Once upon a time, in a smoky bar on the beautiful south shore of Long Island, New York – two young beer hounds that share a common passion meet. Live bluegrass music filled the air of Mr. Fadeley’s Pub, their favorite drinking hole located in historic, downtown Patchogue. Surrounded by good friends, Mark Burford and Peter Cotter indulged in some tasty German imports and talked about their latest home-brewing concoctions over a chess platter, it was this evening they started to discuss their dream.
Some time had passed and Mark opened a Home-brewing Store that Pete would stop in from time-to-time for supplies, his faithful black Rottweiler affectionately known as “Foot” always by his side. The bizarre 6-legged Duo were inseparable and they too shared a love for brewing. Wherever they went, people were amazed to watch Foot enjoy himself as he lapped-up bowls of fresh brew.
Again, some time had passed but fate kept intertwining this sudsy trio. This time at the swanky, Cobblestone Brewery & Winery located in Huntington, New York. Mark was working as a Brewmaster and Pete was newly hired for sales. Now they’re working together as real brewers, in a real brewery; it quickly became apparent to them it was time for Long Island to have it’s first microbrewery. As if it was scripted in Hollywood, this was the humble beginnings of the arduous path to the American Dream.
Mark & Pete were a match made in Valhalla – these guys were The Perfect Storm now. A powerful combination of brewing and business skills matched with charisma, solid work ethics and balls. “We’re opening Long Island’s first Microbrewery dude!” Pete exclaimed to a buddy, it was only at this moment when Pete heard himself say that, did it really sink in “this was a very sobering thought”. They had to come to grips with just how much this was really going to cost. To turn a dream into reality in one of the most expensive places to live on earth was going to be the challenge of a lifetime. How could they generate enough funds?
“Everyone got how serious they really were, the day they came home and said – we both quit our day jobs so we can work exclusively on opening a brewery…” Alycia Lally [Brewmaster Mark's wife] recalled, “one of Pete’s family members actually offered to buy him a business suit, if he would promise to go on an interview for a real job.” Well, it didn’t take long for them to get the support of friends and family. “It was easy to see their passion for getting this brewery going, it was contagious…” Pete’s friend Thor Kampfer, a professional Beer Label Curator stated, “they were willing to do whatever it took to make it happen, it was so impressive, you wanted to be a part of it yourself.” Mark & Pete had a dream and that kept them driven, they had all their money wrapped up in this and that kept them highly-motivated, this was a great combination that kept them moving forward.
Unfortunately, one of the first lessons they learned, raising money is a long process. Things were getting too tight again, so Pete began working in construction and Mark spent his days at a local fish market. They had to keep food on the table, but that didn’t damper their spirits, they were now relentless at pursuing their dream. They literally saved every cent, maxed out their credit cards and within the year their adventure began. Mark and Pete needed a location before anything else. Mark found a great building with a waterfront location close to where he lived, it was perfect, well with the exception there was no way they could afford it and the equipment they needed at the same time, it was really unfortunate because the place had great potential. In an amazing stoke of luck, call it the “Spirit of Brewing”, the landlord called them a couple days later and said, “Not sure what it is about you guys, but I believe in you, so I decided that I’ll go ahead and roll the dice with you … I’ll give you the first year’s rent for free.” Whether it was a sense of morbid curiosity, a pay-it forward or quite possibly their contagious enthusiasm was anyone’s guess, but it gave them the one shot they needed.
So it was official, their brewery made a blue, extruded aluminum building, better know as the Penguin Ice Factory in the 1970′s their new home. This spacious 5,000 square foot, waterfront facility on River Avenue in Patchogue is surrounded by the Marine industry. This location would give them ample space for brewing and room for expansion, but best of all they would have the ability to brew and keg under one roof and that was critical to their plans of delivering ice-cold, unpasteurized kegs to ensure they’re beer is always fresh tasting. “We knew this was going to be one of Blue Point Brewing’s unique selling points (USP), a feature only a local brewery could offer,” Peter Cotter, Owner & President of the fledgling Blue Point Brewing Company explains.
They were now in the same location where the world famous mollusks coined “Blue Point Oysters” were pulled from these waters and shipped to Europe by request of the Queen of England. We thought it was also a great town here on Long Island, it has a lot of history and run by a great Chamber of Commerce. So they officially decided their new brewery would represent the area well and went ahead and registered the new brewery under the name “The Blue Point Brewing Company.” One of Pete’s friends from childhood was Jim McCune (another Fadeley’s aficionado), but more importantly he was a professional designer who quickly sketched up a logo inspired by their local Maritime Museum that has an old, retired Buoy outside as decoration. The logo would eventually represent one of the most recognized beverage brands on the East Coast.
At about the same time their investors came through and they finally had the capitol needed to fill their empty building with some brewing equipment. They couldn’t afford anything new or state-of-the-art [nor were they interested in that. They started out by collecting a rare-assemblage of new and near-new brewing equipment from defunct breweries from all around the country. They went to Maryland for their first brewery auction at the recently folded, Wild Goose Brewery and it was exciting. They bought a ton of equipment for quarters on the dollar. That day they got their first tank, kettle, mash tun, fan, mill and some really cool beer pitchers.
Alycia Lally started her own creative project at the Brewery. She transformed an already unique Tasting Room Bar built from bricks scavenged from the historic Lace Mill that was recently demolished across the street. Alycia took Blue Point's Bar to an entirely different level, an artist with a flair for color and form, designed & produced "The History of Beer" as a chronologically-accurate pictorial, formed by an intricate puzzle of hand-painted ceramic shards and mortar. "It's hard to describe the artistry and passion that must have went into producing something of this size, caliber and accuracy. It's just something you don’t see everyday and have to witness it with your own two eyes." – Craig Pagano, BPBC Fan
They continued to scour auctions and brewery foreclosure throughout the entire United States. At that time, auctions were increasingly becoming more and more common and finding the equipment they needed to complete their entire brewing system wasn't as difficult or costly as they originally expected. They even found a traditional 25-barrel brewhouse with a unique, direct-fire brick brew kettle with the ability to cook with blazing hot flames which imparts a lightly toasted and complex flavor to the brew it makes. "This was interesting [dramatic pause...], we came across a lot of brewing equipment, a lot of standard, conventional type pieces, but when we saw this thing, Pete and I looked at each other and were both like ‘this is coming home with us’. It really spoke to us, it had this Old World charm and just, real-character, we just fell in love with it.” Mark Burford, Owner & Brewmaster of the new Blue Point Brewing Company recalls. Pete and Mark were stoked over the find, they each joyfully took swings with a mini-sledgehammer carefully dismantling the intricate brew kettle, brick-by-brick so they could transport it back to Long Island in pieces and then painfully, reassembled it brick-by-brick inside the brewery. “Umm fellas, maybe we should have taken some photos of it before we took it apart?” Cotter laughed as he reenacted the question.
At yet another brewery auction in Connecticut, a sales manager from a local beer distributor took a look at these two long-haired entrepreneurs and imparted a bleak dose of advice when he told them, “I’ll see you boys in about six months or so, when we sell-off your inventory along with the shirts off you backs.” They laughed it off, but deep inside the two realized, this is it, we’re past the point of no return, mixed with the emotional irony of buying equipment from someone just like them, someone with a similar dream, a dream that came true like theirs did, but somehow the dream slipped away. “It was a long, quiet ride home,” Mark sighed.
Luckily for them, not everyone was so skeptical. Over the next full year and a half, they built a beautiful, smart, turn-key brewing system, they narrowly escaped a falling copper kettle, they convinced the Feds that they could be fiscally viable, they even bought a little delivery truck, The Blue Point Brewery Company was born. On a brisk December afternoon, Blue Point Brewing’s first keg was tapped in the parking lot. Folks from local offices curiously came out to see what the balloons and commotion was all about and basically a makeshift party started. The jovial scene flowed back to many neighboring businesses and liquid-lunch set the stage for many good times to come.
Pete and Mark realized that not only did they just fill their bellies with delicious, fresh brew [which is always their first prerogative], but they actually had some left over that they could sell. Pete hopped into his well-traveled VW camper van with Foot by his side and they set a course for local bars and restaurants to see if they could capture some tap space. It didn’t take long at all for Blue Point Brewing Company’s (BPBC) delicious, always-fresh Microbrews to be in high-demand across the Island. It was perfect timing as they just finished a built-in tasting room to the brewery. It features a gorgeous bar built with historic bricks from the infamous turn-of-the-century Lace Mill across the street, but the real gem is the ceramic bar-top created by Brewmaster Mark’s wife Alycia Burford whom artistically takes you on a journey through the history of beer and the brewery itself with an intricate, colorful mosaic that is absolutely stunning.
They added a huge green fermentation tank and some brewery signs, one that read, “FREE BEER – GET THE POINT!” which brought new customers in by the droves and once they felt the charm of the tasting room and had their first quaff of freshness, they were hooked. Naturally, a number of folks from the Mr. Fadeley’s scene volunteered to ensure quality control on the various brews pumping through the tasting rooms multiple taps. Running their business on the sheer philosophy that “good people drink good beer,” the brewery became a literal crossroads for people from all walks of life who wanted to enjoy tasty brews and other kind folk.
This is the point in the story where everything changes (for the better). Blue Point Brewing was now flowing on about 2 hundred taps at various bars and restaurants across Long Island, things were really going well, they were getting a lot of press and buzz. This caught the attention of some key executives at Clare Rose, Inc., New York State’s premiere Beer Distributor, who was convinced there could be a mutually beneficial relationship “brewing” here. It didn’t take much convincing, Blue Point Brewing Company was on board and Clare Rose was now their official beer distributor. This meant they could distribute their beers across the entire Island and into New York City now – this was huge!
BPBC brought in their designer Jim McCune (aka JimmyWu) once again. He quickly changed the slogan to “From Montauk to Manhattan,” and was hard at work for months creating a long line of colorful and exciting brand logos and beer packaging that captured the spirit of the beer, the brand and the customer. “we did a long, intensive research and development project with a lot of unknowns. One of their greatest achievements was their award-winning website where their fans could register to become VIP BeerClub Members.
Blue Point Brewing Company’s corporate logo, packaging, website and all their other marketing materials continue to capture the spirit and quality of BPBC’s beer as well as the attention of the consumer at the point-of-purchase. Many critics and media have mentioned the way Blue Point differentiates itself from the competition. The truth is that the entire brewery was built not only with big ideas and a great buzz, but with the never-ending moral support of a colorful collection of fans, friends, family, vendors and cohorts as well as their friendly, dedicated staff of hardworking beer lovers who are proud to call themselves “PointHeads”.
The Blue Point Brewing Company recently celebrated it’s 10th year of making delicious, fresh beer for good people. They decided to celebrate their 10th Anniversary Milestone with a massive party which included the debut of a special, limited-edition 10th Anniversary India Pale Ale. The festival also included an amazing lineup of musical guests including Grammy-nominated headliner Robert Randolph and the Family Band as well as great food. “We got a beautiful day we got for this … I love my free, commemorative BPBC 10th Anniversary Glass and look, a Free Growler Jug of any brew too, what an awesome deal!” Amy Sutter, longtime BPBC fan.
After working together as brewers for more than a decade, it became apparent to Mark Burford and Pete Cotter that the Blue Point Brewing Company is here to stay. Burford and Cotter agree their greatest achievement over the past decade was bringing home the Gold Medal for their Toasted Lager from the World Beer Cup Awards. Burford admitted “the Long Island beer community has become more sophisticated and numerous over the last ten years. I see that accelerating and continuing.”
Despite a weak economy, sales from craft breweries like Blue Point Brewing are actually growing nationwide. The Brewers Association (BA), which tabulates industry growth data for U.S. breweries, reports, today’s small independent craft brewers are gaining alcohol market share due to a shift toward full flavor beer and increased support for local breweries. From 2007 to 2008, estimated sales by craft brewers were up 5.9 percent by volume and 10.1 percent in dollars.
“Our brewery has been one of the fastest growing independent craft breweries in the U.S. for three consecutive years,” said Cotter. The success is based on two key factors, good people and good beer. Both Burford and Cotter concur and humbly credit much of the brewery’s success “to the people that work here. They are constantly amazing us.”
And more great news, the Brewers Association, a not-for-profit trade group that tabulates production statistics for US breweries released its annual list reporting the Top 50 breweries based on beer sales volume. The Blue Point Brewing Company was ranked #42 out of all 1,580 independent craft brewers in the entire country:
BLUE POINT BREWING COMPANY AT A GLANCE
Category: MicroBreweries, Brewing Tours, Food Pairing, Tasting Excursions
Country: United States
Brewery Name: The Blue Point Brewing Company
Owners: Mark Burford & Peter Cotter
Location: 161 River Avenue, Patchogue, Long Island, New York
Year Founded: 1998
10th Anniversary Milestone: 2008
Phone Number: 631.475.6944
Alternative Domain: www.bluepointbrewery.com
Buildings: Brewery/Tasting Room, Offices, Bottling, Icebox, Warehouse, Silo
Brewing Season: Year-round
Outdoor Biergarten: Seasonal
Building Structure: 1970s Penguin Ice Factory
Hours: Thursday & Friday (3-7pm) & Saturday (12-7pm)
E-mail Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tagline: “Long Island’s Brewery”
Old Tagline: “From Montauk to Manhattan”
Business Philosophy: “Good people drink good beer.”
Local Awareness: “Think Global – Drink Local”
Commitment: Freshness & Flavor
Annual Brewed Barrels: 30,000+
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Price Range: Free Admission & Beer Samples
Merchandise: Glassware & Apparel
Market: Cash/Credit & Carry
The Blue Point Brewing Company’s delicious beers are largely the result of their commitment to using the highest quality ingredients. Blue Point Brewing’s Brewmasters meticulously examine samples of all their ingredients and review various technical reports on the moisture, nitrogen and enzymatic content of various barley crops so they can select only the best ones from countries like Germany, United Kingdom and Belgium. Some of our hops also come from America and New Zealand as well as from the Pacific Northwest which are considered to be some of the best quality hops in the world. “All the ingredients are key … we spend a ton of money on hops, barley and yeast and everything else, it’s really important to get all that stuff.” Alan Brady, BPBC Brewmaster. Canadian 2-row Pale malt serves as the base of all of our beers and our in-house laboratory carefully stores and monitors our uniquely American Ale and a traditional Southern Bavarian Lager strains of yeast.
For the past 10 years, the Blue Point Brewing Company began its process in a traditional 25-Barrel Brew House. Blazing hot flames from a unique direct-fire brick Brew Kettle imparts a lightly toasted and complex flavor to their brews. Recently the brewery has undergo a major upgrade by installing a 2-tier brewing system custom manufactured in China to Brewmaster Mark’s specifications. It was shipped here on a barge as a massive single unit. The new brew system was installed with great effort and has a much more efficient boiler that comes with a heat exchanger which recovers millions of BTUs in wasted heat in the form of steam, which is then condensed into hot water for the next brew cycle. All of Blue Point Brewing’s beer is made using imported, top quality Malts and Hops are lavishly added at 3 different stages throughout our brewing process. “We’re actually really lucky here on Long Island to have a really good water, we don’t have to do much to which is going to actually mimic, sort of a water you would find in England which is the styles of beer we do go along those lines quite a bit…” Alan Brady, BPBC Brewmaster
Malted Barley, a cereal grain, provides body and color to the beer. Crushed in the Mill and conveyed to the Mash Tun, it’s then mixed with hot water to create a Mash. The sweet, fermentable liquid from the mash, called Wort, it’s run off through the screened plates to the Kettle. While the Wort runs off, the grain is again sprayed with hot water, in a process called Sparging (much like perking Coffee). When all the Wort is off, the spent Grains are collected and recycled. BPBC produces tons of spent Mash everyday that they often offer to composting facilities reducing the waste and emissions associated with the alternative of being augured into trucks to be delivered to local landfills.
Additionally some of the spent Mash goes to local Dairy Farmers as an alternative to their high cost feed such as Soybean meal or Corn which costs 10x the amount. The cows love BPBC mash and you can’t blame them, it’s tasty, usually still warm and high in protein and contains high fiber and as much energy as the Corn Silage.
When the Kettle is full, they start the boil and add Hops, the small, green resinous flower that provides the bitterness and aroma of the beer. We use a number of different aromatic Hop varieties for the Lagers and Ales. After hours of boiling, we cool the Wort on its way to the Fermenter where our unique strain of Brewers Yeast is waiting for it. At the end of a few days, the Yeast has utilized sugars from the Wort, giving off Carbon Dioxide and Alcohol and now we almost have a BPBC microbrew ready to taste.
At the end of Blue Point Brewing’s Fermentation process, the beer is chilled to near freezing so that the Yeast settles out. Beer flavors begin to mature at this stage of Secondary Fermentation and during the next week or two of cold storage, they also Dry Hop some varieties of their brews at this stage. By adding these fresh Hops directly to the Cellar Tank, it gives the beer an exciting aroma.
The beer is now aged for up to a month or more, depending on the style. At this point the beer is filtered to remove the Protein and Yeast. The bright, filtered beer is now ready for kegging and bottling. Blue Point Brewing Company’s beers are all-natural and poured without preservatives, fresh and unpasteurized. Served up by the glass, in convenient easy-to-carry glass growlers, 5-gallon slim barrels, half kegs or for your next monster blowout order the BPBC Mobile Biergarten or their refrigerated Beer Caddy or their 10-tap Microbrew Truck.
THE TASTING ROOM
The Blue Point Brewing Company’s Tasting Room is adjoined to the brewery and invites thirsty folks to sample 12 different types beer every Thursday and Friday from 3-7pm and Saturdays from noon to 7pm. The BPBC Tasting Room captures the spirit and creativity of Long Island locals in a quaint and charming space that features a handmade bar built using bricks from the historic Patchogue Lace Mill and has an unbelievable bartop that illustrates the history of brewing with a wildly-creative ceramic tile mosaic created by Alycia Burford [Brewmaster Mark's wife]. The walls are covered in their numerous Brewing Awards, paintings of favorite Long Island beaches by Johanna Cotter [Owner Pete's mom] and a large assortment of beer and bar-themed artwork on display from local artists.
Another highlight of the BPBC tasting room is their extensive collection of award-winning microbrews available on the spot for cash and carry in an extremely wide variety of container sizes from bottles, magnums, glass growler jugs, six packs, cases,tap-a-drafts, slim and full kegs to mobile refrigerated biergartens and beer carts. Enjoy tasting all of Blue Point’s delicious, fresh creations while you marvel at the wildy-creative tap handles, handmade by a hippy known only as “TapRich” and his harem of flower girls from Humboldt County, California. You can also get your exclusive BPBC merchandise here, such as collectible glassware and branded-apparel as well as their full line of fresh, ice-cold microbrews that are sure to keep any party “hop”ping.
Come down to the Blue Point Brewing Company and enjoy a brewery tour and try some samples in our tasting room and allow our friendly, eclectic crew of beer lovers who call BPBC “home-bitter-home” to serve you well.
- VisWiki (a Visual Wikipedia)
- Bloomberg Business Week – Blue Point Brewing Company
- LI Pulse – Drinkology: Rise of Craft Beer on Long Island
- Loving-Long Island – The Blue Point Brewery • Patchogue, NY
- Donavan Hall – The Beer Hall Guide to Long Island
- Beer Gardens on Long Island
- Bars & Clubs – The Blue Point Brewing Company
- Great Brewers
- Free Beer Tastings at Blue Point Brewery
- The Great Pumpkin – Posts Tagged ‘Fresh Jugs’
- Gunaxin Beer – Brewery Spotlight
VISITING LONG ISLAND
- 10 Best – Trusted Advice for Travelers
- The New York Times Travel – Turn Water Into Wine in Greenport
- eHow – Clubs in Blue Point, New York
- Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce
- Zagat – drinkwell – “world’s first and foremost guide to food, drink & great service”
- The Patchogue Theater of the Performing Arts
- Alive After Five meets Blues Jam Band
- Alive After Five – Friday Night Free Summer Street Fair Concert
- Log Jam Kicks Off Summer Saturdays at Blue Point Brewing Company
- LI Press – “The Best of LI”- find out whose the best as voted by Long Islanders
- Bier Magazine – Blue Point Brews ‘Toxic Sludge’ to Help Feathered Friends Flying South
- Long Island’s Blue Point Brewing Company Helps oil distressed birds in the Gulf of Mexico
- Mike Loves Beer- Blue Point Brewing Arrives in South Florida
- Beer Geek – Blue Point brewery night at World of Beer