Golf is the rare sport you can play while drinking beer. For some duffers, it actually improves their game. You can’t imagine, say, Lebron James pounding an IPA before stepping to the foul line—but, John Daly before grippin’ it and rippin’ it? Of course. There’s a reason golf carts have cup holders.
This weekend will bring us the 118th edition of the U.S. Open which will be played at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York. Now, while Golf Digest considers this the 4th best course in the country, that ranking surely plummets from a beer fan’s perspective. Concession stands throughout the course will have a pretty hum-drum selection.
All is not lost, however. After a day of watching Tiger and Rory, Dustin and Jordan, let’s head out to some of Long Island’s best beer stops. Now, while Long Island still lags behind the City in terms of beer quality, there are still plenty of gems. And we’ll have an entire 4-day tournament weekend to find them.
Mikkeller NYC (Flushing, Queens)
New York City’s newest brewery is the perfect first stop for anyone headed out to Shinnecock. It’s right by LGA and JFK, though the latter a little less so. If you’re driving from Manhattan, Brooklyn, or further reaches, it’s likewise (mostly) on the way out to the Hamptons. Did I mention it’s also in Citi Field? Don’t worry, the Mets are out of town. Let’s pop into Mikkeller NYC for a lunch of empanadas and Pat LaFrieda short rib burgers before heading to the course for the mid-afternoon tee times. Set between the bullpen and right field gates, the 10,000 square-foot brewery has an unfathomable 60 taps, many of which are house-brewed specialities like Henry Hops. We can also grab-and-go—they have a canning line—to be sure we’re always stocked while out in Shinnecock...do we dare smuggle a can onto the course?
Great South Bay Brewery (Bay Shore)
A little further down the island, still en route to Shinnecock, is a brewery a little more Long Island-y than the international powerhouse that is Mikkeller. Set just four miles from the lagoon that it’s named after, Great South Bay Brewery’s 4,000 square-foot tasting room offers 14 house beers, many with names that are local nods, such as the Robert Moses Pale Ale. The area actually has quite a few other options as well, including Destination Unknown Beer Company and the nearby Brewers Collective. We should probably get to the course, though.
Southampton Publick House (Southampton)
Set in the tony and sleepy village the brewery shares its name with, and just 3.5 miles from the course, let’s start our second day with a boozy brunch at Southampton Publick House. It might be hard for younger beek geeks to believe, but there was a time when this Publick House was a much ballyhooed bastion for beer lovers. That was back when Phil Markowski—the man who literally wrote the book on farmhouse ales—ran the show and was cranking out gems like Peconic County Reserve Ale. Markowski left in 2012 and today you’re more likely to find suburban families than beer geeks at the bar—but it’s still a perfectly pleasant place to visit for a French dip and some brews while watching early tee times on the bar’s 21 TVs.
Blue Point Brewery (Patchogue)
After getting in our golf fix for the days, let’s head back west a half-hour drive for Friday happy hour at Blue Point’s original tasting room. Soon—very soon—their new state-of-the-art 54,000 square-foot facility will be open. If we’re lucky, we’ll be able to watch the final pairings of the day finish their rounds while sipping on some of the more offbeat tasting-room only pours, such as Coconut Dopplebock or Mad Sea’d lager made with hand-harvested Amagansett Sea Salt. Taco trucks often stop by if we’re hungry from a day of walking the hilly course.
Hoptron Brewtique (Patchogue)
If we’re in the mood for a late night, less than a mile from Blue Point, is perhaps Long Island’s best craft beer bar. Serving mostly local draughts, Hoptron is the place to go to sample offerings from, say, Barrier and the red hot Root + Branch—the former is a little too out of the way to visit on this trip, the latter doesn’t even have a tap room just yet. Hoptron is also one of the rare places in Long Island to get some of Brooklyn’s best brews, often stocking cans from Interboro, KCBC and Other Half. Open ’til midnight, a late-night Spicy Huevo crustique will assure we wake up with a stomach at least somewhat settled and ready for another day walking the course.
Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. (Peconic)
It’s “moving day” at the U.S. Open and maybe we can talk a rich friend with a boat into taking us across the Peconic Bay to the North Fork. Probably not—all my friends are broke writers—so instead we’ll have to loop back and around in our car. It should still only take us about a half-hour to get to Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. just off the Main Road. Open at noon on Saturdays, a family-friendly crowd comes early to the scenic spot. It’s not a geek scene whatsoever and that’s a good thing in this case. We’ll nosh on “über” pretzels and fish ’n’ chips, sip easy-drinking session beers like Tidal Lager, and hang in the roomy yard, where everyone lounges in the sun on Adirondack chairs, tosses cornhole, and ignores their children—who run around feral.
Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market (Greenport)
Afterward, let’s head to the cute town of Greenport on the tip of the North Fork for dinner—there are great dining options, both high-end and low-stress. For the latter, let’s try this oyster shack set dockside of the Greenport Harbor, where fisherman literally drop off their catches daily. You can be a diva and have the half-shells prepped for you or go “shuck yourself,” as the servers’ t-shirts joke. A bucket of do-it-yourselfers is a mere $18 per dozen and comes with rubber gloves and a knife, natch. Wash ’em down with Shelter Island King Gambrinus or, perhaps more fittingly, Sea Salt Ale from Fire Island Beer Company—a slightly salinic blonde ale made with salt from the Atlantic.
Brix & Rye (Greenport)
As darkness settles in, we might be getting a little tired of all the beer drinking—it happens, ya’ know? So...wine time? Well, the North Fork is indeed known mostly for its wineries—thus, a glass or two of rosé are always an option. But, it’d be better to hit hit Long Island’s best cocktail bar for a few drinks instead. Located at basement level, Brix & Rye is less a pretentious speakeasy and more a moody neighborhood joint with Manhattan-quality cocktails. Drinks hew toward riffs on the classics and the menu is always changing. There’s quality local beer taps too, if a Sazerac isn’t quite to your fancy. We can sleep in late tomorrow morning, with the leaders not teeing off until mid-afternoon, so why don’t we have another drink and, you know what, maybe let’s order their Clams Casino pizza too.
Sand City Brewery (Northport)
Championship Sunday is going to be a long day at the course. Afterward, we’ll end our trip, and our weekend, at what many folks consider Long Island’s best brewery of the moment. Only open since 2015, the waterside brewery quickly garnered fame and acclaim through—what else—hazy IPAs. The small but friendly tasting room—you’ll see plenty of dogs and toddlers—always has plenty of those options on tap, such as second Wave and Even Mo’ Mofo. By now, a champion has surely been crowned and it’s father’s day too, so maybe dad can meet you for a pint. If not, head outside and give him a call and tell him about your great golf-and-brews weekend. Stand by the nearby Northport Harbor, maybe even illicitly sipping a can you snuck out of Sand City, peacefully watching the sun set over the bay. There will be no golf tomorrow, but this weekend will stay with you for awhile.