When it’s summertime, the drinking should be easy. Light, approachable beers were the name of the summer beer game since…forever. But in recent years, they’ve had some sweet competition, courtesy of brewmasters who started producing everything from watermelon beer to brews that could double as soda.
Long Island breweries are making summer beers on both ends of the spectrum. But as many brewers dial up the sweetness, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company has recently decided to do the opposite.
Last year, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company’s head brewer Pat Alfred made some adjustments to the summer ale’s recipe. And if you’re just getting out East again after a year away, you’ll notice a difference.
“We pulled back the honey a little bit and upped the hops,” Alfred said. “We wanted the honey sweetness to come down a little and be balanced between a subtle citrusy taste from the hops.”
The goal was to make it crisper and easier to drink with whatever you’re serving at your summer barbecue or dinner party. Alfred says it goes with anything from burgers and fries to curries.
“There are very little ingredients in the beer that get in the way of whatever you’re eating with it,” he said. “The finish is dry and crisp, so it refreshes the palate.”
Greenport Harbor Brewing Company isn’t the only East End brewery to find summer ale. Montauk Brewing Company’s watermelon ale has rivaled even rosé as the “pink drink” to have at summer parties. And Long Ireland Beer Company & Brewery is catering to customers with a sweet tooth with a raspberry ale. If you’ve got room in your cooler for more, head further west to taste some of these Long Island summer beers.
Wild strawberry beer from North Fork Brewing Co., Riverhead
Summer calls for berry picking day trips. But as cool as it is to pluck a fresh berry from a bush, it’s just as fun to taste the literal fruits of a brewmaster’s labor. North Fork Brewing Co.’s You’re the First, the Last, My Berry Cream is a smooth and sweet Lactose IPA made with wild strawberries and milk sugar.
Summer ale from Blue Point Brewing Co., Patchogue
Blue Point was making craft beer on Long Island before it was cool to do so. The brewery opened on River Ave. in Patchogue in 1998, was bought by Anheuser-Busch in 2014 and moved to a larger location on Main St. Patchogue in 2019. In between, the brewery started producing a summer ale that Long Islanders came to consider as essential to their summer barbecues as burgers and dogs. “It appeals to all consumers, delivering a soft, crisp, and easy-drinking experience,” said Rob Capitelli, Blue Point Brewing Company’s brewmaster. This year’s can looks different. The blue label with “summer ale” splashed across it in yellow cursive has been replaced by one from NYC-based Argentinian artist Eugenia Mello. But the beer remains as drinkable as ever.
Tangerine creamsicle pale sale at Great South Bay Brewery, Bay Shore
This South Shore brewery teamed up with its neighbors at Ghost Brewing Co. to produce something as sweet as a long, summer weekend. The Tangerine Creamsicle Pale Ale tastes like an ice pop, but it has an adult twist – it’s 6 percent ABV. “[It] isn’t something you find that frequently,” said Zach Popp of Great South Bay Brewery. “With that being said, we also wanted to put a little twist on a normal creamsicle flavor and found that tangerine pairs perfectly with orange flavors.”
Summer peach beer from Oyster Bay Brewing Co., Oyster Bay
There’s no need to wait for August for peaches to come in season. Oyster Bay Brewing Co. is serving them in liquid form all summer long with the release of Summer Peach. Oyster Bay Brewing Co. co-owner Gabe Haim says it’s similar to Blue Moon and Shock Top but with a seasonal twist. “The peach is a really refreshing ‘summer’ fruit,” said Oyster Bay Brewing Co. co-owner Gabe Haim. “We took a wheat base and added copious amounts of peach purée to create this summer beer staple.” It’s ideal for nights spent on the water or by the fire pit.