Downtown Brewery Still in the Works, Though Opening Delayed

While plans to open a microbrewery on East Main Street were moving “at a glacial pace” in October, with a February opening date forecast, Steve Wirth said this week that it’s going to take a bit longer at this point.

The entrance for the Crystal Bar advertising its (hopeful) future tenant, Crooked Ladder Brewery. Credit Joseph Pinciaro

“We basically took three months off coming up to the holidays,” said Wirth, who owns Digger O’Dells, an Irish pub and restaurant downtown. Combined with his restaurant’s busy season and future brewmaster Duffy Griffiths’ responsibilities as a fellow small business owner (of Duffy’s Deli, in Jamesport and Riverhead), starting up Crooked Ladder Brewery has been delayed as a result.

Originally conceived as a brew haus serving as an extension of Digger’s, the brewing space – the former Crystal Bar, abutting Digger’s to the west – will instead operate as a completely separate entity, selling beer to Digger’s, among other bars. Part of the delay, Wirth said, has been getting an interstate trade license and wholesale license at the state level, the latter of which is still in the application process.

Financing remains in place, as well as proper building permits. However construction still needs to be done inside to build up the brewery, which will house three 15-gallon fermenters and a tasting room. Wirth said construction remains on hold until he can finish up work in the kitchen at Digger’s.

While microbrewing remains on hold, Wirth and Griffiths – a former brewer at John Harvard’s in Lake Grove – do have some homebrew in the fridge as they’ve started working together on their recipes, using a 10-gallon kettle to brew a porter.

Wirth said he foresees a lager and porter as two year-round beers the craft brewery will offer, in addition to a rotating roster including an American Pale Ale, American IPA, Belgian Golden Ale, Red Ale, Brown Ale, Porter and Stout. More beers will be offered only during certain seasons of the year, Wirth said last May, such as Pumpkin Ales and Dunkels in the fall, and Hefeweizens in the spring.

While Wirth said he’s excited to join fellow East End microbreweries Long Ireland Beer Company, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company – which recently announced expansion plans of its own – and Southampton Publick House, he said he doesn’t foresee sipping any of his own company’s beers before summer.

Source: Joseph Pinciaro, riverhead.patch.com

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