Rebuilding Long Island…With Beer

After Hurricane Sandy debilitated Long Island on October 29, 2012, a rebuilding process addressing both structural and spiritual needs was necessary for progression. While some contributed with brick or metal, and some with metaphysical methods, others—eight local breweries, specifically—used beer.


Surge Protector IPA, a piney, dry-finishing India pale ale, is the liquid soul of Sandy Relief Beer, a collaboration between the eight aforementioned beer-makers—Barrier Brewing Company, Blind Bat Brewery, Blue Point Brewing Company, Great South Bay Brewery, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, Long Ireland Beer Company, Port Jeff Brewing Company and Spider Bite Beer Company—to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy on Long Island. Among the impaired was one of the project’s participants, Barrier Brewing Company, an Oceanside-based brewery owned by Evan Klein and Craig Frymark. After expanding to a 4,600-square-foot facility in May 2012 (its previous location, also in Oceanside, was 1,000 square feet), Barrier Brewing Company received four feet of water and damage to brewhouse pumps, heating systems, delivery trucks and a grain mill (losses were estimated at $100,000). Klein’s personal residence in Long Beach was also a casualty of Sandy, forcing a temporary relocation, with his family, to Frymark’s Queens apartment.

“The aftermath of the hurricane was devastating for us, but being part of the Long Island beer community meant we had an instant safety net to help us pick up the pieces and get back on our feet,” says Frymark. “Since our combined forces could and should do more than just aid our recovery, we also wanted to pool our resources to help the whole island, too. And we gave people a nice beer to drink in the process.”

The breweries assembled at Blue Point Brewing Company on December 4 and created one 30-barrel batch (now sold out) of Surge Protector IPA. Each brewery donated an ingredient and, despite no contractual ties to Barrier Brewing Company, Clare Rose Inc., a third-generation, family-operated distributor in East Yaphank, funded the project and delivered kegs and bottles to supporting establishments across both counties. Surge Protector IPA undoubtedly contained Long Island within every drop.

“We need to build the brewing community here on Long Island because there are so many of us now,” says Mark Burford, co-owner of Blue Point Brewing Company. “We are stronger together than we are separate.”

Burford’s stance on unity among local brewers is justified by the project’s successful denouement, as Sandy Relief Beer raised $58,000 for Long Island Cares, Inc., a Hauppauge-based food bank, and Barrier Brewing Company. The latter has also started to brew again. Though Surge Protector IPA was created with malt, hops, yeast and water, the four essential components of beer, its intangible ingredients, camaraderie and resiliency, were equally indispensable.