Turning Long Island into a Craft Beer Destination

In the past few years, the craft beer genre tapped into its own market and continues full flow and hopping right along. There are as many as 20 local craft breweries right now on Long Island. By 2016 there could be 30 new breweries in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

It’s no wonder that longtime beer tycoons are bitter about the surge in American craft beer sales and considering a potential $100 plus billion merger between Anheuser Busch InBev and SABMiller. But while Long Island craft breweries are busy having barrels of fun making great tasting beer it remains to be seen if they can take the Long Island craft beer market to the next level.

“I know guys who travel to Maine just to hit 30 breweries. That’s what I want for Long Island,” Steve Pominiski, owner of Barrage Brewing Company in East Farmingdale, said.

Pominksi hopes 34 new craft beers are introduced by the end of this year. He also hopes to turn Long Island into a real destination for craft beer, something he’s trying to do with the help of his competitors.

He shares ideas with Bayshore startup Destination Unknown Brewery who opened in 2015 and Moustache Brewing Company of Riverhead. And he’s a big fan of Port Jeff Brewing Company, which was right there helping him along the way.

“We are a close knit group,” Pominski said. “We help one another out. The larger breweries helped me open and I return the favor by giving out as much advice as I can.”

It’s part of how business is done among these brewers, many of whom started brewing as a hobby and then took it the next level by opening up successful beer businesses and creating the craft beer trend on Long Island.

“The craft beer market is growing at an alarming rate,” Pominski said. “Every time you turn around there’s another small brewery being born.”

Pominski started his business back in 2011 after turning his hobby for the past 20 years into something much bigger. He’s seen an upswing of interest hitting a broad range of demographics.

“There are the 21 and above younger customers, but I am also seeing women as newer drinkers as well as 40-50-year-olds getting into craft beer,” Pominski said.

Retailers too have seen a swing in people in their early 20s and 30s who are all about craft beer. Stacy Galasso and Jonathan Schechter, new owners of Port Beer & Soda of Port Washington, said that 60 percent of their total beer sales come from craft beers alone.

“It seems there’s this amazing new trend where people are appreciating craft beer more like they do wine,” Galasso said.

Port Beer & Soda has more than 30 pumpkin-flavored beers on their shelves in 30 different varieties. Barrage Brewery keeps eight beers on tap and rotates as many as 26 throughout the year.

“We like to change it up and are always dreaming up new flavors and lately they’re anything but bittersweet,” Pominski said. He uses ingredients like white chocolate syrup, white chocolate cream, six pounds of snickers, black and white cookies… you name it and it just might get brewed into his beer.

But not everyone wants a sweet tasting, creatively concocted ale. There are plenty of drinkers that remain loyal to their staple ale, which they’ve savored for decades. The old school beer drinkers won’t be fading.

The more beer drinkers the better in the beer destination Long Island, Pominski is trying to create.