Certain beverages just seem to go with certain seasons, like icy lemonade and cold beer in the summer. It was a beautiful sunny day on the North Fork, so we decided it was definitely beer weather, and furthermore that it was time to return to Greenport Harbor. They have two locations: the original small place on a back street in Greenport, and a huge space in Peconic, with a large restaurant area and outdoor lawn. Since we wanted a bite to eat, we opted for the Peconic facility.
A remodeled car dealer, the tasting room has a definite industrial vibe, with exposed beams and a concrete floor. Simple wooden tables and benches provide seating. The restaurant area is a separate room off to one side. Usually, you go in there to order food, but on this day a sign instructed you to order at the bar in the tasting room. At the bar, we carefully perused the beers on offer, aiming to try varieties we hadn’t had the last time we were there. We wrote down our choices on a piece of paper, and asked the server to please organize the glasses in the order in which we should taste them. Then we gave him our food order—a giant pretzel—and, after filling our tasting glasses, he handed me a device which emitted a loud buzz and flashed lights when the food was ready to be picked up.
When you order a glass or a tasting, you surrender your credit card, which you get back when you return your glasses. A tasting consists of five generous pours for $12.
Our server was quite busy when we placed our order, as a large group had gathered on the lawn outside and individual members kept coming in to make orders. In addition, it was lunch time, and we saw a number of people quietly having lunch and a beer. However, when we were ready to leave and I went to pick up the credit card, the room was quiet, so I was able to chat with him about the names of the beers—a subject that always fascinates me.
Because we were aiming to try new flavors, we skipped my favorite of their beers: The Black Duck Porter. I highly recommend it if you like dark Guinness-like beers.
1. 1927 Pilsner 5% ABV (Alcohol by volume)
This was one name our server couldn’t explain, but he thought it might have been named for a restaurant which had requested this particular brew. (The menu says “brewed exclusively for The Paramount”.) In any event, the date is appropriate, because my reaction was this is a “good old-fashioned-beer beer.” My tasting pal said, “Nothing jumps out in your mouth,” which sounded to me like something to be grateful for. In any event, it’s a mellow, rather monochromatic, malty beer.
2. Summer Ale 5% ABV
Good name for this light ale, which I described as a “beer on the beach” type. Also not an exciting beer, this is an easy to drink quaff, refreshing, with a touch of sweetness.
3. Velvet Sea 5% ABV
The server described this as “between a lager and an ale,” and clearly it is designed to go down smoothly—which might explain the name. It smells hoppy and has some citrus taste, but not too much. I said it was pleasant but not OMG. I could see this with a hot dog and fries at a barbeque.
4. Locals to Locals #14 7.2% ABV
They call this a “Hazzzy IPA.” Whatever that means, this is a beer that smells like a Christmas tree and has a pleasantly piney taste, with a touch of cardamom. We both like this the best of the brews so far. It has enough taste to be interesting, but not so much that we can’t enjoy drinking it. We also like the concept behind the name, which is that local breweries and retail outlets and restaurants band together to promote local beers and the places to drink and buy them.
5. Face Value 8% ABV
Like grapefruit juice? Then you may love this beer. I like grapefruit juice, but I prefer that my beer not taste like it. This one tastes like a slightly sweetened grapefruit juice, just less acidic than most. My husband, however, really likes it. The menu describes it as an “Imperial IPA brewed in collaboration with Barrier Brewing Company,” in Oceanside. One of the brewers used to work for Barrier, the server told us, and that also explains the name. Barrier likes to use money references for its beers, with names like “Legal Tender” and “Claim the Vault.”
As we discuss the beers we drank and what we did and did not like, our server pours us a tiny taste of a beer he says we must try: Maine Coarse. It’s an IPA brewed with sea salt, key limes, and lactose. It’s certainly interesting, and shockingly salty. This is a beer that you have to drink with food—maybe something like fried chicken—so that the saltiness would complement the food and not overwhelm your taste buds.
Reasons to visit: a brewery with lots of interesting options plus a restaurant with some unusual dishes as well as what you’d expect; the Black Duck Porter and Harbor Ale, though we didn’t drink them today; Summer Ale, Velvet Sea, Locals to Locals #14; you can bring your dog, though not into the restaurant area; sometimes they have music; they always feature displays of art from local artists in both venues.