Red Zone December 2012

This edition was crafted during the merciless wrath of Hurricane Sandy. Candlelight. Beer. Serenity. But I really, really miss electricity.

Local, Seasonal Beer Spotlight

Beer: Old Howling Bastard
Brewery: Blue Point Brewing Company
Style: Barleywine
Availability: November-February
Profile: A nickname for your incoherent uncle during Michael Bolton-themed holiday karaoke sessions? Nope. Well, maybe. The 10.0% ABV, ruby-hued ale possesses flavors of caramel, pine, vanilla and a hot powerbomb of booze. A syrupy slow-sipper, consume Old Howling Bastard while wearing tweed. I demand it.

NASSAU

Tavern 18
(718) 347-4846, New Hyde Park
tavern18.com

Our country’s Eighteenth Amendment attempted to ban the manufacture, transportation and sale of alcohol. Though Prohibition was an epic fail, its perpetual influence on décor is undeniable. Example? Tavern 18, a shadowy, Dick Tracy-style restaurant was opened by Roger Bajana in 2009 (he also owns Luigi’s Restaurant & Bar on the same street). Bajana attempted to structure Tavern 18’s alcohol menu with a similar, wine-forward focus, but his patrons desired variety in styles and brands.

“Our customers weren’t gravitating toward wine, so we had to go in a different direction,” says Bajana. “I researched and started bringing new things like Belgian beer and smaller whiskey brands. People loved them, and our menu continues to grow. If I had more refrigeration space, trust me, I would have more beer.”

Tavern 18 pours five drafts and offers several large bottles. Though an avid supporter of local fermentables, as well, Bajana maintains every liquid’s quality must be identical, New York-birthed or not. “I can easily get produce from down the block, but if the quality isn’t there, and my customers aren’t happy, I don’t see the point,” says Bajana. “We make sure everything on the menu is at a certain level. I won’t serve something if it’s anything less.”

SUFFOLK

Mirabelle Tavern
(631) 751-0555, Stony Brook
lessings.com

Within Mirabelle Tavern’s warm-wooded, pastoral interior, an exclusive society gathers regularly to develop and exchange ideas, perform members-only rituals and express immeasurable appreciation for the organization’s deity. Is it a form of Freemasonry? Nope. Scientology? Nu-uh. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? Um, hell no.

The aforementioned activities are conducted within Mirabelle Tavern’s Secret Beer Society, an expanding assemblage of beer enthusiasts on an eternal quest to obtain abstruse philosophical truths—and consume quality brew.
Currently possessing 310 individuals, Secret Beer Society requires members to tally 60 different beers (Mirabelle Tavern currently offers 10 drafts and 90+ bottles) and successfully complete seven consumption challenges for exclusive off-menu releases and discounts (includes shotgunning a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon). Adventure!

Terence Daly, who manages Secret Beer Society and any beer-related activity for the establishment, aspires to “showcase awesome New York breweries, like Barrier Brewing Company and Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, and build a tight community of people who share crazy beer and want to try new things.” Since his promotion to Beer Director in January, after three years as a server, Daly notices the organization’s potential for growth. “Two people will come one week and ask for new stuff, and they’ll each bring four friends next week,” says Daly. “Beer has been a communal society for thousands of years, as something everyone could enjoy. We don’t want to keep this as a secret.”

North Fork Tasting Room
(631) 727-9513, Riverhead
northforktastingroom.com

Upon initial surveillance of North Fork Tasting Room’s interior, a warm congregation of original wood beams, pastel hues and windowsill-chillin’ bottles of vintage Long Island wines, I encountered no visual evidence of Lithuanian trapeze artists, elephant breakdance squads or M&M’s.

Perfect. No circus. And Frederick H. Terry Sr. agrees, too. “You don’t need to be a three-ring circus to serve beer and wine,” says Terry, who opened North Fork Tasting Room in August. “I’ve constantly refused bus tours and loud music, because it attracts the wrong crowd. I wanted a warm, intimate atmosphere with North Fork Tasting Room, and I feel like it’s a perfect extension for The Lobster Roll.”

Terry, who entered businessdom with Amagansett’s The Lobster Roll in 1965, presents a collection of Long Island-based craft liquids from 20+ wineries and six breweries. The latter, available via bottle or 10-draft system, includes Port Jeff Brewing Company Boo Brew, an autumn-themed ale using pumpkins from Pantaleon’s Farmstand in East Setauket, and Southampton Publick House Double White Ale, a hazy-pale pour of coriander, lemon and wheat.

Know This: North Fork Tasting Room was one of Rocky Point Artisan Brewers’ initial non-Rocky Point accounts. The six-month-old brewery’s Oktoberweisse, a copper-toasty blend of Oktoberfest and Hefeweizen, poured in late September. “I want to introduce the North Fork to our small boutique breweries and wineries,” says Terry. “When we can grab something unique, we do it right away.”

Follow Niko Krommydas and his blog, Super Neat Beer Adventure, Yes!!, at lipulse.com where you can find more craft beer on Long Island.

Photo by Stephen Lang