The craft beer industry continued to expand across Long Island in 2018, with six new breweries opening taprooms, bringing the total number of brewpubs and breweries with taprooms to 35, compared to just nine at the end of 2012.
Growth on Long Island is part of a statewide trend, with New York State now having 418 craft breweries, more than double the number in 2012. The main driver of that increase was the farm brewery law that went into effect on January 1, 2013, with more than 200 farm brewery licenses issued, including 27 on Long Island. Even more growth is expected on LI in 2019, with eight more breweries planning to open new taprooms.
“This growth wouldn’t happen without the unprecedented support from Governor Cuomo and state legislators who continue to cut red tape and pass meaningful legislation for the brewing industry,” said Paul Leone, executive director of the New York State Brewers Association.
LI’s newest brewery is SquareHead Brewing Company in Holbrook, which was founded by father-and-son team Dave and Brad Jordan and is licensed as a New York State farm brewery. The name comes from a slang term for a Scandinavian, according to Dave Jordan, who is half Swedish.
The founders live a few blocks from the brewery and built most of the brewery themselves. Getting permits for the taproom took years, but the Jordans took advantage of the long wait to perfect recipes, including unusual beers such as Pistachio Pilsner and more traditional IPAs and stouts. They also barrel aged several beers, which were served at the grand opening and are available at the taproom, which is initially open on the weekends.
Other brewery taprooms that opened in 2018 include Harbor Head Brewing in Northport (January), Small Craft Brewing in Amityville (March), North Fork Brewing in Riverhead and Six Harbors Brewing in Huntington (June) and Westhampton Beach Brewing Co. (July).
In addition to new breweries, many older breweries expanded their production and taprooms in 2018 to keep up with demand, most notably Blue Point Brewing in Patchogue. LI’s largest craft brewery began production last July at its new 60,000-square-foot facility on West Main Street and plans to open a new tasting room and outdoor beer garden in 2019.
Other craft breweries that expanded last year include Garvies Point Craft Brewing in Glen Cove, which went from a 3.5-barrel system to a 10-barrel system; Destination Unknown Beer Company (DUBCO) in Bay Shore which expanded from 3 barrels to 10 barrels; BrewSA Brewing in Freeport which installed two new 7-barrel Unitanks; and Moustache Brewing in Riverhead, which quadrupled the size of its brewhouse and taproom.
Looking ahead to 2019, several breweries are producing beer and just waiting on permits to open their taprooms. These include Eastern Front Brewing in Mattituck, Patchogue Beer Project, Secatogue Brewing in West Islip, and HopWins Brewery in Bay Shore. Blind Bat Brewery, which has been brewing small batches of beer since 2008, is close to opening a bistro in Centerport that will serve locally sourced food along with Blind Bat beers. Bellport Brewing has changed its name to Sunrise Ales & Lagers and plans to open its new brewery and tasting room on Sunrise Highway in Bohemia in early 2019.
In Nassau County, Long Beach Brewing and Flying Belgian Brewery have started construction on the new brewery and tap room that they will share in Oceanside, with plans to open in early 2019. Bright Eye Beer Company, formerly Point Lookout Brewing, has signed a lease for a 5,000-square-foot space on Park Avenue in Long Beach across from the LIRR station. The new brewery will feature a 15-barrel brewhouse and a taproom, with plans to open in late summer 2019.
While there seems to be no limit to craft beer’s growth, the market has become more competitive. Two breweries closed in 2018, including Tweaking Frog Brewing, which most recently had been sharing the brewing facilities at Jamesport Farm Brewery. Fire Island Beer Co., which was founded in 2009 and moved in 2016 to space in Bay Shore shared with Great South Bay Brewery, unexpectedly shut down in the fall. However, these situations seem isolated and the rising tide of craft beer seems destined to lift more craft breweries to success in the new year.
For a complete list of Long Island breweries with taprooms, check out libeergude.com/brewery-tap-rooms.
Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.