Red Zone November 2013


Black Friday Imperial Stout, Long Ireland Beer Company’s alternative to the pseudo-holiday’s shill of discount electronics, returns on November 29. The rich, midnight-colored beer that debuted in 2011 is tweaked annually. “We had a great body and more chocolate notes last year, but I’d like to get more dark fruit for this version,” said Dan Burke, co-owner. A portion of the batch will also age within Rough Rider Straight Bourbon Whisky barrels from Baiting Hollow’s Long Island Spirits. “The beauty of a whiskey barrel is the variability,” said co-owner Greg Martin. “We’re going to let it ride and see how it changes the beer.”


(631) 369-3200, Riverhead

Stephen Wirth is a defibrillator, resuscitating Riverhead with two therapeutic doses of beer.

Wirth, the third owner of Digger’s, worked for the previous two proprietors. He also resides atop the pub, having purchased the building in 2005. He recently converted Digger’s “from an Irish-themed bar to a place passionate about craft” by “overhauling the old menu and adding six more drafts.” The expansion allows customers to consume multiple beers from his new brewery, Crooked Ladder Brewing Company.

After three years of renovations, he transformed the neighboring building, formerly The Crystal Bar, into Crooked Ladder with David Wirth and Duffy Griffiths. In July the seven-barrel brewery opened. It will “always have four or five beers at Digger’s for the middle-of-the-road clientele.” The mainstays include Peconic Bay Pilsner, Ponquogue Porter and Hump Day IPA.

Port Jeff Beverage
(631) 473-1818, Port Jefferson

Bruce Bezner acquired Port Jeff Beverage in 1998, “when 50 products basically covered everything in craft beer.” The store, which opened in 1964, currently features 800-ish brands. Growth in the industry enabled an increase in inventory and Bezner’s penchant for variety. “I’ll always buy one case of anything, just to see if it sells,” said Bezner. “I had no idea a few years ago that I would be carrying 12 gluten-free beers.”

Bezner’s attentiveness is also exhibited with Port Jeff Beverage’s six-draft growler bar, which recently poured slim-sized kegs of Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales Burton Baton, an oak-aged blend of old ale and IPA, and Port Jeff Brewing Company Party Boat IPA, a balance of citrusy bitterness and soft caramel.

“The smaller kegs allow me to constantly rotate for the customer who comes in once a week and doesn’t want to see the same beers around,” said Bezner.

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Photo by Stephen Lang

niko krommydas

Niko Krommydas has written for Tasting Table, BeerAdvocate, Munchies, and First We Feast. He is editor of Craft Beer New York, an app for the iPhone, and a columnist for Yankee Brew News. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.