Get a taste of Long Island terroir in Saint James beer

Saint James Brewery owners Rachel and Jamie Adams. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

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A farm-to-pint mentality brews at Saint James Brewery in Holbrook. Husband and wife duo Jamie and Rachel Adams equate their beer-making process to that of a vintner or chef whose work is dictated by Mother Nature and the changing of the seasons.

“It is an overlying philosophy,” head brewer Jamie said. “We use local ingredients and support local agriculture by working with farmers.”

Saint James Brewery specializes in Belgian style beers. The Adams’ developed a signature strain of locally sourced yeast that serves as the base of their brews. The rest of the ingredients are grown in New York, including the North Fork. The hops are from Condzella’s Farm in Wading River and Sujecki Farms in Calverton is their go-to source for strawberries.

In addition to the brewery’s three year-round offerings — a Belgian Style White Ale, a Belgian Style Dubbel and a Belgian Style Tripel — Jamie brews seasonal beers based on the bounty of local fruits.

The seasonal beer lineup starts with an infusion of strawberries in early spring and progresses into fall with apple-infused beer made with fruit from Richter’s Orchard in Northport. There are also brews made with plums, raspberries, peaches, honey and other seasonal fruits.

“The seasonality not only effects the beer menu, it dictates how the beer is going to taste year to year in the same way the climate would effect grapes each growing season,” Jamie said. “Vintages become a lot more relevant with certain styles that we do, especially our fruit beers.”

Inside the Holbrook brewery. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

The Adams’ bottle each batch similar to champagne, which carbonates inside the bottle rather than before. The bottles can be kept for several years, allowing connoisseurs to taste the subtle changes from each year.

Like its beers, Saint James Brewery continues to evolve. Jamie got his start home brewing more than 20 years ago and the hobby became a passion for both husband and wife.  The Smithtown residents launched Saint James Brewery in 2012 and opened in the 2,000-square-foot Holbrook facility in late 2013.

In case you’re wondering, the brewery is not named for the North Shore hamlet of St. James. The moniker is a nod to the brewer’s name (James) and the monks who pioneered the Belgian beer style hundreds of years ago.

Local wasn’t always their priority either. They became interest in using 100-percent New York grown ingredients began at farmers markets more than five years ago.

“That was when we met all the producers,” Rachel said. “A lot of the farmers were coming to the markets themselves. That is when our range and style of beers opened up.”

“It was an eye-opener in terms of quality,” Jamie added. “It was a much better product and it made a huge difference.”

The Holbrook brewery does not have a tasting room, but does sell beer by the bottle. Here’s a list of restaurants serving Saint James beer.