Beer at the Farmers Market: It’s Not Just for Drinking

Ridegwood pork store

Ridegwood Pork Store

The abundance of farmers markets on Long Island gives customers a chance to purchase local produce, baked goods, meats and — as we explored in the High Summer issue of Edible Long Island — beer. However, thirsty patrons aren’t the only ones lining up for locally produced craft beer. Many fellow market vendors are incorporating it into their own products.

Allison Fields formed her company, The Owl and the Pussycat, more out of necessity than anything else. She loved using organic soap, but after losing her job and spending about $100 on each order she simply couldn’t afford it anymore. “I began making my own and never had any intention of selling it,” says Fields. She spent about a year and a half perfecting the recipe which uses only natural butters, essential oils and other accents such as coffee and herbs. After giving away the soap for a while, people wanted to buy it so Fields set up a website and started selling at farmers markets.

pussycat soap beer loves company

“I like the markets because you develop a customer base,” says Fields. “People come every week and they bring their friends. They call me the soap lady.” In addition to local ingredients like honey and lavender, beer is also used. An aromatic, autumn soap is made with pumpkin beer; her light warm weather seasonal soap features summer ale. “Hops are great for your skin, so it makes sense,” says Fields.

Also at several markets is Jonel Picioane of Ridgewood Pork Store. He shows up each week with a full spread of smoked meats and sausages made in their Ridgewood kitchen. The building has been operational since 1930, and the built in smoker has been used every day since then.

Mark Cassin, the Big Cheese • photo by Doug Young

Mark Cassin, the Big Cheese • photo by Doug Young

A market favorite is Ridgewood’s beer and cheese kielbasa, made with local gouda and Blind Bat Brewery beers. Picioane became friendly with Mark Cassin of the Big Cheese and Paul Dlugokencky from Blind Bat. “One day we were sitting around and I said, ‘Gimme some of your cheese and beer. We’ll put it in a sausage and see what comes out.’”

Farmers markets are a great place to test things out, according to Picioane. The kielbasa started as a market only offering, but has become very popular in the store. “I just like to make stuff and see the expression on peoples faces when they try it,” says Picioane.

Also of note is Orwashers Bakery. Though based in Manhattan, they frequent farmers markets on Long Island with their fresh baked bread. Many loaves feature local grains and they have several offerings made with beer including Righteous Rye, a hearty and delicious rye bread made with Sixpoint ale.

Next time you visit your local market, be on the lookout for these vendors — and others — who are showcasing Long Island craft beer.