Photo: Alek Lewis

An all-vegan brewery is jumping into Riverhead’s beer scene.

The formerly homeless Übergeek Brewing Company opened its tasting room doors in April at 400 Hallett Avenue in Riverhead and is planning several events throughout summer.

The brewery operates out of the former location of Moustache Brewing Company, where Übergeek owner Rob Raffa was head brewer for five years. Raffa left Moustache in 2018 to start his own brand and begin “nomadic brewing,” or making beers at other breweries and distributing them to bars and stores wholesale.

When Moustache closed its tasting room in February, Raffa moved in to fill the vacancy and lit the room up with vibrant colors.

“I’ve got enough of an interest from the market that this retail side made sense,” Raffa said. “So we ended up coming in here. We have a larger production now. We’re all self-contained and I think it’s worked out pretty well.”

Raffa, who lives in Jamesport, studied environmental science, atmospheric science, mathematics, physics and astrophysics throughout his college career, he said. After he graduated, he was captivated by the beer community and used his science skills to pursue a career in brewing. He has since turned Übergeek, which was once a homebrewing side project, into a full-fledged business.

“I pretty much have taken all my knowledge in the last seven years of brewing and kind of just distilled it down into making — not perfect beers — but beers that I think that are on the right track for being a distillation of everything I’ve learned,” Raffa said.

“Space Age Times, Stone Age Minds,” is his magnum opus, he said, and a culmination of everything he knows about hops, yeast, water profiles and water chemistry.

“Every beer has a ton of research that goes into it to make sure that it is executed very well,” Raffa said. “We have an experimental series that we do for our members, which is just me going off the wall finding weird synergies and angles that are unexplored.”

Photo: Alek Lewis

“Our approach is just trying to make beer that makes me uncomfortable, puts me in a very uncomfortable position,” he said. “Because I feel like if I’m too comfortable, I’m not doing my job, I’m just producing something that you can get elsewhere. And I want people to come here and have a different feeling about it.

The Übergeek name came from his background in the sciences, combined with the German word for super. “I wish it had some incredible origins, but it doesn’t,” Raffa said. 

“I wanted something that if you said it, it can’t really be mistaken with anything else,” he said.

The name also plays into the event the brewery hosts every other Thursday night called “geek talk.” Originally Moustache brewery’s “nature talk,” the series features Chris Paparo, the manager of Stony Brook Southampton’s Marine Sciences Center, and several other naturalists and scientists who deliver lectures on a diverse set of topics. Sometimes, Raffa said, the guests bring in interesting critters and creatures. 

Übergeek is also fully vegan, a rarity in breweries. Raff said making vegan brews are simple; he doesn’t add honey, lactose or any sugars with bone ash.

“What I’ve realized is that [vegans] are very appreciative, because there aren’t many options,” Raffa said. “And the fact that it doesn’t detract from the quality of the beer or anything, why not?”

Übergeek is setting up musical performances and food trucks throughout the next few months. This Thursday, they start geek talk off with a visit from the vegan Green Street food truck. On Saturday, they welcome the vegan Peach and Pine Cafe food truck. 

They are planning musical performances throughout the summer. The first is an acoustic performance by A.N.A Sounds on Sunday. Visit their website and Facebook page for more information.

During the town’s first Alive on 25 event on July 15, you can find the Übergeek crew hanging with the Southampton reggae band PROJECT VIBE. They’ll be sharing a tasting tent with Craft’D on Main Street during the festival, with four of their beers on tap and merchandise available for purchase. 

Übergeek’s tasting room is open Wednesday and Thursday from 3 to 8 p.m., Friday from 2 to 8 p.m., Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m..

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Alek Lewis
Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.