Best of the East End: Crooked Ladder Brewing Company

Crooked Ladder Brewing Company started nearly 4 years ago, when owner and founder David Wirth joined forces with Duffy Griffiths (now Greenport Harbor Brewing Company’s director of brewing operations) to create the next great craft brewery. Griffiths, who was a fire chief at the time, and Wirth, who owned a East End contracting firm, named the brewery Crooked Ladder due to their mutual affinity for ladders.

Today Wirth and his new Head Brewer & Production Manager, Stevie Czelatka, brew 3 beers year-round. Their mainstays are: Kolsch, a German Kolsch (4.4% ABV, 32 IBU) which their Tasting Room Manager & Events Coordinator Ashley Dunlop describes as a light beer that appeals to a wide range of people; Gypsy Red (5.0% ABV, 28 IBU) an American Red Ale brewed with malt chocolate and caramel which gets its name due to the fact that it was created at Crooked Ladder, but finished at different local facilities in the area; and, finally, 70 West IPA (6.5% ABV, 70 IBU) a hoppy beer that got its namesake from their street address.

They also constantly rotate and experiment with different beers seasonally. During the summer they brew lighter beers; during the fall they opt for dark beers. And every year in the late summer or early fall, they brew a fresh hop beer using local hops fresh off the vine. Within 24 hours of harvesting the hops, they toss them into a brew, creating a crisp, refreshing beer.

Their current seasonal beers are: It Was All A Dream (5.5% ABV, 64 IBU), a citrusy India Pale Ale named after the first lyric of Notorious B.I.G.’s hit song “Juicy;” Nitro Tap: Ponquogue Porter (6.0% ABV, 30 IBU), a brew offered annually that Czelatka describes as “Guinness-like with a silky mouth feel;” Ponquogue Porter, a regular porter. Dunlop notes the difference between the Nitro Tap and regular Ponquogue is that “[the Nitro Tap] makes the bumbles smaller, so it tastes less carbonated and smoother. It gives the beer a thicker and creamier head;” Belgian Dubbel (7.0% ABV, 30 IBU) which Stevie said “uses a different yeast and tastes chocolatey, imparting a dried fruit flavor” and, finally, The Brewhouse Beer, (5.6% ABV, 24 IBU) a standard Copper Ale. Czelatka said he “wanted to do a beer that signaled the end of winter, but not quite spring yet. It’s a lighter beer with a crisp and noble hop finish [with a] distinct melon taste from the hops.”

Crooked Ladder also makes sure to involve themselves in local community activities, taking part in the Riverhead County Fair nearly every year. You’ll also find them at this year’s “Alive on 25,” a free summer street festival in Downtown Riverhead. Main Street shuts down traffic to create a walkable pop-up street festival offering local craft beverages, wine, live music. and restaurant offerings, artist exhibitions, and family friendly activities. It’s a Riverhead twist on Patchogue’s Alive after Five, a similar summer street fair.

A tasting of Crooked Ladder’s beers and other local brews was available during the Long Island Winterfest Brewery Tour Experience on Saturday, March 4th. The tour package included an overnight stay for 2 and transportation, dinner at Digger’s ALes N’ Eats, and tastings at 2 other breweries all for $309 plus tax per couple. However, this weekend’s event is sold out. Swing by Bistro 72 to sample their beers instead (make a reservation by calling (631) 369-3325) or stay tuned to Hotel Indigo’s blog for more fun, local events.