“Doughnuts. Is there anything they can’t do?”
Homer J. Simpson
A decade ago, the idea of a doughnut beer might have seemed like something that could only exist on an episode of “The Simpsons,” on which Homer is known to throw down an occasional pink-frosted, rainbow-sprinkled ring along with a can of Duff. In recent years, however, as gourmet doughnut shops and craft breweries celebrate their rise in American foodie culture, doughnut-beer collaborations have begun to pop up.
Now, the North Fork has its first two doughnut beers, both brewed using pastries sourced from North Fork Doughnut Company in Mattituck. The first, called Dough’nt Stout Me Now, used a maple glazed doughnut and was brewed late last year at North Fork Brewing Co. in Riverhead. North Fork Doughnut Company then brought its products out to Bay Shore, where they will soon open a second location, to brew Strawberry Frosted Donut Milkshake IPA at Destination Unknown Beer Company, aka DUBCO.
“Adding doughnuts to a mash or a boil can change the mouthfeel of the beer and give it a better head retention,” said North Fork Doughnut Company co-owner Jimmy Lyons, who worked in the beverage industry for a decade before opening his business with fiancée Kelly Briguccia in 2018. “A lot of brewers add flaked oats [to their recipes.] We subbed the flaked oats out for 30 pounds of doughnuts.”
The sweet flavors of the beers, which Lyons said sold out quickly, comes from the doughnuts’ glazes and icings.
Lyons said the maple doughnuts could be tasted on the back end of the stout. For the strawberry milkshake beer, of which 30 barrels were produced, they added strawberry currant for increased flavor.
The two collaborations are part of Lyons’ and Briguccia’s plan to connect with as many other local businesses as possible. And the partnership with DUBCO came through Local to Locals, which certifies locally owned beer distributors that sell local products. North Fork Doughnut Company is the first food producer certified through the program.
“The response was basically, ‘OK, when’s the next one coming out, because this one already sold out,’ ” Lyons said.
Briguccia described the work of her company and those they look to work with as a back-to-basics approach that resonates with customers.
“It’s all knowing where a product came from and being able to appreciate that,” she said.
“We’re all small local entrepreneurs trying to put out a better product,” added Lyons. “Besides, it’s doughnuts and beer.”
North Fork Doughnut Company opened last year after the couple — who had their first official date at, of all places, a Dunkin’ Donuts — visited the North Fork and identified a business niche they could carve out for themselves. They quickly learned how popular their doughnuts, which include in-demand flavors like chocolate potato chip and Samoas, would become. They regularly book weddings and are invited to wineries and other local businesses for tastings.
To keep up with the demand, the couple recently made an equipment investment that will enable them to produce up to 10,000 doughnuts a day. Doing everything by hand now, the most they’ve been able to make is about 2,000 in a single day. With a second location in the works and their catering obligations growing, the increase in production is necessary.
“It’s been incredible,” Briguccia said of the success their young company has seen so far. “We feel blessed.”
As for more beverage collaborations, which they hope to extend to doughnut cocktails, the couple plans to keep creating.
“There’s definitely more to come,” Lyons said.