As demand for craft beer continues to grow, two local breweries are responding this summer with changes in their production methods.
Now in its second year of bottling, Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. recently added four new 90-barrel fermenters at its Peconic location, a move that will enable the North Fork’s first brewery to expand its production capacity by 70 percent.
And in order to meet customer demand, Long Ireland Beer Company in Riverhead has moved some of its styles off the bottling line and into cans, which will help Riverhead’s first craft brewer increase its presence on store shelves.
“We always wanted to make beer in cans,” said Long Ireland co-owner Dan Burke. “We inherited a bottling line when we bought the brewery. But now, demand for the beer has outpaced the speed at which I can produce bottles on the bottling line.”
Mr. Burke said he’s able to produce 750 cases of cans in a day, compared to just 150 cases of bottled beer. Long Ireland’s popular Summer Ale, Celtic Ale and IPA will be available in cans this year and the brewery hopes to transition all its beer from bottles to cans within the next two years.
“The beer will taste exactly the same,” Mr. Burke said.
The same can be said for Greenport Harbor, which received its new fermenters May 24. A single 90-barrel fermenter holds approximately 2,800 gallons of beer, co-owners Rich Vandenburgh and John Liegey explained.
The brewery now has 13 fermenters, including five smaller ones that hold 30 barrels apiece. But Greenport Harbor isn’t done yet with growing its capacity.
“We are going to be adding more and more barrels,” Mr. Liegey said. “The next two will have to go outside, and those will probably be twice the size, around 180-barrel fermenters.”
The increased production will enable Greenport Harbor to expand its distribution across Connecticut this summer, with a long-range goal of also selling in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Home is still where the heart is though, Mr. Liegey explained.
“We are first and foremost a North Fork brewery and then Long Island and New York,” he said. “That is where we want to do our best and be highly regarded as a local brewery.”
Construction is also continuing on a “brew pub” at Greenport Harbor’s Peconic location. An official opening date has not been announced, but it is expected to open later this season.