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.

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.

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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.

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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

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.

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.