Brooklyn-Grown Hops Make Their Debut at Bearded Lady This Sunday

You can try the collaborative brew from Lithology Brewing Company and Bed-Stuy’s Tinyfield Rooftop Farm this Sunday.

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Long Island’s Lithology Brewing Company has partnered with Tinyfield Rooftop Farm, in Bed-Stuy, to make a limited wet-hopped beer. It will debut at the Bearded Lady in Prospect Heights on Sunday (more info here).

Lithology is one of several tenant brewers at A Taste of Long Island in Farmingdale. The site of Long Island’s first alternating brewery proprietorship (defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau as “an arrangement in which two or more people take turns using the physical premises of a brewery,”), Taste is an 800-square-foot commercial kitchen primarily employed by small, budding food businesses and adjoining specialty grocery.

Taste’s owner Jim Thompson home-brewed during the ’90s, but had stopped making beer for nearly two decades before rediscovering his former hobby. After noticing the industry’s recent growth and popularity, especially in his surrounding area, he decided to add brewing to Taste’s incubator offerings and launched The Craft Microbrewhouse last summer with three fledgling companies — Po’ Boy Brewery, 1940s Brewing and The Brewers Collective — ready to rent space, time and equipment.

As tenants, brewers have the opportunity to operate their new business on a small scale with less financial investment and less risk than the conventional startup model. They use a shared three-barrel brewhouse in the private kitchen, while the building’s converted basement is designed for fermentation, packaging and ingredient storage. Taste’s storefront even has a twelve-draft bar to sell the house-made brews.

Back in June, Lithology (among a growing number New York’s licensed Farm Breweries) became the fourth tenant to launch from Taste’s facility. Its four partners — Marc Jackson, Kevin Cain, Lee Kaplan and Manny Coelho — started brewing together at their homes in 2007 and have more than 20 years of combined experience. A win at a local homebrew competition during the summer of 2014 enabled them to brew commercially with Port Jeff Brewing this year and eventually pushed the quartet to pursue their hobby as a profession.

Tinyfield is equally nascent. The rooftop farm, owned by Katrina Ceguera and Keely Gerhold, has operated on the top of the former headquarters of Pfizer in Bed-Stuy for less than a year. The duo grows vegetables and microgreens, in additional to about 60 hop plants. These were harvested last month and immediately used to make the collaborative amber ale.

We chatted with Jackson to learn more about the new brew.

Edible Brooklyn: How did you connect with Tinyfield?
Marc Jackson: It was all quick and easy. A friend of Lee’s said that she had heard of a rooftop farm in Brooklyn that grows hops. We looked them up and shot over an email, and a few days later we were up on the roof with Katrina and Keely for a tour. Once we were there, we talked about doing a collaboration beer using their first harvest. This being the first time their hops were being used in a beer, they were really hyped about it.

EB: What hop varieties did you use in the beer?
MJ: Whole-leaf Cascade hops. We used a couple of pounds.

EB: How quickly were they used after being harvested?
MJ: From harvest to brew time it was about four hours. That one day last month, we actually drove to Brooklyn and picked the entire harvest with them. It was a lot of fun and, being it’s on a rooftop of an old pharmaceutical factory in the city, the farm is a really unique space. After we picked them then we all drove to Farmingdale to make the beer.

EB: How did the hops smell?
MJ: They smelled like hops! [Laughs.] Seriously, they smelled great. They had an earthy, grassy aroma that’s pretty typical of young Cascades in the New York region. It should add a nice layer to the beer.

EB: You used local malt in the recipe, too.
MJ: Right. Two-row malt grown in New York and malted at Flower City [Malt Lab] in Rochester. This is our first time working with them too. Again we feel like it adds another layer to the beer. Using the local two-row serves as another way growers and brewers can connect.

EB: What should we expect the beer to taste like?
MJ: It’s an amber ale made with a traditional American ale yeast, so expect some nice maltiness and a crisp mouthfeel. The fresh wet hops should add a grassy, earthy note to the nose.

EB: Had you ever brewed a wet-hopped beer before?
MJ: No. Not commercially or even when we were homebrewers. We’ve wanted to do one for a long time. Brewing with wet hops is using basically the freshest ingredient you can use when brewing. With more hops being grown locally hopefully this can be something we do every year.

EB: It debuts at the Bearded Lady on Sunday. Where else can we find it?
MJ: Glorietta Baldy tapped a keg yesterday so if you want an early taste before Sunday you can head there now. Also keep checking our website and social media pages for other places. We’re mainly trying to sell this one in Brooklyn.

EB: Is there anything else you’d like to say about the beer?
MJ: Our goal with this collaboration is to obviously make a great beer, but it’s also to promote Tinyfield. They’re a lot like us: small, grassroots, trying to contribute to their industry on a local level. As a Farm Brewery, we’re all about supporting local growers and farmers whenever we can. It makes for a more meaningful product.

On that note we’re releasing our Lafayette Farmhouse Ale pretty soon, which we made with honey collected at Crossroads Farm. We also used their squash to make our Water Mill Imperial Pumpkin Ale last month. Working with other locals makes for a more meaningful experience and product.

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Niko Krommydas has written for Tasting Table, BeerAdvocate, Munchies, and First We Feast. He is editor of Craft Beer New York, an app for the iPhone, and a columnist for Yankee Brew News. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.