New übergeek beer helps NY sea rescue save sea turtles

What could be better than beer for a good cause? With that in mind, Riverhead’s übergeek Brewing Co. has partnered with the New York Marine Rescue Center (NYMRC) to create “I Didn’t Ask To Be Here,” a brand new limited-edition hot winter beer that supports the non-profit organization’s mission, with a particular focus on the plight of the cold-stunned sea turtles in the East End.

NYMRC, located at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, receives $ 1 for each übergeek “I Didn’t Ask To Be Here” beverage, but the partnership doesn’t end there.

The beer, made with holiday spices and zesty bitter oranges, and available on tap in 12 oz. pour ($ 7) or 32 oz. crowlers ($ 13.50), debuted Nov. 11 during the latest installment of übergeek’s “Geektalks,” a science and nature lecture series held at their Riverhead tasting room (400 Hallett Avenue). At this latest Geektalks Conference, NYMRC Director Maxine Montello presented “Applying Citizen Science to Increase Survival Rate of Cold Stunned Turtles”.

Pour a pint at the Riverhead tasting room in übergeekCourtesy of Rob Raffa, übergeek

Montello explains that his organization trains volunteers to patrol the local north-facing beaches – the beaches of Long Island Sound on the North Fork and the beaches of the Hamptons Bay – during the winter months to locate, identify and to save the cold-stunned sea turtles, which ended up stranded on shore after being rendered catatonic as a result of a hypothermic reaction to the freezing winter waters. His Geektalk was an introductory educational training session, teaching participants how to identify turtles and what to do if they encountered one on the beach.

The East End is home to four species of sea turtles, including green turtles, loggerheads, huge leatherback turtles (averaging at least 5 to 6 feet long and 550 to 1,500 pounds), which are unaffected by the ‘cold dizziness and critically endangered species. Ridley of Kemp. The latter species accounts for more than 50% of NYMRC’s cold stunning cases, Montello says, stressing why saving them is so crucial. Only 7,000-9,000 nesting females of Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are still alive in the world, so every life counts.

Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle Stunned By The Cold
Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Stunned By The ColdCourtesy of NYMRC

It is very important, Montello adds, that people learn to never put turtles back in water or attempt to warm them, as this can cause dangerous shock to their system. Instead, she says, take the turtle past the high water mark or wrack line (where the algae congregates) and call the NYMRC for pickup. If possible, wait with the turtle as it is very common for other well-meaning beach goers to bring the animals back to the sea which hurt them in the first place.

And now, thanks to this beer partnership, there is one more incentive to stay. Members of the NYMRC Rescue Team are giving a special übergeek business card, valid for a sip of “I didn’t ask to be here,” to anyone who calls out a cold-stunned turtle. The card comes with a beautifully carved wooden sea turtle pin, which can also be purchased for $ 4 at the Brewery, with the proceeds going to NYMRC.

NYMRC / übergeek card with turtle pin
NYMRC / übergeek card with turtle pinCourtesy of NYMRC

“So far übergeek has been a great partner to work with,” says Montello, noting that brewery owner and head brewer Rob Raffa came up with this idea to help NYMRC and it is going well. “It’s just a beautiful and generous donation,” she continues, adding, “I love beer. … It went well.

Raffa is also happy with the program and the beer he made for it. He says “I didn’t ask to be here” is quite popular and that fits their goals since übergeek opened last year. “We want to do a lot more community outreach, it’s definitely in our wheelhouse,” says Raffa. “We will definitely do it again next year.”

Visit übergeek’s Riverhead Tasting Room to try a sip of ‘I didn’t ask to be here’ or pick up a crowler to taste at home. It will be available while stocks last. Learn more about übergeek at

If you’re interested in volunteering with the New York Marine Rescue Center or learning more about cold-stunned sea turtles and how to help them, visit

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