The long red barn at Garden of Eve Organic Farm and Market in Riverhead is dark and cavernous. But at one end co-owner Chris Kaplan-Walbrecht has set up a brewery with light, heat and lots of beer making equipment.
Garden of Eve Farm Brewery is officially in business. Kaplan-Walbrecht partnered with his brother Greg Walbrecht of Levittown and brewmaster Will Stoner of Mt. Sinai to brew beer on the farm.
“Right now we’re making small batches, about 15 gallons, ” said Kaplan-Walbrecht, who owns the farm with his wife Eve. “My best friend, the brewmaster, has been making beer for 25 years and I’d brew with him in the winter when I had time.”
In 2012 Gov. Cuomo signed legislation to create a New York State Farm Brewery License, which is modeled after the state’s farm winery laws. It offers tax and other benefits to breweries that brew with 20 percent New York Grown ingredients.
It’s a change the Long Island Farm Bureau’s Administrative Director Robert Carpenter supports.
“This legislative change by Governor Cuomo will help enhance and keep agriculture a viable industry on Long Island,” Carpenter said. “It gives young people the opportunity to try new things, so it benefits all of agriculture.”
Initially Kaplan-Walbrecht brewed for friends and family, tweaking the recipes, while waiting for their permit which arrived this fall. While the beer is not organic, Kaplan-Walbrecht said 95 percent of his ingredients are New York State grown, which is above the 20 percent state required minimum, with some of the materials coming right off the farm.
“We did combine about 6,000 pounds of our own barley, wheat and rye,” he said. “But the obstacle is an accessible malting facility.”
With the closest malting facilities upstate, Kaplan-Walbecht decided against trucking their produce, citing the expense. Instead he will purchase malt from New York Craft Malt in upstate Batavia.
Some of the hops comes from local producers like Condzella Farms in Wading River.
“Because we are a farm and our whole philosophy is to support local agriculture, we’re buying the hops from John (Condzella) and hopefully in the future we’ll find a way to malt our own grain,” he said.
Early brew batches have proven promising.
“We made a pilsner, we’ve made IPAs, APAs, I’m making a pale ale right now,” he said. “We made a lot of different stouts and we did a really good job with summer ales, which are a lighter kind of beer.”
Garden of Eve Farm Brewery is now offering its beer as a winter CSA option. Their “beer share” will be a monthly growler made available to members.
“We’re going to start off with one of our APAs, American pale ale, which is a very fruity beer,” Kaplan-Walbrecht said. “Then a stout, a pilsner and a pale ale will probably be the first four because that’s what we’ve made a lot of.”
Next summer, the brewery’s CSA will increase the number of growlers it offers to customers, while the farm stand will offer tastings and pints for sale during festivals.
“I think we make some really good beers,” Kaplan-Walbrecht said. “Our goal is to try to find a way to have more of the grains come right off our farm. We’re at 95 percent of New York product right now, so that makes us really unique in the state.”
The deadline to sign up for the winter CSA Share is this Sunday, November 27. For more information call (631) 722-8777 or visit gardenofevefarm.com.
Follow the Garden of Eve Farm Brewery Facebook page for updates on upcoming festivals and tasting events.
Garden of Eve Organic Farm & Market and the Brewery is located at 4558 Sound Avenue in Riverhead.