The newest brewery on Long Island gave public tours for the first time last month, just 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 hold the title of “Long Island’s newest brewery” for about two more months. The Brewers Collective brewery is set to open in Bay Shore this April.
“I don’t drink beer often,” Cindy Sim, a junior majoring in business marketing and political science, said. “But I’ve heard that craft beer tastes a lot better so since this new place is so close, I’d be interested in trying it.”
Consumer interest is just one of the driving forces in the expansion of the craft brewing industry. Thirty-two craft beverage stores opened in New York over the past year alone, according to a news release from Cuomo.
“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 that the alcoholic beverage industry has on other industries may be what makes it so special, Hugo Benitez-Silva, Ph.D., an associate professor in microeconomics at Stony Brook University, said.
“It can involve light manufacturing, like bottling, some of it may be agriculture, and some of it may be services and distribution,” Benitez-Silva said. “It’s something that shows up in every sector of the economy.”
The growing trend of craft breweries on Long Island can also lead to increased employment opportunities.
“Small craft beverage producers have a positive impact on local businesses, directly and indirectly,” Adam Ostrowski, Empire State Development spokesperson, 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 craft brewing industry currently employs over 13,000 people in New York, according to a study by the Stonebridge Research Group.
“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 the 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.”
Many craft breweries also use local ingredients, which can contribute to economic stimulation for the surrounding area.
“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, a malt house and brewery in Livingston, N.Y., said.
According to a 2013 New York state law, breweries are required to use a certain percentage of ingredients from local farms. Until the end of 2018, farm breweries are required to use 20 percent. From January 2019 to December 2023, that number will increase to no less than 60 percent. And by 2024, no less than 90 percent.
“It’s an exciting time to be in New York right now,” Ocean said. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else to make beer.”
Breweries can also help surrounding businesses. When a brewery opens, restaurants, hotels and other businesses begin to open in the area as well, Leone said.
“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, Rodriguez said.
“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.