Southampton has its own brewery, in case you were unaware. The Southampton Publick House was founded 22 years ago in 1996, and, until recently, occupied the sprawling space at 40 Bowden Square in the Village. In 2016, the brewery relocated (the old space became Mexican restaurant Union Cantina) to Jobs Lane, where it now enjoys a premier location in the building once home to The Driver’s Seat. If that seems like a lot of musical chairs for Southampton, well, it is. Still, the Publick House has settled into its new-ish space well, commanding the same beer-loving crowd, both in season and out.
To be clear: You do not necessarily need to visit the Publick House for its food, although it is affordable and easy. But you should visit for the beer, which has garnered numerous awards in the past two decades. In 2003, Beer Advocate Magazine named the Publick House “Top Brewpub.” In 2004, the brewery was ranked number eight in the world in the category of specialty breweries. Since then, its popularity, due, in large part, to the reinvigorated craft beer scene, has only grown.
If you’re wondering what the Publick House brews, well, the list is long. The Southampton Light is a clean, crisp light beer, served on tap all year long. It is a scant 3.5 percent alcohol and only 100 calories, meaning you can double up on the wings (or on the Publick House-famous soaked gummy bears, given to guests gratis — they’re soaked in vodka, if you’re wondering). The Southampton Altbier, a multi-award-winning traditional German ale, weighs in at a little over five percent.
The Keller Pils, which won the 2010 medal for top 25 beers from Wine Enthusiast Magazine, is an unfiltered beer, with more pronounced yeastiness, while the Southampton Double White — one of the brewery’s heavier hitters — is a traditional Belgian-style white ale, with pronounced notes of citrus and smoke.
There are more beers, of course. An IPA, for instance, as well as a host of seasonal beers, like the Pumpkin Ale, which are only available for a limited period every year. And while the restaurant defers to the modern palate, offering highbrow items like sesame-crusted tuna with wakame seaweed salad and roasted Long Island duck, beer lovers should consider the merits of pairing pub food with pub drink. That means ordering the restaurant’s famous Irish nachos (sweet potato and cottage fries topped with cheese, pico de gallo, and sour cream), wings (choose between Buffalo, Thai, barbecue, and boneless), and brewery pretzels (served with cheddar ale sauce and honey mustard). In lieu of dessert, order the Imperial Porter, a chocolatey, rich beer that blends seven malts to achieve a dark brown color and nutty, toasted taste.
The Publick House does distribute its beers, meaning that Southampton is not the only place you’re likely to run into these craft brews. In fact, the beers are represented throughout the East, in select states from New York all the way to Florida. And while you might feel comforted by the knowledge that you can drink these at home, too, you’d be wise to pull up a stool and enjoy what the taproom on Jobs Lane has to offer. These beers, after all, were made to be consumed fresh and cold and right from the tap, when possible — a luxury extended to anyone willing and able to make it to Southampton’s Village on any given afternoon or evening.
The brewery is a part of East End modern history. So, order a pint — or more, if need be — and don’t forget to ask for the gummy bears. And maybe a side of wings.