Beginning as a homebrew club and growing into an experiment in collective brewery ownership, The Brewers Collective Beer Company (TBC) tap room debut last year in a Bay Shore industrial park scored a coup.
TBC hopes to increase production while maintaining its unique approach under the motto “Revolutionary Brewing.” Several of the original club’s comrades worked together in the information technology sector and enjoyed sampling the homebrew of their colleague Joe Vella.
“Joe made a really delicious pumpkin beer,” recalls Tim Dougherty, a TBC founding co-owner. “I got tired of having to wait for him to brew, so I bought equipment and started brewing myself and then with other club members.”
The club’s fiercely independent camaraderie and communal brewing inspired its name and distinctive logo featuring a beer bottle in place of a hammer crossing a sickle — a throwback to the former Soviet Union flag.
“From the start we wanted to share the brewing responsibilities and other work involved in building our brewery,” says Dougherty.
The club also became known for its focus on herbal ales, including gruit ales made without hops, similar to beers from ancient times.
As the homebrew club became more active and gained recognition at local festivals, the idea of going professional took hold. A core group of nine club members incorporated and obtained a New York State farm brewery license in 2014. The new brewery also took advantage of the brewery incubator program at A Taste of Long Island in Farmingdale, where several other LI craft breweries launched.
After perfecting its recipes on a larger brewing system, Brewers Collective found space in Bay Shore and began construction of a three-barrel brewhouse and a small tasting room, with almost all the work done by the owners. The positive response encouraged them to move to a larger space in the same complex, which opened in February.
The expanded tap room has become a popular stop for L.I. Brew Bus tours and also features live music on the weekends. With 24 taps, TBC offers a wide variety of year-round offerings and seasonal brews. The five current co-owners — Tim and Sarah Rich Dougherty, Michael Stetson, Terry Gillen and Mike Depietto — all have their own special recipes and share brewing of core brews such as Proletariat Pale Ale and Mattyweizen wheat beer.
As a farm brewery, TBC uses locally grown ingredients in its beers, including herbs such as sage, lemon balm, heather and hibiscus flower for its gruit ales like Pitcish Heather Gruit. For its fall pumpkin ale, Witchbinder, TBC used roasted and caramelized Long Island cheese pumpkins from Corwith Farms in Water Mill.
According to Dougherty, TBC’s next stage of growth will involve expanding to a seven-barrel or 10-barrel brewing system. This growth will help satisfy the thirst of TBC’s Skeleton Army, its mug club playfully named after an anti-temperance movement that battled the Salvation Army in late 1800s England.
Like most armies, the Skeleton Army marches on its stomach, including an appetite for tasty craft beers.
The Brewers Collective Beer Company is located at 1460 N. Clinton Ave. in Bay Shore. For more info visit thebrewerscollective.com.
Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.