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Long IslandSuffolk

Bay Shore brewery moving to new site

Great South Bay Brewery owner Richard Sobotka on

Great South Bay Brewery owner Richard Sobotka on July 18, 2012. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The giant cylinder-shaped vats sit empty for now, side-by-side in a cavernous Bay Shore office park building. In a few months, the 930- to 1,860-gallon fermenters could be emitting scents of Kismet Saison and Robert Moses Pale Ale -- in what could be the new home of the Great South Bay Brewery.

After a series of planning issues with Suffolk County officials at the microbrewery's 3,300-square-foot location near downtown Bay Shore, the brewery has relocated, with town support, to a 39,000-square-foot space at Drexel Drive and Fifth Avenue, which will serve as its production facility.

The new location is expected to allow for an expanded product line, including the canning and bottling of its products, in addition to selling kegs. The site will also have a tasting room.

Richard Sobotka, an anesthesiologist who as a boy watched his father brew beer at their upstate home, opened the brewery in 2010 with $100,000 of his own money. He says the expansion is part of a renaissance in Bay Shore, which has seen a recent influx of small businesses.

"It's as if I'm an executive chef in a fancy restaurant," said Sobotka, who lives in Brightwaters. "Beer is exciting to me because there's so many different styles and tastes . . . The adventure is to go after them and try to brew them and make people love them . . . That was the one thing I always wanted to do."

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation Wednesday giving tax breaks to small-scale craft breweries, to help expand the burgeoning industry statewide. "In addition to producing some of the finest beer in the world, New York's craft breweries are creating jobs, supporting our state's farmers and hops growers, as well as bringing in tourism dollars in local communities," Cuomo said in a statement.

Since its opening, Great South Bay has brewed 25 beers, and its products can be bought at more than 250 locations on Long Island. It is among about 15 local breweries and brew pubs on the Island -- including Ireland Beer Co. in Riverhead, Port Jeff Brewing Company in Port Jefferson and Spider Bite Beer Company in Holbrook -- according to the Long Island Craft Beer Week.

First located at Union Boulevard and Saxon Avenue, the Great South Bay Brewery closed a few weeks ago -- it's been sending its recipes to a Brooklyn facility for brewing -- after brewery officials determined they could not afford a series of improvements to the former area. Among the fixes the county required were a traffic light and pedestrian crosswalk.

"We're not Budweiser," said Phil Ebel, the brewery's chief operations officer. "We're a small, local company with four employees."

Ebel said he heard about the vacancy at the new site through an acquaintance.

Dave Genaway, the town planning director, said town officials worked to expedite the permitting process for the brewery.

"We're looking forward to a nice microbrewery in Bay Shore . . . They're a good group," Genaway said. "Bay Shore's taking on a sort of food and beverage focus, so it really fits with their plans for Bay Shore."