It’s been 10 years since two Long Island guys with some good, Irish blood in their veins sold their first keg from what is now known as Long Ireland Beer Company on March 1, 2009.
Dan Burke and Greg Martin are the founders of LIBC with a story that strays far from the norm. Prior to being known as the two guys running the popular brewery in Riverhead, they worked together at a heating and air conditioning company in Holtsville, but they became bored with that, and instead concentrating on their hobby: home brewing.
“We were home brewing more beer than we could drink, and both at an age that we wanted to do something else with our lives. So, over the course of a year or so, we wrote a business plan, began an internship at New England Brewery in Connecticut, and put together some private investors,” Burke explained.
For the initial 10 months, the two worked their normal day job while simultaneously selling beer door-to-door after clocking out. “It was hectic, but it was how we got started, and hid it from our day job.” That was, until January 10, 2010, when Burke, a field supervisor, and Martin, as service manager, walked out the door of their day job for the last time.
Finding a place to share their passion came to them like second nature. After seeing what was occurring in Bay Shore and Patchogue, they felt Riverhead was prime as the next Long Island location to become a big downtown. In addition, they needed a municipal sewer district to handle the surge of sanitized wash water from washing the tanks and kegs. Check.
Rather than seeing the area in person, they bid highest on the 8800-square-foot brewery on eBay in a bidding war. Then, after starting off as a keg delivery man, Fred Keller joined the team in 2012 as a Master Brewer after learning the ropes of the brewing process. From there, it’s been all uphill.
To celebrate its 10-year anniversary, Long Ireland Beer Company is releasing 10 new beers, a jump from the standard three or four new releases annually. Each release corresponds to an important story or significant date to the company. Prior ones have been January 10 and March 1. Up next will be a release on Saturday, April 20, remembering a day the brewery nearly burned down.
Future release dates include May 17, when they won the auction on eBay; June 21, with a Full Circle IPA, telling the story of how the former equipment they learned commercial brewing from at New England Brewery became the very same equipment they own today; July 19, August 23, September 13, and October 18 will be special flavor releases. And to conclude the year, on December 13, will be a Serendipity IPA dedicated to the folks of the tasting room that turned into family.
“This grassroots loyalty to our brand is about the people drinking our beer and supporting our product,” Burke noted. Aiming to be as community focused as possible, LIBC does a Halfway to Saint Patrick’s Day party every September, so as to not compete with the local bars carrying their beer on the main day. Since 2011, they’ve held a Breakfast at the Brewery every Black Friday with Belgian waffles made with imperial stout beer right in the batter, free to the community while the food is available. This year they partook in their first Saint Baldrick’s charity event, raising $15,000.
The company’s main focus is Nassau and Suffolk Counties, and expanding into southern Massachusetts, upstate New York, and southern Connecticut. Moving forward, they recently signed another 10-year lease and began renting an additional 3200-square-foot space that is expected to expand the current size of their tasting room.
During the week, there’s always something to do. There’s Mug Club Monday, where Mug Club participants pay $5 for 20-ounce mug. On Tuesday pot luck night, bring in food for people to sample. Wednesday night is the running club; at 6 PM, eager fitness enthusiasts go for a run and return for a beer. Thursday is spectrum video game night with old game consoles. Friday is Firkin Fridays, a cask beer only sold on Fridays.
Long Ireland Brewing is located at 817 Pulaski Street in Riverhead. Call 631-403-4303 or visit www.longirelandbrewing.com.