Amongst the fates that have befallen Long Island’s potato barns, a brewery is likely one of the happier endings — especially a brewery whose patio still looks out over the 80-acre farm that surrounds it.
“When we saw this barn, we thought it would be perfect,” said Kirk Weiss, 35, about the cement-lined structure that would eventually become Long Island Farm Brewery, which Weiss opened with his brother, Joseph Weiss, 33, and childhood friend Nick Giuffre, 32, in early June on Waterdrinker Family Farm & Garden in Manorville.
IPA, pilsner, Belgian-style ale and beers tinged with strawberries or sunflower seeds (brewed by head brewer Brian Smith) pour behind the l-shaped tasting bar; there’s soaring windows and beamed ceilings, giant Connect Four on some of the hand-built high tops, brewery equipment visible in the back of the space and cornhole and picnic tables on the outdoor patio.
The bucolic scene belies a long road, one that began six years ago when Joseph and Kirk — who had grown up in their family’s 60-year-old greenhouse business — began raising hops in East Moriches. “It was a lot of work. We sold them to a few to local breweries,” said Joseph .
“And we saw how much fun they were having,” added Giuffre, 32, who also works as a commercial realtor.
The three began home brewing, which within two years progressed to brewing on a one-barrel pilot system while they honed beers such as porter and a blonde ale, the Waterdrinker, which eventually became their staple. “It’s what we’d do on weekends,” said Joseph .
When the Weiss family purchased the Manorville farm, about a half-mile south of the Long Island Expressway, the Weisses and Giuffre zeroed in on the old potato barn for a farm-brewery, one that was partially built into a grassy bank, to keep the interior cool. The trials of 2020 would soon mess with their plans.
As they waited out construction and permitting delays, the partners gathered material for the 10-barrel brewery, taking a trip to Pennsylvania’s Amish Country to buy two truckloads worth of hemlock boards to line the barn. They hand-built tables for the tasting room, and put the brewery and tasting bar in place. Smart enough to realize that brewing was a full-time job, they hired Smith, who had been at BrickHouse Brewery in Patchogue.
“We had a lot of sleepless nights,” said Joseph of COVID- and permitting-related obstacles, “but our opening time turned out perfectly, and because of the delays, we opened up with a pretty solid lineup.”
None of Long Island Farm Brewery’s brews exceed 7 percent alcohol, which is purposeful. In coming weeks and months releases will include a honey-sunflower beer — in tandem with the farm’s upcoming sunflower festival — and, later in summer, more beers flavored with fruit. Food trucks stop by at the weekend, and there’s also local wine and cider on hand for non-beer drinkers. Pints are $8, and beer is for sale in crowlers and four-packs, too.
Eventually, the Weisses would like to plant some of Waterdrinker Farm over to hops, which they will use for wet-hopping beers, as well as grains such as barley and wheat (as a New York state farm-brewery, they need to use at least 60 percent of state-grown ingredients). “We release a new beer once a week,” said Giuffre, and some cask-aging is on deck for the fall.
Long Island Farm Brewery is open from Tuesday to Sunday (check Instagram for hours) at Waterdrinker Family Farm & Garden, 663 Wading River Rd., Manorville. 631-909-1864, longislandfarmbrewery.com