For the third year in a row, the Rocky Point Artisan Brewers held the Long Island Nano Cask Ale Festival, featuring beers from the three brewers from Rocky Point, along with other local brewers such as Port Jeff Brewing Company, Spider Bite Brewing Co. from Holbrook, and many more.
While the festival has now become an annual event, it actually started as an accident, according to Rocky Point Artisan Brewer Donavan Hall.
“Two years ago we had all made beer for the Blue Point Cask Ale Festival, but they shifted their date and we had all the beer made already,” Hall said. “So we had an impromptu festival. It’s been cask ale every year since then.”
Hall and partner Mike Voigt, both from Rocky Point, began brewing in Voigt’s basement in 2006. Because of the mess created from the process, they bought a property in Rocky Point and converted it into a brewery. Yuri Janssen then joined Hall and Voigt in 2009. While the group began brewing just for fun, it developed from there.
“We enjoyed it so much so we thought, if we’re making it for ourselves, wouldn’t it be neat if we could put beer on tap or even have a pub in town?,” Hall said. “ So that’s when we started pursuing the license.”
The brewers have their Federal license and are still working to get their State license. From there, they can begin selling the beer to licensed retailers. While the Rocky Point Artisan Brewers are advancing, they still aim to stay small with a local focus.
“We’re all into the local movement so we try to work with the farms and brew with local ingredients,” Hall said. “So we have this idea of taking this small-scale home brewing, scaling it up a little bit to produce something people in our community could enjoy. That’s why we chose the name, we wanted it to be very hyper-local.”
The brewers’ emphasis has been to encourage others to begin brewing, and they believe Long Island could sustain more nanobreweries.
“There’s plenty of population [and] the geography is right,” Hall said. “If we could get people to make really good, interesting beer here we’d have something that no other region in the US would have, so that’s what we’re trying to build and that’s what the festival is about.”
While the festival is for local beer makers, and local beer drinkers, even those who don’t drink were able to enjoy the sold-out event in the Rocky Point Clubhouse.
“I don't drink beer but we went with friends,” said Iris Strong of Rocky Point. “I thought it was a great turnout and a wonderful event to promote Long Island beer makers.”
The group plans on focusing on the nano aspect from here on out, building on a burgeoning nanobrewery movement across the country.
“There are other nanobreweries in the area and we want to invite them in," Hall said. "So what were thinking is maybe next year we’ll have a Long Island nano brewery festival.”
While their long-term vision does stretch across the island, the brewers’ main focus remains on the Rocky Point community.
“Right now the model is so small that we’d probably only choose two, three locations at most,” Hall said. “We’d have a preference for taps in Rocky Point, but we want to work with other people who share our vision of localism.”
For more information on the Rocky Point Artisan Brewers, visit rpabbeer.com or check out the brewers at facebook.com/artisanbrewers.