Blue Point Brewing Company: Tilray Plans Growth For Long Island’s Two Largest Craft Breweries

Blue Point

With the purchase of Blue Point Brewing Company on Oct. 2, Tilray Brands is now the owner of Long Island’s two largest craft breweries: Blue Point and Montauk Brewing Company. Tilray is primarily a leading global cannabis-lifestyle and consumer packaged goods (CPG) company. At the same time however, in the past three years Tilray has made a major push into the $30 billion U.S. craft beer market, which is projected by the Brewers Association to grow 7% annually through 2030.

Tilray bought Montauk in November 2022 and bought Blue Point as part of an all-cash acquisition of eight craft beverage brands from Anheuser-Busch, which bought Blue Point in 2014. This latest purchase made Tilray the fifth largest U.S. craft beer brewer, owning strong regional brands including SweetWater Brewing in Georgia, Green Flash and Alpine in Southern California, and the newly-acquired Breckenridge Brewery in Colorado and 10 Barrel, Redhook and Widmer Brothers in the Pacific Northwest. 

Blue Point and Montauk are a big part of Tilray’s growth plans, with recognizable brands that are expected to resonate beyond Long Island. Ty Gilmore, president of U.S. Beer at Tilray Brands, said, “These brands command great consumer loyalty and have a history of delivering strong award-winning products. Tilray is fully committed to invest in the future by fueling innovation and reinvigorating our marketing to drive new growth opportunities for Tilray and our distributor partners.”

The two breweries share similar origin stories with humble beginnings on Long Island. Blue Point was founded in Patchogue by Mark Burford and Pete Cotter in 1998 as a small brewery on River Avenue. After perfecting the recipe for their flagship brew, Toasted Lager, they soon began contract brewing the beer and over the next 15 years grew to become Long Island’s largest brewer with a full lineup of year-round and seasonal beers including Hoptical Illusion, Summer Ale and Blueberry Ale.  

After its acquisition by Anheuser-Busch, Blue Point built a 54,000-square-foot facility on the site of the former Briarcliffe College that opened in April 2019. The facility included expanded production, with Blue Point selling 75,000 barrels in 2022, making it one of the 40 largest U.S. craft brewers. Blue Point’s Patchogue location also has a large brewpub with a restaurant and oyster bar, and is the site of several annual beer festivals including the 19th Cask Ales Festival coming up on Nov. 4, featuring cask ales from more than 60 breweries and from Long Island’s three homebrew clubs.

Montauk Brewing was founded in 2012 by three homebrewing high school friends who built a small pilot system to develop recipes and quickly started contract brewing their beers. Montauk developed a loyal following for its easily drinkable beers including Wave Chaser IPA, Summer Ale and Watermelon Session Ale. In 2015, the brewery opened a taproom in Montauk with a 7-barrel brewing system but continued to grow rapidly through contract brewing. In 2021, the last year volume was broken out separately, Montauk sold 47,000 barrels, placing it among the 50 largest U.S. craft brewers. 

Under Tilray’s ownership, Montauk Brewing has been aggressively expanding distribution beyond the Northeast, launching Pennsylvania distribution in August and Georgia distribution in September, taking advantage of Tilray’s ownership of Atlanta-based SweetWater. 

Tilray’s CEO, Irwin D. Simon, is no stranger to Long Island, where he founded Hain Celestial Group in 1993. Simon built Hain into a market leader in the organic and natural products sector and led it to become one of Long Island’s largest public companies. Born in Canada, he left Hain in 2018 to become CEO of Aphria, a large Canadian cannabis company. Simon led Aphria’s merger in 2021 with Tilray Inc. and became CEO of the merged company, renamed Tilray Brands. 

Simon has made it clear that Tilray’s strategy behind entering the U.S. craft beer market is to leverage anticipated synergies from the future federal legalization of cannabis. In the announcement of the closing of the Anheuser-Busch transaction, he said, “When federal cannabis legalization does happen, we believe that Tilray will be ready to dominate as a leading global CPG company with the resources, infrastructure and operations, distribution, brands, sales, and marketing know-how to lead the revolution of cannabis CPG in the mainstream.”

Tilray already owns several brands in Canada that are cannabis-infused beverages. Blue Point should be a great fit with its offering of beers made with terpenes, the naturally occuring compounds that enhance the flavor and aroma of both beer and cannabis. The terpene beers have been a staple of Blue Point’s annual 4/20 festival held at the brewery, Shakedown on Main Street, which celebrates all things cannabis and can now celebrate its new cannabis company owner.

Blue Point Brewing is located at 225 W. Main St. in Patchogue: find out more info at bluepointbrewing.com. Montauk Brewing is located at 62 S. Erie Ave. in Montauk; find out more info at montaukbrewingco.com.

Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.