The Lark Pub & Grub, Monarch Beverage

The Lark Pub & Grub
(631) 262-9700, East Northport
Opened: 2009 | Beers: 60

What To Know: A seasoned and always-stressed member of the day-trader species (Homo finan- cialus?) who pounded Budweisers by the bushel, Tim Kelly was an unlikely candidate to overtake The Lark Pub & Grub in 2012. “What did I know about craft beer? Nothing,” he laughed. Kelly’s roundtrip commute between his home in Yaphank and the New York Mercantile Exchange in Battery Park City, and the high-speed, heart-stopping trading of crude oil futures was his daily routine for nearly two decades—until electronic trading gradually replaced the aptly named “open outcry” system and his need to work in the raucous “pit” lessened.

“My job went obsolete in a way and I was watching it happen in real- time—kinda like watching the markets fluctuate in the pit. The more I worked from home, the more I knew I needed to make a change,” he recalled. This sparked a shift to unshelf a longtime dream of owning “the perfect Irish-style pub, with some TVs, but not a hectic sports bar. Just a great bar.” As he searched (and drank) from Port Washington and Port Jefferson, he learned more and more about craft beer, a culture unbeknownst to him. “I loved everything about the camaraderie, the closeness of the brewers and the drinkers. It was like being on the floor again to see people being this passionate.”

Kelly eventually acquired The Lark, a small and understated space with a long dark-wood bar and exposed brick walls across from East Northport’s fire department. He hosts an annual chili fundraiser for Huntington’s League For Animal Protection (last year’s raised $6,600) and he often collaborates with Captain Lawrence on an IPA named Ruffled Feathers.

There are also The Lark’s popular monthly beer dinners (the latest with Tröegs on April 28 sold all 40 seats in one day) and the recent addition of a six-draft kegerator dedicated to rare, reserve and “really left-of-center” beers (vintage kegs of Captain Lawrence’s Golden Delicious and Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout will ascend from the bar’s basement this summer, Kelly promised).

Though he still misses the fast-paced action of his arm-flailing trader days, dealing with barrels of imperial stouts and kölschs evokes an excitement similar to trading barrels of crude. “I get so caught up in the bar business that I sleep in the office sometimes,” he laughed. “But it’s fun. Crazy, yes, but I like what I’m doing. It’s a great feeling to have people sitting in this bar drinking cool beer and having a great time.”

Also Know: Kelly grows hops in The Lark’s cozy backyard, which has seating. He’ll try to make a collaboration beer with a local brewery when they’re harvested in August or September.

What To Drink: The colorful chalkboard perched above Lark’s row of 26 taps is rewritten as emptied kegs are replaced— and its cosmopolitan list is always exciting (Delirium Tremens, Bavik Pilsner and Gulden Draak are permanent beers). I recommend Maine Beer Company’s Lunch, undisputedly in the country’s upper echelon of IPAs: a beautiful golden-orange color, an everlasting crown of thick foam, dry and oozing with citrus (Kelly often finishes all Maine Beer Company kegs, which rarely reach Long Island, within three hours); Almanac’s Golden Gate Gose, a California-dreamin’ interpretation of the tart and wheat-driven German style made with local coriander, sea salt and lemon verbena; Avery’s Uncle Jacob’s Stout, a burly bourbon barrel- aged imperial stout that is dangerously drinkable (and dangerous at 16.9 percent ABV!); and Empire’s Cream Ale, carbonated with nitrogen to inject a smooth, creamy texture (the “cream” in cream ale is actually unrelated to its carbonation process).

Monarch Beverage
(516) 432-6767, Long Beach
Opened: 1960s | Beers: infinite
What To Know:
When the US’s first craft-beer wave surged in the 1990s, Monarch Beverage proudly surfed on Long Island’s South Shore with the then-innovative suds of Pete’s Wicked Ales and Samuel Adams until the liquid boom forcibly crashed against the barriers of oversaturation, overextension, poor quality and questionable intent. The country’s craft-beer market is now flooded with more choices than ever. According to the Brewers Association, craft beer reached a double-digit share (11 percent) of the marketplace for the first time in 2014.) This explains Lisi’s all-in approach to stocking the shelves of his large Long Beach Boulevard-located store with roughly 1,000 different packaged beers—from 750ml bottles of Pizza Boy’s Golden Sour and Cascade’s Blueberry to 12oz cans of Cigar City’s Maduro Brown Ale and Evil Twin’s Bikini Beer. While cans are Lisi’s best-selling vessel considering Monarch’s beachfront proximity, equally successful are his eight often- American drafts dispensing gnarly freshness into growlers (empty growlers are also sold).

As summer approaches, he’s in the process of a full-store renovation that will replace the warehousey, Kwik-E-Mart-esque layout and relocate the octet of taps from a tiny concealed area along a sidewall to the forefront; he’s also adding tables to host tasting events. Monarch is already Long Beach’s best retail option for beer, but Lisi clearly wants the city’s Beer King crown. Craft-a-bunga!

What To Drink: Otter Creek’s Citra Mantra IPL is a calmingly crisp lager hopped entirely with Citra hops for a lovely lemony aroma.

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.