Since 2009, Greenport Harbor Brewing has been turning out tasty, refreshing beers right in downtown Greenport. Their small brewery/tasting room in a converted firehouse on Carpenter Street has been turning out a surprising variety of delicious brews, all of which thus far have only been available on draft. That’s right: up till now, if you wanted Greenport Harbor beer, you’d have to go to the Greenport tasting room, where you could sample what’s on tap and fill a growler with your favorite. Or you could go to a bar or restaurant that features Greenport Harbor beers.
Now, as every beer geek will tell you, there is no better way to drink most beers then fresh from the tap, but being available only as draft has definitely limited Greenport Harbor’s reach. Another limitation the brewery has faced is its small space, which has meant that it sometimes struggles to meet the strong demand for its product.
All of this is about to change. Just a short drive along Route 25 to the west of Greenport, amidst the vineyards of Peconic, Greenport Harbor Brewing has opened a much larger brewery. Located in a former car dealership, the new brewery promises to increase Greenport Harbor’s production by leaps and bounds.
“When we get this new operation running at full capacity, we’ll be able to brew in one day what currently takes us a week to produce at our original facility,” enthuses DJ Swanson, Greenport Harbor’s head brewer. “A lot of the processes will be automated as well, which is good. My back won’t put up with all the stirring anymore!”
When we visited the new Peconic location in early June, workers were still putting the finishing touches on the pristine new brewhouse—the part of the brewery where the grains are boiled to make the “wort,” and where the yeast and hops are added—while others were busy installing infrastructure in the fermentation room, where the wort, stored in a series of massive steel tanks, becomes beer. Comparing the sheer size of the new facility to the original downtown Greenport space, we could well imagine the increased output the Peconic location will allow. In order to accommodate the greater quantity of beer, the facility has an enormous cold room, where kegs of beer will be kept fresh while awaiting shipment.
But Greenport Harbor’s ambitions for the new location go way beyond just making more of their great beer. Here in Peconic, they also plan to do their own bottling, which is something that not many Long Island craft breweries do. Many rely on “contract brewing,” farming out their production.
“We are philosophically opposed to contract brewing for ourselves,” says John Liegey, Greenport Harbor Brewing’s founder. “We don’t want other folks in charge of our beer!” By setting up their own bottling line, Greenport Harbor will be able to distribute their beer more efficiently for the home market, and keep control over every stage of the process. Eventually, visitors to Greenport Harbor will be able to taste beers, have a pint of their favorite, and walk away with a six-pack, drinking only beer that has been produced on-site.
Also on tap for the new location is an expanded tasting room and bar, as well as a beer garden and restaurant. The restaurant in particular is central to Liegey’s larger vision for the brewery, which is to advocate for beer as an equal to wine as an accompaniment for fine food.
“The restaurant will be all about pairing well-made food with well-made beers, to help people realize that beer can be every bit as appropriate with the right food. There’s a lot of great local produce and seafood available out here, and we make beers that go really well with it.”
Whether diners will ever rethink their default pairings of food with wine remains to be seen. What is clear, though, is that Greenport Harbor Brewing is well on its way to establishing Greenport as an East End hub for beer.
For more information, visit harborbrewing.com.