The Black Sheep Ale House Summer Fest = $4 Beers

Black Sheep Ale House Beer

Twenty beers for $4 all day, every day through Labor Day.

This summer marks the fourth annual Summer Craft Beer Festival for the Black Sheep Ale House in Mineola. The festival runs from July Fourth through Labor Day and means that 20 of 25 taps will be pouring $4 beers, all day every day. The idea started as a way for owner Vince Minutella to sustain business during the summer and continues because “customers won’t let me not do it,” he says.

Four years ago, Minutella bought a small Irish bar and went about turning it into the Black Sheep Ale House. “We lost all the customers,” he says. However, word of mouth built a solid base of regulars in the fall and winter. After managing bars and restaurants for 30 years, Minutella knew summer was going to be a struggle. “Everybody goes to Long Beach or out east or on vacation,” he says. “They don’t go to their neighborhood bar.”

Not only was he concerned about the bar itself, but he was very worried about the staff. “We finally built up a great group of core bartenders and I wanted to make sure they were taken care of.” So he figured he was not going to worry about making money for the bar and instead focus on getting people through the door. His solution was to make every beer in the entire bar $4 for the summer.

“I really wanted to reinforce the idea that it’s really just beer. It’s still an everyman drink,” says Minutella. “It was our way of saying to people, ‘You’ve got it wrong.’ It’s not about high price and putting on airs; it’s a good product with good people in a nice environment where everyone is welcome.”

People loved the idea, the bar was packed and after that summer they never looked back. Minutella says as long as Summerfest is still financially possible, it will continue.

This year there is a slight twist; 20 of the 25 taps are reserved for $4 pours. The other five will have more elusive beers Minutella is now able to get his hands on due to better relationships with brewers and distributors. “We don’t want to become a different place over the summer by serving different beers. This is a way to make everyone happy,” says Minutella. Click here for a list of the beers on tap.

This story originally appeared on Edible Long Island.

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.

BBDs in Rocky Point: Home of Beer Advocates


Chef Ralph Perrazzo, owner of BBD’s — short for Beers, Burgers and Desserts — wants to give his customers perfect beer. His selection is vast and diverse, but he believes that’s not nearly as important as the way it’s served. This led him to spend the better part of two years improving his draft system to strive for the ideal pour.

Despite this commitment, Perrazzo’s lifelong passion is food. “I’m a chef. I’m not a connoisseur. I’m a guy that loves craft beer and respects the brewers and what they do,” he says. “Honestly, if I could do it all over again, I’d be a brewer.”

After getting his start in a restaurant on Long Island, Perrazzo moved on to cook in Manhattan at Michelin-star restaurant Jean Georges. From there, he lived and cooked in Europe for a few years before coming home to the United States, Las Vegas to be exact. “Living on the West Coast is where my passion for craft beer really developed,” he says.

He returned to Long Island to create a place where craft beer and food are shown the same level of respect. “I was tired of going to good restaurants where the beer was bad or great craft beer bars with average food,” says Perrazzo. “I looked to see what everyone else was doing in New York City and Long Island and said how can I do it better?”

The chef set up shop in an “ugly shopping center in Rocky Point,” but wasn’t worried, thinking, “Build it and they will come.” And they certainly did; beer enthusiasts have traveled from Pennsylvania just to drink off the tap list at BBD’s.

The tap system is based on European models. First and foremost, the lines are only about three feet long and professionally cleaned every two weeks. “The beer should not go far from the keg to your glass,” says Perrazzo. Even the thickness of the tap lines was carefully considered; a tube was designed for each style of beer.

Commercial dishwashers can leave soap residue, which affects the head, carbonation and body of a beer. BBD’s invested in pricey, high-temperature machines that don’t use chemicals.

Instead of the gas mix often used to propel beer out of a tap, BBD’s uses only carbon dioxide. Each tap has a valve that controls the amount of CO2 based on the beer, ultimately controlling the level of carbonation. Some styles are brewed to be effervescent and bubbly while others shine when flatter and smooth.

“People drink the mainstays here; go to another bar, and it would taste totally different,” says Perrazzo.

The newest addition to BBD’s lineup is a custom-designed cask engine. Cask ales are normally served at around 53 degrees with only natural carbonation. Perrazzo says it has been a learning curve getting customers to try cask beer, but once they do, they usually order another.

Of course, Perrazzo and bar manager Tom Beiner take pride in their list and often feature limited, hard to find beers, and brewers are noticing. Through their beer-centric travels, Perrazzo and crew have made connections all over the country; they are often in the know when something interesting is brewing out of state.

Next up for BBD’s is growler fills, so customers can take their favorite beers home. These won’t be standard growlers. Again, they will be based on European models; the shape and glass thickness will allow the beer to stay fresher longer. Separate CO2 tubes will be used to purge the growlers of oxygen before filling, to further increase longevity.

Also on deck is an extensive bourbon and whiskey program. New shelving is going in behind the bar to highlight the bottles, and Perrazzo will curate the menu. Oh, and they also have some pretty tasty food, too.

“We changed the level on the way we pour and serve beer,” says Perrazzo. “We hope others will follow.” It’s evident he means it. A chef turned beer geek turned advocate, Ralph Perrazzo is eager to share all he has learned but ultimately wants his beer to speak for itself.

This article originally appeared in Edible Long Island

Craft Beer at Nassau Coliseum: The Final Season


This is the final countdown for Long Island based fans of the New York Islanders. Next year the team will move from it’s home since 1972, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Isles have been giving their fans a year to remember. If you plan on heading to the “Old Barn” to watch them play you may find yourself in search of a beer. While actual “craft beer” is in short supply there is enough of it peppered throughout the Coliseum to keep those looking to “fuss” over a brew happy. Don’t forget Oyster Bay Brewing Company hooked up to create Barn Rocker with the Isles. It’s their official beer and you can read about it here.

At all the main concession stands and from vendors walking the interior of the Coliseum you can find Bud, Bud Light and Coors Light. Sometimes there is a Miller Lite tossed in for good measure. We figure though you don’t need us to tell you were to find these types of beers so we won’t be mentioning them again. So for you fans of the orange and blue here we present our list of where to find (some) good beer when cheering the Islanders on. It is organized by gate with beers being alphabetical including style with gluten free items marked (GF) and we have put our suggestions in bold.

Kiosk between Gates 1 & 20: Against the outer wall you will find a stand which serves Dos Equis Lager, Goose Island IPA, Heineken Lager, Heineken Light Lager, Oyster Bay Barn Rocker, Oyster Bay IPA, Redbridge Amber Lager (GF), Shock Top Belgian White, Stella Artois Lager and Strongbow Cider (GF).

22’s Brews between Gates 2 & 3: Conveniently located right outside the restroom, 22’s serves Blue Moon Belgian White, Bud Light Lime Lime-A-Rita Malt Liquor, Bud Light Lime Straw-Ber-Rita Malt Liquor, Dos Equis Lager, Fire Island Lighthouse Amber Ale, Grolsch Lager, Hoegarden Witbier, Labatt Blue Lager (24oz), Magic Hat #9, Murphy’s Irish Stout (nitro 16oz can), Oyster Bay IPA, Palm Belgian Pale Ale, Redbridge Amber Lager (GF), Redd’s Apple Ale, Redd’s Strawberry Ale, Spaten Oktoberfest Marzen and Stella Artois Lager.

Brew House with locations between Gates 3 & 4, 7 & 8 and 9 & 10: These kiosks feature a German theme and offer Blue Moon Belgian White, Heineken Lager, Heineken Light Lager, Labatt Blue Lager (24oz), Magic Hat #9 and Molson Canadian Lager.

Knuckle Heads between Gates 10 & 11: Knuckle Heads started out with two locations but has since dwindled to one. They also used to have a very good craft selection but again that has atrophied in recent years. Currently avaivlable are Fire Island Lighthouse Amber Ale, Goose Island IPA, Johnny Appleseed Cider (GF), Magic Hat #9, Oyster Bay IPA, Oyster Bay Honey Ale, Redd’s Apple Ale, Shock Top Belgian White and Shock Top Raspberry Wheat. Knuckle Heads also serves wines and liquors.

Kiosk at Gate 12: This stand serves up Hoegarden Witbier, Spaten Oktoberfest Marzen and Goose Island IPA.

Kiosk between Gates 12 & 13: Here you will find Goose Island IPA and Shock Top Belgian Wheat.

Blue Point Brewery kiosk between Gates 13 & 14: Now owned by Budweiser parent company ABInbev, Blue Point still is brewing in their Patchouge, NY location. This outpost pours Hoptical Illusion IPA, Mosaic Session IPA and Toasted Lager Vienna Lager.

Kiosk at Gate 18: Hoegarden Witbier, Spaten Oktoberfest Marzen, and Goose Island IPA.

Those are pretty much your choices if you want to drink a non-lite beer while watching some hockey. The gamut runs from large scale breweries to the small and local Oyster Bay Brewing Company. There also is a fairly wide selection of styles to choose from including flavored beers and gluten free options such as ciders. With time winding down at the Nassau Coliseum we figure you shouldn’t have to waste yours finding a beverage to enjoy during the game. Let’s go Islanders!

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