Coney hosts a home-brew contest

The Brooklyn Paper
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That’s not sea foam tickling your nose.

Coney Island is hosting its first beer-brewing competition at Peggy O’Neill’s on March 7. Ale aficionados and lager heads will get to chug bottomless mugs of entrants’ brews, which portends a sudsy afternoon, the organizer said.

“This is gonna be a frickin’ pisser, I think,” said James Quigley, who owns Peggy O’Neill’s and founded the fermented fixture.

At press time, seven burgeoning brewers had crafted concoctions for the contest — the menu includes a porter, a saison, wheat beers, an assortment of ales, and a whisky-barrel-aged pear lambic called “Freakshow” that you’ll likely never see again, the brewer said.

“This is a one of a kind, never again beer,” said Ben Nicholas, who cooked up the chimera and also works at Red Hook Winery.

The price of admission gets you unlimited swigs and a souvenir glass to sip from, as well as a buffet, and a vote in the “People’s Choice” awards category.

A panel of pros will hand down the “Best in Show” prize to the three stoutest barley pops. Among the judges will be Pharoh of the Freakshow Dick Zigun, Bay Ridge Homebrew League leader John Avelluto, and Coney-loving correspondent Roger Clark of NY1. And the zaniest brews will receive gag Coney Island-themed awards, such as the “Deno’s Kiddy Park Award,” which will go to the brew with the lowest alcohol content.

Quigley is skimming the foam from proceeds and serving it to Coney Island USA to fund arts programs, he said.

“We always need money coming to the Mermaid Parade,” said Quigley, who is also Coney Island USA’s treasurer.

And if the March 7 competition doesn’t leave everyone with too much of a hangover, they’ll do it again next year, Quigley said. The bar man said the late-winter competition is like pre-gaming for Coney’s summer season.

“I do like to start the season off like this for Coney Island,” he said. “You can use it as a PR thing, like, ‘Hey guys — Coney Island — we’re still out here.’ ”

Quigley — an avid home brewer who lives in Bay Ridge — is bringing his own creation to the party. But he is abstaining from the competition and dodging the draught until the day is over — then all bets are off, he said.

“I know at 5:01, I’m gonna start rounding up what’s left over and have a little party for myself,” Quigley said.

Coney Island Homebrew Competition at Peggy O’Neill’s (1904 Surf Ave. between W. 16th and W. 17th streets, March 7 at 2 pm. $30 online, $40 door.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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