The latest trend on the Long Island craft brewing scene may surprise beer drinkers used to taps and bottles. At special microbrewery flash sales known as can releases, the hottest things in cold ones are small batches of brew sold in 16-ounce cans.
Like fans queuing up for the latest “Star Wars” movie, beer lovers are lining up outside microbreweries to snap up the latest limited releases of freshly canned beer, $15 to $20 for a four-pack.
“IPAs are the really big pull,” says Ian O’Connor, 24, of Westbury, who like many local beer enthusiasts follows Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for news of upcoming can releases. He’s also a beer trader, bringing a cooler of 16-ounce cans from other states to swap on the line. “It’s a new style of beer that is extremely popular right now,” says O’Connor, a bartender at The Black Sheep Ale House in Mineola.
THE BIG DRAW
What’s behind the retro container’s revival? Advances in technology have eliminated the metallic “penny” taste beer drinkers once complained about, beer enthusiasts say. In addition, cans keep out light, which can degrade beer in bottles.
“The can locks in all the flavors of the hops because of the way it’s sealed,” says Patrick Benedict, 33, a Coram native who lives in Jackson Heights, Queens, and writes the Benedict Beer Blog, which has 1,300 Instagram followers.
Peter Tripp, 39, owner of Homebrews and Handgrenades brewing supply shop in Baldwin, says the can release trend began about three years ago at a Vermont brewery. It spread to Brooklyn and Queens, and arrived on Long Island about two years ago. The New England style is popular because it’s not as bitter as other IPAs, Tripp says. “If they are done right, they taste like orange juice,” he says.
Many of the 16-ouncers are double and triple IPAs with a relatively high 7 percent to 10 percent alcohol by volume. They “are hazy, unfiltered and opaque in color . . . super hoppy, dank and juicy,” Benedict says. He says that demand is high at breweries such as Sand City in Northport. “Most of the time they [microbreweries] sell their entire stock of IPAs that day or the next day.”
IPAs are “definitely the most popular style we make,” says Katie Hoffacker, 25, of Lynbrook, tasting room manager at Barrier Brewing Co. in Oceanside, which hosts its own can releases. Hoffacker also has gone to sales in Brooklyn.
Garvies Point Craft Brewery in Glen Cove will celebrate its first anniversary with its first can release beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 25. For sale will be 50 cases each of Sour Batch (Citra), a sour wheat ale, and a Gold Coast Double IPA.
Garvies Point owner Mark Scoroposki, 29, of Bayville, says his hoppy beers taste best when served cold within a couple of days of canning. “It’s living beer,” he says, “so it’s important to not have them sit on the shelf.”
Ryan Schlotter, an owner of Oyster Bay Brewing, says his can-release customers line up at a mobile canning unit set up inside his tasting room. “A lot of the time we are handing people the stuff right off the canning line.”
Beyond the suds, there’s a social aspect, says Matthew Spitz, 33, who with his wife, Lauri, also 33, owns Moustache Brewing Co. in Riverhead. Some track can releases and review them on a popular app called Untappd.
“With a lot of the enthusiasts who stand in lines, it’s a community,” Spitz says. “They are hanging out and bonding over beer.”