May 13, 2021
Riverhead is becoming quite a beer-making town, with several new breweries we have yet to visit. Now that’s a challenge I’m happy to meet. Our friends were still here, happily, so off we went to Riverhead, hoping to combine a tasting with lunch at one of the new breweries, Peconic County, which is located in a new building, with a deck facing the Peconic River. (Ah, commented one friend, so that’s why the town is called river-head. Yup.)
PCB, as it is abbreviated (I assume they do not want to suggest any ties to the chemical.), has a lovely outdoor deck, furnished with comfy blue-upholstered chairs around large square tables, as well as less inviting metal chairs around barrels or small tables. We were lucky enough to score the blue chairs, room for four. Leaving two of us to guard the seats, we went inside to choose our flights and order food. Inside is less inviting. The whole industrial vibe of breweries fascinates me. Greenport Harbor, for example, is located in a former automobile dealership, and North Fork in a former fire house, so they come by their décor naturally, but then PCB is in a brand-new building, yet has the same industrial esthetic. I wonder why.
Anyway, we had time to scan the menus for both beers and food while the lone server worked as fast as he could to wait on a sudden spate of customers, including a number of employees of the Riverhead Aquarium, which is right next door (A place well worth a visit, if you haven’t been there—or a return visit if you have!). But everyone was jolly and good-natured, and we didn’t mind the wait. A flight consists of four beers, chosen from the list of ten, served in medium-sized glasses set into a wooden carrier, with little inserts on which the server puts the number of your selection, so you know what you’re drinking.
For lunch, we ordered wings and a charcuterie and cheese platter to share, while our designated driver opted for a burger and fries and a Pepsi (no Coke…). By the way, the “toasties” on the menu are variations on grilled cheese sandwiches. We received a buzzer which would alert us when the food was ready, and carried our beverages outside, where we found those who had been saving seats busily shedding sweaters and sweating. PCB needs to figure out some way to shade their lovely deck, as even on this slightly cool day it was so hot in the sun that my phone overheated.
A little while after we began tasting our beers, the buzzer went off. We had been warned that the wings were boneless, and in fact they were more like crispy pieces of deep-fried chicken bathed in hot sauce than traditional wings, though served with the obligatory blue cheese dip and celery sticks. Tasty, and the hot sauce was appropriately hot, though I did need to cool down my taste buds in order to assess the rest of my beers. The cheese-and-charcuterie platter was quite generous, and we almost didn’t finish it all. The big juicy-looking burger received a good review, and the thin fries were nice and crispy, so lunch was certainly a success.
We liked the beers, too, though in general we feel Greenport Harbor’s are better, and overall, these were a bit sweet for our taste. Without planning, once again my friend and I had only one overlap, so we tasted seven beers in all.
- Dream Girl IPA
I decided I had to start with this one, since they call it their “flagship” IPA. The menu describes it as “hoppy but smooth,” and I agree. It’s a fairly classic IPA, but a bit sweet.
- Big Duck Rye Saison
If you like rye bread—which I do—you’re likely to like this saison, which is flavored with rye malt. This is a Belgian style of beer, amber in color. My friend opined that it would work well in a stew—maybe beef carbonnades. The name, by the way, refers to the famous Big Duck, an East End landmark currently located in Flanders.
- Colonial Amber Lager
Again, this is a classic in its category, a bit sweet and bland—though my judgment might have been clouded by my first bite of those spicy wings. Nice to drink, especially with food.
- Iron Pier Rocky Road Nitro Stout
The description of this dark stout includes the warning that it contains lactose, good to know for those who are lactose intolerant. The menu has the accurate description that it is a “marshmallow and vanilla milk stout with notes of chocolate and caramel,” and that it “doesn’t taste too thick or syrup like.” Like the Double Ducks we had at Greenport, this is not really a drink with food stout, but would be fine as a dessert or just to sip. The name, by the way, refers not just to Rocky Road ice cream (which includes marshmallows), but a popular Riverhead beach, called Iron Pier because it has…an iron pier.
- Hampton Haze
I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised that this was sweet-ish, since the menu describes this IPA as “soft and fruity.”
- Dis-Orient-Ed Double IPA
Clearly a reference to the town of Orient, the name could also be a reference to the high abv—8.2%–of this IPA. My friend called it “very IPA-ish.”
- Flying Point Golden Ale
Another pleasant sipper, this ale has notes of tropical fruit and a bit of sweetness. It’s good, but I like the bitterness many beers have. The name is a reference to a beach in Southampton.
Reasons to visit: Lovely outdoor deck overlooking the river (but only if they put up umbrellas or awnings!); convenient location next to the Riverhead Aquarium; all the beers were quite drinkable, if not my favorite style; generous cheese-and-charcuterie platter, which included pickled Brussels sprouts, plus other good food options.