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Brewery Visits: Long Island Part 1

Michael Donato, April 09, 2015 -   

Two weekends back, to celebrate my birthday, I decided to go on a mini little brewery trail out on Long Island. It’s not easy picking breweries when there are more and more of them every day. I stumbled upon Barrage Brewing Company by typing ‘brewery’ into Google maps and it seemed as good a place to start as any.

Barrage has been open a little over a year in Farmingdale, NY, and they’re a pretty small operation as they don’t even trickle down to show up on our leaderboards. Their beers were good though, in particular the Tribal Cow -- a milk stout with toasted coconut and caramel. I’ve been on a bit of a milk stout kick lately and this one didn’t disappoint. The coconut accents that sweetness from the other malts and lactose to add that typical nutty sweetness that goes so well with the right malt profile. Their tasting room is literally a tiny room off the main brewery, but it was worth finding a space and having a flight.

Off we went to Spider Bite Brewing Company, the existence of which I was more familiar. They might not be much bigger than Barrage, but they’ve been open a little longer. Their tasting room however, has not been. That’s new this year and it was a nice space despite the lack of signage on the street to tell you where to turn in.

You can’t really take BAR too seriously for these low production breweries; you can tell by how only five of their beers reach the minimum and none of them are too far from zero. I definitely enjoyed most of what I’ve had from them.

My favorite this time was the Melba’s Toasted Brown Ale. This was a nice malty brown ale with just a bit of toasted character. Brown ales are so underrated and it's a pleasure to have a good one. I also routinely enjoy Boris the Spider, their Russian imperial stout. I enjoyed the tasting room here, it was a nice space and this bottle opener rocks.

Our third brewery was Blue Point Brewing Company in Patchogue. The most established of the three by far was quite packed. We had to push through people to get to the bar and it was quite loud. It felt more like a crowded bar than a brewery and it seemed like there might have been a beer bus type group or something there. Reading up on it now it looks like the tasting room just had a renovation, so I can just imagine how crowded it was before.

Since Blue Point is pretty established, and well-distributed, especially now that they have access to the Anheuser Busch-InBev distribution system, I hunted for the experimental or one-off beers you often see in tap rooms. Blue Point's top beers, at 4.94 and 3.63 BAR respectively, are Surge Protector American IPA and Toasted Lager. It's probably not a surprise that AB-InBev acquired a brewery making a Vienna Lager that can compete with one of the best selling craft beers in the country, Sam Adams Boston Lager.

Most of the list was their regular stuff, but I sampled their Armchair Nitro Stout, Old Howling Bastard on nitro, and Robust Porter. The stout was pretty tasty, a nice creamy sessionable stout that was probably meant to be a St. Patrick’s Day beer. The robust porter was pretty typical to the style. I’m not a big fan of barleywines, but the Old Howling Bastard with the smoothness of the nitrogen mellowed it somewhat and I enjoyed my sample immensely.

 

We then headed to dinner at the Black Forest Brew Haus. A German brew house serving delicious food and 4-5 house brews, usually typical German styles. I had an IPL, which was okay, and the Amber which was good. They call it a Marzen style but it was really more amber or brown than Oktoberfest as it was a little too dark, not that I’m overly concerned about the style classification. It was tasty and went well with my rouladen.

 

Michael can be found on Twitter and Untappd where he's already planning his next brewery tour. You can also email him at beer@ceetar.com.

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