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.

One Distributor to Sell Them All: Clare Rose Incorporated Begins Distributing Port Jeff Brewing


They Said Yes!
Get ready for a local favorite to become more widely available. Clare Rose Incorporated has scored themselves the distribution rights for another Long Island craft brewery, Port Jeff Brewing Company. This “marriage” of brewery and distributer begins today, November 3rd 2014. Clare Rose Inc. (CRI) supplies both counties on Long Island, Nassau and Suffolk, and with Port Jeff Brewing Company (PJBC) in the fold they now hold the rights to most of the elder breweries on Long Island.

Clare Rose Inc. had humble beginnings. The company was founded in 1936 as a small soda distribution business by Clare and Millie Rose. The corporation grew out of eastern Suffolk county NY, Patchouge to be specific. They have evolved into, “Long Island’s premier supplier of Anheuser-Busch InBev and Heineken USA” according to their official website. They have been going strong for 75 years.

In recent years CRI has expanded the scope of their distribution to include craft beer. Craft Corner is the moniker for this new, fluid and growing division. A quote taken from their website states, “Clare Rose Inc. is committed to the growing craft beer segment. We always look to pursue new avenues of growth to expand our craft portfolio and bring the best of the craft beer world to Long Island”. A bold statement.

The “Craft Corner” portion of the CRI portfolio consists of national and local craft brands. Two of the larger in their stable are both owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABInbev), a Belgian-Brazilian multinational beverage and brewing company headquartered in Leuven, Belgium. ABInbev acquired Goose Island Brewery (legally Fulton Street Brewery LLC) in March of 2011. The other is the recently purchased Long Island craft beer institution, Blue Point Brewing Company (for our thoughts on the sale of Blue Point Brewing Company to ABInbev click for Alicia’s take or Kevin’s). CRI also peddles brews from the “Craft Brew Alliance” the members of which include Widmer Brothers, Red Hook Ale Brewery, Kona Brewing Company, Square Mile Cider and Omission Beer which was developed internally. ABInbev owns 32.2% of the business and is also the company’s distribution partner with CRI handling the duties on Long Island.

Aside from the ABInbev wholly owned subsidiaries and partially controlled brewing group CRI’s “Craft Corner” library also includes behemoths Victory Brewing Company and Harpoon Brewery. Alongside these brewing giants CRI has made strategic and important inroads into the local craft beer community on Long Island. These relationships stretch from SingleCut Beersmiths located in Astoria, Queens out to Riverhead and Long Ireland Beer Company. And now they are joined by Port Jeff Brewing Company.

Located downtown, in the heart of Port Jefferson NY the just over three year old brewery has become a main stay of many establishments throughout NY. Creative and innovative Port Jeff Brewing Company has released numerous styles of beer upon a wanting public. Recently arrived head brewer Matt Gundrum has been hard at work tweaking recipes, dialing in equipment and brewing more beer (read our interview with Matt). Owner and brewmaster Mike Philbrick has already ramped up production anticipating the partnership saying, “We basically will go from 2 sales guys delivering all over Nassau and Suffolk to over 40 people representing the brand.”

Having just gotten married ourselves we are happy to see another local couple come together. We wish Mr. Philbrick and the other amazing people of Port Jeff Brewing company the best. This new arrangement will mean more beer for their fans and the ability to secure more taps hopefully leading to more fans. When asked about the switch from independently distributing his beer to partnering with the local powerhouse Philbrick commented, “Self distribution gives you incredible insight to how your customers want to be served”, which is a level of service he sees continuing through the partnership with Clare Rose Inc. We are excited to see what this relationship will bring to real craft beer drinkers throughout their distribution area.

How do you feel about Clare Rose Incorporated distributing yet another Long Island brewery? We’d love to hear from you.

Owner Mike Philbrick Showing off Port Jeff Brewing Company Beer

Owner Mike Philbrick Showing off Port Jeff Brewing Company Beer

Blue Point Brewery Press Conference with Owners Mark Burford & Pete Cotter + Andy Goeler of Goose Island/ABInBev

Prior to the 10th Annual Blue Point Cask Ales Festival on April 5, 2014, Blue Point Brewery held a small press conference to discuss the recent sale to Anheuser-Busch In Bev. We were invited, along with several other members of Long Island media, to speak with owners Mark Burford & Pete Cotter as well as Andy Goeler from Goose Island/ABInBev. As you may know, Goose Island is a craft brewery from Chicago that was purchased by ABInBev in 2011.  The setting was very informal, as we sat around the empty tasting room in a big circle, but it was somehow fitting of the laid back vibe Blue Point has been cultivating for all these years. The format took on more of a roundtable Q&A discussion, allowing us to address any questions or concerns about the sale that officially went through on April 1, 2014.


As expected, the conversation mostly focused on what, if anything, is going to change about Blue Point now that they are under new ownership. Mark & Pete reiterated that the only changes that they anticipate will be positive ones for everyone involved with Blue Point as well as the consumers. Employees now have better benefits and job security, which is something that both owners stated was a top priority. Pete went on to add ,”So many employees have insurance that never had it before. They’re making doctors appointments right now.” The capital behind ABInBev will also allow them to make more and better beer. Though this is all very new, a big priority for both Blue Point and ABInBev will be to expand the current facility in Patchogue, NY, likely to other land on the same lot where the brewery and tasting room currently stand. Though they said there are no current plans to distribute nationwide, there are still many accounts up and down the eastern seaboard demanding Blue Point, but the current brewery is not able to keep up. The facilities and distribution network of ABInBev will allow the production and availability of Blue Point to increase, with Toasted Lager and Hoptical Illusion leading the pack.














Andy from ABInBev/Goose Island noted that Blue Point was so appealing to them because of the culture that has become ingrained in their brand. They want to preserve and market that culture, while Mark & Pete saw an opportunity to preserve the culture by approaching ABInBev with the sale. Andy mentioned that another huge selling point was the massive cask program that has become so synonymous with Blue Point. Goose Island and the rest of the ABInBev family currently do not produce many cask beers, so this is a place where they feel they can learn from Blue Point and branch out into a new brewing avenue. Andy was eager to get out and fill his sample glass, as he said “I’ve been in the beer business for 34 years and I haven’t had a ton of exposure to cask beer.”Blue Point is also looking to expand creatively due to the vast resources that ABInBev is able to offer, such as growing all their own barley and even having a strain from 1900 still going. As Mark put it, “If i want to make a beer from 1920 I can have them grow the raw material for me and we can make an authentic beer.”


Everyone involved was aware of the potential negative backlash from the sale, as they saw something similar in Chicago with Goose Island, so Mark & Pete were prepared for it. Of the customers who were let down by the sale, Mark said “In our minds we’re going to win them back with the beer” Andy also understood the hesitance from the consumers and media and suggested that we all meet again in a year to see how Blue Point has changed. He said if all their current employees are fired and the beer is completely different then perhaps the nay sayers were right, but that is not how he sees the future, saying “The real way of proving things is in time”. Though it is extremely fresh and they are still “peeling back the onion”, both sides have a lot of new ideas and hopes for this partnership. We will definitely be revisiting the issue in a year to see if this press conference accurately predicted what’s to come for Blue Point Brewery. Best of luck to Mark & Pete and congratulations on another very successful Cask Festival.


Blue Point Brewing Company 10th Annual Cask Ales Festival – April 5, 2014


This Saturday, Blue Point Brewing Company will hold their 10th annual Cask Ales Festival. This is one of the oldest and most widely anticipated beer events on Long Island, often selling out extremely quickly. This year was no exception, as tickets are now sold out so hopefully you got yours early. The event will run from 2-6 pm and is held rain or shine (or snow, though our fingers are crossed that spring is finally here). Over 30 breweries will be on hand pouring cask ales and food will be available for purchase. A couple years ago, a giant cask of Blue Point Sour Cherry Imperial Stout paired with a smoked turkey leg was quite memorable.

We will of course be in attendance, pouring our cider at the Brewers East End Revival table. This is the first time we have ever casked a cider, so we are a bit anxious to finally tap it and taste the result. We also brewed a black saison with Melissa (the First Lady of Beer) and Joe (the Barack Obama of brewing?) for the Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts table. This one was a bit of an experiment, as we modified the recipe due to an ingredient mix up, but it was promising when we put it in the cask last weekend. At that time, we also added quite a bit of red wine concentrate, so that will also be a bit of a flavor surprise when we tap it. We haven’t yet gotten word that the cask has exploded, so all is well thus far.

Blast From the Past-B.E.E.R Table 2013

Blast From the Past-B.E.E.R Table 2013

This is the first cask festival since Blue Point has been acquired by Anheuiser Busch and we are sure more than a few people will be keeping a close eye on things, if anything, is different this year.  All we know is this is a great event that we have both been attending for many years, and we are excited to be serving our beer for the second year in a row. Stop by the B.E.E.R table to try Woody Appleson, which happens to be our oak aged cider, and then pay a visit to L.I.B.M.E to try the wild wine saison along with the rest of the beers both clubs are pouring.

Hops & Props at The Cradle of Aviation – February 8th 2014


Saturday, February 8, was the first ever Hops & Props Craft Beer Festival at the Cradle of Aviation. Though a similar event has been held at The Museum of Flight in Seattle for the past 12 years with great success, this was Long Island’s first introduction to the merging of craft beer and aviation. An unlikely match, sure, but they seemed to pair together almost flawlessly.

Since this was the first time this event was held, both the participants and attendees were not positive what to expect. We spoke to many brewers and exhibitors who told us when they arrived earlier in the day to set up they had no idea how the evening was going to pan out. Instead of having everything set up in a large, circular arena, which is how many craft beer festivals tend to operate, Hops & Props saw vendors sprawled throughout the museum in an almost maze-like set up. We admit that it took us quite a while to make our first pass through, though this was more due to lots of stopping and chatting rather than getting lost. The amount of aviation exhibits that were existing in harmony with the craft beer and food tables was really a sight to see, and to everyones credit it seems like the venue was treated with respect.

The Cradle of Aviation housed over 40 tables most of which were pouring beer. Along side those were tables from Tapped Enterprises, The Beer Amigos & Earth Glass Project on hand to compliment the craft beer being served. In addition to the pretzel necklaces that could be had by simply signing up for the Tapped mailing list, there was also food for sale and to a lesser extent, free samples.

The local Long Island brewing community was well represented at Hops & Pros. We enjoyed the brews being offered by many of the local establishments. A few standout beers were being poured by up and coming breweries The Brewers Collective and Saint James Brewery.

Owner and brewmaster Jamie Adams was manning the tap handles himself behind the Saint James Brewery table. He was serving up his delicious Belgian inspired IPA, Single, Dubbel and Quad to event patrons. Each beer was well crafted and carefully considered. The Quad is a brew we wish was available commercially. Hopefully that day will be coming soon as Mr. Adams is working on getting SJB up and running (our article on SJB is coming soon). These are nicely produced ales and we believe they will satisfy both beer and non-beer drinkers of Long Island.

Our comrades The Brewers Collective are another local group looking to make the move from homebrewers to professional brewery in the near future. The BC, in keeping with their off-kilter brewing themes, is not aiming to accomplish this goal in the “normal” manner. More on their long march toward their dream soon. At Hops & Props The Collective once again was offering an eclectic selection of hand crafted beer. Arguably one of our favorites was Tim Dougherty’s “Fallout Stout”. This dark, smoky ale is a play on the brewery’s standard dry Irish Stout (ICBS). According to The Collective Tim, “…added some smoked malts from his backyard smoker” which achieves the perfect combination in their estimation. This beer was a highlight for both of us at Hops & Props and at The Brewers Collective Winter Homebrew Contest where we first sampled it. The beer that attendees could not get enough of was Brad Khole’s Black Berry Wheat Beer. The Collective told us that it was, “…the first keg to “get kicked” with people saying it was, “…like drinking fruit loops”. How could a beer like that not go over well? Excellent job comrades!

Among the up and coming breweries Long Island staples like Blue Point Brewing Company, Montauk Brewing Company, Great South Bay Brewery, Long Ireland Beer Company and Greenport Harbor Brewing Company were also out in full force. We even got to try beer from breweries which were new to us, such as Singlecut Beersmiths and Chatham Brewing LLC. To round it all out, craft beer giants and favorites like Sam Adams Brewery, Dogfish Head Brewery & Founders Brewing Company each had a few taps flowing. In a complete turn was Crabbie’s alcoholic ginger beer, which was fairly flavorful and could make a decent hot summer day cocktail.

Though we were a bit tired from the Southampton Publick House Russian Imperial Stout release earlier that morning (more about that soon), we enjoyed our time at Hops & Props thouhrally and wound up staying until the very end. The setting definitely enhanced the beer sampling experience and it is an event that we hope to participate in for years to come. All in attendance seem to have had a great time and we would declare the innaugural Hops & Props at The Cradle of Aviation a success. Beer & aviation…who knew?


Hops & Props Craft Beer Festival – February 8, 2014 in Garden City


Saturday, February 8, the first annual Hops & Props is coming to The Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, New York. Hops & Props takes place right on the floor of the museum and features craft beer, cigars and food all steps away from historic planes and aviation memorabilia. Though local breweries will have a heavy presence, there will be national favorites on tap as well. To name a few, Blue Point Brewing Company, The Brewers Collective and Long Ireland Beer Company will be representing Long Island while Founders Brewing, 21st Amendment Brewery and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery will be right alongside them.

The festival runs from 7-10 pm, with general admission tickets costing $65 if they are purchased in advance. Each ticket includes admission, unlimited 2 oz. pours of beer and food samples, with additional food available for purchase. If three hours of food and craft beer just isn’t enough for you, upgrade to a VIP ticket for just $20 more. With your VIP ticket you will be allowed access from 6-10pm, with many exclusive beers only being poured during the first hour. Designated driver tickets are also available for $20, so be sure to either have a DD or get on the Tapped Enterprises Long Island Beer Bus. All patrons (except designated drivers) will receive unlimited 2 oz. samples of any beer of their choosing as well as a souvenir Hops & Props pilsner glass to take home.

Though this will be the first ever Hops & Props at the Cradle of Aviation, it is not the first time craft beer and aviation have met. Similar events have been held for years at the Seattle & Oshkosh Aviation Museums with great success. The Cradle of Aviation is also home to A Taste of Flight, the largest wine expo on Long Island that takes place over two days.

When looking for brewers, event organizers first started with local breweries and expanded out from there, keeping the emphasis on all things craft beer. They were surprised with the amount of breweries that expressed their interest in participating, so the event floor filled up even more quickly than expected. Though all beer at this first event will come from professional breweries, they would love to have homebrew clubs participate next year (we’re looking at you B.E.E.R & L.I.B.M.E).

Limited tickets are still available, so be sure to get yours quickly and be a part of the inaugural Hops & Props Craft Beer Festival.