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Head brewer Pat Alfred sits on the kegs in the Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. Carpenter Street location. (Credit: David Benthal)

When it comes to making pastry beers, Head Brewer Pat Alfred and Head of Innovation Greg Doroski of Greenport Harbor Brewing Company think a lot less about hops and barley and a lot more about vanilla and cinnamon.

“We think like pastry chefs,” Doroski said. “We sample through some traditional vanilla and some traditional cinnamon and decided to bring in some Vietnamese cinnamon, which is much more aggressive. It’s about the ingredients that we’re sourcing, and the beer is in the background.”

Since last fall, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company has released three pastry-inspired beers. The first was a Leaf Pile Pie Ale, which took the brewery’s most popular beer, the pumpkin-spiced Leaf Pile Ale, and dessert-ified it with vanilla beans, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, lactose and brown sugar. The result is flavors of vanilla frosting, graham cracker crust and caramel toffee.

Next came Gingerbread Cookie Pie Ale for the holiday season. This beer is brewed with ginger, milk sugar, dark brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla beans, making the beer taste like the favorite holiday cookie.

Next week, just in time for Valentine’s Day, they will release a cherry chocolate stout. “One of the inspirations were chocolate-covered cherries,” Doroski said. “You have nice chocolate flavors and cherry in there, and they really play off of each other really nicely.”

One of the pastry inspired beers Greenport Harbor Brewing Company has made, a gingerbread cookie pie ale (credit: Greenport Harbor Brewing Company).

The beers are limited edition: Once they are sold out, they are gone for the season. Pastry beers are also part of a larger national trend in the brewing world. 

“In the last two years, you’ve seen quite the rise in pastry style beers,” Alfred said. “As Americans, we do like sweets. I feel like pastry style beer, in general, is a nod to that, those dessert-y kinds of flavors.”

Because of their popularity — all the pastry beers have sold out in about three weeks — and the pleasure Doroski and Alfred take in the experimentation, they plan on continuing to release new pastry-inspired beers.

“I feel like what really moves us to find new ideas and new recipes is having a conversation of what’s hot right now, what were we thinking about or anything new that we might have had that’s piquing our interest.” Alfred said. 

“Sometimes more traditional beers are much more inspired by the experience that you’re having or the context you’re looking to enjoy them in,” Doroski added. “One of the nice things about these pastry style beers is they can be much more food inspired.” 

Next on tap? In March, the brewery is taking their Double Duck porter and creating two variants — one based on the flavors of Mexican hot chocolate with cocoa nibs, cinnamon, chile and vanilla, and the other a coffee and vanilla variety. To keep on top of the new pastry beer releases, follow Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. on social media or head to their website. The beers can be picked up from the brewery or shipped within New York State.