The North Fork’s identity is deeply steeped in agriculture. From vineyards to farm stands and the seasonal rush of apple, berry and pumpkin-picking, farming has been a way of life.
It seems fitting then that North Fork Brewing Company is preparing a special beer, a saison, in time for summer consumption. Their version, however, promises to be a tad off-kilter.
Collaborating with Larry Goldstein of Spider Bite Beer Company in Holbrook, North Fork Brewing’s Peter Barraud aims to create an ale that pushes and bends traditional boundaries, as craft brewers often do.
Historically, saisons were brewed in the chilly months of early spring. Before refrigeration, this helped to lessen the chance of infected or off-tasting batches; a distinct risk when yeast is forced to work at higher temperatures.
Typically pale or amber, the collaboration will be cola-black. Saisons are also usually low in alcohol, providing hard-working farm hands a way to slake their thirst and still be able to manage chores. But anything involving Goldstein, a brewer renowned for well-hidden, high ABV beers, hints at a potentially stronger dosing.
“No, it will probably only hit around 6 to 6.5%,” laughed Goldstein.
Using Midnight Wheat (a specialty grain), the beer will pour dark with slightly roasted notes and hints of clove thanks to a unique, in-house strain of yeast cultivated by North Fork’s Ian Van Bourgondien.
The proprietary Huckleberry yeast was created by using native berries and allowing exposure to the local microflora. Inoculating with a known strain of Saccharomyces (beer yeast) resulted in a batch the brewery could grow and maintain easily and that would create predictable flavors.
“Having a partner that’s a microbiologist comes in handy,” joked Barraud.
To make things even more special, a small quantity of the ale will be sequestered in red wine barrels from Pindar Vineyards potentially exposing it to Brettanomyces, a wild yeast that often produces unique flavors.
They also plan to introduce local fruit into the barrels which, according to Goldstein, could trigger any latent Brett to ferment the fruit resulting in even more unique flavors.
“At this point, the beer will probably become more like a classic farmhouse saison, like they made in the old days,” Barraud said. “We’re expecting something tart and dry with a funk you would expect from [that style of beer].”
When asked what he thinks is most exciting about the collaboration, Barraud said “it’s pretty cool when one of the youngest breweries can get together and make something with one of the most established breweries on Long Island.
“Fact: Larry’s an O.G. [‘Original Gangster of brewing]. It’s gonna be fun.”
Brewing is planned for early April so thirsty craft beer geeks should be able to get this in their bellies in time to kick off the North Fork’s summer season.