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James Hull, proprietor of the just-opened Shelter Island Craft Brewery, drawing a cold one for customers at the brew pub’s opening last week. (Credit: Beverlea Walz photo)

Shelter Island’s first craft brew pub is open, offering a range of regular products and a rotating list of special beers.

The Shelter Island Craft Brewery had a “soft opening” on Friday and will officially cut the ribbon on Thursday, just in time for the Shelter Island 10K weekend.

The brewery is located at the site of the former Roy Reeves Insurance agency offices on the corner of Route 114 and Jaspa Road.

James Hull, the proprietor and brew master of the brew pub, has been working on his selection of small batch beers for over a year. He’s  looking forward to introducing his products to the community, both in bottles and on tap.

One of the unique elements of his brews is that Hull has not only focused on using  “top quality ingredients,” but that many of them are actually sourced on Shelter Island.

“Drink local” is taking on a whole new meaning, since the beers will contain hops grown by Michael Clark, honey from the Kilb apiaries and beach plums and herbs such as lemon verbena harvested around the Island. The entire line has at least 20 percent of its ingredients sourced from New York State, including grains from upstate.

There will be three regular beers available and a rotating selection of specialty items, timed to the season and availability of ingredients. For the opening, look for “Shelter Island Liquid Sunshine,” a mild summer ale; “114 Minutes,” an East Coast-style India Pale Ale (IPA) that is, according to its creator, “strong, aggressive, very hopping and malty.”

Then there’s “Twin Forks Harvest Ale,” a Belgian-style brew that Hull describes as “very sophisticated, with four types of grains, rye, wheat, oats and barley, as well as orange, coriander, star anise and Belgian candied beet sugar.” Lastly,  there will be “Beach Plum Ale,” as well. None of the products contain preservatives and all are naturally carbonated.

With their sophisticated flavors, small batch processing  — only 15 gallons are produced at a time — and limited distribution, Shelter Island Craft Brewery’s beers are clearly, as Hull, put it, “not for the chug-a-lugger.”

A self-described “foodie” with long-ago aspirations to become a chef, Hull describes these as beers for “people who have not necessarily been big beer drinkers, who enjoy good food and a unique drinking experience.”

Will such mall production and such high quality ingredients make Hull’s beers a special occasion item? In the $4-6 range, they are surprisingly affordable and far less expensive than a glass of a local wine.

Tastings at the pub will cost $6, including the specially-designed glass. All of which makes the Shelter Island Craft Brewery a terrific addition to the Island’s summer scene.

This story was originally published by The Shelter Island Reporter