No more just raising glasses of Greenport Harbor Brewing Company beers. They’re moving on to bottles.
After five years of selling their beers in pints and growlers, the brewery has installed a bottling line and plans to start offering six-packs starting early next year.
Brewery co-owner Rich Vandenburgh said that the bottling line arrived a week and a half ago, and close to 90,000 empty and unlabeled bottles are expected to arrive in the middle of this week. Soon enough they’ll be filled with Harbor Ale, Black Duck Porter and Otherside IPA.
He said they’ll bottle up the three year-round varieties hopefully by next week, place them aside in different environments — some at room temperature, others in more refrigerated environments — and revisit them in about a month.
“We want to do a little quality control before we send them out,” he said.
Vandenburgh expects to produce 6,000 barrels of beer next year, 40 percent or 2,400 barrels of which will be bottled. At 13 cases per barrel, that could mean nearly 750,000 bottles of Greenport Harbor beer next year.
The machine, which Vandenburgh said cost more than $300,000, places labels on empty bottles before rinsing and sterilizing them. A tube pushes all oxygen out of the bottle before they are filled with beer and CO2 and then bottled. This process ensures the beer stays carbonated for a long time.
“It’s like a mechanical ballet,” Vandenburgh said.
Greenport opened up a satellite operation in Peconic in July — though the satellite facility, which will also feature a brew pub in the future, has the capability to produce 18 times more beer than the company’s original brewery on Carpenter Street in Greenport.
“This certainly allows us to move into larger markets and be more package-driven,” he said.
The company is still working on exactly where the bottles will be sold, though Vandenburgh said via email on Monday, “I hope that you will find them in the local grocery markets, and a whole bunch of other retail locations all around Long Island, NYC and upstate.”