By Donavan Hall, Long Island Beer Correspondent
I moved to Long Island so that I would have more time to write fiction. When my path crossed with Lenn Thompson, my beer brewing hobby intruded into my writing life. I started writing about craft beer back in 2005 and up until two years ago I was an active beer blogger, contributing to a number of drinks blogs including (what is now called) The New York Cork Report.
For the last two years I've not been idle. In addition to publishing a second edition of my Long Island Beer Guide, I've been busily writing what you could call "beer novels" — fictionalized accounts of my beer soaked adventures.
I've written three beer novels and I'm working on a fourth. It's time I started getting these books into the hands of readers. But how?
Recently, I drove down to Massapequa Park to have lunch at The Good Life (1039 Park Boulevard). My buddy, Rich Thatcher, president of the Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts (LIBME, a club we started with Mike Voigt a few years back), has been bugging me for a year now to get down to The Good Life. I've been following (from a distance) the activity of the folks behind The Good Life. They've become great supporters of the Long Island craft beer scene and are now one of the must-see beer bars on Long Island.
When I pulled up in front of The Good Life the other day I was amused by the entrance which looks just like an English phone booth. The interior of the place is tastefully done in dark wood — the architecture and design reminiscent of The Lark in East Northport (near Karp's Homebrew Shop).
My wife and I had taken the whole day off, just to hang out, be together, talk, and generally enjoy each other's company. The kids are off with the grandparents so we wanted to have a real date. "Let's sit outside," said Alice. We sat at a table under a tree and watched the pedestrians and the cars go up and down Park Boulevard.
I'm just as much a foodie as I am a craft beer geek, so food is extremely important to me. Alice studied the menu and came up with a selection of item: pot stickers, East Asian salad, and Shepherd's Pie (which seemed appropriate, not only because we like the dish, but because the British theme of The Good Life we figured the "pub food" would be spot on). And it was.
Being a localist, I try to support the local beers and brewers, so when I saw Greenport Harbor Brewing Canard Noir on tap, I had to start with that. Canard Noir is the Greenport Harbor Black Duck Porter, but fermented with Belgian yeast. The Canard Noir was satisfyingly roasty — kind of like coffee and toast.
My next beer was a special brew by Ommegang, their "Belgian Independence Day" (listed BID on the menu). The BID was a light, refreshing saison, delicately spiced. While I probably could have settled into several glasses of these, I thought I should probably sample some other offering since we'd driven so far.
While we were sipping our beer and sharing our appetizers, Alice said, "When are you going to start working on the next edition of your beer guide?"
"Today," I said, half-joking really. "I'll write about this place."
"Seriously, you should do some marketing for your guide. A lot of people still don't know about it," she said.
"What people want," I said, "is an app for their iPhone. Not a 250 page book."
"What about an e-book?" she asked.
"That's an idea," I said.
Then the shepherd's pie came.
After the meal we ordered a last round for desert: VUUR & VLAM from Brouwerij de Molen in Bodegraven, Netherlands and Corne du Diable from one of my favorite Canadian breweries, Dieu du Ciel, both IPAs. The VUUR & VLAM (Fire & Flames) is definitely classed in the "extreme" category: lots of citrusy, fruity American (Pacific Northwest) hops and decent amount of alcohol heat. The Corne du Diable (Horn of the Devil) is more subtle, more English in its hop character, a sharp tea-like bitterness rather than citrus fruit.
We took our time over these beers. At this point the sun had retreated into the leaves of the tree we were sitting under. With shade and the gentle breeze, we weren't in any hurry to leave. I was seriously tempted to stay all day, but I'd promised to take Alice to the Stony Brook Film Festival that evening.
Later that evening, after getting home from a full day out with my lovely wife, I picked a proof copy of my first beer novel and flipped through it. Drinking beer and writing about it. What could be better? This is truly the good life.