Montauk has always been a great place to enjoy a beer after a day at the shore, but now it’s also a major craft beer destination, thanks to homegrown Montauk Brewing Company.
In just seven years, Montauk Brewing has grown to become one of the top 100 craft breweries in the U.S. based on sales volume. According to the Brewers Association, Montauk’s production increased 22 percent in 2018 to 39,000 barrels, making it the second-largest brewery on LI behind Blue Point, which produced 90,000 barrels. What makes this growth remarkable is that Montauk is distributed only in the New York Metro area.
“We have no current plans to open new markets because we think we can go deeper in our current area with package distribution and especially draft sales to pubs and restaurants,” says Vaughan Cutillo, the brewery’s sales and marketing head.
It was founded in 2012 by three buddies from East Hampton High School: Cutillo, Eric Moss, and Joseph Sullivan, who is no longer involved in daily operations. Moss attended college in beer-crazy Colorado and took up homebrewing. After returning home, he and his friends hatched a plan to start a brewery in Montauk. It was established in a building that formerly housed Montauk Woodwork, owned by Vaughan’s father.
When it first opened, the brewery had just a small pilot brewing system to experiment with recipes. The founders decided to contract brew their beers in upstate New York and then shifted to Wachusett Brewing in Massachusetts. Recently Montauk added a second contract partner, Two Roads Brewing in Connecticut.
After three years of construction and wading through red tape, Montauk opened its production brewery in 2015 with a 7-barrel system that brews beer for consumption in its tap room and for keg distribution on Long Island. The tap room is open seven days a week in the summer from noon to 8 p.m. and has a laid-back, family- and dog-friendly vibe with a large outdoor patio with picnic tables. Beers are available in pints and flights, and to take away in crowlers and growlers.
“First and foremost, we are committed to producing the highest quality beer,” says Cutillo. “We have passionate fans of our beers so we have to work hard to keep beers in stock, especially during the busy summer season.”
Moss, who serves as brewmaster, formulated recipes for beers that are both flavorful and easily drinkable. Driftwood Ale, the first beer Montauk released in 2012, is a smooth English Pale Ale with a copper color and toasty flavor. Two other core beers are available year round, with the flagship Wave Chaser India Pale Ale (IPA) more hop-forward but well balanced, and the lighter Session IPA with more citrus and floral aromas. It also offers a seasonal Summer Ale, Watermelon Session Ale, and other seasonal beers such as a Pumpkin Ale.
This has been a busy year for Montauk Brewing, with the addition of a fourth core beer to its lineup. Just in time for summer, Montauk introduced a crisp German-style Pilsner made with Sterling hops for a light, refreshing taste perfect for enjoying at the beach.
Montauk also produced a special anniversary beer, Lucky IPA, a hazy New England-style IPA. The beer was canned in four packs of 16-ounce cans and sold exclusively at the tap room, quickly selling out all 150 cases. A similar version dubbed Juicy IPA is now available on tap at the brewery and Cutillo says Montauk has plans to do more 16-ounce can drops on a quarterly basis.
One of Montauk’s savviest decisions was to package their beer only in cans, with distinctive packaging featuring bright colors and nautical graphics.
“We felt cans were perfect for our lifestyle brand,” says Cutillo, “since we want people to enjoy our beers on the beach or at other outdoor activities.”
Montauk Brewing Co. is located at 62 South Erie Avenue in Montauk. For more information visit montaukbrewingco.com.
Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.