By Dara Smith and Justine Josue
The newest brewery on Long Island gave public tours for the first time, Feb. 24, one day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo publicly endorsed the growth of the craft beverage industry.
However Po’ Boy Brewery in Port Jefferson Station will only get to hold the title of, “the newest brewery on the island” for less than two more months because the Brewers Collective Brewery will open in Bay Shore this April.
Thirty-two craft beverage stores opened in New York in the past year alone, according to an official release by Cuomo’s administration.
“The industry has definitely changed,” Mike Philbrick, owner of Port Jeff Brewing Company said. “When we opened here in 2011, I was the 11th brewery on Long Island that was operating at the time. Now there are almost 37.”
The impact the alcoholic beverage industry has on other businesses may be what makes it special.
“Small craft beverage producers have a positive impact on local businesses, directly and indirectly,” Adam Ostrowski, of Empire State Development, the economic development arm for New York State, said. “Craft beverage producers create jobs, promote greater awareness of New York State-made products, provide a market for raw materials from growers, and encourages tourism.”
The use of local ingredients is a large contributor to the economic stimulation caused by breweries. “The local ingredient thing really drives it. That’s Cuomo seeing what trend is taking off, [and] him saying ‘What can we do to make this further flourish?’ It’s just taking off in New York” Max Ocean, who is currently opening Subversive Malt & Brewing in Livingston NY, a malt house and brewery, said. A 2013 law requires farm breweries to use a minimum percentage of its ingredients from local farmers. Until the end of 2018, farm breweries must use 20%. From January 2019 to December 2023, no less than 60%. By 2024, no less than 90%. “It’s an exciting time to be in New York right now. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else to make beer.” Ocean said.
The craft brewing industry currently employs over 13,000 people in New York, according to a study by the Stonebridge Research Group. Breweries also help surrounding businesses. When a brewery opens, restaurants, hotels and other businesses begin to open in the area as well, Leone said.
“When I started, there were 120 breweries in the state, and now there are 326, so the growth has been enormous in a lot of ways,” Paul Leone, executive director of New York State Brewers Association said. “The growth of the industry also means jobs, and all of that is good for the state of New York.”
“What you want is to have businesses that can promote other businesses, and I think I am one of those people who do that,” Bob Rodriguez, founder of Po’ Boy Brewery, said. “I’m a brewery. I close early. You can come here and drink, then you can go out and eat in the same town that you’re visiting.”
Even though they have only been open for a few weeks, Po’ Boy Brewery already sees regulars and has caught the attention of local craft beer enthusiasts.
“The primary draw is that of a flavorful, well-crafted product, sometimes produced locally by people you might know,” Eric Grimm, the president of Brewers East End Revival, a Long Island homebrew club, said. “It’s definitely more of a personal connection with the creator of the product.”
Boosts to local spending and a burgeoning beer tourism market will likely sustain the growth of the craft beverage industry on Long Island well into the future, Grimm said.