photos by Amanda Bloom
The landscape of craft beer in the Greater Danbury, Conn. area changed dramatically when DeCicco’s Family Market in Brewster, New York opened their doors a year and a half ago. We had some nice places to find our nectar fix, but none had the selection of local, national, and imported beer that DeCicco’s continues to offer under one roof. DeCicco’s also affords us the luxury to purchase outstanding beers from great breweries that do not have current distribution in Connecticut, such as Firestone Walker (CA), Founders (MI), Troegs (PA), and Maine Beer Co (ME). Their Brewster market is located right next to the Southeast train station at 50 Independent Way.
The greatest part about DeCicco’s is it’s both a high-end grocery store with an amazing selection of food, bottled and canned beer…and it’s a bar!
When you first walk into DeCicco’s, you’re greeted with the produce department and a barista offering an array of freshly brewed coffees. Then there is a hot buffet and salad bar where you can buy food and pay by the weight. After that, you enter a world-class artisan cheese department that co-mingles with our primary destination, the beer aisle.
You will definitely know it when you hit the beer department at DeCicco’s. Shoppers are greeted with 16 large cooler doors, starting with six-packs and four-packs of imports, transitioning into American craft beer, and finally culminating with ciders and macro options. Across from the far end of the coolerss are large shelving units with American craft beer as well as many imported craft beers, which are sold at room temperature. This can be helpful for those who plan to age some of these beers, or don’t plan on drinking them right away. At a quick turn from the warm selections are a few more coolers dedicated primarily to bombers (22oz bottles) and singles. This is a great way to try many different beers without having to purchase a six-pack you might not like, and then pawn off the five leftover beers on your friends the next time they show up at your house. The selection of singles includes many of the rarer and pricier beers, so it is a truly beneficial section for people just starting out in their beer ventures and well-versed beer fans alike.
“There is nothing I love more than finding out what the next awesome brewery release is going to be and finding out how I can get to try it as quickly as possible, and how we can bring it into the store for our customers to try.”
-DeCicco’s Bar Manager Andrew Mimran
Once you find your purchases and make your way to the registers, something very unlikely will catch the corner of your eye: a full beer bar. DeCicco’s offers 12 draft lines dedicated strictly to craft beer, so don’t expect to find any Miller or Bud Light on draft. The offerings range by style, region, and ABV (alcohol by volume), and they are sure to have something on tap for everyone’s taste. For entertainment within the bar, DeCicco’s has two large HD TVs, one on each end of the bar, to show whatever sports game or event happens to be on. It is worth noting that the bar at DeCicco’s closes at 8pm Monday-Saturday, and 7pm on Sunday. The bar also offers a variety of small plate items that you can order from within the bar, such as a cheese plate, pickle plate, or your choice of three different personal pizzas.
If you have had your fill of great craft beer at the bar but would like to bring some of that draft beer goodness home with you, DeCicco’s has you covered there as well. They offer all of their beers on draft (except extremely limited offerings) to go in 32oz and 64oz glass containers called known as growlers. Growlers are offered at a discount compared to the price you would pay to drink in the bar and are take-home only.
I recently was able to catch up with DeCicco’s Bar Manager and craft beer specialist Andrew Mimran. Via email, I picked his brain about the store, the bar, his personal beer likings, and craft beer in general. Here is what he had to say:
Beer Hunter: Can you tell us a little bit about the history of DeCicco’s?
Andrew: Started in 1972 by John, Joe, and Frank DeCicco in a tiny storefront in the Bronx, DeCicco’s grew slowly but surely into the thriving business we know today with the help of the rest of the DeCicco family. With a lot of hard work, customer satisfaction, superior service and a constant presence of the best food options available on the market, DeCicco’s built itself a well-cemented reputation of being the food market of choice for those who have a serious love for food and cooking in general.
BH: Can you tell us a little bit about your own experiences with craft beer?
A: Craft beer is more than just a job to me. It is a passion. There is nothing I love more than finding out what the next awesome brewery release is going to be and finding out how I can get to try it as quickly as possible, and how we can bring it into the store for our customers to try. I always loved cooking and eating good food, so enjoying and making good beer (as a homebrewer) was a very comfortable fit for me.
A: I love sour ales and just about anything that’s been aged in a barrel. I find barrel aging and spontaneous fermentation to be the most interesting thing related to beer. It allows for a totally unique beer creation that can almost never be replicated exactly the same way. I also love IPA’s. Bring on the hops! There are some really great local IPA’s that I’m very fond of, Captain Lawrence Captain’s Reserve comes to mind as well as Peekskill Brewery’s several great house beers.
BH: Can you offer a brief description of the bar scene, the beers on tap and how you decide what goes on tap?
A: The bar at DeCicco’s is very unique bar experience. It is a fully functional craft beer bar inside of an Italian supermarket that boasts one of the best beer selections on the East Coast. The great thing about the bar inside of the market is that we get all different types of customers; on one side of the spectrum we have the total beer geeks who know us for all the rare beers we carry and come in regularly to see what new bottles are in and what is new on tap; then on the other end of the spectrum is the totally novice beer consumer, this is the best part of working here, when I can have somebody sample a locally made craft beer, something that they would not normally try, and to hear the responses that sound like “wow, that’s good” or “how do they get that flavor?”. It is very rewarding giving people such great beer that they have never tried before.
A big part of what we do is fill growlers of beer to go. We fill our growlers using counter pressure filling machines that ensure the highest quality growler fill possible. A growler filled at DeCicco’s can have a shelf-life comparable to brewery-bottled beers.
As far as deciding what goes on tap we like to keep a pretty broad selection stylistically in order to please even the most discerning palettes. We offer everything from Pilsners and Kolsches to barrel-aged Imperial Stouts and Rauchbiers from Germany.
BH: Any upcoming beer events that we should know about?
A: 4/13: Smuttynose Tap Takeover
4/27: Boston Beer Co. Limited Release Tap Takeover 5-8pm
5/5: Oskar Blues & Left Hand 2pm-8pm
5/18: Victory Beer Tap Takeover 3pm-8pm
6/1: Sierra Nevada Tap Takeover 3pm-8pm
BH: Anything else we should know?
A: We have over 1000 beers in bottles and a constantly rotating selection of many draft-only selections in the store. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up date about what’s happening in the store and upcoming events.
DeCicco’s is a true asset to the craft beer loving enthusiasts in our area. It is both a great spot to grab a few quality six-packs, or to make a destination to enjoy a few world-class pints. The staff is incredibly helpful and friendly, which is not always the case in the beer community, and they will always help you try to match your palette with what they think will be a great pick. If you are a beer geek or just starting out in your craft beer journey, DeCicco’s is a “must go” place for our area.
For more information, visit DeCicco’s website at deciccos.com or call the market at (845)278-0836. DeCicco’s Brewster is located at 50 Independent Way in Brewster, New York and is open 8am-8:30pm Monday-Saturday and 8am to 7:30pm on Sunday (bar closes half hour earlier than market).
Get in touch with the Northeast Beer Hunter!
If you have any questions, comments, or want to send me beer samples to review here, I can be reached at email@example.com.