In Northport, Sand City Brewing Company Turns Two

Photo courtesy of Sand City Brewing Company

If the Count were to preview Sand City Brewing Company’s second anniversary party on Sunday, “Sesame Street’s” Transylvanian arithmomaniac would likely shout, “One, ONE I-P-AH! Two, TWO I-P-AH!” That’s because of the naming convention implemented by the Northport brewery for the special IPAs it creates to mark its anniversaries. So, AH-viously, the latest annual celebratory ale, the follow-up to last year’s One, can bear only one moniker: Two.

“Creative, I know,” said Kevin Sihler, Sand City’s brewmaster and one of its owners, laughing.

Outside breweries across the country, a new morning ritual is shared by thousands of people each week. It’s not breakfast related, though shortly after dawn on a Saturday last month at New Jersey’s Magnify Brewing Company, I did witness a couple taking selfies with their egg sandwiches. They were at the end of a line of 140 people, among them a woman and her golden retriever, and even one of Magnify’s employees, who declared, “I’m not going to risk the chance of missing out just because it’s my day off.”

It’s no secret to me: I’m not Allen Iverson and we not talkin’ about practice. What we talkin’ about are the enthusiasts who queue up outside breweries, sometimes for hours, to acquire new releases of IPAs—in particular, a wildly popular New England style that fans liken to orange juice. And on Long Island, the foremost purveyor of these kinds of sought-after fresh-squeezed ales, which are usually sold in 16-ounce cans, is Sand City.

In fact, given the abundance of crowd-pleasing IPAs it has produced, a more appropriate name for the brewery might be Can City.

In the early hours of any given weekend in Northport, a town once home to a flourishing sand-mining industry, you’ll likely find a line of beer lovers starting to form on Scudder Avenue for a chance to buy IPAs like Oops! I Hopped My Pants, Fade to Jade and Even Mo Mofo. They come from Oceanside, Stony Brook and Huntington, but also from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. And they wait. And once they reach the front, they are allowed to purchase just one case of cans. And usually in a few hours, the limited release is sold out.

“They’re amazing, like an extension of the brewery family,” Sihler said of his fans, who arrive earlier and earlier with each new release. He isn’t surprised of the growing frenzy for the New England-style IPA, which is adored for its hazy appearance, flavors of citrus and tropical fruit, and little to no perceived bitterness. “[IPA] has captivated serious beer drinkers for the last decade,” he said, “and this kind gives you all of the flavor people love with none of the abrasive bitterness. It’s basically turned everyone into an IPA fan.”

Rising demand for Sand City’s hazy IPAs led the brewery to double production in its second year, Sihler said, to 2,500 barrels. Unsurprisingly, he expects a “pretty great” response for Two. “It’s our biggest and hoppiest beer to date,” he said.

“Because people ask for it on a daily basis,” he also said, AH-ccompanying the debut of Two on Sunday will be the return of the brewery’s first anniversary IPA, One, which itself has spawned three variants, each pairing Galaxy hops with a different variety than the original, that being Citra: Power of One (Nelson), Radical One (Motueka), and Infinity – One + 2 (Mosaic).

Despite his predilection for enumeration, even the Count would get tripped up attempting to tally Sand City’s copious IPA output since it opened in the fall of 2015. So I asked Silher, who said the brewery has created over 50 different kinds to date. (AH!)

Some are sprinkled with lupulin powder, and some are collaborations with other noted specialists in the category. (Most recently, it was Other Half. The beer will be released in the coming weeks.) And for those who crave a cup of Cream of Broccoli every now and then, there is a single-hop series called Soup Du Jour.

But don’t wait to get a spoonful of those or any of Sand City’s can releases, lest you want to arrive at the brewery only to be told “No Soup Du Jour for you!”