There are very few reasons to voluntarily board the Long Island Rail Road in the summer, but surely beer is at the top of the list.
Though Brooklyn is home to some of the best beer coming out of New York right now (we’re looking at you, Other Half and Grimm), Long Island has over 20 breweries that are well worth the trip. Here are some of our favorites:
Barrier Brewing Company is a short walk from the East Rockaway LIRR station—we’re talking ten minutes if you’re leisurely strolling. They’re open Wednesday to Sunday and typically have at least ten beers on tap. Barrier beer frequently makes its way out to Brooklyn, so you’ve probably at least tried Money, one of our favorite IPAs. In fact, if you’re an IPA lover, this is the place for you. About half the menu is usually made up of hoppy options, with some surprises like a Belgian White or Oyster Stout balancing things out.
Flights and ten-ounce pours are available, and depending on when you visit you may run into an awesome special like 2 for $4 pours or $5 flights. Dogs are welcome; there is always a food truck parked right outside (currently Cheezy Pete’s, though it rotates); and local art for sale adorns the walls. They are cash only, so keep that in mind before you head out.
Sand City isn’t quite as easily accessible by public transportation, but we promise it’s worth it. Located steps from the water in Northport, the relatively new brewery has quickly become a must-visit. If you don’t have a designated driver friend you can convince to embark on a mini road trip, you can take the LIRR to Greenlawn then grab a cab or Uber (it’s only about a ten-minute drive).
They’re open seven days a week and beers are available in flights, 5- or 13-ounce pours or pints (if you buy a Sand City pint glass). All ten taps are usually flowing and their New England Style IPAs stand out, though we’ve never had a bad beer here regardless of style. If you’re not in an IPA mood, the Southdown stout is rich and chocolatey with a hint of coffee bitterness to balance everything out. Free pretzel rods are the only food available—which really hit the spot mid-flight—but there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance. Credit cards are accepted, and they usually have a few freshly canned options to take home with you.
As you probably already know, Blue Point Brewery was acquired by Anheuser-Busch three years ago. But you’d hardly know it from entering the tasting room in Patchogue. The space is small, laid back and there’s usually live music. We typically grab our beers and head outside, where there is additional seating in the form of picnic tables—plus a food truck. Your first three (generous) samples are totally free and you can choose from rotating beers like a beach plum gose, sour cherry imperial stout and seaweed IPA. Additional samplers are available for purchase, or you can step it up to a pint. Blue Point has been in their current location for almost 20 years, but will be moving to a much larger facility in the very near future. This could be your last chance to check out the oldest tasting room on Long Island.
If you do have access to the aforementioned designated driver friend, we recommend taking a ride to the town of Bay Shore. The Brewers Collective, Destination Unknown and Great South Bay Brewery are all within a five-mile radius of each other and offer three very different experiences. Great South Bay is by far the largest, with plenty of seating, indoor cornhole and beers ranging from a Blood Orange Pale Ale to Jetty Cream Ale.
The feel of Destination Unknown is relaxed and they often pop the garage doors open when the weather is nice. A few IPAs are always on the menu, but it’s not all hops—right now you can enjoy a grapefruit gose, blueberry peach sour and chocolate stout.
The Brewers Collective started as a homebrew club and is now collectively owned by all its members. Their independent spirit really comes through in beers like Shanty Town Spruce Juice, a pale ale brewed with locally harvested spruce tips and Loot, an herbal ale with sage, lemon balm and hibiscus. If those sound a little crazy to you, you can always order a brown ale, White IPA or strawberry witbier.
At the end of the day, if you want to treat your driver to some seasonally inspired food, head to Tullulah’s. Their small plates menu is complimented by an impressive tap list and cocktail menu. Though not a brewery, we just wouldn’t feel right if you left Bay Shore without paying them a visit.