue Point’s employees will have Election Day off to exercise their right to vote.

For more information on the Voters’ Day Off petition see For information on registering to vote see

Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of

Blue Point Brewing Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Blue Point Brewing
Blue Point Brewing Co. released this artists's rendering of their new, expanded brewery slated to open in 2018 in downtown Patchogue.

One year after breaking ground on its new West Main Street brewery in Patchogue, Blue Point Brewing Company will hold a party on October 13 celebrating its 20th anniversary and its move.  

The party will be at the new brewery a half mile from the original River Avenue brewery, which is scheduled to close at the end of the year. Blue Point, bought by Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2014, was founded by Long Island natives Mark Burford and Pete Cotter in 1998. At the time, it was the first brewery to open on LI in 40 years, since the closing of Linden Brewery in 1949.

“We thought the time was right because there were people out there who wanted fresh, high-quality beer,” says Burford, who is now Blue Point’s brewmaster emeritus. “Other parts of the country had local microbreweries and we saw an opportunity to meet the demand in the market between Montauk and Manhattan.”

After perfecting its flagship Toasted Lager beer, Blue Point began contract brewing it at a Maryland brewery and distributing six-packs to retailers in 2000. Popular beers soon followed, including Winter Ale, Summer Ale, Hoptical Illusion double IPA and Blueberry Ale.

The beers gained widespread recognition, including medals at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival and a gold medal at the World Beer Cup. Distribution steadily expanded from New England to Florida.   

The new 54,000-square-foot brewery cost $35 million and was built on the site of the now-closed Briarcliffe College. Its annual brewing capacity is 60,000 barrels with room to grow to reach 150,000, Burford says. Production began in May and according to Burford, the facility now produces all of Blue Point’s seasonal beers, which had formerly been contract brewed.  

Construction begins soon on a second-floor tasting room overlooking the Patchogue River and an indoor beer hall/restaurant overlooking the production facility. Plans include an outdoor beer garden and public tours of the brewery.

In addition to great beers, Blue Point became known for its deep involvement in the Patchogue community through its support of the Alive After Five downtown summer festival and events at the brewery, including the annual Cask Ale Festival.  

“One of the best things about the new brewery and the growth that it will bring is that we were able to do it in Patchogue,” Burford says.

For more info on Blue Point Brewing Co., visit

Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of

Long Island Craft Breweries Serve Up Oktoberfest Beers

Oktoberfest season is in full swing and a major attraction at festivals across Long Island is special Oktoberfest beer brewed in accordance with traditional German styles. The most familiar style is Marzen, a lager beer notable for its copper-red color, full-bodied malt flavor and light spiciness from the use of German noble hops. Breweries in Munich also brew a style called Festbier, which is a lighter, breadier lager beer that is closer in taste to a pilsner lager.          

Long Island craft breweries are getting in the spirit, including Garvies Point Brewing in Glen Cove, which recently introduced Tauktoberfest, a traditional German Marzen lager brewed with caramel malts and spicy hops. Garvies Point will be pouring its beers at the Oktoberfest at the Mansion at Glen Cove on Sept. 29 and 30, including a special cask ale, Prybil Pale Ale in a 10.8-gallon firkin, that will be used for the ceremonial tapping of the first keg on Saturday. The Oktoberfest at the Mansion will feature live German bands, a Stein Hoisting contest on Saturday and a Best Dressed contest on Sunday.

Black Forest Brew Haus, the German brewpub in Farmingdale, recently tapped its Oktoberfest beer which is a traditional Munich Festbier. Black Forest also serves house-brewed versions of other traditional German styles including Marzen, Hefeweizen and Rauch Doppelbock, a higher alcohol malty beer with smoky favor. The beers will be flowing at the brewpub’s Oktoberfest celebrations with live German bands beginning this weekend and running through Oct. 20.  

Related Story: Long Island Oktoberfest Celebrations 2018

Westhampton Beach Brewing Company, the new craft brewery located in the industrial park at Francis S. Gabreski Airport, will release its Oktoberfest beer, a traditional Marzen lager, in mid-October. On tap now at the brewery’s tasting room is brewmaster Dave DeTurris’ Hampton Pumpkin Ale, a malty brew spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

Croxley Ales will have a week-long celebration of Oktoberfest at its four locations on Long Island from Oct. 5-14, with a special menu of German food and Oktoberfest beers from Germany and local craft breweries. The celebration will kick off with a party on Oct. 5 in the beer garden at Croxley’s Farmingdale location, where Farmingdale Village Mayor Ralph Ekstrand will tap the ceremonial first keg.   

Plattduetsche Park in Franklin Square, voted Bethpage Best of LI’s Best German restaurant for the past six years, will feature Krombacher beers from northern Germany at a special Oktoberfest party on Oct. 11.  Krombacher is best known for its crisp Krombacher Pils lager but also brews a rich Krombacher Dark beer made with roasted malts. The party will include an Oktoberfest feast and live music, and advance reservations are required.  

For a complete listing of Oktoberfest events on Long Island visit

Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of

Long Island Oktoberfest Celebrations 2018

The 185th Munich Oktoberfest will not kick off until Sept. 22, but here on Long Island the fun will start this weekend.

T.J. Finley’s in Bay Shore will hold its 11th annual Oktoberfest party this Saturday, Sept. 15 from 3 to 9 p.m. The first 300 guests will receive a free stein with their first beer and if you buy a ticket in advance you also get a Bavarian pretzel. The party will feature a stein holding contest, German music and food, and Oktoberfest beers from German breweries and local craft breweries including Blue Point Brewing.

Plattduetsche Park in Franklin Square, voted Bethpage Best of LI’s Best German restaurant for the past six years, will hold its annual Ompahfest on Sunday, Sept. 16 from noon to 9 p.m. The festival, held in the enormous Plattduetsche Biergarten, is always held the day after the Steuben Parade in Manhattan and features music from bands that march in the parade, including many direct from Germany and Austria. Plenty of Oktoberfest beer will be served with authentic German food.

Oktoberfest celebrations will continue across Long Island throughout September and October, including several at local German restaurants. Das Biergarten, a German restaurant and beer garden in Long Beach, will celebrate Oktoberfest on two weekends, Sept. 22 and 23, and Sept. 29 and 30, with a festival tent, live music and traditional German food and beer. Black Forest Brew Haus, a German brewpub in Farmingdale, will celebrate Oktoberfest with live German bands for four weekends beginning on Sept. 28 and 29 and running through Oct. 19 and 20.

On Sept. 29 and 30, the Mansion at Glen Cove will hold its 4th annual Oktoberfest featuring live German music and dancing, a stein holding contest and traditional German food. On Sunday there will also be a competition for ‘Best Dressed’ Oktoberfest costume and special family activities for kids.

The Rotary Club of the Moriches will hold its 10th annual Oktoberfest celebration at Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck in Center Moriches on Sept. 28 to 30. The festival will feature traditional German music, food and beer and similar to the Munich Oktoberfest will have carnival rides for the kids. Proceeds from the event will benefit Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck, a summer camp for children with disabilities.

The Baldwin Civic Association will hold its 2nd annual Oktoberfest on Sept. 29 at the Community Gardens in Baldwin. The festival will include German food, games, craft vendors and beer from local craft breweries.

For a less traditional take on Oktoberfest, check out Punktoberfest on Oct. 13 at Great South Bay Brewery in Bay Shore. This annual festival celebrates the best of fall beers from Great South Bay and other local craft breweries, along with brats and other German food from local restaurants, accompanied by music from local punk rock bands.

For a complete listing of Oktoberfest events on Long Island visit

Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of

Garvies Point Craft Brewery Triples Output To Meet Demand

Garvies Point's Juice Break, a New England-style IPA, is brewed with loads of wheat, oats and Pilsen malt.

Garvies Point Craft Brewery in Glen Cove nearly tripled its capacity this spring to meet growing demand, making one of Long Island’s most inventive breweries also among the region’s fastest growing.

Co-founders Ben Kossoff and Mark Scoroposki, childhood friends, had dreamed of opening their own brewery since working together after college at a craft beer distributor in Brooklyn. After winning the Pride of Brooklyn Homebrew Competition, they made that dream a reality in 2015, opening a 3,000-square-foot facility on the waterfront in Glen Cove. With word of mouth spreading quickly, Garvies Point beers were soon on tap at bars across LI, they opened a tasting room a year later, and began canning beers last year.

“We were brewing on a 3.5-barrel system before and are now running a 10-barrel system,” says Kossoff. “With the added capacity, we are now canning beers every two weeks instead of just once a month.”

The expanded capacity allows Garvies Point to add new beers to its offerings, which already include a variety of hop-forward India Pale Ales (IPAs), sour ales, lagers, and dark beers including porter and stout. Kossoff and Scoroposki have been at the forefront of brewing New England-style IPAs, known for their hazy, unfiltered appearance and citrusy aromas. Among them are Gone Astray, Cast Astray, and Sea Spray IPA.

Garvies Point has also experimented with sour ales similar to Belgian-style lambics that are fermented with wild yeast and fruit. Its Sour Batch Series includes single-hopped kettle sours such as Sour Batch, Motueka, Citra, TITI, Blueberry Mosaic, Peaches & Cream and Pineapple Cream.

Kossoff and Scoroposki brew other traditional beer styles including a German-style Kolsch and Battalion 5 Pilsner, a crisp light lager with Saaz and Hallertau Blanc hops. Another crowd pleaser is Paddle Bender Imperial Vanilla Porter, a rich dark brew with intense vanilla aroma. Last fall, the brewery obtained 55-gallon bourbon barrels from Jefferson’s Reserve bourbon distillery in Kentucky, which were used to brew a Bourbon Barrel Aged version of Paddle Bender, giving it a distinctive aroma and flavor.

Just in time for Oktoberfest season beginning in September, Garvies Point will introduce a traditional German Marzen style lager, Tauktoberfest. Grab a mug at the Mansion at Glen Cove’s Oktoberfest from Sept. 29 to 30.

“Nice caramel malts and spicy hops will give this beer a true essence of the fall season,” Kossoff says.

Garvies Point Craft Brewery is located at 1 Garvies Point Rd. in Glen Cove. They can be reached at 516-277-2787 or

Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of

Fire Island Beer Co. Tasting Room Debuts in Bay Shore This Fall

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

Craft beer lovers visiting Bay Shore will soon be able to taste brews from two of Long Island’s best breweries with just one stop.

Fire Island Beer Co. (FIB) plans to open its new tasting room this fall at the back of the building at 25 Drexel Drive where Great South Bay Brewery (GSB) has been operating its popular tasting room for the past five years.

“I couldn’t be happier to have Fire Island join Great South Bay so we can
attract a larger customer base,” GSB’s owner and founding brewmaster Rick Sobotka said.

The two breweries have been sharing the 40,000-square-foot building since 2016, when FIB leased 15,000 square feet that GSB was not using. The pairing of these two breweries in one location is fitting since both were founded in 2009 and named for natural South Shore treasures.

Sobotka grew up in Upstate New York, where his father was an award-winning homebrewer and brewing was a family tradition dating back to his great-grandfather, who distilled his own whiskey in Poland. After polishing his homebrewing skills in college and apprenticing at breweries in San Diego and Colorado, Sobotka took the leap to start his own brewery on LI, where he had settled down and established a practice in medicine as an anesthesiologist.

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

His operation touts a 30-barrel brewhouse along with canning and bottling lines. GSB opened its 4,000-square-foot tasting room and party space in 2013 and regularly hosts festivals and events at the brewery.

Since then, GSB has emerged as one of LI’s leading craft breweries, winning awards for its beers under the direction of head brewer Greg Maisch. GSB has won gold medals at
the Great American Beer Festival for Hog Cabin Maple Bacon Porter and Jetty Ale and gold and bronze medals at this year’s TAP New York festival for Nauti Girl IPA and Pilsner Lager. Jetty Ale also won a bronze medal this year at the prestigious World Beer Cup competition.

FIB was founded by a trio of homebrewers: two brothers, Bert and Tom Fernandez, and their cousin Jeff Glassman. They homebrewed at their summer house on Fire Island in the 1990s and sold some of the beer at a concession shack they ran at Atlantique. The positive feedback, including the amber ale that became the flagship Lighthouse Ale, encouraged them to take the plunge into commercial brewing by contract brewing Lighthouse Ale and Red Wagon IPA while searching for a location on Long Island.

In 2014, Simon Leonard, who had been the primary contract brewer for FIB at Two Roads Brewing in Connecticut, purchased 90 percent of FIB and officially came on board as brewmaster, while Bert Fernandez continued as head of sales and marketing. Leonard, a British native who previously worked in finance, had caught the brewing bug and helped develop the recipes for FIB’s newer beers including Sea Salt Ale and Sunken Ferry Stout.

The long search for a permanent location for FIB came to fruition in 2016 when Sobotka reached out to longtime friend Fernandez and offered to sublease space that wasn’t being used in his building. FIB installed a 15-barrel brewing system with four 15-barrel fermenting tanks and four 30-barrel fermenting tanks. They began brewing on the new system last year under the direction of Dan Moss, who joined FIB as head brewer after brewing at Black Forest Brew Haus in Farmingdale and at Brooklyn Brewery.

With the new system now fully operational, FIB stopped contract brewing and is producing all of its beers in Bay Shore. In anticipation of the coming opening of its tasting room, FIB has begun introducing limited Tap Room Series beers, selling cans of the first two Tap Room Series beers, Maibock and Kettle Sour Ale, at local beer stores. Fernandez said FIB’s core beers will be available to purchase in cans at the tasting room but the taps will mostly be dedicated to the Tap Room Series beers.

“We’re excited about being able to play around in there,” said Fernandez, “and experiment with new styles and seasonal beers.”

Fire Island Beer Co. and Great South Bay Brewery are located at 25 Drexel Dr. in Bay Shore. For more info on FIB visit and for more info on GSB visit

Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of

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


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