The Real McCoy is opened for business, with owner Mike Bellini behind bar. Tricia Cremo/Spotlight
BETHLEHEM — An old auto repair shop is setting the scene for the town’s first brewery.
The Real McCoy brewery, located at 20 Hallwood Road in Delmar, near the town’s growing Four Corners retail and dining square is open Thursdays 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Known as a “nano brewery” because it is so small, Real McCoy, named for an idiom that means real or genuine, offers seven beers on tap. Tastings are free and growlers are available for $13 or a $7 refill.
Though the business has been quietly operating out of the garage since September, owner Mike Bellini, 45, a talented home brewer who opened the shop as a passion project as a side to his full time job, is not planning on rolling out any large promotional initiatives.
Rather, Bellini is starting small in his quaint space, which fits roughly 15 people, with room to grow at his rented space, and a grand opening event planned for the spring. When the weather gets warmer, he plans to open the doors of the garage and place tables and chairs outside for more space.
“My hope is to make Real McCoy a Delmar exclusive for the first year or two,” said Bellini, who plans to have his beer sold in local Delmar bars by the spring. “It would be great if it brought people to Delmar.” Bellini is a Delmar resident, and said he chose his limited hours of business so that he would not be competing with any of the local bars just down the street from him, like Twisted Vine Wine & Tap, Swift’s and O’Slattery’s Irish Pub.
Since Bellini was 17 years old he has been home brewing beers – reading books on the subject when he was younger, and now using the most modern Internet resources to aid his brewing.
“I come in here maybe three times a week to check on the brews, then the rest I can modify from my phone,” said Bellini, who also owns the website iwantlocalbeer.com, which locates breweries close to you based on your location. “It’s much easier to make good beer with better technology,” he said during a tour of the back of his store, where his brewing machines are held.
His small brewery operates using a license from New York State that requires a portion of his ingredients be sourced locally. “Most of the ingredients I already had,” he said, pointing to a large wall full of barley and hops sourced both from New York and from countries abroad, such as Germany, that he procured while home brewing.
Bellini is going for flavor punches with his beers, with German beers, like his Gambrivius Weisse – a citrusy summer beer- being a specialty.
Other flavors like the strong, dark Doc McOats Snake Oil , which offers a more pungent, bitter yet still smooth dark chocolate flavor, show off the fruits of labor from his many brewing experimentations.
“If I am trying a new beer and the beer comes out not tasting good, I immediately throw out the whole keg,” said the master brewer. Another of his experients that has payed off well is his Liberty Cream Ale, a lactose-infused darker brew with a pleasant creamy taste, that Bellini calls one of his favorites.
Alongide Gamrivius Weisse, Doc McOats and Snake Oil and Liberty Cream Ale, two more brews are always on tap: Warehouse Pale Ale and Mike’s Brown Bag, a lighter brown ale. Additional brews are available as more limited-edition runs, such as the dry Irish stout on tap currently.
But, with word of mouth quickly growing, be sure to get there quick. On his most recent tasting day, Saturday, Feb. 13, Bellini ran out of all his beers, and had to turn customers away. He will, however, be fully stocked again for his next tasting day, Thursday, Feb. 18.