Many beer fans have been known to visit the breweries that make their favorite pints.
Far fewer ale lovers have made a trip to the farm field where the grain for the beverage’s malt was grown.
Unless, of course, those two things happened in the same place.
Garden of Eve Organic Farm and Market in Riverhead, which received its New York State Farm Brewery permit last fall, will offer tours of the farm along with a tutorial on the beermaking process during its “Chickapalooza Festival” next weekend. Participants will have the opportunity to sample Garden of Eve beers, which include a pilsner, an India pale ale and a porter made from maple syrup harvested from trees on the property.
What’s unusual about Garden of Eve’s newly minted beermaking operation is that owner Chris Kaplan-Walbrecht grows and malts his own barley, rye and wheat, a difficult process that involves soaking grain and waiting for it to sprout.
Few East End farms grow grain as a commercial crop because it carries a low return on investment. However, the Kaplan-Walbrechts are able to grow other produce on the land after the grain is harvested, which helps their bottom line.
“We can grow a cash crop after that and get $10,000 to $12,000 per acre on broccoli and lettuce,” explained Kaplan-Walbrecht, who owns the farm with his wife, Eve.
In 2012, Gov. Andrew 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 use 20 percent New York-grown ingredients.
Kaplan-Walbrecht estimates that he uses about 60 percent locally grown hops, including crops from Condzella Farms in Wading River. He also has hops planted on his own farm that may mature this year. He plans to use about 60 percent Garden of Eve-grown malt in his beers in 2017.
The state permit allows for the production of up to 5,000 gallons per year, but Kaplan-Walbrecht expects to brew less than half that amount.
“We’re not doing it as a ‘get rich’ scheme,” said Kaplan-Walbrecht, who makes the beer along with his friend Will Stoner of Mount Sinai. “We’re doing it because we like to make beer.”
The beer is currently only available to Garden of Eve’s CSA members, although it will be available to the public during the festival and tour.
Garden of Eve’s Chickapalooza runs Saturday and Sunday, April 22 and 23, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The event is free, although it costs $5 to enter the “fun field.” Expect lectures on raising backyard chickens, egg dishes and more.
Two-hour beer tours, which cost $20, will begin at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. both days.