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(Photo Credit: David Benthal).

Walking into the new Peconic County Brewing tasting room is awesome in the fullest sense of the word. High ceilings and tall windows let in light, giant bright blue and green murals of octopus and bubbles cover the walls and a huge wooden bar in the back showcases the ten beers on tap.

This is the brainchild of Jeff Schaeffer, who has been working on the business and the space for almost two years. I met Schaeffer for a sneak peek of the brewery this week. And he hopes this weekend, pending one remaining permit, Peconic County Brewery will open its doors to the public and be the sixth in Riverhead and one of a dozen on the East End.

All the breweries “do something great,” Schaeffer said. “When people say ‘I’m going to the wineries,’ I want them to say ‘I’m going to the breweries’ too. And I think this is a good destination here because it’s big and unique.”

It certainly is big. The inside sprawls 6,500 square feet to include tables and chairs, a bar, a kitchen, merchandise sales space and the brewing space. Outside, an additional 2,000 square feet makes up the deck with more seating space. Schaeffer was hoping to open up at the end of last summer, but because the business is located in a new building — the Riverhead Lofts overlooking the Peconic River — delays in construction due to the pandemic set him back. 

On tap are ten beers, which will be part of a rotating set depending on the season. Dream Girl IPA, arguably Schaeffer’s favorite, was his first beer.

“Dream Girl was the first idea I ever had.” he said. “I just thought, who wouldn’t want to go to a bar and order a dream girl? Because everybody has a dream girl or they are somebody’s dream girl.”

The remaining beers are named after the places on the East End. There’s the 631 Belgian Wit, the Hampton Haze New England IPA, the Dis-Orient-ed Double IPA, the Big Duck Rye Season and more. “All the names are representing something that would have been in Peconic County,” he said.

The idea of a Peconic County has been around for over 50 years, as many East Enders, particularly in the 1990s, wanted to separate from the more populated part of Suffolk County to make a county out of the five East End towns. Although the proposition has never come to fruition, Schaeffer hopes his brewery will be a representation of it, even incorporating the proposed county flag as his logo.

The food will be elevated bar food with a small menu full of classic dishes. “A gourmet pub menu is what we kind of call it,” he said. There’s a charcuterie board, a brisket and short rib burger, flatbreads, lobster roll and a fancy grilled cheese called a cheese toastie.

“I want people to not ever have to leave here,” Schaeffer said. “I wanted it to look and feel great, have it just be comfortable for everybody and the beers to be easy drinking — simply, beautiful beers.”

Follow Peconic County Brewing on Instagram to see when they will open their doors.

221 East Main Street, Riverhead