The Rocky Point Artisan Brewers have come a long way in the past few years, as has the annual Cask Ale festival they hosted for the fourth year in a row on Jan. 26 at the Rocky Point Clubhouse.
The festival aims to keep an intimate environment so people in attendance can speak with the brewers while trying the unique beers available.
"We always keep it small, there’s a reason for that," said Donavan Hall of the RPAB. "The idea is a lot of the beer festivals on the island tend to have a lot of people and it makes it difficult for the brewers to educate the people who come about what they made on that day.
"We try to keep it small so the people who are interested in what we’re doing and the art of the brewing, we have time and space to ask questions, talk to the brewers, learn something about what were trying to do here on Long Island to make beer more interesting than other places."
Tucked away near the sound at the clubhouse in Rocky Point, the festival featured nine local Long Island breweries: Rocky Point Artisan Brewers, Port Jeff Brewing Company, Barrage Brewing, Ghost Cat Brewing, Spider Bite Beer Company, Blind Bat Brewery, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, Montauk Brewing Company and Great South Bay Brewery.
This was the second time at the festival for Spider Bite Beer Company, based out of Holbrook.
“It’s a good festival, a nice mix of people, good location and it’s all cask, that’s what I like," said Anthony LiCausi, co-founder of Spider Bite. "We make some unique stuff, the mint chocolate stout is excellent. We make something different every year."
To go along with the different types of beer, food was provided by Crazy Beans in Miller Place, serving pulled pork sliders, biscuits, soup and more. Sweet treats were also available as samples and for purchase, baked by Bite Me Cakes of Sound Beach.
The casks are unique in that they are less carbonated, usually feature unique flavors and are served a room temperature.
"This year we opened it up to any LI brewery who would like to participate, all we asked is they come up with a unique contribution, be creative, make something that isn’t available anywhere else and try to use a local ingredient," Hall said. "Just do something out of the ordinary so that when people come here they can try something theywon’t get anywhere else. This is a place you can come and try things that are a product of the brewers creativity."
After getting their license about six months ago, Hall and the brewers have been learning about the business aspect of brewing. They have been adapting to the desires of the customer, something Hall says they can do because they are so small.
"You learn from the places your dealing with, what their customers want, and you respond to that," Hall said. "If you're brewing on a very large scale that might be difficult to do, where we can listen to people and ask what kind of beers they want to try."
Their beers are available at a few locations in the area, including DEKS American Restaurant in Rocky Point and Crazy Beans.