Widgets Magazine

From Hop Heads to Farm Brewers - Jamesport Farm Brewery

After a successful first year opening, horticulturalists turned brewers Melissa Daniels and Anthony Caggiano are getting closer to their goal of becoming a fully self-contained farm brewery. Their operation, Jamesport Farm Brewery, is the one of the only producers on Long Island to grow both the hops and barley required for making beer on-site.

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“We started with a small patch,” said Caggiano. “We sent it in [for analysis] to make sure everything was good - and it worked out pretty well. So then the next year we did a little bigger, and the third we did even bigger, 18,000lbs - which was our biggest crop yet. This year we’ll double it. Last year we had approx. 18,000lbs and this year we’ll have 50,000lbs.”

Under New York state law, producers operating under a farm brewery license will be required to grow 60% of the hops and grains used in their beverages by the year 2019. JBF is already using up to 80% of its own farm grown ingredients. According to Daniels and Caggiano, with the new law there is a need for more hops and barley to be grown in New York. “We had a grain conference up in Syracuse last year, and the question was – Are the growers in NYS going to be able to produce enough barley to give all the farm brewing licenses enough grain to hit the 60% mandate by 2019? And the answer is, yes.”

Daniels explained “There are lots of new hop farms and barley producers popping up in NYS because of the farm brewer’s license, and Cornell is working on barley and hops that grow well in New York so that farmers can do a better job.”

Caggiano believes that Long Island is a special place to grow barley as the crop has historically done well in climates with close proximity to large bodies of water. “Some of the best barley comes from Britain,” he explained which is near the ocean and we’re near the ocean on both sides - so this soil here has been bombarded with salt air for thousands of years. Scotland has the best malts in the world.”

In addition to using their own barley and hops, the team also grows their own pumpkins and raspberries which eventually make their way into specialty brews. They offer 10 beers at the brewery currently and well as their own cider. Rather than selling cans to retail stores, the two are sticking with the farm business model for the time being. “We’re focusing on the tasting room experience,” said Caggiano. “Our guests like the local farm experience. We do have some kegs out at a few local restaurants. We do a fair amount of crowler [large can format] and growler business. The crowler is new as of 2016, it’s re-sealable and has no glass so you can take it to the beach.”

On September 22nd Daniels and Caggiano will host their third annual “Fresh Hop Fest” which will feature food, live music, farm games, and a competition between local brewers to produce the best-voted fresh hopped beer.