Jamesport Farm Brewery: Really a Farm; Really a Brewery

February 25, 2022

Yes, they grow their own hops and barley on their farm in Jamesport, and they are quite proud of it, too.  The farm connection is also evident in the actual tasting room building, which was originally a potato barn.  You can read all about the construction in big posters on one wall of the tasting room, which provided a welcome distraction for the small visitors we had with us. 

Once again, we thought carefully about where to take these visitors, who are lovers of wine, beer, cider, and cocktails—which makes finding a place to go easy—and the parents of two young girls—which complicates matters, though in a good way.  We decided on Jamesport for several reasons: it is a short drive from our home; it is a large facility where the girls would be able to be up out of their seats; it is informal, so no one would object to small fry (though the tasting room does not welcome under-21s on weekends); and our guests had never been there.  Also, we ourselves had only been there once, not long after they opened, and we were interested to see how they were doing. 

As it turned out, this was a good choice in every way.  We pushed two of the little picnic tables in the tasting room together, so the girls could sit comfortably and read their books, and we enjoyed tasting the brews.  (We bought soda and chips for the little ones.)  The tasting room is big, with a stage for live performance on one side, picnic tables, a bar with bar stools, and a little shop area selling t-shirts and such.  The menu has fourteen brews on offer, which I guess may change seasonally, so there was plenty of variety.  The four adults shared two flights, of four beers each, so we may go back and try the ones we missed.  A flight, by the way, is $25, and includes not just the four tastes, but also a pint of any brew in a glass you get to keep. 

On this rainy, chilly day, there were only a few other people in the tasting room, though we were told that they’ve been getting good crowds on the weekends, when they have live music.  They have plenty of room outside, with a huge beer garden space, and a very large parking lot, which I wish they would pave, as it was quite muddy.

The parking lot was very muddy!
Our little girl guests were charmed by this well-behaved Australian shepherd.

At the end, we bought a growler of Wined Out to take home, which proved to be the perfect accompaniment to the tacos we bought at Mattitaco.  (I particularly recommend the BLT–bacon, lobster taco–the Korean BBQ, the Chicken Tinga, and the mushroom and cheese quesadilla.) My growler, by the way, was from Greenport Harbor, for which I apologized to Joe, the friendly and informative server.  “That’s okay,” he replied with a smile, “we’re all friends out here.”  

  •  Nite Lite             4.3% ABV (Alcohol by volume—a number which can vary widely for brews)

“Light lager” is the description of this brew, and light it is—only a step up from Bud light.  It is a hot-summer-day-after-mowing-the-lawn beer, almost watery, with slight citrus and bread notes.

  • Prancing Pony   5%

As Lord of the Rings fans, we of course had to try this, even though it is a blackberry wheat beer, and I generally dislike wheat beers and berry-based beers.  However, I find this quite potable, not sweet, crisp, with just a touch of blackberry flavor— “enough to make a Hobbit smile,” says the menu.  We agree it would be a good accompaniment to Thai food.

  • Weekend at Bernie’s      5.4%

I like the sweet aroma of this blond ale.  It drinks like a classic blond ale, tasty, with a long finish.  Good for sipping by the pool  😉

  • Waves of Grain Amber  6%

We all like the distinct, malty, toasty taste of this amber/red ale, with just a nice amount of hops.

  • Wined Out Fresh Hop     6.5%.

This is my favorite so far, an IPA that is not overly grapefruity.  It is made from fresh hops, and is quite refreshing.  We discuss that it would go well with, for example, a vinegary pulled pork, and decide it will be perfect to take home for the Mattitaco take-out we have planned for dinner.  Which it is.

  • Wicked Little Sister         7.2%

There are two little sisters at our table, and one approves in theory while the other approves in actuality of this IPA. It is pleasantly bitter, with plenty of grapefruit and other citrus tastes.  In fact, our visitors like it so much, they buy a four-pack of cans to take home.

  • Gentleman Joe Porter    6.8%

We save the dark beers for last, since drinking them first would make it hard to taste the lighter brews.  I generally like dark beers, and this one has a promising aroma of coffee and chocolate.  However, I find it has too much coffee flavor for me.  I joke that if you have a glass of Wicked Little Sister and another of this, you’ll have breakfast—grapefruit juice and coffee.

  • The Kurgan        10%

I should have asked why name this Scotch ale for a character from “The Highlander,” other than the movie is about Scots.  The menu describes it as “the Scottish version of an English-style barley wine.”  I say it is almost too easy to drink, with some sweetness and caramel flavor.  It is really delicious, and I could definitely see sipping it in a cozy pub. 

I forgot to take a picture of my pint before it was mostly gone–but it was a full glass!

Now it is time to return our trays of tastes, in exchange for which we each get a pint of our choice.  I decide on Wined Out, and our guests opt for Waves of Grain.  At the end, Joe very kindly rinses out our glasses and wraps them in paper towels for us to take home.

Additional options. They could improve their soda and snack selections.

Reasons to visit:  good brewery, with choices for all tastes in beer; big facility, especially in the warm weather; farm to table; dogs allowed; they will have a food truck starting in March, but no outside food is allowed; wines and sodas available; Weekend at Bernie’s, Waves of Grain, Wined Out, Wicked Little Sister, The Kurgan, and, if you like wheat berry beer, the Prancing Pony.

Next time I go, I need to ask what this is!

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company: An Impromptu Stop

October 20, 2021

Plenty of room outside at Greenport Harbor Brewing.

This beautiful, warm, sunny October weather is making up for all those rainy days we had in July.  It was such a nice day, that we decided to do our daily walk in Greenport, check out the shops, see what’s new. The on-street dining areas have been cleared away, which we think is too bad, as really, who needs to drive down Front Street?  We noted that Sweet Indulgences is closing.  I hope that whoever comes into that space maintains the pretty little front garden there.  Quite a few places were closed, as shops tend to close Tuesdays and Wednesdays after the season is over, but there were plenty of people strolling around.  Gradually, some of the funky off-beat “antique” shops are being replaced with boutiques, but so far no national chain stores.

After our walk, we headed home, but the warm weather had worked up a thirst, so we decided to stop at Greenport Harbor Brewing Company’s Peconic location to see what new brews they have.  Since we were there not long ago, I’m not going into detail about the experience.  We chose our beers and took the $15 flight outside to a picnic table on the capacious lawn, which we shared with maybe three other small groups.  We had more beer than we actually wanted to finish, but we enjoyed them all. 

The flight looks pretty in the sun.
  •  Cuvaison   7.5% ABV

Not sure where the name came from, but my guess it is some sort of play on the wine term cuvee, since this is “Saison” made with “local merlot juice from McCall Vineyard.” It has a lovely slight cherry flavor as well as some typical beer bitterness.  We liked it, but also felt it was a good beer for a non-beer-drinker.

  •  Leaf Pile Ale   5.2% ABV

Of course, they have an entry in the October mania for all things pumpkin.  This is called a pumpkin ale, but is not overly spiced, with a bit of nutmeg taste.  Refreshing.  It would go great with pork chops and apple sauce.

  • Well Rested   11.2% ABV

Brews like this are a reason I like Greenport Harbor Brewing so much.  This is described as a milk stout, “aged in Heaven Hill Bourbon Barrels,” and it is quite unusual.  It has umami, and an almost malted mouth feel.  I also taste fudge, with a touch of bitterness.  I could definitely see sipping this in a cozy pub, maybe with a dish of shepherd’s pie.  My tasting buddy thinks it is a bit “overpowering.”

  • Otherside IPA 6.8% ABV

This smells like a combination of pine woods and fresh-cut grass, and tastes piney and lemony.

  • Black Duck Porter 5.0%ABV

This is one of my favorites of their brews, and never disappoints.  Recently, we had dinner at the North Fork Roadhouse, and got a glass of this and one of Guinness, and actually decided we liked this better.  It is dark but not too heavy, with some coffee flavor and aroma.

Reasons to visit:  What I’ve written about before, plus they are always trying new flavors (like Cuvaison and Well Rested) and their brews are good.

North Fork Brewing Company: Who Let the Dogs Out? February 17, 2020

https://www.northforkbrewingco.com/

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The logo represents a barn swallow, which has several symbolic meanings.

After the fourth or fifth dog entered, owner in tow, our son-in-law turned to us and said, “I feel as though we should have brought a dog with us.” We had arrived at the North Fork Brewing Company tasting room around lunch time, and almost every person who entered seemed to have a sweet, well-behaved dog with them. (I stopped counting when I got to six!) The room is well adapted to canine visitors, since the brewery is located in a former fire station, with concrete floors and an industrial vibe. Many of the visitors were having a glass of beer and a sandwich, from the food truck outside, while others, like us, had opted for a tasting.

The last time we went to North Fork was exactly a year ago, and that time, too, it was with our daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters after a couple of hours at the Safari Play Space in Riverhead. The girls settled in with coloring books and books, and split a root beer (which W. said went very well with her orange lollipop from Safari), while we tasted and discussed. We decided that the beers had improved over the year. The last time we felt that while we appreciated the creative choices they were making, there was also no beer we wanted to just sit and drink. In contrast, this time there were several we could see getting in a growler, and in fact our son-in-law took home a growler of “It Must Have Been Light, But It’s Darker Now.”

A flight is four glasses of your choice from a list of eleven beers on tap for $9, and comes in a little muffin tin. You write your choices on a little card, and they are put in the pan in number order, with the numbers on the bottom of each spot.

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The number in the bottom of the muffin tin which holds your tastes.

After a little while, we got sandwiches from the food truck, which had a limited menu because, we heard the person in it explain, they had not expected to be open this day. Our daughter is lactose intolerant, so she was delighted to try the vegan cheese and pesto sandwich, which was very tasty ($10). My husband and I shared a grilled cheese sandwich, which was a rather ordinary offering of grilled cheddar on white ($6). The brewery also sells bags of North Fork potato chips for $3.

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In between sips, I chatted with the server, who explained that the logo represents a barn swallow. The barn swallow symbolizes their commitment to be a farm brewery—they grow many of their own hops—and also was a tattoo sailors would get to symbolize their home-coming.

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  1. It Must Have Been Light, But It’s Darker Now 5% Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

This is a dark beer for someone who is making the transition from being a light beer drinker to darker beers. It is dark in color, with a caramel aroma, pleasantly bitter, with a refreshing, complex flavor, lighter than most dark beers. A German bock style, our son-in-law says it compares favorably with bocks he’s had in Germany.

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The flight I shared with my tasting buddy.

  1. Change (In the House of Hops) 9%

Change indeed. This IPA smells and tastes like mandarin oranges. My daughter and I agree on what to drink it with—I say a po’boy sandwich and she says a basket of fried clams.

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They have their own food truck, called the North Fork Chewing Company, parked right outside the tasting room.

  1. Dark Side of Maple 6%

I have liked porters ever since I first tasted one in an English pub many years ago, but I think this one is a bit too sweet. Another of our group says it is “a good porter.” I think it needs more body. You can definitely smell and taste the maple syrup used in making it.

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The menu is sometimes more extensive, but they hadn’t expected to be open on a Monday. I suppose they forgot it was a holiday.

  1. Gaffer’s Hearth 9%

On the other hand, I really like this stout, which is also brewed with maple, plus North Fork Roasting Company coffee. It had a delicious coffee flavor and aroma, with just the right amount of bitterness. Our son-in-law describes it as a “breakfast stout,” and reminisces about a place he went to when he was in college that would serve at breakfast a glass of stout with an egg beaten into it. Really? Much discussion ensues over whether that is a good idea or not.

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The other flight our group had. You can see how cloudy Run the Juice is.

  1. Hold Me Closer Tiny Lager 5%

I’m at the end of my flight, but our daughter and son-in-law have a couple of different choices in their flight, and this is one of them. This is a light, fizzy, German pilsner. Refreshing, but not to be sipped on its own.

  1. Run the Juice 4%

Like many IPAs, this smells and tastes like grapefruit, though this one also has a touch of funkiness. It is cloudy in color. Refreshing.

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You can peek into the brewery itself.

Reasons to visit: you want to go out for a beer and not leave your dog at home alone; all the beers, but especially It Must Have Been Light, But It’s Darker Now; Gaffer’s Hearth; Hold Me Closer; they have their own food truck; convenient to downtown Riverhead.  Note:  Google map directions are not accurate!  They tell you you have arrived when you are actually around the corner from the parking lot.

Greenport Harbor: What’s That Strange Glowing Orb in the Sky? February 12, 2020

https://greenportharborbrewing.com/

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We’ve never seen the parking lot this empty. And look–blue sky!

After what seemed like forty days and nights of rain, the sun made a brief appearance on Wednesday, so we took advantage of the pleasant weather to get out of the house. We took our friends to the Riverhead Aquarium, where it was actually nice enough to sit outside and watch the sea lion show and wander around to see the playful otters and penguins, as well as the other exhibits inside. We all stood mesmerized at the shark tank as those giants glided past the windows, and tried to pick out each variety of colorful fish in the coral reef tank. The butterfly room felt like a brief visit to the tropics.

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After a couple of hours, our feet were tired and our mouths were dry, so we headed to Greenport Harbor Brewing Company’s Peconic location (the original place in Greenport has limited hours in the winter, like much of the rest of the town). It was the least crowded we’ve ever seen, with only a few people in the tasting room. Usually, you have to go into the room off to the side to order food, but today the man behind the bar was filling all orders, so we ordered a giant pretzel. They actually have real food, but we were planning to go out for an early dinner, so we didn’t want to eat too much. We did, however, end up getting a second pretzel!

At the bar you are presented with a printed list of the available beers, and you simply circle your five choices, which are then handed to you in the form of small glasses set into a wooden carrier shaped like a whale/Long Island (their logo). There’s plenty of beer for two people to share. Our friend chose some of the same beers we did, but also some different ones, so we were able to try eight beers in all. Our designated driver was happy with a Boylan Black Cherry Soda (made with real cane sugar).

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Soda for the designated driver.

We took our flights to a table looking out at the yard, enjoying the sunny day.

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This room was also empty.

  1. Vapor Kisses 5% ABV (alcohol by volume)

This is described on the menu as a “smoked Helles Lager,” and indeed it does have a slight aroma and taste of smoke. It is a refreshing, post-lawn-mowing-on-a-hot-day type of beer. Light and crisp.

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The flight I chose. You drink them in order, from light to dark.

  1. Respect to Process 6%

“Unfiltered pale ale with Galaxy and Citra,” reads the menu for this one, but I think it could just as well have said “grapefruit juice,” which is what it smells and tastes like. I’m glad it was my friend’s choice rather than mine, since I don’t care for this type of beer.

  1. Far Out There Series 4 7%

I guess the “far out there” refers to the very hoppy quality of this IPA. Although I sometimes don’t like hoppy IPAs, I don’t mind this one, which just begs for a snappy hot dog accompaniment. It has some bitter lemon taste, but also warm grain taste.

  1. The Hot Sauce IPA 6%

No, the name does not refer to what you should drink this with, but what it is made with: Thai Bird chili peppers! My friend compares it to biting into a jalapeno, and opines that she would rather cook with it than drink it. For example, she continues, you could braise chicken in it and then use that to stuff enchiladas. I think it is fun to drink, and would be good with nachos that were more cheesy than spicy.

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Our friend’s choices.

  1. Otherside IPA 8%

I’ve had this before, and find it pleasantly piney, dry and crisp.

  1. OG Double Otherside 1%

As the name suggests, this is a more intense version of the Otherside IPA (whose name refers to the fact that the hops come from the West Coast). I taste grapefruit pith as well as pine. Preferences are so personal—My friend likes it and I do not! Happily, it is also from her flight, as one sip is plenty for me.

  1. Inner Glow 8%

Although I’m not sure I agree with the menu’s description of this as “decadent,” I can certainly taste the coffee mixed with golden stout. However, they also say cocoa is involved, and I don’t taste that at all. This is a sit-in-a-pub and sip stout, and goes down easily. The coffee flavor is not super intense.

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  1. Fork and Beans 5%

On the other hand, this has robust espresso coffee flavor, and is made with NoFoRoCo coffee. It has an aroma of roasting coffee as well. You could have a glass of this and a glass of the Respect to Process and call it breakfast, I joke—coffee and grapefruit juice. It is tasty, but our friend thinks it could have more body to it. True, it is not a real heavy stout. Our friend says she likes a brewery where there are a couple of reliably good beers you can get any time, and I tell her the Harbor Ale and Black Duck Porter, both often available in local markets, are both good choices.

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I like the art they commissioned for their labels.

Reasons to visit: lots of good beers; a roomy space (formerly a car dealership) which nonetheless can be very full on busy days; of the ones I tried today, my favorites were the Hot Sauce IPA (definitely not for everyone), the Inner Glow Stout, and the Fork & Beans Stout; big, hot, soft pretzels served with cheddar sauce and mustard; a menu of “real” foods if you want lunch.

Eastern Front: Sitting in the Front Yard August 25, 2019

https://www.facebook.com/easternfrontbrewing/

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Eastern Front’s front. The parking lot is on the west side.

Since it was a beautiful day, we wanted a place where our rather large party (six adults and two children) could sit outside.  Happily, we discovered that Eastern Front had set out several tables in their yard, nicely screened from Main Road by some bushes.

So while the children read their books, we sipped and chatted and compared notes while enjoying a tasting of the five beers on offer.  I should note that I was recognized as the blogger who had been there before, since they had seen my post on Facebook and remembered my notebook!  We chuckled over that. 

A tasting consists of five little glasses of whichever beers are on tap, for $12, and each couple found sharing one tasting between them was plenty.  You can also buy a pint to drink there or a growler to take home—which we did.  We were planning to barbeque some pork chops from 8 Hands for dinner, so we got a growler of North Shore Red Ale, the consensus favorite, to drink with dinner. 

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1.        Miami Weiss     5.4% ABV (Alcohol by Volume)

Our tasting started with a beer I would never plan to drink, since I generally don’t care for wheat beer.  However, I was pleasantly surprised by this one, which tasted more like a pilsner than a wheat beer.  This is a somewhat yeasty, light-bodied beer, easy to drink, with a slight taste of stone fruit.

2.       Anomalous Ale                6.1%

We had a difference of opinion on this one.  Some in our group liked it.  I did not.  It has a—fittingly—anomalous taste, somewhat like petroleum.  I would not think it was an ale.

3.       Love Lane Lager               6.4%

Some interesting terms were thrown around as we tasted this one, including “cherries,” “ice cream sundae,” “butter,” and “caramel.”  It is a bit on the sweet side.  Again, we had a difference of opinion in the group, with some liking it more than others.  That, of course, is the fun of going with several people, as you can see how much people’s tastes vary.

4.       North Shore Red Ale       5.9%

On the other hand, we all liked this one, which we were told is one of their most popular brews.  It is toasty, with a pleasantly bitter finish.  The taste reminded me of ales I’ve had in British pubs.  Since we all liked it, we decided to get a growler to take home.  By the way, you can find Eastern Front beer on tap at the Broken Down Valise, across the street from the Mattituck LIRR station.

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5.       Autonomous Ale             9.8%

One of our visitors from the north, a wine and beer aficionado, immediately said, “I like it.”  This is a nicely balanced double IPA, with piney rather than citrusy hops, with just the right amount of bitterness.  We joked about hoppiness creating happiness.  Well, it is 9.8% alcohol by volume…

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NoFoDoCo is right across the street.

Reasons to visit:  conveniently located on Main Road, just across the street from the NoFoDoCo (North Fork Donut Company, where, if you’re lucky, you may be able to get a chocolate iced donut topped with potato chips) and Love Lane; pretty tasting room, which was once a florist, and is still decorated with some impressive plants; nice outdoor area; the Miami Weiss, the North Shore Red Ale, the Autonomous Ale; you can get a growler to take home; there’s wine if you’re with someone who prefers that to beer.

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Wine is available.

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Greenport Harbor Brewery: Summer Sippers June 14, 2019

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 https://greenportharborbrewing.com/

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.

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Hot pretzel with melted cheese. Yum.

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.

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The beer menu changes seasonally, so you never know what to expect.

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.

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If you want to take some beer home, you can buy bottles, cans, or growlers.

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.

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There’s a gift counter where you can buy t-shirts, etc.

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.

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You can buy t-shirts like this in the little store area.

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.

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Note the taps. Greenport Harbor makes use of the fact that Long Island is shaped somewhat like a whale.

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.

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Fido can come with you , but has to stay outside.

 

 

Eastern Front Brewing Company: Sort of New Kid on the Block March 23, 2019

https://www.facebook.com/easternfrontbrewing/

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The entrance to the tasting room on Main Road. Brewing is still done in the Westphalia Avenue building.

First, about three years ago, a family member noticed the Eastern Front Brewing Company sign on a warehouse building on Westphalia Avenue, just north of the railroad tracks in Mattituck. Then we tried the beer at a First Friday celebration two summers ago on Love Lane. Then Eastern Front opened a tasting room on Main Road, southeast of Love Lane. Then, before we could get there, they closed the tasting room due to issues with getting a permit from the town of Southold. However, with the issues finally solved, we were able to get to Eastern Front for a tasting on a blustery but sunny Saturday, after our visit to the Riverhead Farmers Market.

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One side of the tasting room.

The tasting room is an attractively renovated space in what had been a fence store and a florist. Were the large healthy plants in the tasting room a leftover from the florist, we wondered. We’ll ask next time, and there will surely be a next time, because we enjoyed both the beers and the setting. Dark blue walls make the room cozy, and a slightly elevated alcove contains a display of local art. Any local artists are encouraged to enquire, as they hope to have a constant series of gallery shows.

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The artist whose work is currently on display.

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Yes, this is the parking lot. Perhaps they will improve it in the future.

The small parking lot is still rather primitive, though serviceable, and is located to the west of the tasting room. Right across the street on Main Road is another welcome newcomer to the Mattituck food and drink scene, North Fork Donut Company. One person in the tasting room suggested they build a bridge across Main Road to connect the two. Ah yes, I could see having a maple bacon donut with a beer, for sure!

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That’s the North Fork Donut Company right across the street.

A flight consists of all five beers on tap, costs $12, and comes in a well-designed wooden tray, with holes for each generously-filled glass. We were glad we had decided to share, as one shared flight was more than enough beer. You can also purchase a growler or beer by the glass.

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We took our flight to a table, and as we sipped and listened to quiet jazz being played on the sound system, we also enjoyed eavesdropping on a generously bearded fellow, who was clearly a brew aficionado (what is it about beards and beers, anyway?), discuss the ins and outs of brewing.

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Oops. We drank half the Fat Old Sun before I remembered to take a picture of the flight.

1. Fat Old Sun 6.3 ABV (alcohol by volume)
This is described on the menu as an American lager, and it is a clean, light, very drinkable classic beer—like Budweiser, but with taste. The flavor is yeasty and grainy, with a pleasant finish. If the name is a reference to drinking this in the summer, it is a good choice, because I could definitely see sipping this on the deck with some barbequed ribs and cole slaw.

2. Anomalous Ale 6.7
Why anomalous? Perhaps because, though it is an India-style ale, it has a unique flavor. I get lots of spice, perhaps cardamom, plus a slight but pleasant bitterness. It has a bit of a chemical smell. Though this is not a beer I would choose to drink by itself, I could see having it with food, perhaps an Indian curry.

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3. Love Lane Lager 6.2
The servers were quite busy solving some problem with filling a growler, so I didn’t get to ask why this is called a “pre-Prohibition lager.” In any event, it is light brown in color and light and somewhat sweet in taste. We decided it is more of a hot dog beer than a burger beer. It would be a good drink for someone who doesn’t like the bitterness often present in beers, but we found it too sweet, with an evanescent finish.

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It’s not as heavy as you would think from the color of Sexy MF.

4. Sexy MF 5.1
I do like it when brewers get creative with the names for their beers. This “dry Irish stout” smells like chocolate and coffee, and tastes of them, too, with a touch of saltiness. Though not having as much oomph as a Guinness, it is certainly good. My husband said he felt cognitive dissonance, because he expected more gravitas in such a dark beer. However, I liked it.

5. Wee Heavy Scottish Ale 8.8
The server explained to us that, though this is a somewhat lighter beer than the Sexy MF, they put it last in the tasting because it is so high in alcohol. Once you have this, you may not be able to appreciate any beers that follow it. I appreciated it. This is a very tasty beer, with lots of spice flavor, perhaps cardamom again, or nutmeg. If I were getting a growler here, I would choose this one. Perhaps next time we’re in Riverhead we’ll stop in at a Polish grocer and get some of their kolbassi to grill, then stop by Eastern Front for a growler of Wee Heavy. Yum.

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Reasons to visit: convenient location on Main Road, right near the food mecca that Love Lane has become (Village Cheese, Lombardi’s, North Fork Donut Company, Love Lane Kitchen, etc.); attractive tasting room with a little art gallery; the Fat Old Sun, Sexy MF, and Wee Heavy Scottish Ale; good place for both those who love beer and those who prefer sweeter drinks, as the beers tend toward the sweeter side.

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Interesting contest. I think I’d have trouble choosing!

North Fork Brewing Company: Newbie Joins the Riverhead Clan February 17, 2019

North Fork Brewing Company:  Newbie Joins the Riverhead Clan

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This was formerly a fire house.

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The Mattitaco truck outside the brewery.

https://www.northforkbrewingco.com/

Just a couple of blocks off Main Street in Riverhead, in a former fire house, we found the newest member of the Riverhead craft beer scene, North Fork Brewing Company, joining Crooked Ladder, Moustache, and Long Ireland.  We went there with our daughter and son-in-law, who are both beer lovers, and our two granddaughters, who sampled the home-made root beer for us.  The junior members of our group rated the root beer as very good, with a nice licorice flavor, not too spicy, and “goes well with a grape lollypop.” IMG_6228

With four of us, we were able to sample all eleven brews currently on tap.  If we had not just had lunch at Perabell (I recommend the thin-crust pizza.), we could have gotten tacos from a Mattitaco truck parked just outside the firehouse doors.  They also sell North Fork potato chips.

The space is medium sized, and subscribes to the frequent brewery esthetic of industrial chic.  I’ve noticed that many wineries evoke the rural scene around them, being housed in former barns or buildings that suggest farm structures, while breweries tend to be more factory-like, using repurposed car dealerships or firehouses or other industrial spaces.  Not sure why that is, and of course it’s not true of them all.

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Note the taps made from re-purposed firehouse lockers.

The very helpful and accommodating server explained to us that a flight consists of any four of their brews for $8.  She handed out little cards on which we wrote down our choices.  The four little glasses were carefully placed in a carrying tray with numbers corresponding to the number on the card of each choice.  She noted that if we had trouble choosing, we could get a sip of the beers before deciding on our flight.  However, with a little coordination, we realized that we could easily try all eleven.  We gave up on a strict order of tastes, and there was no offer to suggest a succession, but we did generally try to go from lighter to heavier.  (We overheard a server note that they carry Bridge Lane red and white blend wines, for those who would prefer not to drink a beer.)

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Overall, we agreed that the beers were interesting and quite varied, though we didn’t like any one enough to take home a growler.  Our son-in-law summed it up by noting that this was a good place to come to try lots of experimental beers, but most were too “in your face” to want a full glass to sip with a meal or on its own.

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We have gotten take-out from Mattitaco several times, and liked every variety we’ve sampled so far.

  1. Sticky Bandit IPA 6.9% ABV (alcohol by volume)

The brewery prides itself on acknowledging its North Fork roots, including literally, in that they have a farm where they grow much of their hops.  This is a fresh, nicely hoppy IPA, with lots of grapefruit flavor.  I could definitely see having this with one of Mattitaco’s fish tacos, like the seared tuna one on offer from the truck.

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  1. Run the Juice IPA 6.1% ABV

This tastes like a joint, said one of us (anonymously).  It does have some vegetal notes, plus the grapefruit one expects in an IPA, in this case more like the pith than the fruit.

  1. Pierce the Ale IPA 6.8% ABV

My daughter likes this the best so far of the IPAs, and said it would be refreshing on a hot day.  I said it was like a better version of a Budweiser beer, easy to drink.  This would also go well with a fish taco.

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  1. South Bend Shovel Slayer IPA 6.8% ABV

Some day I’ll have to come back and stand at the bar for my tastes so I can ask how they came up with some of these names.  This is a piney rather than a grapefruity IPA, and my daughter liked this one as well.

  1. Basement Pipe Belgian Dubbel 8.2% ABV

When we were in Belgium, I became very fond of the dubbel style of beer, which tends to be rich, with caramel and raisin flavors.  I also like Raisin Bran cereal, which the taste of this reminded me of.  Very good and refreshing.  If I were to get a glass of a North Fork beer, this would be one contestant.

  1. Take for Ever Sour 6.2% ABV

On the other hand, if I were given a glass of this, I would say thanks but no thanks.  This is a dark, heavy sour beer, brewed with cherries, and tastes both sour and sweet. Last fall, I went to a brewery upstate that specialized in sour beers, and I never dumped so many tastes before.  I say bleh, but, in a perfect illustration of how subjective and individual taste is, this is my son-in-law’s favorite.

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  1. Hop Contagion Imperial 8.25% ABV

Contagion indeed.  This is very hoppy, and more bitter than I like, though balanced with some creaminess.

  1. Dark Side of Maple Porter 6% ABV

My daughter and I both like this one, which reminds me of the glasses of bitter I have had in many English pubs.  It is a bit on the light side for a porter.  My daughter says she could see enjoying this with a serving of Shepherd’s pie, and I agree.  Or maybe with the Mattitaco Ruben taco, made with corned beef.

  1. Bill’s Hyper Local Forecast 5.9% ABV

I didn’t ask about this name, but I assume it refers to News 12’s tag line (this cable-company-sponsored channel specializes in Long Island news, traffic, and weather).  The brewery characterizes this as a “winter warmer,” and it evokes a pumpkin ale, with tastes of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.  A bit too much cinnamon, though not bad in a small dose.

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They kept the firehouse doors, though you enter through a small door on the side. I wonder if they open these in the summer.

  1. Dough’nt Stout Me Now  Imperial Milk Stout 9.3%

I knew right away that I had to try this one, as it is made “in collaboration with North Fork Doughnut Company,” one of my favorite new businesses in Mattituck.  I also tend to like stouts.  This has rich chocolate tastes, and though my son-in-law characterizes it as “too sweet for a pint,” I wouldn’t mind sipping it in a pub, perhaps with an order of chips (a.k.a. French fries).  We are so inspired by our discussion of the North Fork Doughnut Company that our guests stop there on the way home to pick up some doughnuts for breakfast the next day.  One granddaughter, a Girl Scout, is delighted to get a Samoa doughnut, and the other is pleased to have snagged “the last chocolate doughnut!” Alas, they were out of the maple-glazed bacon flavor.

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A Samoa doughnut from the North Fork Doughnut Company. Yum.

  1. Iron Pier Porter 5.4% ABV

My husband and I just recently drove over to Iron Pier beach, on the Sound, within the bounds of Riverhead (so our Southold parking stickers are not valid there), and thought it seemed very nice, with a good-sized parking lot and a little playground.  This porter is made with coconut milk, and though I often like porters, this was not a favorite.  It has a slight metallic taste, which I likened to licking metal, perhaps the source of the name.

Reasons to visit:  you’re making the rounds of the Riverhead breweries; you like to try a wide variety of styles and experimental tastes of beer; the Mattitaco truck; the Pierce the Ale, Basement Pipe, Dark Side of Maple, and Dough’nt Stout Me Now (though, for some people the choices might be quite different!); a pleasant place with generous pours.

Moustache Brewing Company: October and Fest October 20, 2018

http://www.moustachebrewing.com/home

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We liked the coasters.

Riverhead has become something of a mecca for craft beer, with at least five brewing companies as I write this:  Crooked Ladder, Long Beard, Long Ireland, North Fork, and the subject of today’s blog, Moustache Brewing Company.  I haven’t been to Long Beard and North Fork yet, and it’s been awhile since I’ve been to the others.  Part of the problem is that they tend to keep limited hours, opening late in the afternoon and not opening during the week.

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Many of the breweries have limited hours during the week.

However, in the spirit of Oktoberfest, we decided to brave the crowds of cars headed east on this partly sunny Saturday and check out Moustache, which we hadn’t visited since January 2016.  Then, the tasting room was an alcove between huge tanks of brewing beer, with a short bar and limited table space.  Now they have opened an actual tasting room, with a long bar and communal tables, located on the same hard-to-find industrial back street of Riverhead.  Thank goodness for Google maps, or we’d still be wandering around.

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That is the rather nondescript entrance to the tasting room on a nondescript back street in Riverhead.

We were quickly greeted by one of the two bearded men behind the bar (there’s also a woman, who does not have a beard), prompting me to ask if a moustache was a prerequisite for employment.  Nope.  He cheerily informed us that a tasting consisted of four five-ounce pours, took and held our credit card, and gave us two blue tickets for our second round of drinks.  What was this tasting going to cost us?  There was nary a sign.  What would a glass or growler cost?  No idea.  They should post a price list.  At the end our bill was $9.01 for our shared tasting.  Why the one cent?  With some embarrassment he confessed that they had tried to make the price something that would include tax and come out even, and had miscalculated.

Meanwhile, we studied the menu, trying to decide what to get, and looked around the fairly full room.  It was quite noisy.  As we left we noted a limo and a multi-cycle waiting outside, so maybe part of the noise was because we had happened on two parties.  By the way, they allow dogs, children, and outside food.  According to the website they sell North Fork potato chips, but I saw nothing about that at the bar.

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Beards are not required, but it seemed as though they were.

Our server told us that their signature beers were the porter and the brown ale, so we decided to start with those.  There was no indication, either in print or from our server, in what order to drink the beers, even when we asked.

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The Everyman’s Porter and the Milk & Honey brown ale.

  1. Everyman’s Porter         4.5% ABV (alcohol by volume)

This dark brown quaff has a lovely aroma of grains.  It is light for a porter and easy to drink, with a pleasant bitterness but no depth.  I could see sipping this in a pub along with an order of steak and kidney pie, hold the kidneys.

  1. Milk & Honey 6%

A slightly lighter brown than the porter, this tastes quite different.  It has a faintly vegetal aroma and the taste has a touch of sweetness and what my husband describes as “cold metallic.”  Nice carbonation.  This would be fine to drink on its own, or with a hot dog with spicy mustard.

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  1. Sailor Mouth 6.5%

There are several IPAs on the menu, so we asked for descriptions of them.  I tend not to like extremely hoppy IPAs, thus we settled on this one.  As I recall, two years ago when we asked for the origin of the name, Lauri Spitz, the co-owner with her husband Matthew, told us that it was named for her and her, shall we say, command of the language.  In any case, this is a good summer beer.  It smells of Christmas trees and citrus, and the taste is also somewhat piney and not very fruity, though we also detect tastes of pineapple and grapefruit.  It’s not really a beer you’d want to sip on its own, but it would go great with barbequed pulled pork.

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Note the structure of the bar: There is a raised lip a few inches in from the edge, which, we speculated, might lead to spilled beer with some regularity.

  1. Slow Claps 4.3%

Again, there were a couple of pale ales on the menu, so we asked for help in choosing this one.  It is the closest to a regular American beer, the type you might drink while eating nachos and watching the Stupor Bowl (as I call it—I watch it for the commercials).  It is pleasant and light, but not memorable.  We had brought a growler with us in case we wanted to take anything home, but left it in the car.  No need to retrieve it.

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As we left we noted a limo and a multi-cycle, which probably accounted for the noisy groups inside. Groups need a reservation, by the way.

Reasons to visit:  you like craft beers and are not afraid to navigate the back streets of Riverhead; all the beers are definitely easy to drink and pleasant, but, at least based on what we tried, we prefer Greenport Harbor.

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company: Hot Hot Hot! August 2, 2018

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company: Hot Hot Hot!          August 2, 2018

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The day was beautiful but hot!

https://greenportharborbrewing.com/

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But, you might ask, weren’t you at Greenport Brewery recently?  Yes, we were, but we only sampled five of the many brews on offer, plus they’re always adding new ones.  Besides, it was very hot, and a nice cool beer seemed like just the right drink for the day.  And so it was.

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The prints on the wall are for sale.

As we looked around the large room in the Peconic facility (their other tasting room is in Greenport), we discussed the interesting choice the brewery had made in the décor.  After all, the building was built new to their specifications, but it has the look of an old, converted warehouse, with cement floors and exposed beams.  We also paid attention to some of the art on offer, including prints by the designer of their creative labels, and a huge turtle up in the rafters made from upcycled beach flotsam and jetsam.

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That’s a turtle up there, made from beach flotsam and jetsam.

In addition to art, you can also purchase t-shirts or bike shirts and growlers or cans to take home.

As before, we wrote down our choices of five beers from the menu of thirteen choices.  $12 for the five samples.  The server poured them in the order we listed them, and then, immediately understanding my request, numbered them in the order in which they should be tasted.  That’s important, because a lighter tasting brew will seem tasteless if you have it after a heavier one.

We also decided to get one of their huge hot pretzels again, which comes with mustard and a warm cheese dipping sauce.  We actually didn’t finish it, and barely had room for dinner! We saw one group of people offer their leftover pretzel to some strangers.  One other note—they request and then hold onto your credit card until you return the panoply of glasses from your tasting.

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Happy pretzel?

  1. Summer Ale 5% % ABV (Alcohol by volume)

This is the perfect quaff for after you’ve been working in the garden on a hot summer day.  It is light and citrusy, neither bitter nor sweet.  The menu describes it as a blonde ale with honey.  We decided another way to characterize it would be as tasting the way Budweiser should taste.

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Our panoply of tastes. Be sure to follow the directions on how to lift and carry this.

  1. Harbor Ale 5.3% ABV (Alcohol by volume)

They’ve been making this light ale ever since they opened, and I can see why.  It’s a classic, not too hoppy, tasty ale.  It has more flavor than the Summer Ale, but is still a relatively unchallenging beer.  Also a good summer drink, it would go perfectly with barbequed hot dogs.

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We were intrigued by Peconic Project’s cloudy look.

  1. Peconic Project        8%

Why the name?  Because it is actually brewed at the Peconic facility.  This is an Imperial IPA, with aromas of nutmeg and flowers.  We like it.  It’s mellow, not heavy, with lemon rind and other citrus flavors.  I’d happily drink this with a hot pastrami or corned beef on rye.

  1. Otherside IPA 6.8%

This is my favorite of the day, a well-balanced IPA with just the right amount of bitterness and citrus.  It is another beer that would go well with food, like the tacos I’m planning to make this weekend.  Otherside, by the way, refers to the fact that the hops for this IPA come from the other side of the country, as in the west coast.

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The place was fairly quiet on this midweek afternoon, but we have been here when it was so crowded you couldn’t get in the door.

  1. The Holy Black Lager 5.4%

Described on the menu as a “Schwartzbier,” which simply means black beer, this is relatively light for a dark brew.  If you are looking for a Guinness analog, this is not for you.  On the other hand, it is summer, so a relatively light dark beer might be fine.  I detect both an aroma and a flavor of coffee, plus something vegetal.  I get into a brief conversation with some of the brewers who are hanging out at the bar, sampling their wares, and they say something about making this beer in cooperation with “our friends at The Holy Black”?

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Looking into the restaurant half. You give your order and pay at the counter and they give you an electronic gizmo that vibrates violently when your order is ready to be picked up.

Reasons to visit:  you like beer; the chance to try a variety of interesting brews; a restaurant with both snacks and more substantial fare on offer; you can bring your dog to the outside beer garden or the bar, but not the restaurant section; the Harbor Ale and the Otherside IPA; you can fill a growler to take home.