On a recent night, Larry Goldstein, the co-owner and brewmaster of Spider Bite Beer Company in Holbrook, leaned against the bar in his brewery’s tasting room, which was closed, playing Candy Crush Jelly Saga on his iPhone. “I’m on the last level,” he said proudly before holding the mobile device inches from my eyes, in the way a beaming parent might show a video capturing their child’s first steps to a group of co-workers.
Goldstein, who is forty-eight and tall, and who was once a full-time chiropractor for many years, some of them while also brewing professionally, plays Jelly Saga and other addictive titles in the mobile-gaming universe to relax. It had been a 14-hour workday. He arrived at Spider Bite’s headquarters, one unit in a well-kept warehouse on Lincoln Avenue, at seven o’clock that morning and started by ordering Vienna malt over the phone while eating a sesame bagel with cream cheese. Later—with some assistance from his business partner and longtime friend and neighbor, Anthony LiCausi, who is also a funeral director—he filled almost three hundred 22-ounce bottles with a scarce variant of Boris the Spider, the brewery’s well-regarded Russian imperial stout, aged in bourbon barrels, to sell at a fifth anniversary-event this Saturday. “I think this is the best Bourbon Boris we’ve ever done,” Goldstein said, pointing to a stack of cardboard boxes labeled “BB” in one corner of the tasting room. “The bourbon and oak play really nice with the deep roastiness and the dark chocolate and coffee notes.”
Goldstein put his phone in his pocket and walked behind the bar. He poured two pints of All Hallows’ Night, a potent porter made with pumpkin released every year around Halloween, and described plans to expand the tasting room to around 600 square feet, double its current size, later this month. “We’re going to have a longer bar, more tables, more seating, but the space is still going to have that comfortable, intimate feeling. But you’ll have the room to move around and breathe better,” he said. And later, after having a third beer: “We’ll be able to hold that Candy Crush tournament now.”
Spider Bite plans to start the expansion project a few days after celebrating its fifth anniversary this Saturday, a milestone to which Goldstein half-seriously lamented, “Except that I’m five years older, it’s been a great ride.” In addition to the bottles of Boris, there will be 15 beers on tap, five of which are new, made in collaboration with different local brewers: Barrage Brewing, in East Farmingdale; Blind Bat Brewery, in Centerport; BrickHouse Brewery & Restaurant, in Patchogue; Destination Unknown Beer Co., in Bay Shore; and Fifth Hammer Brewing, which has not yet opened, in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens. Goldstein talked about each of these new beers:
Doppel Dunkel Weizenbock
Collaboration Brewery: Blind Bat Brewery | Centerport
I made a Belgian beer with Paul [Dlugokencky, owner of Blind Bat Brewery] a few years back and I’ve always appreciated his brewing philosophy. He likes to brew some of the more obscure European beer styles out there, and he loves to use local farm ingredients. So we tried to combine both of those things by making a German weizenbock with New York State-grown Vienna malt. A weizenbock is basically a darker German hefeweizen, or dunkelweizen, at a higher alcohol percent, that of a bock or doppelbock. We had some fun in naming the beer using these different styles; I think people will have fun saying it, especially after drinking a few. Expect classic flavors to the style like banana fruitiness, clove spiciness and nice, rich malty character. I’d call it a meal in a glass.
LI to Me
Collaboration Brewery: BrickHouse Brewery & Restaurant | Patchogue
For Long Island Craft Beer Week last year a bunch of Long Island breweries, including us, came up with a new and native beer style called the Long Island Common. We created some baseline rules for the style and brewed a beer we called Craft Cares, and I think it came out great. BrickHouse’s head brewer Paul Komsic was one of the driving forces behind that beer and the new style, so we decided to do another Long Island Common but make it stronger. This beer isn’t like Craft Cares but has the guidelines of the style: honey, Long Island ingredients and a prominent hop character. For our local ingredients we used honey from South Bay Apiary in Medford and Cascade hops from Condzella Hops in Wading River. Then we aged the beer on cherrywood for 10 days before dry-hopping with the Centennial variety. The beer has a nice malty base with enough hop bitterness to cut the sweetness of the honey. The cherrywood adds to the finish.
Cinco de RyeO
Collaboration Brewery: Destination Unknown Beer Co. | Bay Shore
DUBCO as they’re called is fairly new to the Long Island brewery scene and already making great beers in a wide variety of styles like I like to do. Interestingly enough neither of us had ever done a barleywine before so that’s what we picked. We went with a large percentage of rye malt for the grain bill, which is what really drives this style. This is a big, fruity, full-bodied beer with a mouthful of malt and a stiff, spicy rye finish in every sip. An amber color, very nice and warming to the chest.
Cran It In Your Mouth
Collaboration Brewery: Fifth Hammer Brewing | Long Island City, Queens
I made a saison with Chris Cuzme some years ago when he was at 508 Gastrobrewery in Manhattan. So when I heard he was opening his own brewery in Queens I knew I had to reach out to him again. Cuzme as he is known is very passionate and loves doing odd beer styles. Or in our case, no particular beer style at all. For our collaboration we used pilsner and wheat malts to keep it light but we get added body from some flaked oats. We used German sauer malt in the mash and added 12 pounds of cranberry during fermentation to make a tart, fruity beer perfect for Thanksgiving dinner. Or really any meal as it’s light and easy-drinking and there’s a nice interplay between sweet and tart. The name is a play on the cranberry used and the gose beer we make at Spider Bite called It Gose in Your Moutha.
Collaboration Brewery: Barrage Brewing | East Farmingdale
I’ve known Steve for years. He’s a really funny guy, but he also has a good heart. When we were picking a style for this I had just been asked by a local autism charity to do a German bock beer for their Bocktoberfest event. So I asked Steve if he wanted to make that our collaboration and he jumped at the chance to help out. A bock is a malty German lager dark amber to brown in color with a high alcohol percent. The German malts here give a sweetness but the beer is fairly dry at the finish. It’s a very smooth, malty beer. I mentioned Steve was funny before so I should mention how we got to the name. Bock in German means “goat,” and that’s why many bocks have a goat on their label or bottle. And a baby goat is known as a kid. Steve came up with Kidd Bock to reference Kid Rock.