Community beer: The people behind Strong Ryeland include, above from left, Spencer Niebuhr, Phil Markowski, DJ Swanson, Jen Torriero and Greg Doroski.

Strong Ryeland

The region’s first collaborative beer delivers a taste from both forks.

Community beer: The people behind Strong Ryeland include, above from left, Spencer Niebuhr, Phil Markowski, DJ Swanson, Jen Torriero and Greg Doroski.

Strong Ryeland, a copper-hued collaboration created by Greenport Harbor Brewing Company and Southampton Publick House, is more than a well-balanced amalgam of five malt types and two hop varieties, suitable for session-easy situations; the Long Island–interpreted English Special Bitter (ESB) embodies the convergence of two local breweries, situated on opposite forks, for the appreciation of craft beer.

“I really wanted Greenport and Southampton to do something they felt represented them as brewers and would be proud to put their names on,” says Jen Torriero, bar manager of Spring Lounge in Manhattan’s NoLita. Torriero, the impetus behind the two-day union in early September, chose a bold, rye-based ESB (comprising 20 percent of Strong Ryeland’s malt profile, rye is also used in Greenport Harbor Brewing Company’s recent Spring Turning Saison) after a discussion with Spencer Niebuhr, brand manager of Southampton Publick House, about a one-off project that could serve as the apex of “I Love NY Beer,” Spring Lounge’s monthlong switch to New York-only craft drafts and bottles in October. (One of New York’s oldest bars, Spring Lounge features American beer and impressively opens at 8:00 a.m.)
“I suggested we combine forces with our brethren on the East End of Long Island and create a new beer,” says Niebuhr. “Two text messages later to Greenport and we were off-and-running.”
Though Strong Ryeland’s moniker is a playful jab at an unfavorable local portrayal (“I think it goes without saying that our breweries embody the gold chains and muscle shirts that people often associate with Long Island,” jokes Greg Doroski, assistant brewer of Greenport Harbor Brewing Company), its handle also represents the awareness, and solidarity, of community—not only within craft beer, but on Long Island, as well. This was most evident during Strong Ryeland’s recipe formation by Phil Markowski and DJ Swanson, brewmasters of Southampton Publick House and Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, respectively.
“The planning was around the time of Hurricane Irene, so it wasn’t always an easy process,” recalls Swanson. “But it seemed like the perfect time to hang out and make a beer with friends.” Over two sessions in Greenport, the five aforementioned beerists shared brewing duties, industry stories and pints, until a moderately spiced, maltforward
ale with subtle notes of citrus and herbal tea was completed.
“The specialty malts impart a unique character to the foundation, and the use of both UK Target and Cascade hops gives this beer more of a multi-continental take on the style,” says Markowski. “With Strong Ryeland, we hope to give the beer-drinking community a taste of the two forks.”
Niko Krommydas lives in Selden, and runs “Super Neat Beer Adventure, Yes!!,” a Long Island craft beer blog, nikokrommydas.com.

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Niko Krommydas regularly contributes to several branches of Edible, including Brooklyn, Buffalo, East End, Hudson Valley, Long Island and Nutmeg. He is editor of Craft Beer New York, available on Android and iPhone, and a columnist for Long Island Pulse and Yankee Brew News.