Autumn means fall beers. The East End’s craft breweries have all released seasonals and even more are on the way. Some are old favorites that come around this time of year, and others are making their debut.
Greenport Harbor Brewing Company’s Leaf Pile, a pumpkin spice beer, is available now. “It’s a perennial favorite,” co-founder Richard Vandenburgh says. “Everyone loves Leaf Pile.”
The brewery also once again releases its Fresh Hop Ale, made with cascade hops and nugget hops sourced from North Fork Hops and Wesnofske Farm. “It’s a local wet hop,” Vandenburgh explains. “So, in other words, the hops were picked from the vine and used the same day.”
He says Fresh Hop Ale is an easy drinking beer, with a delicate hop flavor and aroma, and distinct North Fork terroir. Fresh Hop Ale was released September 27 and all the proceeds of its day-one sales went back to the hop growers.
Greenport Harbor’s Oyster Stout will return in time for the brewery’s third annual Oyster Festival October 12 from 1 to 6 p.m. The beer is made in the style of an Irish stout and both the meat and shells of local oysters are added to the kettle. “Dark beer lovers like it,” Vandenburgh says.
Each year Greenport Harbor partners with a winery to make a special beer, and for 2014 that partner is Jamesport Vineyards. The Belgium-style golden beer will use Sauvignon blanc grapes in the brew.
Vandenburgh says the beer is “light, crisp bodied, slightly sweet—the grape really comes through well.” The beer will be available on draft soon and some will be set aside for bottling, to be aged—meaning more fermentation—and eventually released in the summer. The beer came out Champagne-like last year, and they hope to accomplish the same this fall, he says.
Southampton Publick House, Long Island’s oldest craft brewery, located in Southampton Village, has brought back many fall favorites already, and more will be released in coming weeks.
North Fork Fresh Hop, with hand-picked hops from Laurel, is on tap at the Publick House now—and it can’t be found anywhere else. For 2014, the fresh hop production is way up. Typically, just 32 to 40 pounds of wet hops would be used, but this year the Publick House crew picked 70 pounds of hops, which were added to the boil within six hours of being harvested.
Publick House brewmaster Evan Addario says 2014 has been the best year ever for Long Island hops. The growing conditions this summer mimicked the Northwest, where most hops are grown, he explained. “They just flourished like we haven’t seen before.”
Oktoberfest, which is only available on draft but can be found around Long Island and further afield, will be released Friday, October 3, during an Oktoberfest party at the brewpub. “It follows German purity laws, so there are only four ingredients,” Addario says. There are no spices or sugar added, just malted barley, German hops, German lager yeast brewed cold, and water. At 6.0% alcohol, it has a crisp flavor and goes down smoothly.
Southampton Pumpkin Ale is available now on tap and bottled. Publick House began making pumpkin beer 16 years ago, or so, before everyone went pumpkin crazy. Ingredients include Bourbon vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and, of course, pumpkin puree. This aromatic beer smells like a pumpkin pie, but Addario says the sweetness and spice are not overpowering.
Coming in early November, Southampton Imperial Porter is a high-gravity beer—big flavor and high in alcohol, approximately 7.2%. Flavor notes include chocolate, caramel and toffee, with a hint of roasty sweetness. Get it on tap or bottled.
Christmas Ale, a Biere de Garde style beer with a complex spicy malt flavor, comes out around November 15, only on draft.
Crooked Ladder Brewing Company’s Fresh Hop Pale Ale with hop varieties including Cascade, Centennial, Northern Brewer and Chinook from Condzella Hops and Zilnicki Farms is available now at the brewery’s Riverhead tasting room. It is Crooked Ladder’s first fresh hop beer.
Outta My Vine Pumpkin Ale is returning for its second year. This spice ale has pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. “It’s well rounded,” co-founder Duffy Griffiths says. “You don’t need a cinnamon-sugar rim on it to enjoy it.”
Oktoberfest, with German grain and hops, is also returning. This very malty brew, close to 7%, does not have too much hops, according to Griffiths.
Crooked Ladder beer is available by the glass, growler or keg—no bottles.
Long Ireland Beer Company in Riverhead makes Pumpkin Ale with organic pumpkin purée, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.
“The pumpkin beer is what would be considered a spiced beer,” co-owner Dan Burke says. “It’s got pale malt, caramel malt, crystal malt; it’s not an overly spiced beer but it’s a spiced beer that stands on it own.” It is available on tap and by the six-pack.
Long Ireland, which is in its fifth year, will release its first ever Oktoberfest on October 4, available on draft only.
“It was really just a matter of tank timing and spacing,” Burke says of why the brewery waited until now to make an Oktoberfest. “We love that Märzen-style beer and finally the moon and stars aligned and we were able to make it this year.” He adds, “It’s got real nice Munich malts in it. It’s got a real nice caramel flavor.”
Black Friday Imperial Stout, released annually the day after Thanksgiving, is a heavy, dark beer, around 9.5% alcohol with chocolate malts. It will be at the taproom and sold in 750-milliliter cork-and-cage bottles.
Chocolate Porter, a medium-bodied porter with a baker’s chocolate bitterness to it, is coming back for its second year, and is expected to be released November 1.
Montauk Brewing Company’s Hop Blonde Ale is a light colored, easy drinking beer that is a little hoppier than the brewery’s Summer Ale, co-founder Vaughan Cutillo says. “It’s a good way to round out the summer and introduce a new beer.” It is dry hopped with cascade hops for a butter finish. “It’s one of our favorite beers,” he says. Hop Blonde Ale is only available at the South Erie Avenue tasting room.
Also at the tasting room is the return of Guardsman Stout, a bold milk stout that was created to honor the local Coast Guard members. Some lucky beer drinkers may find a keg at a bar elsewhere in Suffolk or in Nassau. “It’s going to be very rare,” Cutillo says. “We’re only going to release a few of them.”
When the stout runs dry, the brewing company will replace that beer with its first ever porter—name to be determined. Cutillo says it will be perfect for the fall season.