24 May Greenport Harbor Brewing Company: A North Fork Gem
Greenport Harbor Brewing Company is a true gem of the North Fork. A very impressive operation, the brewery recently expanded from Greenport to a larger facility in Peconic to keep up with demand from venues like Madison Square Garden. The open-air tasting room, currently in the midst of expansion, is a great place to enjoy a delicious flight and larger versions of the story-telling local artwork that is on the bottle labels.
The story begins in the village of Greenport, a very different place when the brewery opened its doors in 2009. The founders, Rich Vandenburg and John Liegey, spent 20 years in their respective careers before deciding to follow their passion for beer and open a brewery. Thus, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company was born in an old dilapidated firehouse on Carpenter Street in Greenport.
The first of Greenport’s legendary brews was Harbor Ale, the recipe for which was created to be approachable for those who hadn’t yet discovered craft beer. The second was Black Duck Porter which surprises drinkers by having a much lighter flavor than it would seem for such a dark beer. The beers caught on quickly, and soon Greenport Harbor Brewing company began a period of rapid growth fueled by demand from distributors and vendors as far as New York City.
Continuing to drive the turnaround in the village of Greenport, the brewery quickly determined it would need more space to meet the growing demand. In 2014 the Peconic location opened in the former Lucas Ford dealership on Main Road. The Peconic location sits on three repurposed acres and features a delightful open-air tasting room and bottling facilities in addition to much more space for brewing all of their core and seasonal beers. The tasting room, which is currently undergoing yet another expansion, will eventually offer a unique food component and room for events. For now, Greenport Harbor’s North Fork Test Kitchen food truck sits outside the tasting room offering the best comfort food pairings for the delicious beer.
The artwork found on the Greenport Harbor’s labels and hung in the tasting room tells a story in and of itself. Co-Founder and former advertising professional John Liegey pored over as many as 20 different concepts before contracting South Fork artist Scott Bluedorn to create the illustrations for the bottle labels. Says Liegey, “Greenport had the tradition of being a whaling village and we wanted to incorporate that, to give it the interpretation of sea life and maritime heritage it deserves.” Of the design style, the artist describes the illustrations as “maritime cosmology,” nautical tradition with supernatural overtones. The logo and brandmark of Greenport Harbor Brewing is also evident of the whaling tradition, as the shape of Long Island is morphed in the image of a whale.
When the brewery began, its offerings included just two brews: Harbor Ale and Black Duck Porter. With the rising popularity of India Pale Ales (IPAs), Greenport Harbor Brewing created a rotating series of IPAs to satisfy demands called Project Hoppiness. In 2012, Greenport was invited to participate in the Brooklyn Mystery IPA Challenge. Out of the 13 IPAs present, Otherside IPA claimed the prestigious winning title at a time when Greenport Harbor Brewing Company was barely known. Otherside IPA went on to become a core offering and is now served at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. The demand for Otherside IPA is so great that the brewery can barely keep up.
As a New York State-Certified farm brewery, Greenport Harbor uses ingredients for their beers grown locally in the region. The hops and malt come from many locations across New York, which is key for maintaining freshness. For beers like IPAs (of which they now offer two: Otherside and Pith and Peel), fresh hops are the number one factor for making a great tasting beer. Once per year, Greenport creates a “wet hop” version of their famous Harbor Ale. The beer is brewed within 24 hours of the hops being picked and the resulting beer is rich in the malty, toasty flavor that it’s known for with an additional earthy dimension from the fresh hops.
The wet hop version of Harbor Ale isn’t the only special edition beer that Greenport Harbor Brewing Company produces. Their Culvaison is an annual collaboration with a selected North Fork winery. The brew is a hybrid between a Belgian-type beer and local wine. This summer, the brewery will release a special edition “OG Series” (OG stands for Original Greenport) brewed in their original location on Carpenter Street. Coming soon, the brewery will also start a barrel program where they age beers like Imperial Stouts in bourbon or wine casks to add another dimension to their flavor profiles.
Be sure to head out to Greenport Harbor Brewing Company’s brewery and tasting room this summer and taste their delicious core and seasonal beers. Flights of 6 are $8. The tasting room is open 7 days a week for the peak season and you can get more information by visiting greenportharborbrewing.com or calling 631.477.1100.
Hotel Indigo is your key to unlock Long Island’s East End. To book a visit to Greenport Harbor Brewing Company with an overnight stay, call the hotel at 631.369.2200 ext 0. Greenport Harbor’s 7th Anniversary Party is at the brewery on July 16th. Check their website for details on upcoming events.