It’s Friday night at Great South Bay Brewery, which is not actually on the bay but instead inhabits a hulking former aerospace building on the edge of a Bay Shore industrial park. Out front, a line snakes up to a food truck. Inside the tasting room, it feels like a multigenerational warehouse party is in full swing. A guitarist strums and sings a few steps away from a raging cornhole game. The soaring ceiling is hung with paper lanterns, and at the hodgepodge of tables beneath it, people still in button-downs or heels from the workday sip pints. A 60-something couple chooses a tasting flight from a scrawled chalkboard above the bar, then retires to some repurposed airline seats along the back wall. Just beyond them, the brewhouse is visible.
The lively but low-key scene still retains the vibe of the craft beer scene’s humble beginnings, something the industry will be celebrating for the next few days during Long Island Craft Beer Week. Some began in garages or basements (in GSB’s case, the basement of founder and owner Rick Sobotka in 2008) and now, several years on, produce beers that are polished and in demand. For instance, GSB’s juicy, quaffable Blood Orange Pale Ale, first brewed in 2011, is both canned and bottled and distributed across several states.
Even though that beer now makes up 45 percent of GSB’s output, head brewer Greg Maisch says that, as with many craft breweries, GSB’s future course is ever-hoppier. “[IPA]s are here to stay, with all of these new and interesting hops varieties,” said Maisch. “As fast as we can brew an IPA, we have new ones coming out.”
There were four IPAs on the tap list on that Friday night, but GSB balances those with other styles: A malty, butterscotch-like Scotch ale called Marauder, and a newly released, grassy summer wheat ale, called Surfcaster, among them.
When and if those rotate out to make room for newer brews, a few elements will stay constant: A food truck in the parking lot, an unpretentious vibe and superlative beer.
Tasting room open Wednesday to Sunday; 25 Drexel Dr., Bay Shore; 631-392-8472, greatsouthbaybrewery.com