Hmmm, you think, brewing company? That doesn’t sound like a winery. And you’re right. In honor of Oktoberfest, we decided to go to a brewery tasting room to sample some local beers, and a very good decision it was, too, though quite a few other people had the same idea, making the room a bit crowded. Greenport Harbor’s brewery and tasting room are located just off Main Street in Greenport, and we often cut across the bank parking lot to get there. Since they opened, they have moved the tasting room up a steep flight of stairs (labeled the “Stairway to Heaven”—you may start humming now) to a somewhat rustic room with a bar, plus low stools in the center of the space. Around the walls they display an ever-changing selection of works of art for sale, so the room also functions as an art gallery. There are also t-shirts, totes, and hats displaying their clever logo—a schematic map of Long Island emphasizing its whale-like shape, with a star for Greenport.
A sign informs us “No pints, just flights,” which is fine with us, as that’s what we’ve come for. The procedure is that you pay $8.00 for a glass in which they give you your tastes, and then you get to keep the glass. We’re amassing quite a collection, I must admit. If you want to take some home, you buy a “Growler” (so named, according to one theory, for the sound the beer makes as it splashes into the container), which they fill from the tap and top with a screw cap, for $19. Since our last visit they have added a smaller size for $13, which is perfect for two. The servings are quite generous, and two could even share one tasting. You get six samples from their ever-changing menu, anchored by the Harbor Ale, which they always feature.
1. Greenport Harbor Ale 5.2%
This is a classic American beer, but better than Bud, and would be perfect with baseball and peanuts. It is nicely hoppy, with some citrus and unripe pineapple notes.
2. Black Duck Porter 4.9%
Why “black duck?” we ask our server. She’s not sure, but thinks it is named for the color—which is indeed quite black—and Long Island ducks. They try to have names which reflect the local color. I remember fondly one called DisOrient Harbor which they were forced to discontinue. Apparently the State in its wisdom thinks it is a bad idea to give alcoholic drinks names which reflect an effect they might have. I really like the Black Duck, which both smells and tastes a bit like espresso, but also dark unsweetened chocolate and spice. It would be perfect with kielbasi. Sometimes they make a similar beer called Canard Noir…
3. Oyster Stout 4.9%
This is another dark beer, but not nearly as strong and full-flavored as the porter. Dark beer for those who don’t care for dark beer, opines my husband, who also nails the spice taste we’re trying to identify. Cardamom! Do we detect a slight fishy smell, or are we influenced by the name? They suggest it would be good with oysters, and though I generally prefer white wine with those bivalves, this would work since it would not overwhelm them.
4. Devil’s Plaything IPA 5.5%
“Made exclusively for Salvation Taco,” the sign reads. We know the spot, a restaurant in Manhattan we walked into and promptly walked out of, unwilling to bear the extreme noise level. I do hear their tacos are good, and so is this beer. It is brewed with hot peppers in it, we are told, and we can sense an underlying chili flavor, though it is not spicy. The aroma reminds me of tomato leaves. This is not a beer for sipping, as it is a bit sharp, but I can see how its refreshing taste would go well with spicy Mexican or Szechuan dishes. There’s a touch of citrus, so I can certainly see this with a bowl of guacamole.
5. Otherside IPA 7.5%
Why Otherside, inquiring minds want to know. The hops for this one come from the West Coast, is the answer, huge quantities of Apollo, Cascade, Centennial, and Chiana hops. Befitting its making, we note a complexity of flavor in this very hoppy beer (please, no happy/hoppy puns). It would be great with a hamburger and chips or fries.
6. Leaf Pile Ale 5.4%
Halloween is coming, and so is Thanksgiving, so it is time for pumpkin pie—or pumpkin ale. We do indeed taste cinnamon and nutmeg and some sweetness. If you don’t particularly like beer, this might be the quaff for you. I like it better than I thought I would!
After we finish, our server rinses out our glasses and puts in a paper towel to dry them. We buy a small growler of Black Duck Porter, which we enjoy later that evening with barbecued pork loin. Excellent combination.
Reasons to visit:
You’re walking around Greenport and need a break from shopping; you’ve tried all the wineries and are ready for something different; you like artisanal beer; you want some really fresh beer for dinner; you like interesting beers.