The new brewmaster at The Brickhouse Brewery in Patchogue has some simple advice for anyone looking to get into the beer business:
Hang around brewhouses.
Even if that means just helping out, getting paid only in beer.
“You gotta make sure you are OK with the amount of work,” Dolan said. “It sounds awesome, like we just drink beer all day. But it’s a lot of grunt work. You almost feel like you’re a janitor that occasionally brews beer and drinks beer with people.
“Brewing at home isn’t anything like getting your hands dirty at a brewery.”
He would fill kegs. Clean kegs. Sweep. Whatever they needed.
“My mom thought I was crazy. She would ask all time time, ‘Are they paying you?’ And I was like, ‘Mom, I don’t care if they’re paying me. I get the experience, and I get beer for the whole weekend.'”
So for nearly four years he volunteered at the breweries while also working his full-time radio producer job at ESPN and, later, Fox News radio in NYC.
But the West Babylon native, who now lives in Patchogue, continued following his passion, inspired by his grandfather’s home-brewing hobby.
That passion for craft beer led him to landing a job at Blue Point five years back. During his time there, Dolan came up with the recipe for Blue Point’s popular new winter seasonal Coconator, which is a German Doppelbock.
Coconator was stocked in stores across the East Coast.
“It was really cool to see it, and have that happen,” Dolan said.
Now he’s at the helm at The BrickHouse, where he started in May and gets to exercise his creativity virtually unbounded.
And Dolan is a dessert guy, so you can expect to find more selections such as the South Shore S’More’s, a pastry stout that’s now on tap.
Come October, BrickHouse will not only be offering up a pumpkin ale, but also a spiced pumpkin latte beer.
“I love pumpkin spice lattes, like to a fault. So I’ve always done this at home for friends and family, so right off the bat I knew I wanted to have two pumpkins on tap,” he said.
A Main Street collaboration, the spiced pumpkin latte brew will incorporate coffee beans from The Bean of Patchogue, a BrickHouse neighbor.
Dolan also loves lagers.
“If I can always keep a lager on the board, I will. And it seems like everybody here is OK with me potentially tying up a tank for an extra week or two for fermentation purposes.”
The free reign “is the fun part,” he said.
Top: Brewmaster Chris Dolan at The BrickHouse in Patchogue on Friday. Dolan took the helm there in May. (Michael White)