Among the bars and restaurants popping up on Patchogue’s ever-evolving Main Street sits the oldest commercial building in town, home of BrickHouse Brewery. For 20 years the BrickHouse has been a village staple—a place to grab dinner and a beer, meet up with friends or take in some live music. Now, new head brewer Arthur Zimmerman and longtime employee-turned-brewer Paul Komsic are redefining the BrickHouse as a hub for local, innovative craft beer.
Komsic started working at BrickHouse Brewery five years ago, though not in the capacity he wanted. He was already a homebrewer, getting his start after reading Extreme Brewing by Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione and thinking, “I can cook. I gotta start doing this.” To get his foot in the door, he took a kitchen job. But his mind was in the brewery, where in his free time, he picked the brain of then head brewer Charles Noll. Once Noll moved on and Zimmerman hired, just a little over a year ago, Komsic was bumped up to working in the brewery.
Zimmerman hails from Colorado and fell in love with brewing while working toward a degree in biochemistry and interning in the environmental health and safety department at Coors, which included a tour of the brewery. “This is a way I can apply my skills and not be stuck at a boring desk all day,” he thought. Soon he was homebrewing and realized he “wanted to make more than one thing.” So he moved on to Funkwerks, a small Belgian-style brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado. There he rekindled an interest in Belgian beers and cemented his desire to brew. It was then back to school at UC Davis, where he completed the master brewers program. He returned to Colorado briefly to work at Avery Brewing until his girlfriend was offered a job on Long Island. He saw an opening at BrickHouse Brewery, applied and the rest is history.
The first time Komsic and Zimmerman met, they felt a connection and then spent an entire day at the bar laying out the future. Komsic was already familiar with the changing town—with increasing competition on the strip, customers were looking for something different and exciting. “You don’t get as many big toys and fun equipment that you would at a big place, but you’re also a lot more connected to the customers,” says Zimmerman. “You’re at the bar talking to the people who are drinking what you make.”
The Belgian beer fans will have at least three on tap this year, each brewed with a French saison yeast Zimmerman first used and became enamored with at Funkwerks.
BrickHouse recently took their beer to the streets and are now distributing in small quantities to select bars and restaurants on Long Island. “If we want to get more business—short of putting our beer on a fishing lure outside—we have to get it out there,” says Zimmerman. Komsic adds, “There’s only so much beer you can sell out of one building.” One of their first outside accounts is Relish in Kings Park, where they now serve BrickHouse Breakfast Brown, a rich, maple-pecan brown ale Komsic says is “perfect with breakfast.”
The duo aim to have 10 to 12 unique beers in house at all times. Since the spring marks a slowdown in production, with the busy summer, pumpkin and holiday seasons behind them, it’s a perfect time for Zimmerman and Komsic to brew a couple things “just for them.” The Belgian beer fans will have at least three on tap this year, each brewed with a French saison yeast Zimmerman first used and became enamored with at Funkwerks.
On tap in late summer was Aegis Bière de Garde, a delicate ode to the often-overlooked North French style that offers hints of yeast-driven tangerine, black pepper and ginger. For something on the bolder side there’s Carrickfergus, a 7 percent ABV nitro double cream ale aged on Jameson-soaked oak that boasts a creamy mouthfeel accented with sweet honey, spice, vanilla and whiskey.
For those just dipping their toe in the waters of craft beer, the team at BrickHouse crafted a beer cocktail menu. “Sometimes going into the summer you want to drink a mixed drink,” says Komsic. “You don’t necessarily want a beer.” He and Zimmerman, staff mixologists and local group Girls Pint Out collaborated to come up with the initial drink list. Year-round staples include the Tootsie Roll, a mix of BrickHouse Red, espresso- and whipped-cream-flavored vodkas and Kahlúa as well as the BrickHouse Shandy, which combines Street Light Ale and pineapple juice for a play on the typically lemonade-based concoction.
“Half of craft beer is drinking local,” says BrickHouse co-owner Jim McPeak. And Zimmerman and Komsic believe it. With the wide variety of new beer and cocktails coming out of the historic building, it’s time to revisit this Patchogue staple.