Cinnamon Raisin Bagel-Beer Is Now a Reality on Long Island

Barrage Brewing is just one of seven local brewers that have gathered together to fight food waste with bagel-brewed beer on Long Island.

When we typically homebrew, I’m in charge of measuring out and grinding the grain while Kevin gets all the equipment cleaned and sanitized. Last time we brewed a beer, instead of being on grain duty I was in the kitchen chopping up 20 pounds of assorted bagels. Along with seven local breweries, we will be serving our bagel beer at Nothing Wasted, an event to combat food waste and hunger on Thursday, November 30.

We opted to solely use bagels as our grain, resulting in a bready, low ABV beer with a surprisingly full mouthfeel. The commercial breweries all had their own techniques, though they went with a combination of bagels and traditional malts. Sand City essentially made a tea with their bagels, while Square Head cooked them on low heat to remove the moisture and Greenport Harbor added them in the last ten minutes of the boil—a move typically reserved for hops. “The boil smelled just like cinnamon raisin bagels,” said brewer Pat Alfred.

The Brewers Collective had wanted to make a rye beer for a long time, but never quite got around to it. When presented with the idea of a bagel beer, they knew it would be the perfect time. They used about 20 pounds of bagels, some pumpernickel, and wound up with a nice, light brown wort. In true Brewers Collective fashion, they thought, “What can we do to make this a little different?” So, they soured it with a yogurt culture resulting in a tart and clean beer with a bready bagel aftertaste.

Sand City also went the rye route, using a blend of pumpernickel and plain bagels as well as rye malt. They then hopped it with cluster, Amarillo and Citra hops and went on to dry hop it. The secret ingredient was a bit of onion flake, which brewer and owner Kevin Sihler says brought out the “bagel flavor.” Though they now brew 350 gallons at a time, they went back to their small homebrew setup to brew 10 gallons of this rye bagel IPA.

Although we collected a few large bags of everything bagels, we didn’t know if anyone would be up to the challenge. SquareHead Brewing was ready to experiment. They actually scraped the seeds of all the bagels they used, resulting in 8.5 ounces of everything spice mix. They used 15 pounds of their “plain” bagels in the mash and then added the everything spice at the end of the boil and in secondary fermentation.

Spider Bite and Barrage are working together to pay homage to the cinnamon raisin bagel with their beer. Though they used cinnamon raisin bagels in their mash, the idea was to brew something that mimicked the flavor of actually eating a cinnamon raisin bagel. They added about 30 pounds of blended raisins to the mash. “I tried the bagels after sparging. They were so slippery and gross, they tasted like nothing,” said Larry Goldstein of Spider Bite. Though that’s a pretty off-putting visual, it’s a good indication that the bagels did their job. Once sugar is extracted out of the brewing grain (in this case, bagels it should be rendered fairly tasteless. The good news is, all that flavor is transferred into the beer.

Greenport Harbor jumped on the cinnamon raisin train too, first brewing a 7% ABV oatmeal stout. The idea was to add the bagels in the mash and the last ten minutes of the boil for flavor and body. Initially, Alfred was going to add some syrup and cinnamon sticks. But after smelling the boil, he decided to scrap the additions and see what the bagels would do on their own. “The pairing makes a lot of sense actually. I would encourage any brewery or homebrewer to try it out,” says Alfred.

“Someone actually commented on my Instagram and asked if I could go full circle and use the spent grain from this beer to make bagels,” laughed Paul Dlugokencky of Blind Bat Brewery. His bagel beer is inspired by some Dutch and German styles, but the addition of bagels make it one of a kind. He started elsewhere but as beer ideas often do, it evolved and he wound up with a blend of German malts and bagels simmering away producing a crisp, malty beer.

You can try all these bagels beers plus some delicious local food on Thursday, November 30th at the Melville Marriott. Some tickets are still available here. All proceeds go to support Island Harvest and Rescuing Leftover Cuisine.