Craft Beer and Beachfront Cheer at Montauk Brewing Company

Montauk Brewing Company (MBC) is surrounded by water. Only a short walk from Fort Pond, Lake Montauk and the Atlantic Ocean, this little brewery maintains a distinctly “Montauky” vibe—which is aided by the fact it’s situated directly next to St. Peter’s Catch, a fish and lobster market with patio dotted with picnic tables.

Inside MBC, purchasable paintings by local artists plaster the walls, as part of the Hops for Habitat exhibition—which is only one of many art exhibits and openings taking place in the Gallery Taproom this summer. My eye was particularly drawn to a seagull sculpture hanging from the ceiling, which was creatively composed entirely from recycled plastic six-pack rings. All proceeds from the Gallery Taproom’s grand opening, I was told, went to a program intended to grow seagrass in order to keep local fish healthy. On Saturdays, live music is a regular fixture, and the three brewers behind the operation drop in and out frequently.

Upon entering, I was greeted by friendly bartenders Matt Burns and Ariana Jasuta, who offered me a tasting of the four brews currently on tap. (Like many local breweries, MBC only offers flights, not full pints, though you can purchase as many flights as you’d like). First in line was the Summer Ale. This beer, along with its comrade, Driftwood Ale, is sold in cans across Long Island. (Canned beer, which is experiencing a revival among American craft breweries, makes for perfect beach drinking and keeps cool much longer than bottled beer. Just remember to cut your six-pack rings so the local wildlife doesn’t get stuck!) Summer Ale’s malty aftertaste and light mouthfeel made for easy drinking, and the 25% wheat malt gave it a subtle citrusy flavor on par with many domestic summer brews.

Driftwood Ale is an English-style pale ale, often dispensed by an instantly recognizable branch-shaped tap handle. It features a predominantly malty taste, without the lingering aftertaste of the Summer Ale. Darker in color and higher in alcohol content than the Summer Ale, Driftwood struck me as another decent “session beer”—though perhaps one better suited to cool, indoor drinking rather than a sweltering day at the beach.

Next up, I sampled the Offland IPA, which was hoppy, but not insanely so. It leans more toward the traditional English IPAs, with their muted hop aftertastes, than the triple- and quadruple-hopped West Coast IPAs that are currently all the rage. This balanced quality allows Offland to be drinkable while still maintaining the bitterness of an IPA. The reddish brew clocks in at 6.4% ABV, making it the
strongest of MBC’s offerings.

Finally, Guardsman Stout rounded off the tasting. Guardsman is a milk stout, which usually tend to be thick and sugary. (I tend to hate them.) This one, however, was surprisingly light, with overtones of chocolate and coffee—lots of coffee. This pitch-black brew was a perfect end to the tasting, designed for slow sipping and savoring of the many complex flavors, which made their way to the surface.

Aside from tastings, the brewery also carries growlers and half-growlers (which can be filled with draft beer and refilled for a slightly reduced price), “growler wetsuits” (essentially large koozies designed to keep growlers chilled), clothing, hats and pint glasses. You can even keep your five-ounce tasting glass once you’ve completed your flight. Brewer and CEO Joseph Sullivan told me that MBC is “planning to stick with these four beers for the summer”—but we can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Montauk Brewing Company, 62 S. Erie Avenue, Montauk. montaukbrewingco.com, 631-668-8471.

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