Though Long Island’s East End is known for its abundance of wineries, it’s also home to a number of great craft breweries. Long Ireland Beer Company, which started operating in 2011, makes great beer brewed and bottled completely in Riverhead.
Greg Martin, a Long Island native and avid beer-lover, decided to start a brewery after a bone cancer diagnosis. He’d been playing ice hockey when he started experiencing a pain in his leg. He took the season off and had the pain checked out. He learned it was caused by bone cancer and he had to walk using crutches for nearly a year and a half. At 31, married with kids, and with a steady job, Greg took stock of his life and decided to follow his passion for beer.
He received a home brew kit from his mom one Christmas and began to practice making different, ales, stouts and lagers. Eventually, he moved on to experimenting with different grains, hops, and yeasts. He mentioned his home brewing experiments to his friend and coworker, Dan Burke. Intrigued, Dan asked to join him the next time he brewed. Between brewing experiments, Greg researched beer brewers in the area and befriended a brewer at New England Brewing Company. While maintaining his full-time job, he visited the brewery every other weekend to learn and perfect his craft.
After a few years, tons of practice, collaboration, and partnership, Long Ireland was born. Greg came up with the name while “shower[ing] away a horrific hangover.” Both founders are of Irish descent and they brew the beer in Long Island, hence the name Long Ireland.
Naturally, the first beer they ever released was inspired traditional Irish red beers. The Celtic Ale, one of their most popular brews, is essentially a maltier version of this type of beer with a lower carbonation. They said on their website “It’s become our flagship beer, and we still love it — a lot.”
An easy way to get a taste of Long Ireland Brewery and other breweries in the area is to sign up for the Long Island Winterfest Brewery Tour Experience on Saturday, March 4th. You’ll get a special, behind-the-scenes tour of Long Ireland Brewery’s facilities and a tasting of their fantastic beers. You’ll also get taste beers from Crooked Ladder Brewing Company and Greenport Brewery. The tour finishes off with dinner at Digger’s Ales N’ Eats, an Irish pub and restaurant, serving fresh, handcrafted ales and eats. This tour package includes an overnight stay for 2 and transportation all for $309 plus tax per couple. Call (631) 369-2200 ext. 0 to make your reservation or visit us online here.
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