Rick Sobotka – Brewmaster, Founder
Rick Sobotka knows a thing or two about putting you in a relaxed state. First, he’s a board-certified Anesthesiologist. Second, he’s a fourth-generation brewer and first-class beer connoisseur who’s spent his life perfecting the recipes that come to you today as Great South Bay brews.
Born and raised in the small upstate New York town of Apalachin – best known by some as the site of a historic 1957 Mafia summit – Rick’s earliest brewing memory is helping his dad crush malt with a rolling pin at age 12.
Speaking of dad, John Sobotka is something of a brewing legend in upstate New York. When Rick was a kid, his dad brewed beer on a regular basis. His craft-brewed porter won a devoted local audience as well as regional beer club awards. In fact, Rick’s dad learned it all from his dad, who learned it from his dad – Rick’s great-grandfather, Stanislaus Sobotka, who distilled his own whiskey back in Poland.
Continuing the family tradition, Rick started brewing at age 15 and crafting beer has been a front-burner hobby ever since. In college at SUNY Binghamton, he soon gained popularity by dishing out his renowned homebrew from a five-gallon bucket.
After college, Rick traveled the U.S., touring breweries along the way. This adventure grew his appreciation for craft beer and ultimately inspired him to consider brewing professionally. Settling for a while in San Diego, he worked as a brewmaster apprentice at the San Diego Brewery, dragging around sacks of malt and learning how great beer is made. Later, in Colorado, he served up pints from the beer tanks at Breckenridge Brewery.
When he landed back east to pursue medicine as a career, Rick still had beer on the brain. “Anesthesia is a career I really enjoy,” Rick says. “But I always knew one day I would start my own brewery.”
That real brewery is now Great South Bay Brewery. Rick’s personal recipes for Bay brews reflect everything he’s ever learned, and every beer he’s ever tasted, over a lifetime of brewing. “I create beers that I enjoy drinking, and I’m quite particular when it comes to that,” Rick says. “If you want quality and creativity in your beer, I know you’ll choose a few of mine.”