Port Jeff Brewing's Favorite Four Party Pours is a four-part series leading to the brewery's fourth-anniversary event on Saturday, October 17.
The birthday bash will feature more than 20 beers of Port Jeff's (most pouring from its tasting room's boat-shaped bar). We asked Mike Philbrick, owner and brewmaster, and Matt Gundrum, head brewer, to discuss their four favorites from the lineup.
Matt Gundrum: I've been good friends with Mike for almost 15 years now, but before I moved to Long Island and came aboard as head brewer here, I made beer at two of Iron Hill's brewpubs in Pennsylvania.
Iron Hill is world-renowned for brewing stouts. They've won multiple Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup gold medals for the style. So having cut my teeth with some of the best stout brewers in the world, I wanted to give it a shot myself and came up with the recipe for Overboard last fall. Stouts are my favorite style, especially complex ones, and I felt like this fit the bill. And since winter was approaching, what better than making a big, bad, burly Russian imperial stout to get us through it?
Originally we weren't going to age this beer in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels. But during our third-anniversary party last October, Mike and I—after a couple of beers, of course, when our best brainstorming seems to happen—realized that it was going to be the last beer to ferment in one of the tanks we were selling to make room for some larger ones. So I suggested that we just go overboard and age it in bourbon barrels too. Overboard was born.
The beer you'll be tasting at the anniversary party is still from the original batch we brewed last September, which was the longest and most labor-intensive beer we've made to date. When it first debuted in April, in cans, there were awesome aromas of oak and bourbon with a rich, roasted malt character and a complexity of dark fruit. Now that it's had about a year or so of aging, it definitely picked up some stone fruit and a mellow booziness, and the bitterness has come down a little as well. It really smoothed out and that's what you hope for when you make a big beer like this.
Essentially, the concept for Overboard was born at our last anniversary party. I think it's going to be a real treat to taste how it has evolved over the course of time at our next one.
Photo: Niko Krommydas