Saving the Great South Bay, 16 ounces at a time

Canned goods: Blue Point Brewing Co.'s Drink The Bay Clean IPL has a decidedly ecological flavor.

Our Great South Bay is under grave threat. The main issue is water quality.

For generations, the Great South Bay provided half of all clams consumed in the United States, and provided the first oysters exported to Europe by royal request. To this day, Blue Point Oysters can still be found on menus around the globe, coasting on only their good name.

Over the years, the Great South Bay has lost a significant percentage of its shellfish population and habitat. Thousands of bay men once worked these waters, but today, they are a rare and nostalgic sight. The dramatic reduction eventually collapsed the local industry and devastated neighboring communities that depended on the shellfish.

Great South Bay is a designated estuary of unparalleled beauty and significance. Estuaries are among the most diverse and biologically productive ecosystems on earth. But due to human pollution, our bay, like many across the country, has become the resting place for lawn fertilizers, pesticides, sewage, storm runoff and other pollutants.

Great South Bay is an environmental treasure. That’s why The Blue Point Brewing Co. partnered with Save The Great South Bay, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, to support the newly founded Save The Great South Bay Creek Defender Program.

The first order of business: beer.

With a mission to protect and improve Great South Bay, Blue Point Brewing brewed “Drink The Bay Clean” India Pale Lager to support these efforts. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to local environmental groups dedicated to revitalizing our beloved Great South Bay. So, with every sip, you’ll be contributing to the health of our waters and metaphorically “drinking the bay clean.”

Mark Burford: Bay watch.

“Ninety-five percent of beer is water,” noted Mark Burford of Blue Point Brewing. “All brewers know how important clean water is to them. The quality of our water will only be worse tomorrow, and that’s why the bay needs our help today. We owe it to our children to fix this.

“Clean water is worth fighting for.”

The people who invented this beer – who brewed it, distribute it and support it – all grew up here on the waters of the Great South Bay. And they love Long Island.

“We dedicate our lives to making beer,” said Blue Point Brewing head brewer Eric Ahlberg. “And when the water of Long Island comes calling for help, we try to answer the call by making the best beer you’ve ever tasted.”

The IPL begins with Long Island glacial water and combines wheat malt and three hops – admiral, calypso and horizon – for floral notes, the bite of an IPA and the refreshment of a lager.

Blue Point Brewing hired the EGC Group Craft Beverage Division to help with the promotion. EGC joined forces with Carleton Clothing founder and head designer Reid Carleton to develop a handcrafted, Long Island nautical theme, the kind of stuff Carleton is well known for.

“The Great South Bay has always been a big part of my life,” Carleton said. “I think most people living on the South Shore feel connected to it. A lot of my design ideas come from experiences or things I’ve seen on the water.”

EGC also brought client Hopsteiner into the mix – Hopsteiner donated a portion of the hops – and printer DWS Associates, which helped with the beer’s labels.

Great South Bay provides recreational opportunities to millions of people in New York who live, work and play within its watershed. It welcomes fishermen, swimmers, surfers, divers, paddle boarders and recreational boaters. But many of our waters are closed to shell-fishing and swimming because of bacterial pollution and runoff.

“We first need to build a sustainable bay,” noted Marshall Brown of Save The Great South Bay. “Long Island itself needs to become sustainable. We don’t have a choice.

“This bay can become one of the most productive shellfisheries in the world again,” Brown added. “We’re doing what needs to be done to make that happen.”

You can do your part to preserve this national treasure for future generations by joining us this Saturday, June 10, for World Environmental Day and the release of our exclusive, charitable brew. We’ve got a long day planned, so stop by for a bit or hang out with us the whole time.

The schedule:

10 a.m. to noon: Clean-up at Bradley Beach in the Hamlet of Blue Point. Join the BPBC Brew Crew and volunteers for a beach clean-up and receive a special, limited-edition Drink The Bay Clean gift.

Noon to 4 p.m.: World Environmental Day Celebration at Blue Point Brewery in Patchogue. Come meet the awesome people doing the awesome work to protect our environment – and have some delicious beers while you’re at it.

4 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Official Drink The Bay Clean IPL Release Party at Blue Point Brewery in Patchogue. We need your help to drink the bay clean! Hang out, crack open a can and enjoy the unique ska-funk-hip hop fusion of “Nonstop To Cairo,” while chowing down with food from Blue Island Oyster and sustainable cuisine from Farm to Truck.

By purchasing “Drink The Bay Clean” IPL, your contributions will help the Creek Defender Program and local stewardship; Save The Great South Bay’s Oyster Restoration Project; “I Love Long Island” efforts to move away from chemical fertilizers and pesticides; and other wastewater infrastructure education and advocacy efforts.

To learn more, visit

McCune is director of the Craft Beverage Division of Melville-based EGC Group. Reach him at or (516) 935-4944.

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