Just one year after opening in Amityville, Small Craft Brewing is letting its sails unfurl with a major expansion of its brewery production and distribution, including canning its beers for retail sales.
Small Craft was founded in 2014 by brothers Gerard and Greg Sims, who grew up in Wantagh and started homebrewing more than 10 years ago. After a long search for a location to open a brewery on the South Shore, they came across a CrossFit gym in Amityville that was outgrowing its space and planning to move.
“We thought the space was perfect for us,” says Gerard, “so we talked to the Village of Amityville and they were receptive to the idea of having a brewery in the village.”
The brothers signed the lease for the 2,200-square-foot space at 66 Merrick Road in late 2016 and installed a two-barrel brewing system. After the tasting room was built out, the brewery officially opened to the public in March 2018.
When Small Craft opened both Gerard and Greg held full-time jobs outside the brewery, Gerard in network security and Greg as a teacher. Gerard moved to the brewery full time soon after its opening and Greg joined him full time last fall as they made plans to expand.
An additional 1,700 square feet of space became available in their building last summer and the brothers took the space with the intention of adding more brewing equipment. Early this year, they took delivery of a five-barrel unitank and two 10-barrel unitanks, which enable brewers to ferment, carbonate and filter a brew all out of the same tank.
“We are using the five-barrel unitank to increase production for the tasting room and outside accounts,” says Gerard, “while the 10-barrel unitanks will produce beer for canning.”
Small Craft will bring in a mobile canner to start and sell four packs and six packs of cans at its tasting room and local beer stores.
Small Craft initially obtained a New York State farm brewery license, which requires it to use a certain percentage of ingredients produced in New York. After opening, the brothers decided to apply for a combined farm brewery-microbrewery license, which provides more flexibility as they increase production and begin retail sales.
The first beer scheduled for canning will be Nauti Thoughts, one of several New England-style India Pale Ales (IPAs) that Small Craft has brewed in its first year, experimenting with different combinations of hops.
“We don’t have a flagship beer yet,’ says Gerard, “so we’ll be canning several of our beers and figure it out as we go along.”
Small Craft brewed dozens of different beers in its first year, covering a wide range of styles ranging from lighter beers like South Shore Blonde, Haka pilsner hopped with New Zealand hops and Berried Treasure fruit sour with four kinds of berries, to darker beers such as Bow RYEder Black Rye IPA, Bay House Brown Ale and Dream Boat Irish Stout.
The majority of Small Craft’s output is sold at its tasting room but the brewery has been supplying kegs to a growing number of pubs on the South Shore including Ridgewood Station Tavern in Wantagh, Corner Galley in Massapequa, Tap Room in Massapequa Park, and Restoration Kitchen & Cocktails in Lindenhurst.
Small Craft’s tasting room typically has 12 beers on tap and sells pints and flights, along with crowlers (32-ounce freshly made cans) to take away. The comfortable room, which is kid and dog friendly, has a seating area with a big-screen TV for sporting events along with counter seats overlooking the brewhouse. The brewery sells cheese plates made by Slates & Plates but patrons are also welcome to bring in food.
The brewery has developed a loyal following in the local community and can be rented out for birthdays and other family parties as well as community events. In March, the Small Craft Running Club was launched with weekly meetups on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. for a three-mile run or walk. All participants get a well-earned $1 off pints when they return.
Small Craft’s tasting room is open 5 to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 1 to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, making it a great place to stock up on the way to Jones Beach or to stop off on the way home to cool off.
Small Craft Brewing is located at 66 Merrick Road in Amityville. For more information visit www.smallcraftbrewing.com.
Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.