Port Jeff Brewing Company 2nd Anniversary Party – Saturday October 19, 2013

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Owner & Brewmaster Mike Philbrick celebrating his brewery’s 1st birthday
It’s hard to believe that just two short years ago a trip to the quaint waterfront town of Port Jefferson, Long Island couldn’t be capped off by a brewery visit. Thankfully, Port Jeff Brewing Company came in and changed all that. Replacing The Red Sled Christmas Shoppe (don’t worry Santa enthusiasts, they just moved to the Harbor Square Mall), PJBC became the first and only brewery in owner Mike Philbricks hometown.

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Port Jeff Brewing Company
What better way to commemorate this occasion than with a full day of over 20 Port Jeff beers on tap? Last year, the brewery celebrated their first anniversary in a similar fashion, with the festivities being held both in and around the brewery on the outdoor deck. We were able to arrive a little before the celebration kicked off and spent the remainder of the day enjoying some Port Jeff staples and trying many of the special timed releases that were offered. One stand out was the rum aged Boo Brew, which was a deliciously boozy take on Port Jeff’s pumpkin ale. There were also casks, brand new beers and old favorites blended with fruit and other interesting additions. Another “off the menu” offering was Wet N’ Wild, which was a originally a wet hop brew using Condzella Hops that took a wild, delicious turn into a sour somewhere along the way.

This year there will be no shortage of great beer and entertainment, with Andrews-Blessing Band performing outside and setting the soundtrack for the day. Like last year, there will be a few staples available in the tap room throughout the event (we are partial to the porter) but they will also be pouring almost 20 special timed releases. The lineup is below, straight from the mouth of the Port Jeff Facebook page (with times of special releases included). We already have our eye on the PJBC/Bobby Rodriguez collaboration which we “helped brew”, Imperial Force as well as Wet N’ Wild to see how it has evolved in the year since it’s birth. WN’W was the highlight of the party for us last year but it faces some stiff competition this time around. The event is free to all who wish to attend with the delicious brews being served pay as you go. It runs from 10 am-7 pm, so if you stick around for the long haul and share with friends you could potentially drink your way through the entire list (or at least give it a valiant effort). Hope to see you all there!

All Day

Boo Brew
Low Tide Black IPA
Party Boat IPA
Port Jeff Porter
Schooner Ale (Winner of Silver Medal at 2012 U.S. Open Beer Championship)
Starboard Oatmeal Stout (Winner of Silver Medal at 2013 U.S. Open Beer Championship)

Special Releases (Limited)

11:00AM
Beer Fields Apricot Amber (Winner of Beer Fields’ 2013 Home Brew Contest)
Imperial Force
Studio 56 (Exclusive for Tap and Barrel)

Noon
Carolina Common (Collaboration w/M. David Gonzalez of Foothills Brewing)
Birra DeNicola (Exclusive for Del Fuego, La Tavola, and Ruvo)
Rumkin (Cask)

1:00PM
Barrel-Aged Porter (Winner of Bronze Medal at 2012 U.S. Open Beer Championship)
Wet ‘n’ Wild (Cask)
White’s Beach Wit (Winner of Gold Medal at Hudson River Craft Beer Festival 2013)

2:00PM
Big Boy Birch Stout (Cask)
H³ (Tripel H)
Runaway Ferry Imperial IPA

3:00PM
Barrel-Aged Oatmeal Stout (Starboard Oatmeal Stout aged in Heaven Hill Distilleries Whiskey Barrel)
Party Barge (Party Boat IPA dry-hopped w/Amarillo)
Schooner Ale w/Cherries (Cask)

4:00PM
Port Jeff Porter w/Cocoa Nibs & Vanilla Bean (Cask)
Ryes-N-Bok

5:00PM
Barquentine Belgian Pale Ale (Winner of Bronze Medal at 2013 U.S. Open Beer Championship)

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Long Ireland Beer Company + Greenport Harbor Brewing = Local Hop Support

Tomorrow, Friday September 20, 2013, Long Ireland Beer Company & Greenport Harbor Brewing will both be releasing their recently brewed fresh hop ales. Long Ireland will be hosting a release party at their brewery in Riverhead (817 Pulaski St) from 3-9 pm where both beers will be for sale. All proceeds from wet hop beer sales during the event will be donated right back to Condzella Hops and Wesnofske Farms, who supplied the hops for these brews. John Condzella and Justin Wesnofske will both be in attendance talking about hops and ready to field any questions you may have. Fresh hopped ale is best consumed when it is fresh (go figure) so don’t wait to pick up a bottle. The supply is limited and once it is gone you will not have a chance to try it again until 2014.

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As has been the theme this entire hop harvest season, brewers and farmers are really working together to make Long Island a stand out in the hop farming scene. Though hops still need to be brought in for the majority of day to day brewing, its clear that the local ingredient base is growing. We are anxious to see how many farmers have already planted the seeds, literally, and will be harvesting their very own hops next year. In the coming years who knows, West Coast breweries might be clamoring for a fresh picked batch of Long Island hops.

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So head down to the brewery tomorrow and buy a pint, bottle or growler and do your part to support Long Island hop farming by drinking some delicious local beer. Also, while you are there you can check out Long Irelands new 12 tap system. Hope to see some (or all) of you there!

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Condzella Hops: The Season Comes Full Circle

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This years hop harvest has drawn to an end, as the short window in which hops need to be picked is now closed. Though the season is an extremely short one, we saw firsthand at Condzella Hops all the hard work and preparation that precedes the two-three week long harvest. They had a whirlwind of a year with the acquisition of Beer Loves Company + Hops and the ensuing modifications to make sure it was harvest ready. Though it came down to the wire, John Condzella was able to get the machine working efficiently which greatly increased their ability to harvest their hops.

It was truly amazing just to be a part of the Kickstarter campaign to bring the hop harvester to Long Island and be able to dub it Beer Loves Company + Hops. However, the real fun came when we got to see her in action. As you can see, the speed in which the hops are plucked from the bines and spit out of the machine is amazing, especially if you have ever picked hops by hand and know how time consuming it can be.

Condzella Hops was able to provide fresh hops to Long Island breweries Port Jeff Brewing Company, Long Ireland Beer Company & Greenpoint Harbor Brewing Company, as well as Captain Lawrence of Elmsford, New York. All three locals produced fresh hop ales with the hops, and we were on site for the brew days at Port Jeff & Long Ireland (more on that later this week). Being able to see hops that were still on a bine earlier in the day be dumped into a brew kettle really reinforced the fact that the Long Island hop is here to stay. We were already able to sample Pot Jeff’s fresh hop ale, as it is currently on tap in their tasting room, and Long Ireland & Greenpoint will be releasing their brews later in the week.

Though fresh hop season is wrapping up this year, we look forward to next years harvest which will hopefully involve even more local farmers and breweries. The industry is continuing to develop on Long Island and each year promises to bring New York closer to the hop growing powerhouse it once was. In the meantime, reap the benefits of this season and drink all the local fresh hop ale you can while it’s still, well, fresh.

Brewer's East End Revival OktoBEERfest plus Briess Special Roast Contest w/ Grain from Brewtopia – September 14 2013

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This Saturday the Brewers East End Revival will hold their annual OctoBEERfest celebration at Cathedral Pines Park in Middle Island. In the traditional German spirit, and despite what the name might indicate, this event is always held in September. However, as the name does indicate, it is also a celebration of beer which is all brewed and contributed by B.E.E.R club members, but more on that later. Additional information about the event can be found on the website, but all you need to know is that it’s $15 (unless you brewed a beer), families are welcome and be sure to bring food for yourself and a little something to share with everyone. There will bee music, BBQ, clams, outdoor games and raffles (with a prize being a 1lb bag of CITRA HOPS!).

In addition to the general BBQ fun, music by White Room (featuring B.E.E.R.’s own Bill Ports) and outdoor beer drinking there will also be a special beer tasting and mini-contest. Mark from Brewtopia was generous enough to donate a 50 lb. bag of Briess Special Roast Malt as a prize for the 17th Annual B.E.E.R Brew Off. Since we assumed (correctly) that no brewer would want to take home a 50lb bag of specialty grain we decided to spread the wealth, dividing the bag among the club. All interested members received a 2 lb. bag with the only caveat being it had to be used to brew something for the OktoBEERfest. We had an overwhelming response and were only left with a couple pounds of malt, so it will be great to see how many different applications the same ingredient was used in. There will be a nut brown or ESB by Chritine Rudowski, a Pale Ale by Lou Zollo, a Belgian Pale Ale by Dave Phillips, a Dunkelweizen by Justin Brian, an American Pale Ale by Greg Woody, a Belgian Dark Mild by Al Raschdor, a Sourdough Roggenbier by Eric Grimm and more. We here at BLC really got wild with it and decided to make a gallon and a half or so of wort using the Special Roast Malt (along with a few other grains) and fresh hops. We then mixed that with four gallons of apple juice and ale yeast. Our beer/cider hybrid is currently fermenting away and we are definitely anxious to keg, serve and most importantly try it (the same goes for all of the other beers too).

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Everyone involved goes out of their way to make this a great event for the club. This will be our first year attending so we are especially looking forward to participating in all of the outdoor fun and imbibing. So when will you hear more about our brewing a cider/beer with the Special Roast Grain? Soon. First we have articles from B.E.E.R. members, Al Raschdorf detailing the brew day for his Belgian Dark Mild and another from Eric Grimm where he discusses crafting his Sourdough Roggenbier. These will be featured as guest posts in the coming week. We hope you enjoy their writing as much as us and we cannot wait to try their brews.

Condzella Hops Kickstarter: Halfway There

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Condzella Hops Kickstarter campaign to bring the Wolf WHE 140 Hopfen Pflückmaschine (a hop harvesting machine) to their Wading River, Long Island farm is halfway to its conclusion and also a bit more than halfway to its goal of $27,000. Last we checked they had raised $14,775 from 153 different backers, but hopefully that number is increasing even as we type. Thats an average donation of $96 per contributor which is not exactly pocket change and shows just how strongly the local craft beer and agricultural community is behind this campaign.

There are still 16 days left, so its not too late for you to show your support. Depending on your level of involvement, you will be rewarded with not only the satisfaction of knowing you helped bring the “New York Hop” back, but tokens of appreciation ranging from a Condzella Hops mason jar mug to a beer dinner that actually takes place on the farm to the ability to name a row of hops in next years harvest.We had the opportunity to speak with John Condzella today (the creator of both Condzella Hops and this Kickstarter campaign) about the process so far and his hopes for the next 16 days and beyond.

John chose Kickstarter over a more traditional means of obtaining the money, like a business loan, because he really wanted to get the word out about both the machine and the cause. Doing it this way allows community involvement and even after the machine is purchased there will be people across Long Island and NY that are literally invested in the progress of Condzella Hops. Ultimately, his short term goal is to obtain the hop harvester but his vision has a much broader scope. John hopes that this campaign will kickstart hop farming in this region and he is excited to not only share the harvester (either through forming a co-op or by charging a nominal fee) but also show farmers new to the crop the proper way to get started. He is not just trying to better Condzella Farms, but the entire local agricultural and craft beer community.

At the halfway point, John is optimistic and excited. He said the feedback so far has been great, and he has been doing everything he can to get the word out. With NYC Beer Week upon us, he will be appearing at several events throughout it and will also have a table at the Spring Craft Beer Festival at Nassau Coliseum on March 9, which is a big day for him for a variety of reasons. Not only will he be educating people about his farm and campaign at the show, it is also his birthday and the day before the end of his Kickstarter campaign. In addition, Port Jeff Brewing Company (who brewed a wet hopped ale using Condzella Hops) will be releasing their Wet and Wild Ale. This beer was a “hoppy accident” which was born from attempting to dry hop with Condzella fresh hops, resulting in a wild yeast transforming the brew. We had the opportunity to try this beer at Port Jeff’s first anniversary celebration and it was a fruity, tart and delicious. John has yet to try the Wet and Wild, but is excited to do so.

So what about a backup plan if the campaign fails? Not going to happen, according to John. He has been tirelessly working to spread the word and garner support anyway he can, whether it be posters, phone calls, E-mails or interviews like this one, and he will continue to do so through the conclusion of the campaign. He is confident that his efforts will be rewarded and Condzella Hops will meet their goal. But, he can’t do it alone.

John is excited about the outpouring of support thus far and knows that in order to be successful they will need help from the community. Since ultimately this hop machine will help both the local farming and craft beer communities, it is only fitting that it is a group effort to revitalize the New York hop. So please visit Condzella Hops Kickstarter page and read about the campaign, watch the video and give if you can. Even if you can’t contribute right now but support the idea, share it with your friends and family and help John and Condzella Hops get the word out there. Help to (re)kickstart the New York Hop.

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Condzella's Hops (Farm) Trying to Kickstart the N.Y. Hop

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Condzella’s Farm is a name you may have heard floating around among the Long Island beer community lately. Both Port Jeff Brewing Company and Long Ireland Beer Company have produced beers using their fresh/wet hops which are grown locally in Wading River (review of Long Ireland Wet-Hopped Pale Ale). Condzella’s Farm has been in operation since the mid 1800’s, when it started off as a dairy farm. In the 1920’s, they switched over to primarily growing potatoes and limited produce. Today, they have transitioned yet again into harvesting fruits, vegetables and one of the essential components of beer: hops under the moniker Condzella’s Hops.

Although Long Island has an ideal climate for hop farming, the crop is rare on the east coast and most hop harvesting is done on several large, west coast farms. This makes it extremely difficult for east coast breweries to produce entirely local beers and especially hard to brew them with wets. It wasn’t always like this however. At one time, New York was the primary hop producer in the United States and exported their hops all over the world. But prohibition and the labor intensity of the harvest steered many farmers to other crops and the New York hop became a thing of the past.

For the last two years, Condzella’s Farm has devoted a piece of their land to growing hops. This has been exciting for Long Island breweries and home brewers alike, as the possibility of local, fresh hops is once again a reality in New York. Though this is a huge advance for the local craft beer community, John Condezlla (who runs the farm) is running into some of the same problems as those hop farmers who came before him. Hop harvesting is very time sensitive and labor intensive, and it is virtually physically impossible for his yearly crop to be fully harvested, even with help from farmers and brewers alike.

This is why John has started a Kickstarter for Condzella’s Hops (Farm). His goal is to raise $27,000 to purchase the Wolf WHE 140 Hopfen Pflückmaschine which, despite what the name may lead you to believe, is not Germanys version of the Terminator. It is a hop harvesting machine which will allow Condzella’s Hops to harvest an acre of hops in one working day (8 hours). For comparisons sake, this same task would take 500 hours if done by hand. In addition to using it for their own hop crop, Condzella’s Hops (Farm) wants to bring this machine to Long Island from Europe in order to encourage a resurgence of the New York hop. Therefore, the hop harvester will be available for use by any local farmers who need assistance in picking their own hops.

Craft beer on Long Island has come a long way in the last few years and this machine would have the ability to elevate it to the next level. The Kickstarter campaign has already raised almost $6,000 and runs through March 10. So if you have a little extra beer money over the next month, think about donating to a cause that will help out the entire craft beer community. Beer people helping beer people is defnitely a cause we can, and will, get behind.