Brewer Profile: Bobby Rodriguez of Po’ Boy Brewery

Bobby Rodriguez of Po’ Boy Brewery is the new kid on the block as far as Long Island nano breweries go, but he’s far from a brewing novice. Rodriguez began homebrewing in 2008 and since then he has won over 30 awards for his beers and ciders; most notably having his Imperial Force produced by Port Jeff Brewing Company. Now Rodriguez has launched Po’ Boy Brewery out of A Taste of Long Island in Farmingdale, but he’s not quitting his day job just yet.

bobby poboy

In addition to brewing, Rodriguez works in health care and shares a passion for both fiends. So when he connected with Jim Thompson in 2013, who at the time was just considering launching an alternating proprietorship brewery at A Taste of Long Island, a spark was ignited. Of brewing professionally Rodriguez says, “It’s different for me. It’s not that I have to do this to make a living, I’m doing this because i’m passionate about it.” He saw A Taste of Long Island as a way to enter the brewing industry without giving up his career and him and Thompson worked together to get the location ready as a host brewery.

After about a year of paperwork, waiting on licensing and equipment and outfitting A Taste of Long Island to brew, Po’ Boy Brewery finally sold their first commercial beer. Though Rodriguez is a running a craft brewery, he holds a farm brewers license which allows him to also produce ciders under the name Po’ Boy. Rodriguez honed his cider making craft at home and is now scaling it up, turning out spiced, sweet yet potent creations that draw in customers beyond the craft beer crowd. Among the first releases are Catch Me If You Can Gingerbread Cookie Cider, All American Apple Pie Cider and Monster Eye Rye IPA.

Po’ Boy Brewery beer and cider can currently be found on tap at A Taste of Long Island, The Nutty Irishman in Farmingdale and Tap & Barrel in Hauppauge. Rodriguez also plans to expand his distribution beyond the usual locations saying, “The people that buy beer in a bar or a brewery are the people already looking for it. You’re not going to reach that couple who just went out to eat and stops by a farmers market. That’s how you get your name out there.” As production increases so will the reach of Po’ Boy Brewery beer and cider, so keep an eye out for it on tap across Long Island.

1940’s Brewing Company: Built on a History of Brewing

1940's Brewing Company Charlie Becker in Taste of Long Island Brewery

History runs deep for 1940’s Brewing Company

Charlie Becker recently launched 1940’s Brewing Company out of A Taste of Long Island in Farmingdale, but brewing has always been part of his family heritage. His great grandfather worked for a New York brewery and helped Becker’s father Walter Becker get into the U.S. Brewing Academy. 1940 was a big year in the Becker family, as it saw Walter graduate from the academy and marry his wife. He went on to become the assistant brewmaster at Rheingold Beer and worked there for 41 years.

Charlie Becker still recalls his fathers career proudly and even brought photo albums of him on the job when we met him at AToLI .1940’s Brewing Co. is aiming to continue the family brewing lineage, as Charlie honed his craft while homebrewing with daughter Anne Marie. His son Joseph created the logo, artwork and branding for 1940’s, further keeping it “all in the family”. The Becker’s have relatives that come from Germany, Ireland and Austria so 1940’s plans to brew a mix of American and European styles, as a tribute. Becker does not want his beers to be too extreme saying, “we just want to brew a good product that people are going to enjoy.”

Hefie Injustice, a 4.7% ABV hefeweizen, is the first offering from 1940’s that is being commercially distributed. Though Becker is pleased with the result of his first commercial batch and plans to make his hefeweizen the flagship of 1940’s, scaling up to a professional system did not come without it’s share of challenges. Becker laments, “you have to understand it’s a commercial kitchen we are brewing in. It’s more compact and there is a learning curve.” He saw just how steep this curve was when he had a problem with one of his fermenters which led to a beer overflow. The issue was  fixed with a little handy work  and he plans to re-brew and tweak many of his recipes as he becomes more familiar with the equipment and new environment.

1940's Brewing Company Charlie Becker in Taste of Long Island Brewery

Charlie Beckers sip his Hefeweizen at A Taste of Long Island

1940’s Brewing Company currently has their beer on tap at a couple bars and restaurants on Long Island, but look for them to ramp up their production and distribution in the coming months. Becker hopes to branch out to taprooms in Nassau and Suffolk to cover the island and also plans to have a presence at beer festivals and farmers markets. His beer will draught only and is currently on tap at A Taste of Long Island and a couple other Long Island locations. Po’ Boy Brewery and The Brewers Collective, the other pioneer brewers, have beer out as well. We had the chance to speak with those breweries, so look for their profiles to come out soon as part of our continuing series.

A Taste of Long Island Craft Brewery Launches

This story first appeared in the Fall 2014 edition of Edible East End.

Taste of Long Island Blonde

Taste of Long Island Blonde

Jim Thompson and daughter Courtney Citko, co-owners of Farmingdale’s specialty food market A Taste of Long Island, have spent the last two years growing their business and their shared commercial kitchen. Their vendors and kitchen clients include everyone from gourmet bakers to food photographers; they are now venturing into new territory: brewing craft beer.

Thompson and his group of “pioneer brewers,” as they’ve affectionately become known, spent months converting the room under his storefront into a space suitable for fermentation. Brewers will use the existing commercial kitchen to brew, package and distribute their beer; it will then be poured for the market. Charles Becker of 1940’s Brewing Co., The Brewers Collective and Bobby “Po Boy” Rodriguez are the first tenants. Thompson will be host brewer.

Picture Day for Taste of Long Island, The Brewer's Collective, 1940’s Brewing and Po Boy Brewery

Picture Day for Taste of Long Island, The Brewer’s Collective, 1940’s Brewing and Po Boy Brewery

Jim Thompson, a home brewer in the ’90s, re-discovered his one-time hobby just a few years ago. After seeing the booming beer culture across the country, he thought, “I would love to see Long Island become a regional powerhouse of craft beer.” He set out to make it happen. After seemingly never-ending paperwork, his Farmingdale brewhouse is now Long Island’s first alternating proprietorship brewery. Thompson’s beer, Farmingdale Blonde Ale, is clean and accessible, which allows him to tweak it and add adjuncts. He plans to keep the same base recipe while creating variations based on the season and his mood—maybe a strawberry blonde? Thompson says he hopes to put out “something that has more mass appeal and will get those people from the Miller/Coors world to try craft beer.”

Charles Becker’s 1940’s Brewery grew from his family’s long-standing love affair with beer and brewing. His father was a part of the industry in— you guessed it—the 1940s. He and daughter Anne Marie frequently brew together and serve their creations at craft beer events across the island. Their shared hobby led Anne Marie to a job in the beer industry while Charlie decided to make the leap from home brewer to professional. Playing on his family’s heritage, Becker’s lineup is German inspired and will include a hefeweizen, roggenbier and bock.

EEE Photo Editor Doug Young 00Wrangling the Collective

EEE Photo Editor Doug Young Wrangling the Collective

If you’ve been to a craft beer festival on Long Island, chances are you have run into The Brewers Collective. A homebrew club turned professional outfit, the collective is a motley crew that collaborates on recipes and runs its brewery like a commune. They have become known for unique beers such as Bronze Age–inspired herbal gruits* and Fallout Stout, a dry Irish-style stout that uses hand-smoked malt, courtesy of members Tim and Sarah Dougherty. Useful Idiot, a more traditional IPA and their flagship brew, will see its fair share of production at a Taste of Long Island. The IPA will likely be brewed every other batch and alternate with sours, wild ales and experimental beers.

Bobby Rodriguez of Po Boy Brewery & Jim Thompson of Taste of Long Island

Bobby Rodriguez of Po Boy Brewery & Jim Thompson of Taste of Long Island

Bobby Rodriguez, of Po Boy Brewery, began home brewing in 2008 and has been honing his craft ever since. A certified beer judge, Rodriguez has entered and won many homebrew competitions, including one that ended up with his recipe commercially produced at Port Jeff Brewing Company. Under his professional label, Po Boy Brewery, Rodriguez is producing beer with the same attention to detail he employed while home brewing. “If there is ever a product that doesn’t meet my standards,” he says, “I’m not going to release it.” His portfolio is broad and includes everything from an IPA to a sweet potato spiced ale, but his unique ciders will roll out first. With delicious yet potent concoctions like Zombification caramel apple cider, Rodriguez has something for everyone’s tastes.

Edible East End Photographer Doug Young Captures Tim Doughtrey Tasting Honey Blonde Ale From the Brite Tank

Edible East End Photographer Doug Young Captures Tim Doughtrey Tasting Honey Blonde Ale From the Brite Tank

By expediting the rapid addition of four new nano-breweries to Farmingdale, a Taste of Long Island has become a hub for craft beer. As the current breweries meet success and outgrow the space, a new class of start-ups will get their chance to brew in the commercial kitchen. Big things are coming from a Taste of Long Island, and we’re looking forward to following their journey together.

A Taste of Long Island in Farmingdale to Add Brewery

BLC_ToLI_Talk

First published on Edible Long Island

A brewery incubator is coming to Farmingdale, but the address should be familiar to many. A Taste of Long Island, the incubator kitchen and local food market run by Jim Thompson with his daughter Courtney, will be home to the next wave of nano-breweries to hit Long Island. Currently, a Taste of Long Island rents its commercial kitchen to local producers who need an insured licensed space to work. Items produced on site are sold in the front of the house specialty market and also independently distributed. The facility gives small startup businesses a way to get their goods to the public without a huge upfront investment. Now the venture will provide several local brewers a space to professionally produce beer under their own licenses and brands.

“It’s cross generational from the millennials to the old guys like me,” says Thompson, who started home brewing in the ’90s. “I’m 60 years old and in the last year I got into craft beer.” He recruited four pioneer brewers, and with their help a Taste of Long Island is being outfitted to brew. Each brewery will rent time in the test kitchen just like anyone else, but the industrial stovetop will be used for brewing. The beer will ferment in the downstairs cold room, where each brewery has its own fermenters. They are then free to keg, bottle and distribute as they please. He envisions their graduating into their own locations, freeing up space for the next round of new brewers.

Thompson has already received federal and state approvals to operate as a farm brewery and is eager to brew once all the equipment is in place. “I would love to see Long Island become a regional powerhouse of craft beer,” he says, “and I’d love to lead that.” His beers will be the first available on tap; the other brewers will follow suit as their licenses come in. Samples, pints and growlers will be available in house and Thompson plans to sell at farmers markets, with distribution to local bars and restaurants as a goal.

Each brewer has their own vision for how they will use this opportunity, and we had the chance to discuss the venture with each of them. As they eagerly await the green light to brew, we will be profiling each of them on Beer Loves Company and Edible Long Island. Stay tuned to the nano-newness coming out of a Taste of Long Island brewery.