What started off as a hobby for Long Island craft-beer enthusiasts has evolved into a burgeoning industry that might someday rival the local wine business.
“We’re trying to make this a big craft-brew hub, to make it a destination for people to come from out of state,” says Rich Sobotka, brewmaster at Great South Bay Brewery in Bay Shore. Sobotka and his team are currently at work assembling a 30-barrel brew house (slated to open in April) to replace their current one-barrel system, but there’s no need to wait to get a firsthand look.
Blue Point Brewery opened in 1999, and until recently was the only microbrewery in Long Island. Blue Point co-founder and brewmaster Mark Burford suggests stopping by on Saturdays for a tour and trying their new Sour Cherry Imperial Stout, a dark beer.
Blue Point, however, is no longer the only game in town, as new breweries like Barrier Brewing, Greenport Harbor Brewing and Long Ireland Beer have sprung up over the last few years. Both Barrier and Greenport Harbor welcome visitors to stop by on the weekend for a tour and tasting. Additionally, brewpubs like Black Forest Brew Haus in Farmingdale and Brick House Brewery in Patchogua are restaurants that brew their own brands on premise.
Burford doesn’t look at the new breweries as competitors, but as partners in raising awareness of craft beer. “We’re certainly happy to blaze the trail for everybody coming up behind us,” he says.
What to expect on a tour of the Blue Point Brewery
Visit the tasting room, where you can try 17 brews for free or buy a half-gallon growler to go (they even have beers not yet commercially available). It’s open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Blue Point Brewery
Tasting room: Thursdays and Fridays, 3-7 p.m.; Saturdays, noon-7 p.m.
161 River Ave., Patchouge
Barrier Brewing Company
Growler fills and tours: Saturdays, noon-4 p.m.
3595 Lawson Blvd., Unit E, Oceanside
Greenport Harbor Brewing Company
Tasting room: Friday-Sunday, noon-6 p.m.
234 Carpenter St.,Greenport
Black Forest Brew Haus
2015 New Highway, Farmingdale
The Brick House
67 W. Main St., Patchogue