East Enders may have rosé on the brain from May through August, but come September, it’s time for beer, though not just any beer will do. The 4th annual Long Island Hop Festival brings only the finest hop-focused and hop-forward beers from across the country to Jamesport Farm Brewery on Saturday, September 21. This year’s lineups of beer companies and breweries includes Long Ireland Beer Company, Blue Point Brewing Company, Zero Gravity Craft Brewery, Port Jeff Brewing Company, Jack’s Abby, Montauk Brewing Company, Thin Man Brewery, North Fork Brewing Company and others.
Jamesport Farm Brewery has announced two of their festival picks with more surprises to be expected. The first is the extremely limited Whiskey Barrel Aged Sugar Skull, which will only be poured in the brewery’s tasting room for the first hour of the event. It’s a whiskey pumpkin ale boasting a smoky flavor and a smooth finish. The second is Wined Out, a very hoppy and fresh American Pale Ale made from freshly plucked Magnum and Centennial hops. The interesting name is derived from a phrase heard commonly at Jamesport Farm Brewery when patrons walk in, fresh of the wine trail, “Do you want something or are you wined out?” You can find a list of some, but not all, of the beers available at the festival on the event’s website.
While some are eagerly awaiting to taste and compare the festival’s many hop-focused and hop-forward beers, others are likely still left wondering what a hoppy beer even is. Derived from hop plants, hops are added to beers to enhance their aroma, bitterness (IBUs) and overall flavor. Anthony Caggiano, co-founder of Jamesport Farm Brewery, describes the balance of aroma and bitterness as a “symbiotic relationship.” While all beers comprise hops, grain, yeast and water, hoppy beers have a much greater emphasis on the characteristics of specific hops and/or have a higher number of hops in the mix.
“There’s a wide variety of hops that grow on the East End, so to name them all would be a very long list,” Caggiano says, adding that his farm specializes in the Willamette, Nugget, Centennial, Columbus and Magnum varieties. Each hop type has different qualities, with hop-focused beers drawing out individualities and bitterness most. Hop-forward beers, on the other hand, are considered generally out-of-balance toward the hop side. “It’s all in the taste,” Caggiano notes. “Hoppy beers can go everywhere. You can get a juicy IPA out of the New England style—it’s juicy, cloudy and very heavy—or you can get a West Coast style IPA, which is more hop-forward. We’ve made New England IPAs here, and people have been asking for them again.”
While hops are a major factor in IPAs and other hoppy beers, Caggiano knows that they’re only one piece of the puzzle. “We grow our own barley here for the base malt, which, to me, is a bigger deal than the hops are. The hops a re a small part of the brewing process, whereas the grain is almost all of the process,” he says. “In our beers, since we grow the barley here, we like to think that the soil gives this barley a certain flavor that you might not get anywhere else. You have barley grown in Belgium, Scotland or Germany—they have different flavor profiles depending on where they’re grown. We like to think that we have our own flavor profile.”
With a list of beers too long and diverse for the festival, Jamesport Farm Brewery will be open for business during the festivities, serving up brews inside and at the new outdoor bar. Their signature IPA is the Wicked Little Sister, a hop-forward double IPA with a high bitterness. They also experiment with fruity blends, such as this fall’s Prancing Pony, a blackberry wheat blend. Past beer flavors have included rarities such as banana and blueberry.
In addition to all the blissfully bitter brews, the Long Island Hop Festival also features not one, but two 14-foot high pumpkin chuckers. Launch a gourd over the field to try and hot one of the many targets scattered about. There will also be plenty of backyard games to play, as well as a silent auction to bid on. Andy Putman provides the groovy tunes for the event, with over 500 songs in his library, many of which hail from the 1950s, ’60s and today. Delicious food will be provided by Christopher Michael Catering.
The hoppy fun takes place this Saturday, September 21 from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. Be sure to arrive before 1:30 p.m. for a chance to taste Jamesport Farm Brewery’s limited-edition Whiskey Barrel Aged Sugar Skull.
For tickets and more information about the Long Island Hop Festival, visit lifreshhopfestival.com.