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Feature Stories

For The Love Of Beer

There’s always something brewing on the North Shore of Long Island. Now add beer to the list. Breweries have hopped on the New York scene with such a buzz, it’s practically Oktoberfest year-round. And while most of the breweries are located on the east end of Long Island or in New York City, the Gold Coast’s Oyster Bay Brewing Company is the latest microbrewery to tap into the frothy, handcrafted beer trend.

The growler-sized craft brewery is located in downtown Oyster Bay, a hop away from Billy Joel’s 20th Century Cycles shop. In fact, the Oyster Bay neighbor has already made a visit to welcome the New-York-State-of-Mind brewery to the neighborhood.

Hip, casual Oyster Bay Brewing Company is co-owned by Long Island natives Ryan Schlotter, who lives in Centerport with his wife, Brenda and Gabe Haim of Bayville, who lives with his wife, Chrissie, and their two-year-old son Carter, with another baby on the way in September. When not brew masters, Schlotter and Haim both work at Rallye BMW in Westbury.

Inspired by a relative of Haim’s in Indianapolis, the pair got their start in the beer biz by experimenting with home brewery kits they ordered online. “We made a lot of mistakes,” says Haim, “you can’t learn unless you make mistakes.”

Following a soft opening in early June, the brewery had its grand opening Sunday, July 14 with beer tastings and festivities. “We had live music performed by Bryce Larsen, a great friend of mine and not to mention a great musician. His album, recorded in Nashville, was just released a few weeks ago and we’re all excited about it.”

Right now, there are four brews on tap at the brewery — IPA, Amber Ale, Wheat and Pale Ale. And, no surprise, given the location, you’ll soon be able to sample an Oyster Stout, made with, yes, oysters and oyster brine. A raspberry wheat brew will also be brewed later this summer and the brew house will give a nod to autumn with seasonal apple and pumpkin blends in coming months. “Our IPA has been our best seller,” says Haim. “It has a strong hop aroma and bitter finish but it’s very smooth and the smell of the hops while brewing is really great. We have a small brew house so when you add 10 pounds of hops, the aroma really travels.”

The brewery manufactures beer for both retail and wholesale. “Right now, we sell growlers to retail customers and kegs to bars, restaurants and beer distributors,” says Haim. Visitors can also sample free tastings at the brewery. Bring your own growler or, purchase one at the brewery, to fill up with your favorite ale to bring home. And soon “when all the logistics are worked out” you will be able to buy a keg for private parties. The brewery also offers merchandise for sale including T-shirts and OBBC growlers.

You can top it all off with an informal tour of the intimate facility to see the tanks in which the beer is made, and to watch the process. “Again, we have a small brewery so the tour consists of one room (tasting room/brew area),” explains Haim. “A small, half-wall separates the brewing area from where our customers are served. It’s pretty cool because, depending on what day of the week it is, people can see us brewing or transferring beer and they’re only a few feet away with nothing separating us except that small wall. This allows our customers to become part of the brewing process without getting their hands dirty.”

“We’ve already been getting a lot of repeat business,” says Haim. “It’s easy to get people to come once, but it’s great that they are coming back.”

Oyster Bay Brewing Company’s brews are so good that Long Islanders have come to expect to find them on the beer menu of restaurants and eateries all over town, including just-opened Still Partners in Sea Cliff, which serves the Pale Ale brew. The brewery’s beer is also poured in other North Shore hot spots like Jack Halyards American Bar & Grill, conveniently located right next door to the brewery, and The Coach Grill & Tavern, also in Oyster Bay.

“We actually have 25 bars and restaurants signed up to serve our beer,” says Haim, including The Oak Room Tavern and Gallagher’s in Sea Cliff, Canterbury Ales and The Homestead in Oyster Bay and Wild Honey’s two locations in Oyster Bay and Port Washington. Haim explains that the biggest challenge is distributing the beer to those establishments, but in time it will happen.

Hold onto your schnitzel — there are no plans right now for a beer garden although that’s not out of the question down the road and Long Islanders will certainly embrace one with the enthusiasm of a Bavarian oompah band — or, more likely, a Billy Joel tune.

Cheers, to sipping a born-and-raised Oyster Bay brew in one of Long Island’s best pubs and restaurants — or, at the laid-back, welcoming brewery itself.

Oyster Bay Brewing Company is located at 76 South Street, Oyster Bay. For more information, please visit

www.oysterbaybrewing.com.