Beer people are cool. Beer people are fun. And at heart, they are some of the best people out there. When Hurricane Sandy struck, Barrier Brewing Co. in Oceanside on the south shore of Long Island on October 28 sustained damage to the tune of $100,000. And guess who showed up to help.

SurgeFullPageEight neighboring Long Island breweries and distributor Clare Rose got together a month later to brew Surge Protector, a collaborative IPA benefiting Barrier Brewing and others affected by Sandy. Each brewer donated a different ingredient and brainstormed about style and recipes.

Upon realizing I would be on vacation for the beer’s release, I started contacting the people involved in hopes of trying the beer and writing about the outcome of this spontaneous partnership. Not a minute had gone by before I received a message back. It was Niko Krommydas, a Long Island based beer-writer and blogger, who was one of the forces behind this project. He told me of the original plan to document a collaborative brew between several Long Island producers, which morphed into the Surge Protector Project after the devastating damages to Barrier Brewing. He then offered me his only sample of Surge Protector because of his affinity for the NYCR and “support for local culture.”

Thanks Niko. It’s this shirt-off-my-back philosophy that is symbolic of the local beer industry across Long Island.

The Brewers and The Beer
The roster of breweries behind the beer — which will be released tonight at events across the area — is a who’s who of Long Island beer: Blind Bat Brewery, Barrier Brewing, Great South Bay Brewery, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, Long Ireland Beer Company, Port Jeff Brewing Company, Spider Bite Beer Company, and Blue Point Brewing Company.

Once poured, a half-finger head floats up right away, and super-fine bubbles coat the dark gold and amber colored ale. After sitting a bit, the pine resin aromas give way to a dry malt fragrance – think Whoppers candy. A waft of sulfur is present and indicative of the beer’s recent bottling. This scent will fade and vanish with some more time in bottle.

Perhaps surprisingly, the actual weight of the ale is quite light on the palate. There’s a strong rye flavor up front, giving way to a toasty, nutty mid-palate. These tertiary flavors are complemented by the lightness of the beer. The relatively low 5% ABV helps preserve a mélange of delicateness. There is a definite lack of bitterness on the finish, making it quite pleasant and easy as it goes down. One might think with 11 different malt varieties, 4 hop varieties, and eight brewers involved, this beer would not end up as cohesive and together as it drinks.

Altogether, around 100 kegs and only 2,000 bottles were produced. At around $17 a bottle (22 oz.) don’t expect them to last very long. Even after the bottles are
sold, there is still reason to go down to one of the pubs serving Surge Protector on draft and support a local brewer, bar, and, most importantly, everyone affected by
Hurricane Sandy.