Nitro Beer: It’s What’s on Tap

Tap and Barrel Nitro Beer

If there were a beauty pageant for beers, Guinness Stout would surely have a shot at the crown. Whether or not you’re a fan, the slow separation of rich, black stout and the creamy tan head until they strike a perfect balance is something to behold. That theatrical pour, however, has more to do with the draft system than the beer itself. The beauty comes from the nitro tap line, and it’s not just for Irish stouts anymore.

When Vincent Minutella bought what is now the Black Sheep Ale House in Mineola, it was a “little Irish pub” with five tap lines. He added 20 more, plus a cask engine, but kept the existing nitro tap in place. He uses the taps to draw beer that already contain nitrogen gas, which was added by the brewer to enhance the suds. These are usually dark stouts or porters, though he has been known to pull nitro IPA. In addition,un-nitrogenated beer passes through the nitrogen nozzle for a quicker, smoother pour and creamy mouthfeel. “The brewer made the beer, who am I to change it?” says Minutella, which is why he never adds nitrogen to a beer brewed without it. He instead pushes the beer along with a gas mix of nitrogen and carbon dioxide.

The Black Sheep Ale House is also one of the few places on Long Island with authentic cask beer. Cask ales are served at a higher temperature and with less carbonation than a typical beer; it takes some getting used to. Unlike nitro beers, cask ales are not usually limited by style and everything from a pale ale to an imperial stout can be in cask. “Once people find they enjoy cask beers, they will try any style,” says Minutella. “I like that beer is a living thing. The beer that I have in this moment is going to be different from how it is at the end of the night.”

Nitro pours are also always on the menu at Brewology, at the original in Speonk and the new spot in Port Jefferson. “A lot of customers notice the difference,” says owner Roger Bencosme. “The creaminess is just unparalleled.” They currently pour Empire Brewing Company Cream Ale on nitro at both locations. “I’ve tried it on a regular tap and it’s just not the same,” he adds. But his favorite is Blue Point’s Armchair Nitro Stout.

Nitro beer is also available at Blue Point Brewery in Patchogue, Tap and Barrel in Hauppauge (pictured) and several other bars and restaurants across Long Island.

This article originally appeared on Edible Long Island.

Oyster Bay Brewing Company’s Barn Rocker Premieres as New York Islanders are Reborn

Oyster Bay Brewing Barn Rocker

Barn Rocker on Draft in Doolin’s Pub
EDIT: Barn Rocker is now available at more locations throughout the Coliseum

Amazon Local Deal: Try Barn Rocker at Oyster Bay Brewing Co.

Amazon Local Deal: Discounted Islander Tickets

January 16th, 2015 – The walls of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York seemed to rock and reverberate as the celebratory chant of “YES! YES! YES!” rose from the crowd who, along with this year’s group of Islanders, celebrated their 6-3 win over the rival Pittsburgh Penguins. It is the last year that the Isles will call the “Old Barn” home and the fans have turned out in droves, at first to say goodbye but now to watch their team take the National Hockey League’s Eastern Conference by storm. With many players having come of age within the Islanders system, a bond has developed between these homegrown athletes and their loyal but long absent fan base. Everyone knows this is the end of things as they have been since the team won four straight Stanley Cup Championships in a row from 1980-1983; in that time going on a record run of 19 consecutive playoff series wins.

The ghost of these victorious memories seemed a stretch for teams to live up to through the 90’s and early 2000’s and the Islanders saw attendance and interest drop. Some loyal fans have held onto their season tickets through thick and the extremely prolonged period of thin, but most just dismissed their beloved Isles and moved on. Things are different this year. The group on the ice coached by Jack Capuano and put together by the team’s former back-up goalie turned general manager Garth Snow has brought that old “Lovin’ Feelin” back to the Coliseum and energized Long Island. Fans faithfully show up for games and this team has bonded with and reveled in their adoration. This relationship has not gone unnoticed by the marketing staff who connected with local Oyster Bay Brewing Company on the official beer of the New York Islanders, “Barn Rocker.”

Islanders Playing the Penguins

The Isles Battle the Pens
Brewery owner Gabe Haim calls the beer a “session ale for lack of a better description” and at 4% ABV this is a brew meant to be readily consumed while leaving the consumer on an even keel. Barn Rocker is built on a British Malt profile using Fuggle hops and is ” a simple beer like a Bud or Bud Light but crafty,” says Haim. This moderate strength brew debuted at the Coliseum in two locations, Doolin’s Pub and a stand outside of gate 20, whilst the Islanders hammered the Penguins.

TJ Johnson, a fan attending the game, called the beer “unique” and said it “had a lot of flavor to it” while his friend Patrick Cook added, “This you sip and drink it for a few periods and it will get you feeling nice.” The two were trying Barn Rocker for the first time in the crowded Doolin’s Pub before the puck drop. Not normally craft beer drinkers, the brews connection to the team drew the duo, clad in Islanders garb, in. Likewise, fellow fan Michael Rugen is not a locally made beer consumer saying, “I am not going to lie, I was drinking Bud Light when I came in.” But friend Craig Schnaars pointed out the orange and blue Oyster Bay tap handle and, “I was like eh let me give it a shot.” Schnaars, a bar manager at Yankee Stadium, “loved” the fact that the beer was from Oyster Bay and thought it was “actually very good”. Also among the Doolin’s crowd was Jen Davis, homebrewer and secretary of local homebrew club Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts. “It was very light and it tasted like a wheat beer,” was how she described Barn Rocker. Being a veteran of the craft beer community she went on to add, “I wanted like a hop heavy IPA,” having developed a palate for the pungent and bitter flavors imparted by female flowers of Humulus lupulus (hop plant) concluding, “It wasn’t what I was in the mood for before the game.”

Fans Drinking Oyster Bay Brewing Barn Rocker

Fans TJ Johnson and Craig Schnaars
But perhaps that is the point of Barn Rocker, a beer meant for the macro beer drinker and not the hop-fiend craft beer geek. Oyster Bay Brewing Company’s brewmaster Peter DeLuca has produced a brew which is light but has a presence, that is flavorful but will not overwhelm and most of all is drinkable. It reminded us of the British style of beer, ESB or Extra Special Bitter which despite it’s name is not an overly bitter style of beer at all. The brew was light with sweet accents upon a malty and bread crust backbone. Barn Rocker, while not a “White Whale” or fetish brew, is one that fits the workman like feeling of the “Old Barn” for which it is named.

Fans of the New York Islanders were out in force while their team was pummeling the Penguins. The familiar orange and blue were worn proudly by a majority of the sold-out crowd easily out numbering and out cheering the Pittsburgh fans in attendance. The lopsided win over a hated division rival had the crowd in a frenzy and has fans like Rugen and Schnaars hoping the Isles can deliver the cup to Long Island one more time before their move to Brooklyn next year. Hopefully the team’s winning ways can continue and loyalists can see Long Island’s team drive deep into the NHL playoffs. That would be something all of their faithful followers could toast with the Isles official beer, Barn Rocker.

New York Islanders Nassau Coliseum

Nassau Coliseum aka the “Old Barn”
A version of this story orginally appeared on Edible Long Island

Oyster Bay Brewing Company Releases Barn Rocker, The Official Beer of the New York Islanders

To commemorate the New York Islanders last season at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, aka the “Old Barn,” Oyster Bay Brewing Company is releasing Barn Rocker, a “session ale.” The beer is already on tap in the Oyster Bay tasting room and will be debuting at the Coliseum Friday 1/16 for the game vs. the hated Pittsburgh Penguins. In case any Islander fan is looking for yet another excuse to drink during a Penguins game, here it is.


Owner and brewer Gabe Haim calls the beer “crafty” and says, “We tried to make a beer that the Budweiser crowd could drink and craft beer people would appreciate also.” Coming in at 4% ABV, he describes it at as a flavorful, easy to drink crisp ale. For those who skew more towards the “craft beer people” end of the spectrum, it was brewed with a British malt profile, fuggle hops and Oyster Bay Brewing Company’s house yeast.

Haim has been an Islander fan all his life and knows people within the organization. After speaking to the Islanders marketing department, who loved the idea and named the brew, the collaboration came together and the beer is now ready for ice time. They also will have occasional Islander game viewings at the brewery, starting 1/13 vs. the Rangers, at the suggestion of possible attendee and Islander alum Rick DiPietro.

We are going the game on Friday to try the beer (and of course cheer on the Islanders) and will report back to let you know where in the coliseum Barn Rocker can be found on tap. We will also be updating our Craft Beer at Nassau Coliseum post so you can plan your beer consumption when attending a game accordingly. Here’s hoping the Isles rock the Penguins while we taste this local brew.


Port Jeff Brewing Company & Bobby Rodriguez Imperial Force Ready to Debut

Humble Cups Holding Blends of Imperial Force

Humble Plastic Cups Holding Blends of Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Force

Edit: To quote Mike Philbrick there was an “operator error” on our original article. Imperial Force will be released on draught December 26 at 7 pm at the Country Corner in East Seauket and in bottles around the new year.


Da Da Da Dada Da Dada Da…

Rain fell at the 2013 Brewers East End Revival Brew-Off award ceremony. The day began sunny and with chaotic activity taking place in and around the location, a small American Legion Hall in Saint James, New York. As modest as the space and event were, lots of planning had been devoted to assuring this iteration of the annual event was well organized and run to the Beer Judge Certification Program standards. Additionally, steps were taken to include food, drink, fun and prizes for volunteers who would be sacrificing one of their Saturdays in May by helping to set up, pour beer and organize results. Through sheer lack of interest from other club members, Beer Loves Company’s very own Kevin ended up as the “Competition Coordinator” which meant by proxy Alicia was on the job too. Though trying, the day would prove enjoyable for us, A+K, as we saw homebrewers and attendees both discuss brewing and cheer each other on when awards were handed out to those who had crafted fine ales, lagers, ciders or meads.

The prize most coveted by the homebrewers who enter their beer to be judged is the Brewer’s Cup. You may be asking, “Why?” Simple: the amateur winning beer is given the honor of being brewed professionally by a local brewery. To win this award means a hobbyist, very often an aspiring brewer, is given the chance to see a recipe which they developed scaled up in size, produced and released for sale and distribution. That homebrewer can then go into a local bar, bevy or the brewery itself and order their Brewer’s Cup beer on tap, a dream for most who take up the pastime. This prize was the very thing which made Kevin volunteer and Alicia tolerate it so well. We both were excited to contact a local brewer who would attend the event, judge the beers and eventually create the winning recipe at their facility.

[cjtoolbox name=’amazon related’ ] [/cjtoolbox]

Three years prior to us taking the reigns as Competition Coordinator, Brooklyn native Bobby Rodriguez visited the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado along with several other Long Island beer (and malt) enthusiasts. G.A.B.F. is the premiere beer-centric event held in the United States. Hundreds of breweries make the pilgrimage to Colorado every year to pour samples for the thousands of thirsty attendees and to take part in a well organized competition. One of the more talked about G.A.B.F. medals is the Pro-Am in which breweries throughout the country choose, through sanctioned competition, a homebrewer to work with on a recipe that is then made and sold commercially. B.E.E.R.’s Brewer’s Cup is the local answer to this prize.

As Rodriguez and friends experienced the wonders of G.A.B.F. one beer caught his attention: Avery Brewing Company’s Meph Addict. As if a bourbon barrel aged Imperial Porter was not enough to tweak the minds of beer geeks, the extremely limited release Meph Addict has coffee added to it as well. Tasting this ale put the gears in Rodriguez’s mind in motion. When he returned to Long Island a recipe was formulated as an homage to the flavors of Meph Addict. Even though Rodriguez was at the time new to homebrewing his mind was set and he went to work. After tasting the finished product however he decided it “wasn’t ready,” so his dark inky brew sat a year in bourbon barrels and longer in kegs before it was served. “As this is a strong sipping beer it can be aged for several years,”said Rodriguez and indeed he left his beer to slumber for a three years before finally sharing it with people and entering it in the 17th Annual Brew-Off. We were lucky enough to sample this Herculean homebrew prior to and at the event. This was a complex and rich brew made to be savored and sipped. Quite impressive stuff for a homebrewer to achieve.

Rodriguez Accepts the Brewer's Cup as Philbrick Looks on

Then Homebrewer Bobby Rodriguez Accepts the Brewer’s Cup as PJBC Owner Mike Philbrick Watches

Port Jeff Brewing Company was just over a year old when we approached owner Mike Philbrick with the idea that he should brew the 2013 Brewer’s Cup. He is someone who is easy to get along with and does not to shy away from a challenge. Philbrick began as a homebrewer and member of B.E.E.R. He then attended the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago before he started his brewery in Port Jefferson, New York. We both enjoy the company’s Porter, an ale we feel is the flagship, and were ecstatic when he accepted our offer to judge and brew the winner at his downtown location. He also decided to compete in the chili competition held in conjunction with the festivities, keeping many balls in the air.

The Brewer’s Cup is one of the final events to be judged at each annual Brew-Off. This is because the best beer brewed by a card carrying Brewers East End Revival member from each BJCP category is put forth for sampling by the brewery representative before a decision is made. Judging all of these categories takes an entire morning and afternoon with sessions often occurring the night before. Inside the cozy American Legion hall Mike Philbrick sat and tasted several beers before narrowing his choices down to two: a Flanders Red or a barrel aged Imperial Porter. Continuing to take the road less traveled Phlibrick discarded beers which he thought, while good and easier to brew commercially, were not “the best”. He knew full well that whichever choice he made his young brewery was in for a challenge.

Rain had not begun to fall until the awards ceremony was about to start. The competitors, judges and staff along with their family and friends were forced to huddle together under a small pop-up tent village. With each passing category and award handed out anticipation built for the announcement of the Brewer’s Cup winner. Under one tent Philbrick chatted with current members of his former club while Rodriguez was making the rounds giving notes to those who let him sample their beer and heading back and forth to pick up ribbons he received for placing in several categories. It seemed as the drops were falling hardest the winner was announced and Rodriguez proudly walked forward to accept his prize from Port Jeff Brewing Company’s brewmaster. The two were now together on a journey that had begun years ago at GABF and at the time neither knew it would be another year and a half before the finale would be reached.

If you have met Bobby Rodriguez you will have noticed one thing about him: he is opinionated. As such there was a back and forth discussion about how his homebrew recipe would be scaled up into what would eventually become known as Imperial Force. Both Rodriguez, Philbrick and then head brewer Jeff Noakes were aiming to be as faithful to the recipe Bobby shared, which was not exactly what he brewed, as possible. “We changed a couple things based on what I know about the system plus a few things that he thought should be tweaked a bit too,” is how Philbrick describes the recipe formulation process. With the hops, malts and yeast selected they now needed to find a slice of time in their busy schedules when they could all get together and produce it. As the organizers of the competition and of course writers and beer drinkers too we were eager for the brew day to come.

Rodriguez and Noakes Prepare to Pitch Yeast

Bobby Rodriguez and Former PJBC Head Brewer Jeff Noakes Prepare to Pitch Yeast

Finally a date was chosen when Imperial Force was to be brewed. Being friendly with both Rodriguez and Philbrick we were invited down to the brewery, an offer we gladly accepted. We arrived bright and early but not before Noakes had his grist (ground grain) ready to go into the mash tun (kettle where water is added to the grain for sugar extraction). Rodriguez was a later arrival and dove right in alongside Noakes to check how the brew was coming along. There is a lot of preparation which goes into making a beer but the actual brewing process itself is periods of intense action followed by lulls of waiting for the right temperature or a period of time to pass before moving on to the next step. It leaves ample time to chat while standing amongst the large imposing equipment surrounded by the aroma of steeping grain.

A brew based on something like Meph Addict is audacious. The bold scope of this beer meant that the mash tun was maxed out with grain and after the wort (sugary water which is fermented into beer) was pumped in to the boil kettle Rodriguez had quite a time shoveling all of it out into garbage bags for disposal. Here we again enter the story as Kevin had a little part to play in the brewing of this beer by pitching in with the mash tun clean up too. At the same time the mash tun was being emptied out the wort came to a boil. Hops were added to the kettle and each brewer took turns along the way reading the gravity of the beer with a refractometer. Everything was chugging along as planned. After the boil the beer was cooled and transferred to a fermentation tank into which yeast was pitched. Rodriguez commented on his experience by saying, “It showed me how similar I was brewing at home compared to a larger commercial brewery,” an observation which would inspire him to found the recently licensed Po Boy Brewing Company.

In the time between the hands on professional brew day and Rodriguez opening Po Boy the beer was given a name: Imperial Force. This is a name that reflects not only it’s strength but also the driving effort behind brining it from thought to reality. Oh, and of course there is a nod to Star Wars thrown in for good measure. While christened, the beer was not yet ready to see release. In a small brewery fermentation space comes at a premium and Imperial Force was forced to march to the next stage in it’s lifecycle. The burly brew was moved while still fermenting from the stainless steel tank in which it was born to 4 fifty-three gallon Heaven Hill whiskey barrels. These barrels were “second run” which means that previously aside from being used to age bourbon they also housed beer ; in this case Port Jeff Brewing Company Porter.

A portion of the Imperial Force batch was pulled for a cameo appearance in a “virgin” or non-barrel aged form at the PJBC second anniversary party. This iteration was finished with some help from champagne yeast and force carbonation. Rodriguez was in attendance at the celebration and was happy with the way the beer was progressing but agreed with Philbrick’s sentiment, “This really is a beer that time helps.” We were happy to taste the Imperial Porter that day and Kevin made sure to tell his mash tun emptying tale to anyone who would listen. Following this brief moment in the sun all things Imperial Force went silent. Safely the rest of the Force was tucked away, slumbering and getting to know it’s new whiskey infused surroundings just waiting for the right time to reemerge.

Rodriguez Serves Philbrick a Sample of "Virgin" Imperial Force

Bobby Rodriguez Serves Mike Philbrick a Sample of “Virgin” Imperial Force at PJBC’s Second Anniversary Party

Finally in July 2014 there was a disturbance in the Force. Philbrick, like any other head chef, tastes his creation along the way to make sure everything is processing nicely. “The first three or four times we tried it I wasn’t impressed,” he says of the brews character. Again it was left alone to mingle with the oak and whiskey which enrobed it but the sampling continued. In May a taste was pulled and head brewer Matt Gundrum thought it was not there yet saying, “It was missing something,” with Philbrick adding that it didn’t seem quite right. This behemoth still was in it’s infancy and had yet to reveal it’s true nature.

The tandem went back to the barrel in July and the page had turned, the beer was delivering on the homebrew version’s promise. The difference was staggering according to Philbrick who thought, “Like whoa! This is a good barrel aged beer now.” They felt that Imperial Force was ready and could be packaged and sold but it was the wrong season to do so. To Philbrick an Imperial Porter is a beer which would not interest most people looking to grab a brew for the boat or the beach. This decision proved a positive one as the over the next few months the samples they tasted continued to improve. The brew developed and matured with the brewmaster noting, “As time continues to tick by it just gets better.”

Eventually the pair decided to move the beer from it’s oaken home and to carbonate it for bottling. Once it was migrated and carbonated the beer was again tasted and blended. We had the chance to stop by the brewery one day for a tasting of several barrel aged beers, one of which was Imperial Force. Upon it passing our lips we felt the full impact of all the hard work, thought and effort which went into producing it. Notes of toasted oak, roasted grain and warming bourbon moved around our mouths. “There is a great amount of oak in it and a good amount of vanilla in it,” added Philbrick when jointly sampling the brew. To see the end of the journey for Imperial Force which had begun life as a nugget of an idea years ago in Colorado finally approach us on the horizon was as wonderful to imagine as it was to taste the Port Jeff Brewing Company version.

The Force finally strong within this Imperial Porter, it has been bottled and is ready to see release. There will be just over five hundred bottles available exclusively from Port Jefferson Brewing Company with some on draft for sampling (no growler fills). When asked for his thoughts on this epic Rodriguez offered, “I hope people realize at the time that I made the Imperial Force I was still a fairly new home brewer.” He continued, “It was quite difficult but obviously not impossible to make such a complex beer at home,” which he sees as an inspiration to brash homebrewing cowboys out there. While Imperial Force was made by PJBC in conjunction with Rodriguez before he was a professional brewer they do not see brewing it again. “We are not going to brew it again. It’s Bobby’s beer and hopefully he does,” says Philbrick. To that, Rodriguez replies, “What I just might do is make a very small batch of about one barrel and store it easily at the location and forget about it for 2 years just like I did at home.” We think that’s a great idea.

Philbrick Samples Blends of Imperial Force

Owner/Brewmaster Mike Philbrick Samples Blends of Imperial Force

Like Luke Skywalker you do not know the power of the dark side until you have sipped this warming winter winner. Something of this magnitude begs to be shared with friends over good conversation. Mike Philbrick said something genuine which struck us, “The beer geek in me says buy two,” speaking to the craft fans desire to sample a beer while “fresh” then let time work some mysterious forms of alchemy on a bottle’s contents only to pop the top in a year or more and savor the flavors cellaring have imparted to the brew. With the small part we played in this tale and a heap of curiosity we plan on procuring several bottles of this porter as it marches forth from Philbirck’s Port Jefferson brewery around New Years and suggest you do the same. Imperial Force will also be on tap December 26 at the Country Corner in East Setuaket starting at 7 pm. Be sure to comment and let us know what you think.

Imperial Force Label

Imperial Force Label

Cuvaison 2014 by Greenport Harbor Brewing Co.


GHBC Account Manager Justin Wesnofske and Co-owner John Liegey

Loosely translating as a sense of place, terroir refers to the effect a region has had on the production of agricultural products. In the past such a thing was not possible in beer since brewery consolidation and expansion as well as environmental factors (like downy mildew) caused the closure of many malt and hop producers across the country. In fact, most malt used to brew some of your favorite beer is not made from grain grown in the United States. In recent years however there has been a shift, as in many things culinary, toward local ingredients. Large scale craft breweries like Rogue Ales in Oregon and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in California cultivate their own hops and malt from which they craft beers expressing a sense of place. On a smaller scale, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company has taken the steps toward bringing terroir to the North Fork of Long Island.

Terroir is not a term which normally rolls off the tongue when discussing beer but NYS Farm Brewers, like Greenport Harbor Brewing Company are trying to change that. Each year GHBC uses grape juice and fruit from a local vineyard to brew their Cuvaison, bringing a local quality to the beer. As a NYS Farm Brewery, a license which requires the use of 20% of ingredients produced in NY with the percentage increasing as the years go on, Greenport Harbor not only includes local wine grapes and juice in their Cuvaison but also New York state hops and malt too.

“There are not a ton of all NY beers out there,” said head brewer DJ Swanson when we talked with him about Cuvaison. Each version of this Belgian Strong Ale is unique. It’s a beer which, “captures the whole North Fork thing,” according to Swanson. Co-owner John Liegey commented, “The thing I like about this series is that we do it with a different vineyard every year and it really kinda takes it’s own personality on with the vineyard that we choose.” The 2014 iteration of Cuvaison is a beer that definitely drinks with lots of personality.

This year Cuvaison was made with sauvignon blanc and chardonnay grapes as well as juice from Jamesport Vineyards. “We’re not the smartest guys, you know. It’s you look next door and, ‘Oh, a vineyard. Let’s do something with that,’ ” noted Liegey while contemplating their creation. This is a beer the affable Liegey “sees” on each drive to the brewery months before it is brewed. “There’s the grapes like hanging from the vines when it’s nearly harvest.” Thinking back to those trips he continues, “they are asking for us to brew with them,” something that comes through in the beer.

Cuvaison 2014 meets the drinker with it’s distinct Belgian yeast character as one approaches the glass. Upon sipping it express the white wine grapes used in it’s creation marrying them to the fruity and ester rich yeast characteristics. The experience of tasting this beer closes with a dry, bracing finish which leaves the taster refreshed. Liegey was really happy with the 2014 version remarking, “It kinda finishes with this good vinous thing at the end where you do kinda get the grapes pretty nicely and strongly but it’s super clean.” We share his view points as this Cuvaison appealed not only to us but our non beer drinking friends and family as well. With a lower ABV and overall lighter body than the 2013 version, which was brewed with Merlot grapes and juice from McCall Ranch, this year’s edition is one that could easily pair with food.

Cuvaison is linked to the local harvest as much as any wet/fresh hop ale. It is a beer which is brewed when the year’s grapes are ready to be brought in. Like the wine they are used to produce, variation will be seen based on weather and climate conditions in the finished ale. Cuvaison appears in the market place in limited quantities then is gone until next year but has, so far, never come back exactly the same. Could 2015 be the start of a new trend? “I actually think, ‘wow this is maybe what we should look at next year to try and hit somewhere in this space’ because I see myself having that beer and enjoying something to eat with it,” Liegey said echoing our enjoyment of his brewery’s beer. Look for Cuvaison 2014 at finer eating and drinking establishments over the next several months. This is a versatile and engaging brew which for us captures a sense of Long Island and a bit of brewing terroir.

Blond on Blonde : November 20 at The Lark in East Northport

Blond on Blonde

Back in May, the Brewer’s East End Revival hosted their 18th annual home brewing competition. Each year beers from around the country are sent in to the B.E.E.R. Brew-Off with the hopes they will receive positive feedback and perhaps take home a prize. Nearly 200 beers were judged in multiple categories at this years event with prizes being given out for best stout of the day all the way to best in show, but there was no award coveted more than the Brewer’s Cup.

“Why?” you may ask. Each year the Brewer’s Cup winning beer, which is selected by a local Long Island brewery, has their homebrew recipe scaled up and professionally brewed. Last years winner was Bobby Rodriguez, who is now getting ready to launch his very own venture: Poboy Brewery. His award winning Imperial Force was brewed by Port Jeff Brewing Co. and has now been aging for over a year, with a bottle release coming soon. At 2014’s brew-off, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company selected and would ultimately brew the wining beer. After a long day of deliberations where DJ Swanson, head brewer of GHBC participated in the judging, a winner emerged: Jim & Jean Thoms’ Belgian Blond Ale.

The Thoms’, who have been brewing together for years, frequently show up to monthly B.E.E.R meetings and festivals across Long Island with delicious and meticulously crafted homebrew. The Blond was no exception and a couple months ago it was recreated at the new Greenport Harbor Brewing facility in Peconic. In case you’re wondering about the spelling difference, J&J spell their Blond the Beglian way (no “e”) while Greenport went with the Americanized version Blonde.

The Thoms are avid fans of Belgian style beer trying everything from Blond Ales, the lightest brews, to Tripels, the strongest, and even sour ales. Like the brewmasters of Belgium they have razor sharp focus when it comes to brewing, always striving to make a better beer. Each ale they create is brewed again and again the recipe being tinkered with each time in an attempt to come close to their ideal. Since the competition, Jim & Jean have brewed their Blond five more times at home based on the winning recipe. They have cultivated and used the same yeast bed for each batch, making small tweaks along the way to perfect the beer.

Thursday will offer patrons a unique opportunity to taste both the homebrewed and professional versions of J&J Blond(e) Ale side by side at The Lark in East Northport. Additionally, Greenport IPA and 2014 Cuvaison will be on tap. Cuvaison is brewed using local wine grapes and this will be one of the first times it’s available this year. Specials for B.E.E.R members will be running throughout the event, and Karp’s was generous enough to donate grain for a raffle. We will be there, will you?