Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pheaturing Port Jeff Brewing Company Brewmaster Mike Philbrick

Hello, welcome to the Phile for the second entry from Long Island. I am your host, the Long Island Extra Extra Large. Why is it that the Long Island Medium never talks to spirits who are still pissed and want revenge? Boy, am I glad I didn't grow up in Dallas, y'know.  So, being here since Saturday I feel my Long Island accent is coming back. I want to keep calling it Lawn Guyland. I have been to a lot of places since I have been here. Riverhead, Rocky Point, St. James, Port Jeff, Mount Sinai, Sayville... but I was told while I am here I should go to Huntington... why, is it really that cool? I was also told I should go to a place called Utopia. Everybody on the Island has been there at least once. Okay, so, does anyone know why the HOV land on the LIE stops in Hicksville instead of the Northern State? So, I was gonna rent a car this week while I'm here but with the Parkways, the L.I.E., the Causeway, Robert Moses bridge, 110, 25A, Deer Park Avenue, Old Country Road, Jericho Turnpike, Hempstead Turnpike, Northern Blvd, Sunrise Highway and Vets Highway I thought I would get lost. I get lost driving around Orlando and I lived there for 27 years. So, did you know Long Island was once potato fields? I didn't.  Okay, there's other stuff going on in the world...
After weeks of speculation about the North Korean leader's health, Kim Jong-un, or a cleverly manufactured facsimile of him... was photographed in public earlier today offering "field guidance" to Pyongyang officials. The mannequin, doppelgänger or actual leader of the nation was carrying a cane, which would lend credence to rumors that Kim had broken his ankle and was not devoured by a pack of the North Norean military's hungry dogs. I also think he had a facelift...

Hahaha. He looks a little bit like Jonah Hill not Nicolas Cage.  A Dutch entrepreneur is offering a way for your friends and family to remember the bad decisions you made during the course of your life well after you've passed away. All you have to do is instruct his Holland-based company to flay the skin on which you chose to tattoo a Calvin/Hobbes/Ziggy three-way from your corpse and he'll preserve it for your grandchildren's' grandchildren to admire with solemn reverence. You know, I don’t get the phrase, “cool as a cucumber” because I’ve never seen a cucumber with a tattoo.  
Television composer and new father Bear McCreary is advising his fellow parents to not let their children watch the newest season of the show to which he contributes music, "The Walking Dead", which returned to television sets Sunday night. "Do not let children watch @WalkingDead_AMC tonight. Or ever again. I'm very serious," he wrote on Twitter. I guess he finally got around to checking out the show. "The Walking Dead" forces us to ask who the real monsters are: the zombies or the humans. Answer: it's the zombies, stupid! Come on!  The editorial staff of Esquire have done their homework, crunched their numbers and determined who the world's sexiest woman of 2014 is. Luckily, the winner, Penelope Cruz, is someone who is both incredibly famous and willing to pose for Esquire's cameras. Otherwise, they wouldn't have had a cover for this month's issue.

Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, and Terry Crews in... NOT WITHOUT MY SPELLCHECK!  Scientists have successfully managed to use human brain cells to create Alzheimer's Disease inside a petri dish. They'll be able to use these cells as an easy means of testing anti-Alzheimer drugs in the hopes of wiping out the degenerative disorder. They're hoping that they'll be able to use a similar technique for testing other disorders. I just forgot why I Googled Alzheimer's.  At the start of the entry I mentioned the Long Island Medium. I don't really know who she is so I looked her up and all I can say is... eeeew!

I heard she was hot... guess I was wrong.  So, back home there's a lot of signs for attractions... Sea World, Disney World, Universal, Holy Land Experience... there's attractions here on Long Island, they just don't advertise them very good.

I found a new love... Long Island News 12. There's a cute girl in the mornings with short hair reading the news, but I don't know who she is. Anyway, some of their stories they talk about are not all that interesting.

Burger King's up here are slightly different...

LOL. I almost texted that number... then I remembered I have a wife back home. Moving on...  I'm not  a burger guy but some places here really sell burgers for cheap.

Oh, wait, the ad expired in 1973. Never mind.  Yesterday on the Phile I interviewed Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant. I guess the interview went well, because she renamed one of the Port Jeff ferry's...

The love boat, exciting and new. Haha.  One of the things I like to do when I am not driving around Long Island is to go on Twitter, look up certain words and see what people are talking about. Two of those words I look up are Long and Island and this is a Tweet I saw recently...

So, even though I am in New York right now, most of you know I live in Florida. Some crazy shit happens in Florida, that wouldn't happen anywhere else. That's why I have a feature called...

Sometimes it isn't so bad being misunderstood. Say, for example, if you were robbing a bunch of beach-goers, you might want to be misunderstood as someone innocent. Jonathan Warrenfeltz, 24, was so desperate to be understood, he tattooed "Misunderstood" in cursive across his forehead after being released from prison on February 1st. Here is a picture of him...

No room for misunderstanding here, this guy is super crazy. And I don't say he's crazy because of his super crazy face tats, though that would be fair, but also because he took his super crazy face tats to the beach and robbed people in the light of day. According to the reports, Misunderstood Warrenfeltz, his friend Joshua Zeaya, and two women (super crazy identifiable face tats are such a major turn on) went to Florida's Dania Beach where they held up five people at gunpoint. They made off with $1500 worth of property, then raced off to a motel 6, made a wrong turn, and inexplicably threw the stolen stuff out of the car along the way. "After the [suspects] took off they started throwing property out of the vehicle until they reached Motel 6," Detective Marcos Toledo explained the trip to the Sun Sentinal. They didn't find the rifle, but a search of the vehicle found the victims' credit cards, wallets and a backpack. And the most damning evidence? No prizes if you guess this one right. Seven witnesses identified him by his tattoo of the word "misunderstood" written on his head in cursive. He held up five people, was identified by seven. Police caught up with him in 30 minutes. That means Warrenfeltz robbed some people on a beach, took a wrong turn during his getaway, left stolen items behind as he went, and was caught by police in less time than it takes to get a pizza delivered. He is now being held in jail without bond and is facing a separate cocaine charge later this week, but at least he is very, very well understood. You'd be misunderstood too if every time you tried to talk a spider crawled in your mouth.

Can you spot the Mindphuck? By the way, this chair is dangerous. That's the second time I almost tipped up in it.  Yesterday when I interviewed Major Garant I mentioned Boogie Hotel Studios. I had a few people email me asking me what it looks like, and what it is now. I stopped by there the other day and happened to get a picture taken...

It is now Antique Costume & Prop Rental... you can check out the website at If you want to see the building, you can't go in, it's on Main Street in Port Jeff.  The last few weeks I have been asking you to send me a photo of something typical Long Island and I would post it here. So, here is the second one...

Not the most exciting pic I have to admit.  Okay, so, I lived on the Island for ten years, and haven't been back in about ten and there's a lot of stuff I always thought I knew about the Island but don't. So, here's a pheature called...

In 1936, Nazism was growing in Germany and Adolf Hitler was expanding the country's military might. He had supporters on Long Island as well... specifically Camp Siegfried in Yaphank, which claimed to be a summer camp. The camp was supported by the German-American Bund, and a brochure promised "You will meet people who think as you do." Nazi supporters are seen here in Yaphank in 1937.

Also, when my friend Jarred was driving me around he told me a German u-boat landed in Amaganset with Nazi spies during World War II. Locals thought they were fisherman and just waved to them. You crazy Americans. Speaking of a crazy American... he's a singer, patriot and renaissance man... and a Long Islander. You know what time it is.

Okay... Just got up after a long night hanging out with this bunch of nuts who taught me this new game called ASSASSIN. Eight of us split up and drink in NYC bars within a 12 block square area. We give each other vague clues in mass texts. Stalk... find... and kill each other with very small, very accurate paint ball guns (about the size of a derringer). Five men, three women. After lots of booze, lots of odd looks from everyone around us, two very jumpy members of the NYPD, one police report, one unfortunate drug dealer, one very amused train conductor, countless NYC witnesses, several annoyed cab drivers and one over protective dog... I wound up being second to last person standing He jumped out of a fucking dumpster and got the drop on me. Way to commit... you smelly bastard. Anyway... I came in second out of eight. So I won $200 after an initial $100 buy in. Pretty cool game... HEY... this is what former cops and ex-marines do for fun on a Saturday night in New York. We get drunk, unwind and kill each other for money... LOL. I'm gonna hunt down some breakfast then figure out what I'm going to do with myself today.

Okay, today's pheatured guest is the Brewmaster for the Port Jeff Brewing Co. which on Saturday had it's 3rd anniversary. You all need to go and check out the Schooner. That one was my favorite. Please welcome to the Phile... Mike Philbrick.

Me: Hello, Mike, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Mike: I'm great. I'm actually heading back on the LIRR from a long day in Brooklyn and West Chester visiting some of our accounts out there. Its a weekly pilgrimage I do to keep our customers up to speed with our beers.

Me: I wanted to interview you ever since two years ago when I learnt that Port Jeff now had a Brewing Company. When I lived in Port Jeff in the 70s and 80s it didn't have it's own beer. If it does I would of been to young to know about it anyway. Its location used to be a kite shop I think. Did you know that?

Mike: I've definitely heard some rumblings about kites but more recently and notably it was Once Upon a Christmas a year round Christmas store which actually still operates in Port Jeff. Its a strange chane from ornaments and gift wrap and always funny when people walk into our tasting room thinking they are gonna see Santa but instead are greeted by beer taps. Many stay to try some samples anyway.

Me: Mike, where are you from?

Mike: My dad was in the Navy so basically a few different places he was stationed but we ended up in Sandy Hook, CT. I went to high school there. I moved to Long Island with my wife (who is from Stony Brook) about 7 years ago.

Me: How did you get into the beer making business? Did you start out making beers at home?

Mike: I started with a homebrew kit that my wife bought for me Christmas 2000. I had grown to appeciate what they called "microbrews" at that time and figured I would try my hand at it. I always liked to cook and there are alot of similarities between brewinng and cooking. Although my intial brews tasted like swamp water I kept with it and eventually started making my own recipes with alot more frequency.

Me: It seems like in the last few years microbreweries have become such a big thing. How and why do you think this happened?

Mike: I think people like choices. We all have varying tastes and gravitate towards locally produced products. This local and micro non mass production is gaining popularity across many food products such as farming, dairy, ciders, wine, etc. Most people who appreciate craft beers are always interested in variety so that lends itself to support smaller local and regional breweries.

Me: Is there any brand beers you like? Samuel Adams, Yuengling? I like that beer, but it has a stupid name.

Mike: Yuengling is a family name. But yes, it does sound strange. I drink all sorts of beers large or small. When I attended college at Temple University in Philadelphia Yuengling was the go-to local beer. So I had a lot of them. I still really like their porter. I will try anything. Big brands typically get big because the liquid is good and they market it well. There is something to appreciate on either side.

Me: You went to the World Brewing Academy... where is this and how long did you go there?

Mike: Most of my education there was done online though they have a location in Chicago and another in Doemans, Germany. The microbrewery course I took with them lasted about five months.

Me: Is that how you became a Brewmaster?

Mike: Brewmaster is a loose term. I think of an old guy next to a kettle when I hear that so I typically don't refer to myself as Brewmaster but rather a Brewer. I learned a lot of the science behind brewing at WBA but also a lot from home brewing and visiting other breweries and conferences.

Me: So, I am sure you have a team of people to help you make the beer, am I right? How many people do you have helping you?

Mike: We have a head brewer, a cellar man... who packages beer and cleans tanks/kegs and 1-2 interns.

Me: How much beer do you make in a day or week?

Mike: We can make about 35 barrels of beer per week or 70 kegs. It comes out to be about 1200 pints per day that get consumed by people who drink our product.

Me: Mike, you are the Port Jeff's Brewmaster, but do you also own the business?

Mike: I'm the owner and handle most of the day to day business of the brewery. Anything from ordering supplies to make beer, t-shirts, selling beer, and organizing special events.

Me: I think it's cool Port Jeff has it's own brewery, I mean, Rocky Point doesn't own it's own brewery, does it?

Mike: Actually there is a small brewery in Rocky Point called Rocky Point Artisan Brewers. They are a good group of guys but due to their small size it can be difficult to find them on tap places.

Me: How many kinds of beers do you sell, Mike?

Mike: We will make somewhere between 20-25 different styles of beer this year. We make 5 beers year round and the rest are seasonal... like pumpkin beer Boo Brew or winter ale Ice Breaka.

Me: Are you always inventing new beers?

Mike: We like to experiment with different styles so when we have the available space in a tank it's not unusual for us to run a new beer. Many of these new beers become part of our regular offerings. We have retired certain beers that may not have been as well received as others. We also make a handful of beers that are only available at our tasting room. Like Summer Shandy, Blueberry Wheat, and Downport Rye.

Me: I think there should be a Peverett Phile beer, what do you think?

Mike: Peverett Pilsner has a nice ring to it.

Me: Yes. Yes. It. Does. So, has any celebrities besides myself... haha... been in the shop?

Mike: We have had some celebrity guests. The Doobie Brothers stopped in last summer and drank up a bunch of our Schooner Ale while they were staying at Danfords. I'm still waiting on Billy Joel to come in... we will drive him home.

Me: Mike, everything has a nautical theme, which makes sense considering it's on the harbor. Was that your idea?

Mike: Yes, the harbor theme was a no brainer. There are quite a few other breweries with the same general theme but given our location we would be fools not to utilize it. For the record it was really my wife's idea.

Me: Are you into boating?

Mike: Yes, I have a boat in the marina across the street. We take the kids to Pirates Cove and Whites Beach and also fish quite frequently in the sound. Tubing at high tide in Conscience Bay is a good time too.

Me: Before you got into the beer making business, Mike, what did you do?

Mike: I was a sales manager for Marvin Windows. Super exciting stuff!

Me: How did you tell your wife you were now gonna get into the beer making business? Did she think you were crazy?

Mike: It was actually her idea. It was largely based on getting my beer making crap out of our basement though. I remember coming home from work one day complaining about it. She owns a dance studio so she works in a field she is passionate about. She said why not choose a field that I'm passionate about. Since you cant really make a living drinking beer I went with the next best thing.

Me: I have to admit I was excited when I saw a Triumph spot on "Conan" and they showed a poster for the Brewing Co. in the background. That must of been a big deal for you, am I right?

Mike: I'm a huge fan of Triumph and they actually asked if they could interview us but knowing how they can cut and paste what you say in the final edit I declined. They spoke with the brewery next to us instead which didn't go that well for them. It was a great piece non the less.

Me: Have you heard of the World of Beer in Florida? I don't know if they are national, but they sell beer's from around the world, hence the name, and they don't sell your beer but there is a sticker of the Brewing Company on a door there. Do you sell your beers outside your shop? In restaurants, or stores? Is that something you wanna do in the future?

Mike: I have heard of the World of Beer. Never been though. Thats great that they have a PJBC sticker! We currently sell our beer in about 150 places throughout Long Island, NYC, and West Chester County, NY. We will likely stick to NY for the near future but plan to be in other states within the next 3 years.

Me: I asked the Mayor when I interviewed her about the damage Hurricane Sandy did to Port Jeff... did the Brewing Company get a any damage?

Mike: First off Mayor Garant is a great supporter of the brewery and we are blessed to have her as our Mayor here in Port Jeff. We had very minor flooding and had prepared for much worse. We lost some paper files and other merchandise but we were spared greatly. The brewery is pretty much built to be wet so a little water wasn't difficult.

Me: So, in five years, where do you see the Brewing Company, Mike? I'm sure it'll be huge by then.

Mike: We will continue to expand to meet demand. We will likely build an additional facility to make more product in the near future. My hope is that we can be spread into the mid Atlantic states in five years but we really want to do it as organically as possible.

Me: Thanks so much for finally being here on this Long Island entry of the Phile. I plugged the Brewing Company a few times and hinted I want a free t-shirt and beer... haha. I did finally get a t-shirt though thanks to my sister when she came down in March. Go ahead and mention your website and continued success. Come back on the Phile again soon. I will be in the shop again soon!!

Mike: Thanks for having me! Our website is and you can also find us on Twitter and Facebook @portjeffbrewing. Cheers!!!

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Laird Jim and of course Mike Philbrick. The Phile will be back tomorrow with Richie Saccente, the lead singer from the Long Island band Young Rebel Goombas. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. And now back to Port Jeff...

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

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