James and Rachel Adams started their Saint James Brewery in 2011 in Long Island City, Queens. The name actually had nothing to do with St. James, Long Island, they say.
But when the couple moved to Smithtown — and shifted beer operations to Holbrook — planting a flag in neighboring St. James made too much sense.
They finally did so with the opening of a brand-new tasting room, next to Del Fuego on North Country Road.
“We always wanted to have some sort of a presence here,” James Adams told GreaterSmithtown during the tasting room’s packed March 14 grand opening just days before the state coronavirus lockdowns.
“We’re so happy that we’ve been accepted by the community.”
The couple had helped make a name for themselves over the past few years by setting up at farmers markets in St. James, Kings Park and points east, like Southampton.
Many of those fans they made showed up the grand opening.
“This is like a friends and family gathering,” Adams said.
Area business leaders were also on hand.
“Love it,” said Scott Posner, president of the St. James Chamber of Commerce, who was in the crowd. “We’re excited to have more businesses bringing people in. Restaurants, places like this are perfect. I love the job they did with it. Really like their product.”
“There’s a lot going on” in St. James, he added.
Click here for the ever-changing tasting room tap lineup at the Saint James Brewery tasting room. The couple uses strictly locally grown ingredients, from Long Island and New York State.
So when the weather starts to break each spring, sippers could expect strawberry and other berries to be incorporated in Saint James’ craft brews. Fall is apple season in New York, and the brewery has earned the highest honors in the state for its Apple Ale. (Not a cider, to be sure.)
“Everything that goes into our beer comes from a local farmer in one way or another,” Adams said. “We work with what’s fresh and what’s in season. We’ll work backywards to sort of reverse-engineer our recipes” based on what’s available from the earth.
As for opening just days before the March 19 lockdowns on bars and restaurants, Adams said the tasting room staff had to serve beer to-go through a takeout window.
He said they might have shuttered without the support of the brewery’s adopted namesake community.
“We’re handling COVID much like everyone else [now], with our masks on,” he said. “Just trying to keep our heads above water and roll with the punches.
“I’m not sure if we could have survived the initial wave of the pandemic if not for the support of the town and the great people of St. James. We have been fortunate.
“They really supported us during the early days of COVID.”
Top: James and Rachel Adams at their March 14 grand opening. (Michael White)