By Andrew Wroblewski
The first microbrewery to open in Huntington village is also the perfect first step for those seeking to dip their toes into Long Island’s ever-growing craft beer scene.
“We wanted to make something different, we wanted to bring the operational experience to the forefront,” said Mark Heuwetter, who along with his wife Karen, opened Six Harbors Brewing Company at 243 New York Ave. earlier this month.
Stepping inside the cozy space, whether it be through the front doors or one of two flanking garage doors, patrons are greeted by a mix of nautical- and industrial-themed décor, from sea walls, woodwork and barrels that double as tables, to the stainless steel of the brewing equipment and tap system.
Most of that steel is perched behind the bar, where four fermenters typically serve as a conversation starter for those curious about how the beer is made.
“People want to hear the story, how you got started, what’s going on with the equipment,” said Heuwetter, who first starting brewing in college. “My roommates and I couldn’t afford to go out to bars so we bought a beer kit to make beer in our dorm room, and fermented it in the closet.”
Brewing has since become a passion for Heuwetter, who has joined circles of local brewers to discuss recipes, learn new techniques and try some of the suds being produced in the Long Island area. “You pick up a lot of knowledge that way.”
He’s finding his clientele at Six Harbors is just as eager to learn about the process. “They come to learn more about beer so they have that knowledge for the next bar or brewery they go to.”
The conversation regarding Six Harbors’ beer begins with New Zealand and ends with Huntington.
Heuwetter collaborates on recipes with Brian Watson, who is based across the pond and develops a wort (the first step of the brewing process) that is then shipped to Huntington. Brewing continues at Six Harbors as spices, yeast and more are added to the mix, which then ferments under pressure in the tanks behind the bar.
In two weeks, the beer is ready to flow.
There are currently six brews on tap – Heuwetter said he plans to have more moving forward, along with ciders, flavored seltzers and non-alcoholic sodas.
The tap list begins with the Bay Hills Blues, a “summer-sipping” wheat beer with a subtle blueberry flavor. A contrast to the subtle taste of the blueberry beer is the Captain Blood Orange, which packs an in-your-face fruity punch, but is limited in availability.
Moving on, the Lloyd Harbor LiteHouse Lager is light and easy-drinking; and the Centerport Pilsner is brewed in a Czech-style that produces bold flavor up front, and the bitterness of hops on the backend.
Speaking of hops, there are three, “smooth” India pale ales (IPAs) to try.
The first is the Walt Whitman White XPA, a suitable introduction to the IPA scene, Heuwetter said, as it’s not too bitter.
The next step up is a New England-style hazy IPA, the Young Professionals Ale, which was brewed in collaboration with the Huntington Chamber’s Young Professionals.
Then there’s the Huntington Harbor Hoppy DIPA (H3), which is packed with flavor up front and not overwhelmingly bitter, making it a good start for IPA newbies.
Certain beers – those named after one of Huntington’s six harbors; not all are available just yet – are part of the brewery’s charity series. A portion of proceeds from sales of each of those beers are donated to a charitable cause in town. For example, H3 is linked to St. Hugh of Lincoln in Huntington Station.
Beer is served in the tasting room in two forms: pints ($7) and flights ($10).
There’s also plenty to explore in the tasting room, which has plenty of seating, an electronic fireplace, board games, televisions, Wi-Fi and more.
Packaged chips and pretzels are available for purchase, and Heuwetter said he also plans to partner with local restaurants to offer other food options.
The brewery is also frequented by Huntington village’s newest celebrity, Buddy the brew dog. He’s the Heuwetters’ one-year-old, smiley retriever who loves to greet patrons. “Buddy gets more likes on social media than anything else we post,” Heuwetter said with a laugh.
When it’s time to say goodbye, beer can be taken to-go in cans ($4 per 16 oz. can) or growlers ($8 for 32 oz.; $16 for 64 oz.). (Patrons can bring their own growler to fill for a reduced price.)
There are also plans to introduce a “Huntington Hops Beer Club” down the line that will offer special benefits for members.
In the meantime, Heuwetter wants to make Six Harbors one of the village’s “destination locations.”
He said, “For me, putting this together, it was Huntington or bust. I live in the town and thought it was something the town could use.”