What do you call a bar in a garage? If you’re Steve Pominski, that’s an easy answer: a “barrage.” In 2009, Pominski, then a homebrewer, built a 16-foot mahogany bar outfitted with two taps in his garage to better sample batches and track progress while he assiduously refined his recipes.
It finally happened in 2014. After more than 20 years of homebrewing, Pominski turned his favorite hobby into a profession. He kept the portmanteau (and his full-time job as a trackside tower operator for the Long Island Rail Road), and opened Barrage Brewing Company in a former printing facility in East Farmingdale, New York.
Since then, Barrage has become one of the finest breweries on Long Island, delivering soft and fragrant IPAs and snappy pilsners, plus a sweet, sugar-smacked spread of pastry stouts and porters. These are massive dark beers flavored to taste like candy bars and decadent desserts, brewed with combinations of adjuncts like cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, and coconut.
Pominski is also a big fan of “Seinfeld” and makes three popular brown ales incorporating chocolates featured in episodes of the consecrated sitcom: Yada Yada Yada (Snickers bars), The Restivus (chocolate babka), and Hootchie Mama (Bosco Chocolate Syrup).
But don’t think Barrage is a brewery about nothing. Here, Pominski reveals how he incentivizes his staff with Natty Light, and finds inspiration in Yoo-hoo.
1. What’s your desert-island beer?
Gumballhead from 3 Floyds. It’s light, hoppy, and straight-up crushable. Plus the cartoon label is cool to look at. I think I would try to have a conversation with that little dude if I were the only person on this desert island. It would be my Wilson from “Cast Away.”
2. What’s the beer that made you fall in love with beer?
It’s a toss-up between Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout and Pete’s Wicked Ale. Samuel Smith’s because I was hanging with the cool dudes in college so I had to drink a beer that no one heard of. So I picked it up and was blown away. And Pete’s because it had everything I wanted in a beer: flavor, aroma, and alcohol. It’s one of the earliest craft classics.
3. F, M, K: IPA, pilsner, sour.
I would give a good, but maybe not a long fucking to an IPA because hop aroma might be the closest thing to sweet-smelling perfume. I would marry a pilsner because it will always be there for you at the end of the long day. And I would kill a sour because it’s stinky.
4. You’re on death row. What’s your last beer?
It would have to be either Cantillon’s Iris or Fou’ Foune; they’re both superbly done beers. I think I wet myself just thinking about it, which gives you an idea of how I would fare in prison.
5. You can only drink at one bar for the rest of your life. What is it and why?
This one is really hard since I’m in New York and we have so many awesome bars. But I’m going to say Monk’s Cafe in Philly. They always have Pliny the Elder on tap and carry many hard-to-find beers from Russian River and Lost Abbey. Plus the food rocks. Can you say pommes frites?
6. What’s the best and worst beer in your fridge right now?
The best beer right now is a bottle of our bourbon barrel-aged Russian imperial stout, Famous Last Words. Sorry, but I love that beer. The worst is a can of Natty Light that was in the trunk of my car during all of summer and fall three years ago, and then somehow it made its way into the brewery fridge. It’s still there and it’s become the “fuck-up beer.” Everyone gets threatened that if they mess something up big time, they will have to drink that can as punishment. I run a very incentive-driven business.
7. If you could no longer drink beer, what would be your beverage of choice?
Yoo-hoo! It’s magical and wonderful and makes me want to scream it out. Yoooo-hoooo! Hmm, next beer idea?