Great South Bay Produces Small Batches of Beer Developed by Home Brewers

home brew contest_04_Alicia Valeo and Kevin BreslawskiHome brewer Chris Kelley zests oranges for his winning IPA.

Chris Kelley, member of local home brewing club Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts, had an idea: organize and host a Chopped style brew day. Ten teams, each with a head brewer and one or two assistants, were randomly assigned a style of beer and two ingredients, such as wood, peaches or habanero peppers; Kelley’s team drew a rye IPA base with orange peel and basil.

Citrus and hops go together wonderfully, says Kelley; the basil, however, had him thinking, “What the heck am I going to do with that?” Some research turned up an Italian dish with orange and basil that inspired the team’s recipe. “It’s quite amazing the depth of flavor basil gives to hops,” he says. He was pleased with the result, and entered the fresh IPA in LIBME’s monthly home-brew competition, a collaboration with Great South Bay Brewery.

home brew contest_02_Alicia Valeo and Kevin BreslawskiGreat South Bay’s head brewer Greg Maisch, left, helps Kelley with the boil.

The partnership between the brewery and LIBME started during the Great American Beer Festival last year, which featured a Pro-Am competition, which recognizes the best joint effort between a home brewer and a professional brewery. That was the highlight for GSB owner Rick Sobotka and COO Phil Ebel, both long time members of LIBME. Working with LIBME president Todd Long and education committee head Andrew Luberto, who had run several programs at GSB in the past, the men have made the competition a monthly event.

Each month’s winner is now produced at Great South Bay and served in their tasting room. “Honestly I still feel like a home brewer,” says Sobotka, “I miss the days of casual brewing with friends and have regained a lot of enjoyment by offering this program.” Luberto adds, “I love the experimental nature of it” and appreciates the freedom home brewers bring to a professional setting.

Kelley’s IPA won last month; he was invited to GSB for the brew day and assisted head brewer Greg Maisch with recreating the recipe on their small batch system. “This gives local home brewers a goal to work towards,” Kelley said after a long day of brewing. His basil and orange Rye IPA will be released at Great South Bay Brewery Father’s Day weekend and will be available while supplies last. If it is anything like the home brew batch we tried, it won’t be around for long.

Alicia Valeo and Kevin Breslawski write about beer at Beer Loves Company