The craft beer industry on Long Island is frothing over, with eight breweries opening new tasting rooms last year and another 10 more breweries announcing plans to open tasting rooms in 2018. That would bring the total number of local craft breweries with tasting rooms to 40, which is remarkable considering that in 2012 there were just nine.
Nowhere on LI has this growth been more apparent than in Riverhead, which is home to five breweries with another three planning to open this year. One of the fastest growing is Moustache Brewing Co., which first opened on Hallett Avenue in 2014.
“We are close to the downtown area and want to support local businesses in Riverhead,” says Lauri Spitz, who co-founded Moustache with her husband, Matthew.
The couple started homebrewing in 2005 and were active members of Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts (LIBME), one of Long Island’s three homebrew clubs. After deciding to turn their passion into a business, they became licensed as a New York State farm brewery in 2012 and launched a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $30,000.
This seed money helped Moustache build their first one-barrel brewing system, which was expanded to a seven-barrel system in 2016. They’ve since garnered rave reviews for a wide variety of flavorful and memorably named beers. One of those beers is Dexterity Issues, a super hoppy double IPA brewed to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, a cause Lauri and Matt support since Matt was diagnosed with MS a few years ago.
The popularity of canned craft beer also helped power the growth of Moustache, with favorites like Lawn, a cream ale, Keep off the Grass, a wet hopped cream ale, and Milk + Honey Brown Ale. Moustache has won praise for its super hoppy pale ales and India Pale Ales (IPAs), with the demand for beers like Life of Leisure Pale Ale, Sailor Mouth IPA, and Awkward Conversations double IPA reaching bitcoin-like frenzy.
New can releases are treated like old Grateful Dead concerts, with lines forming around the block in advance of opening and strict limits on the number of cans that can be purchased. Moustache currently self distributes its beers throughout the Island, New York City, Westchester and into the Hudson Valley, with a team that includes Lauri’s sister, Kimberly Stoehr. With the market growing for their beers, the brewery announced plans last November to quadruple the size of their brewery, taking over the whole building on Hallett Avenue.
The expansion to 5,600 square feet will include a 1,200-square-foot tasting room, almost as large as the entire current brewery. The new tasting room, with a 30-foot bar, is expected to open this spring, with the current tasting room staying open through renovations.
“The expansion will help us keep up with demand for our core beers and also experiment with new things,” Matt says. He hopes to be able to offer more barrel-aged beers, which the brewery has done but on a limited basis.
In addition to their delicious beers, catchy names and inventive can labels, Moustache is also well known for its membership club, the Society for Fine Liquid Provisions. The club offers members monthly growler fills or four-packs of cans, birthday perks and access to exclusive, member-only beers on tap in the tasting room.
It’s no wonder Moustache is one of the most popular stops on the group bicycle brewery tours offered by Brew Crew Cycles in Riverhead.
Moustache Brewing Co. is located at 400 Hallett Ave. in Riverhead. They can be reached at 631-591-3250 or moustachebrewing.com
Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com