On the North Fork of Long Island, a new type of tasting experience is in the works—and it isn’t happening at the area’s vineyards.
Beer drinkers, welcome to wine country.
Final touches are being added to the Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, set to open in mid-June in the Long Island seaport village. On tap will be free tastings of three different types of suds—a pale ale, an IPA, and a porter.
Co-founders John Liegey, 45, and Richard Vandenburgh, 46, emphasize that their operation is not a brewpub, but a working brewery. Suds fans can watch the process of beer making at the brewery, which is situated in a renovated Greenport fire house.
“We’re the antithesis of Budweiser,” says the ruggedly handsome Vanderburgh, who along with co-owner Liegey, brims with enthusiasm for the craft of artisan beer production.
“We’re not commercially driven but the story of what beer could be,” he adds.
Initially, the brewery will be open for tastings from Thursdays through Sundays. Along with free tastings, the brewery will fill you your growler, too, for around $10-$14 per refill.
So what’s a microbrewery doing in wine country? I always thought wine—not beer—was what the North Fork of Long Island is all about.
Beer is “a complement not a conflict” to the wines grown in the area, insists Liegey.
On this sunny May day, I watched as the two men, friends since college, worked feverishly to complete the transformation of the boxy fire station into a brewery. The sound of hammers and saws filled the air, which smelled of sawdust and plaster.
Upstairs on the second floor is where the grain will be milled. On the first floor, loom three huge stainless steel fermenting tanks, each one holding 930 gallons. A glass partition will divide the viewing room from the space with the beer making activities. Vintage touches, like the original tin ceiling, will remain. (One reasons for the do-it-yourself initiative is that the partners closed on the building on Sept. 17—two days after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. Money has been tighter than expected.)
The pair of beer makers, along with head brewer DJ Swanson, hope that local farmers will start growing hops for their operation. And, eventually, they want to sell Greenport Harbor Brewing Company beer to local restaurants and retailers.
But for now, it’s all about tasting the new beers.
It’s ” not a place that’s a drinking establishment,” Liegey emphasizes. It’s “not unlike a farm stand: you look at the produce and say I’ll take that that looks good.”
Greenport Harbor Brewing Company
234 Carpenter Street