Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Long Island is renowned for it's world class wines that have been produced here for many years. Now beer brewing is becoming more prevalent with the addition of some new breweries producing some amazing micro brews. PORT JEFF BREWERY is the latest to open and it is a very welcome addition to Port Jefferson with it's delicious hand crafted micro brews. Michael Philbrick is the founder and this is his dream come true. I had the great pleasure to speak with Michael recently...
MICK: The Port Jeff Brewing Company opened in October 2011. How is it going so far?
MICHAEL: Great! We opened the tasting room in October and since then we've got a pretty good following in the tasting room and opened 60-70 accounts throughout the Island. It's moving right along!
MICK: You began as a home brewer right?
MICHAEL: Yes I did. About twelve years ago I started home brewing and it became a passion of mine. I ended up turning it into a business and that takes me to where I am today!
MICK: I read that you graduated from World Brewing Academy at the Siebel Institute in Chicago. Is that a college?
MICHAEL: No it's not. In the United States, there are three places of higher education you can go to learn professional brewing. There's a new one called EC Davis. The other two are the Siebel Institute in Chicago or the Vermont Brewers Guild. It's more or less a certificate course. When I wanted to open a brewery, I thought I should get a formal education and start learning larger equipment before I just go out and buy some!
MICK: How long were you there?
MICHAEL: The course I took there was a four month course.
MICK: When you decided to open a brewery, how long did it take for you to get it going?
MICHAEL: From conception until today it took three years. There's an incredible planning stage that happens long before you start looking for real estate. We actually moved into our building about a year ago last January and started the construction. That entails putting a large scale brewery into an otherwise small commercial space.
MICK: Were you actually brewing while you were building the place?
MICHAEL: We started construction in January and the actual brewing equipment arrived in July. It wasn't until September that is was operable. In brewing, we have a lot of plumbing hookups and electrical hookups with various pipes and hoses that run throughout the brewery. That takes time to situate. Our building is so small that we had to get the brewing equipment in first and then build around it. We occupy under 1000 square feet. For the amount of beer that we put out, I can't imagine there are many other places that are that small and can produce that much beer!
MICK: How long does it take you to make a brew?
MICHAEL: The actual brewing of the beer would be about six hours. That's basically preparing the liquid to start fermenting. Depending on the type of beer you are making, the fermentation could be anywhere from as little as 8 or 9 days to a month. It varies from beer to beer. Higher alcohol content beers take longer and those that are less in alcohol take less time to ferment.
MICK: How many employees do you have?
MICHAEL: There is another guy that brews with us so he's the head brewer. His name is Jeff Nokes. He is currently attending Siebel Institute. We two other interns that help out during the week. These guys are considering or already enrolled in that secondary type of education. They come to work and learn the trade for free! That's what I did and that's what Jeff did.
Home brewing and commercial brewing are very much the same but also very different. There's a lot of work involved. People think we brew beer, hang out and drink beer all day but that's not the case!
MICK: Do you have a personal favorite beer?
MICHAEL: My personal favorite beer is the one that was just brewed! We make 8 different beers right now so between October and now, we just brought them out.
MICK: Do you brew soda also? Is that a brewed thing?
MICHAEL: We don't brew soda but we do make soda on the premises. We make a birch beer.
MICK: Is that a similar type process?
MICHAEL: Not really. Birch beer and soda are a little bit more with flavoring. We could brew a birch beer but we don't do it completely from scratch.
MICK: Are you planning to develop more types of beers?
MICHAEL: Yes we are! Right now, of the eight that we have, there are three that are seasonal. Once winter passes, we will start brewing in the spring and again in the summer. Around Halloween, we make Boo Brew which is our pumpkin beer.
MICK: Where is the beer distributed?
MICHAEL: We have two main outlets which are restaurants and bars. The second category would be a home distributor like a local beverage and beer store. Because we only package in kegs, the beer stores we serve all have growlers.
MICK: What events do you have coming up at the brewery?
MICHAEL: We are doing an event on St. Patrick's Day and having a band in front of the brewery. The tasting room is open 7 days a week so there's always something going on. We also do bar events, beer festivals and various fund raising events. We typically do two events a week.
MICK: Beside brewing beer, what else do you like to do?
MICHAEL: Going out on the boat! I'm married with 3 children and a dog. The boat is a great pastime for us. We live right in Port Jefferson so we are right on the water.
MICK: How long have you lived in Port Jefferson?
MICHAEL: We've lived here for about five years now. My wife is from the Stony Brook. I'm originally from Connecticut. We've been spending our summers here in Port Jefferson for the past ten years. So when I decided to open a brewery, I thought it didn't make sense for Port Jefferson to not have a brewery! We have a great location too, right in the heart of Chandler Square!
MICK: What are the plans up the road for the brewery?
MICHAEL: We just began an expansion and we are going to start doing some barrel aging. We will be using mainly oak barrels. Some are wine barrels, some are whiskey and rum. In the beer world, it's something that is definitely more attractive. The type of bottling we would do would be a cork and cage bottle, much like a champagne bottle. That seems to be catching on well on the market. I think the beers that we do the best would really work well with the oak.
MICK: How far west is your beer sold?
MICHAEL: We are not into New York City yet. The furthest place we are at from the brewery, other than Westchester NY, is Lynbrook in Nassau County. In the past few weeks we've started getting into Nassau County but we are predominantly in Suffolk County. We are still fairly new and we are steadily growing!
PORT JEFF BREWERY is located in beautiful downtown Port Jefferson at 22 Mill Creek Road - located within the Chandler Square walking mall.
For more information: http://portjeffbrewing.com/
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
She is one of Long Island's more prominent and respected authors and one of the nicest persons to speak to. Kerriann Flanagan Brosky is the author of five books with her most popular being "The Ghosts of Long Island". A writer, photographer, paranormal investigator, cook, wife and loving mom, Kerriann is accomplished at everything she delves into. I recently had the great pleasure to chat with Kerriann from her Huntington home...
MICK: Did you grow up on Long Island?
KERRIANN: Yes I did! I grew up in Plainview and moved to Huntington twenty years ago when I got married. I've been a Huntington resident since then.
MICK: When did you first get interested in the paranormal?
KERRIANN: It's something that was always interesting to me since I was a teenager. My degree is actually in photography. I went to Long Island University at C.W. Post and I studied photography under Arthur Leipzig. I had worked at Newsday as an intern so when I got out of school, I worked in Huntington at some local papers. I really took an interest in the town's history. I started my own column and that ultimately led to writing two books in the mid 1990s on Huntington's history. I was on the board of trustees for the Huntington Historical Society as first vice president for six years. When you are researching older homes and buildings, you always find a ghost story that would literally be in the files I would go through. Since it was something I was already interested in, I put a couple of them in the two books I had written. I became a well known speaker doing lectures on local history primarily for the Huntington Historical Society. I did the same
lecture over and over again. October was approaching and they said to me 'Do you think you could do something different and do a ghost lecture?" I thought that would be fun! So we had it down in the Conklin Barn in Huntington. My husband had rigged up the whole barn with webbing and all kinds of things around. During the lecture things were actually happening and it looked like a haunted barn! We had people down to New York Avenue! People could not get in! I couldn't believe all these people were interested in ghosts. It started a tradition and I did it for years, beginning in the early 1990s. People started asking me if I could do a book on ghosts and combine it with Long Island. I was still early into my career and wanted to be taken seriously as a journalist. I was doing some freelance photography and had left the newspaper at this point. In the Spring of 2005, my father had passed away after a long battle with MS and I was devastated. After about
three months, I knew I had to get involved in another book project. My last book had come out in 1997 so my husband suggested I do that ghost book. At that time, there were some popular ghost TV shows surfacing and I realized people weren't afraid to talk about these things. Because this area was relatively new to me, I had to find a paranormal investigator to help me. As luck would have it, at one of my lectures for the Historical Society, in walks Joe Giaquinto who is a paranormal investigator from Hampton Bays. I asked him right on the spot if he would help me with this project, something I normally would not have done right away. At the time, I thought it would be a book about things that go bump in the night and combine it with local history. But it was that very night that started me on a whole spiritual journey because I do believe it was my father who guided me and put Joe and I together to work on this project. The book turned into way more
than I ever anticipated. It's been incredible ever since!
MICK: Have you had any ghostly experiences personally?
KERRIANN: Oh yes a lot of them! I like to tell people they are all very subtle things. I still do a lot of lectures on "The Ghosts Of Long Island" book. It's amazing that the book has already been out a couple of years and I get standing room only at the lectures. People really believe that what they see on TV and movies is what it is like for me. It is not! There's no blood dripping down the walls or pots and pans flying around. It's all positive spirit communication. Since I'm a professional photographer, I get a lot of orb photographs [balls of transparent light we find in photos taken in allegedly haunted places] and i get a lot of them around me when I am photographed. Joe specializes in EVPs which is electronic voice phenomenon. I've also got some great apparition photographs. On a personal level, I've had a lot of experience with my father who had passed away dealing with music, smell and different things.
When I do lectures, I tell people about signs to look for from the other side. I am Catholic and believe in heaven. So if heaven is a perfect place, then why can't our loved ones come back to visit us and help us on our life journey? People assume ghosts are spirits of people who die tragically. That's just one type of ghost. There's actually ten different types that you will see in my book. I call them spirits and it's generally communication with your own family.
MICK: I guess you're not afraid of ghosts?
KERRIANN: No I'm not! There have been times when Joe and I have been in cemeteries and woods and it's scarier with real people out there! So I don't go into the woods alone without Joe! Joe and I really stay on the positive end of spirit communication. We stay away from anything that could be negative or demonic. We don't do exorcisms! It's not like what you see on TV. We are normal people. When I first started lecturing, I would get a lot of odd looks when I entered the room. I wasn't what they expected. One woman said "You're a soccer mom!". I said "Yeah, I have two kids and live a very normal life". Joe is very normal too although he is a clairvoyant medium. On investigations, people say we don't look like ghost busters! I always say I'm an historian first and a ghost investigator second!
MICK: I know you've written an Italian cookbook also! That's totally different from the other things you've written about!
KERRIANN: If I hadn't been a writer and a photographer, I may have gone to culinary school. My whole world revolves around food and cooking! I'm very good friends with Sal Baldanza from Mr. Sausage in Huntington, NY. He was on my case for years about what I was making with everything I bought from his store. So he said 'Why don't we do a cookbook one day?. It was quite a challenge! I had to go and start doing studio food photography. I had to interpret his recipes and combine my recipes. It was challenging and even to this day, when give lectures, people say "Is that a haunted cookbook?"
I tell them it isn't but I do have a lot of haunted restaurants in both books.
MICK: Are you working on another book now?
KERRIANN: Yes I am. It's my first fiction book and has to do with some things that have really happened in the world. I hope to have that done this year.
MICK: You also have a weekly Internet radio show. How did that get going for you?
KERRIANN: Joe and I had been on a couple of other Internet radio shows and we started talking about having our own show. It was just the two of us in the first month or so talking about things in the book and investigations. As time went on, I started booking guests. They range from a lot of mediums, paranormal investigators authors, doctors, past life regression therapists, etc... All of our gusts have loved the show and can't believe how professional it is run. It's a lot of fun! We are actually just had our anniversary on February 9th.
MICK: Do you have a large audience?
KERRIANN: It has been growing. We have a couple hundred people at this point. It's constantly growing. We have a live chat room each week. I had someone in the chat room recently and she said she was from Jersey. I assumed it was New Jersey. I found out it's an island between France and England! So our guests are from all over the country and our listeners are from all over the world. As if I don't have enough to do, I am also the president of the Long Island Authors Group! I enjoy it all and it keeps me busy!
MICK: Are you still actively involved with your photography?
KERRIANN: I do that more for myself now. I had a couple of fine art photography shows where I would hand color black and white photographs. I still do that upon request if someone a hand colored black and white photograph of their pet or family. What was nice about the ghost books is that I was able to combine my photography with the writing. I took all my own photographs for the books and my cookbook too. Now I do more fine art photography for myself. But my main concentration is the writing!
MICK: Have you ever investigated paranormal activity in regard to the Montauk Project?
KERRIANN: It's something that has always fascinated me. I'm definitely a Montauk girl! My parents use to rent a house out there when I was a child. I spent a lot of time at the Montauk airport. The Montauk Project was a little different as it didn't have to do with ghosts. It was about time changes and time travel, Bigfoot and things like that. That whole area is very spiritual and very haunted. When Carl Fisher built the Montauk Manor, it was built on an Indian graveyard. When Teddy Roosevelt went there with his Rough Riders, many of them were dying from tuberculosis and they died there. There were also Indian battles with tribes from Connecticut. A lot went on in that area so that makes it very haunted in general. Whether any of that is related to the Montauk Project I really don't know.
MICK: Are there any towns on Long Island that are more haunted than the others?
KERRIANN: The North Shore in general is more haunted. A lot of the history is maintained. Cold Spring Harbor is a huge hot spot. Almost every building on the main strip there has a ghost in it. There are a lot of ghosts in Saint James, Stony Brook and Setauket. Sometimes it doesn't have to be a ghost per say but it can be left over energy that just happens to come out at certain times in certain places. The whole north shore seems a little more haunted than the south shore!
MICK: Do you have any other hobbies besides writing and cooking?
KERRIANN: I do yoga. I was also an active equestrian for a long time but I've retired from that now. I was learning Italian for a while; I do quilting and raising my kids! Above and beyond, I am always mom first. I work out of the house and work around their schedule completely. I try to get my work done by June and try to take two months off in the summer.
MICK: What plans are coming up for you?
KERRIANN: The main thing is getting this fiction novel published. That's my goal for this year. I'm going to see if my current publisher, who specializes in non fiction, can possibly do it. I have five books behind me and I feel it's time for me to move into that next realm of fiction. The Ghost books have really meant a lot to people. They help people heal and get through the grieving process. The fiction book I have now is a book that people can relate to and I'm hoping it will have a big impact on people's lives. That's always an important goal for me that my books make a difference in people's lives. I will continue with my radio show and my lecturing which I do year round, especially in October!
For more on Kerriann, please see: