This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper. Read more about #EverythingEastEnd here
Downtown Riverhead is the ultimate watering hole for zythophiles, those who particularly enjoy a cold pint, with several craft breweries within walking distance of each other (or should we say, stumbling distance?). Fairly new to the brew crew, undoubtedly making its mark, is North Fork Brewing Company.
Peter Barraud and Ian Van Bourgondien are the two guys behind the New York State Farm Brewery that was founded in 2016. The tw ran the hop yard in Peconic, before opening its tasting room doors to the public on June 29, 2018. Van Bourgondien, who studied microbiology at St. John’s University, comes from “multi-generational glass greenhouse farmers,” with inherited experience aiding to the company’s growing process. Nugget, Chinook, Perle, Liberty, Cascade, and Magnum hops are all grown at the farm. The others come from the west coast and are used for their floral aroma and citrusy flavors.
His partner, Barraud, was a teacher up until 2016, working in the beer industry during days off from school before becoming a brewer for Moustache Brewing Company. “They were a vital part in helping us navigate through the permit process and open up our brewery,” Barraud explained.
“We were able to build out our entire brewery and tasting room using the help of my father, a retired construction worker, and my uncle, who is a master electrician,” Barraud noted of the 1300-square-foot tasting room, residing in the former space of the Riverhead Firehouse. The focal point of the space pays homage to the former tenant with refinished lockers from the chute and ladder days.
Active members and volunteers of the Riverhead Fire Department quench their thirsts regularly to swap stories. The brewery goes a step further in honoring all the service men and women in the area with a “Hero” discount for active EMT, fire, police, and military service members.
With 12 taps in total on site, the team asserts taste and experience go hand-in-hand although they self-distribute across Long Island and the New York City area.
The three stainless steel vessel system makes 10 barrels of beer at a time and multiple fermenters allow for a consistent rotation of flavor variety. Due to Van Bourgondien’s studious background, there is a full lab in the brewery, especially unique for a craft company, aiding in Barraud’s ability to design recipes around the yeast.
Utilizing local fare and keeping things area friendly, North Fork Brewing Co. creates a specialty Butternut Squash Ale during fall season using product from Sang Lee Farms. Get those taste buds ready, its newest release includes a donut beer collaboration with North Fork Donut Company. The Imperial Milk Stout is made with 80 doughnuts in the mash tun, plus three gallons of maple glaze in the fermenter, equating to a 9.5-percent ABV dessert in a pint. Want to taco bout something delicious? New beer releases are featured in area food trucks, like Mattitaco.
“We get to constantly invent, create, and play with new beer styles. Also, having an endless supply of beer is never a bad thing either,” the tireless Barraud explained of the typical 70 to 80-hour work week he and Van Bourgondien undergo. Amid creativity comes community outreach events for the Riverhead area including school supply drives, coat drives for homeless, can drive for food banks, and even an original Donkey Kong Junior Arcade in the tasting room, where 100 percent of the money is donated to East End Hospice.
Barraud married Van Bourgondien’s cousin so the partnership also became a familial one. “I would say the key to a successful family business is leaving business at the brewery and remembering we are family first. We always have family pop down to our brewery. We also now have an extended brewery family, not only with the rock-star group of employees we have working for us, but also the regular customers that always come back to have a great time and enjoy a pint of beer.”