Sag Harbor has a long history of maritime pursuits and probably a longer history of drinking, so a beer brewed with the intention of planting eelgrass and seeding oyster beds makes perfect sense. Since it's 2023, the beer must be a hazy I.P.A., packaged in an attractive 16-ounce can with a $24 price point for a four-pack.
Enter the Kidd Squid Brewing Company in Sag Harbor and its Brew for the Bay, a collaborative effort launched with the Cornell Cooperative Extension marine program. The limited-release beer will be the star of a Friday, Dec. 15, party from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Spring Street brew shop that will include music and interpretive setups from the Cornell Extension.
Rory McEvoy, co-owner of the brewery with his wife, Grainne Coen, said he's only producing one batch of the 6.6 percent A.B.V. brew, which translates to 1,800 cans. "We're creating just enough. All proceeds go directly to fund the creation of a new oyster bed and revitalization of eelgrass in Sag Harbor," he said. Specifically, each four-pack seeds 40 oysters and plants 20 shoots of eelgrass. (The husband-and-wife team are active community members. Mr. McEvoy is on the village's open space committee and Ms. Coen is a member of the village planning board and the Sag Harbor School Board.)
"It's made with Foster Farm-grown barley malt. The experimental hop we're using was found growing wild at a farm upstate. It's really expressing citrusy, tropical notes, with a dank earthiness underneath. We're a farm brewery, so by law, 60 percent of our ingredients must come from New York State farms. This is the first time we have 100 percent coming from within the state. So, I'm proud of it, but I don't want to jinx it since it's still going through the ferment."
Kimberly Barbour, the Back to the Bays director for the Cornell Cooperative Extension, said the group already received conceptual approval from the village (she'll be in front of the village board this Tuesday) and has had an initial meeting with the State Department of Environmental Conservation. While the beds are obviously important, she said the program is really about engaging the community. "Getting the public to help us care for the oysters, see the project through the planting, and monitoring it after, is the goal. It's a long-term project. We're not just going to drop 100,000 oysters in the bay and walk away," she said.
(The Brew for the Bay initiative is distinct from another oyster bed proposal that was pitched to the Sag Harbor Village Board at its Oct. 10 meeting by the South Fork Sea Farmers. The South Fork Sea Farmers hope to be on the outside of the breakwater, on the Havens Beach side. If all goes well, this project will be located on the west side of Long Wharf, closer to Steinbeck Park.)
"You could argue that every oyster makes a difference," said Ms. Barbour. The Cornell Cooperative Extension marine program has its flagship hatchery just across the bay from Sag Harbor in Southhold. "We produce millions of clams, oysters, and scallops there. The more shellfish, the cleaner the water." Meanwhile, eelgrass creates habitat, maintains biodiversity, captures carbon, and firms shorelines, helping to prevent erosion. "Seagrass meadows sequester and store more carbon per unit area than terrestrial forests," said Ms. Barbour. "We are really equipped to scale up."
"We hope we can focus people on a very tangible thing," said Mr. McEvoy. "Even if they don't buy a beer, at least we can raise awareness and they'll know this is happening. By the end of this project, we hope to see actual output. We're actually planting grass and seeding an oyster bed. I'm pretty excited about it."
Brew for the Bay can be pre-ordered at kiddsquid.com. It can be shipped direct, or picked up at the brewery.