Michael Philbrick, founder and brewmaster of , a small-batch, maritime-influenced brewery in Chandler Square, developed recipes and crafted various beer styles in his Port Jefferson residence for 11 years, prior to his in October 2011.
With the release of Ghost Cat Brown Ale, a collaboration with East Islip-based home brew duo, Ghost Cat Brewing, comprising Paul Mazziotti and Scott Pereira, it presents an opportunity for Philbrick to foster aspiring brewers and future sources for Long Island-produced beer.
"I was in their position not too long ago, so it was a good opportunity to provide something fresh, and also help get their beer on the streets," said Philbrick. "Local beer is all about community, so if one of us succeeds, we all succeed."
Philbrick, who currently operates a 7-barrel brewing system (production yields 217 gallons per batch, equivalent to 14 kegs), approached Mazziotti and Pereira after tasting samples at a meeting of the Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts (LIBME), a home brewing collective who congregates monthly to create beer, exchange ideas, and appreciate its culture.
Ghost Cat Brown Ale was amongst the samples.
"I really liked their beer, and the enthusiasm they had about making it," said Philbrick. "They volunteered at the brewery after that, to get some experience brewing on a bigger system. We just hit it off from there."
Brewed on February 20, and distributed to accounts on March 7 (e.g., Bellport Cold Beer & Soda, The Cortland, and Superstar Beverage Beer City), the five-malt brown ale is "session friendly" and contains "a touch of brown sugar and cocoa," said Pereira, who has brewed with Mazziotti since 2008.
"It has a nice chocolate sweetness that balances the hops, and the brown sugar allows the beer to finish dry," said Pereira.
Though Philbrick is uncertain regarding additional batches of Ghost Cat Brown Ale ("We'll have to see if the production schedule allows us the flexibility," he said), he continues to provide guidance to local home brewers, hosting monthly tutorials with , a retail bottle and supply space located in Harbor Square Mall.