It takes a good amount of blood, sweat, tears, and money—lots and lots of money—to open a brewery. It’s not always as romantic or glamorous as it seems, but there are still those that want to live the dream. Two of those dreamers, with their feet firmly set in reality, are Paul Carlin and Craig Waltz of Long Beard Brewing Co., established in 2012. With home-brewing experience and training in the brewing industry, Paul and Craig are ready to take that leap into starting their own brewery.
We got to ask Paul some questions about how Long Beard Brewing Co. started and where he sees it going in the near future.
(Paul): Getting started was pretty much like most others—in the kitchen! I was a home brewer that, after some time, started to have luck with a few recipes. With a little encouragement, I decided to move ahead with this insane process of opening a brewery. I truly do think you have to be a little nuts to do this. Craig was easy to convince. We were working together as boat mechanics at a local marina on the north shore. We were passing each other, moving to different boats. I just asked him if he wanted to open a brewery, and he said yes. After that, we formed the company and started chopping away. We love this business. We really can’t think of anything else we want to do. The idea of being able to take a hobby you love to do and turn it into your business, to me, is the building block to the American dream. We are just lucky enough that it’s beer!
The name came from a long brainstorming list we had going. In the end, my wife Melissa chose it. She said both you guys have beards so name it Long Beard. Then she looked at us with that “Duh” moment shaking her head. Simple as that.
Do you have an idea of where you want your brewery to be?
We are actively looking for a location in Riverhead. We feel, right now, it is our best option for a number of reasons. The first is it’s a destination spot. Riverhead has become a hub for craft beer on Long Island. You can’t argue that. We have done a lot of research and spoken to a lot of people to help make that decision. One of the more important aspects of our brewery will be our tasting room. We want people coming in droves! Being in Riverhead will make that easier. Look what’s going on there! You are in wine country, in a town that is putting effort in revitalizing main street and bringing in much needed business and tourism. The town, itself, is friendlier to our industry, and the beer tours will be always coming in with business. It just makes sense. The other reason is more in the realm of being around the other breweries. My partner Craig, besides our business, is also interning at Long Ireland Beer Co.. After conversations with Dan [Burke] and Greg [Martin of Long Ireland] about the benefits of being out there, Craig was able to convince me. Danny and Greg have been extremely helpful and instrumental in guiding us on the right path during this startup phase. They have been able to provide us with information based on experience rather then theory. To me, that is priceless. So, being close helps. Now, we just need to find the right spot!
You purchased equipment before you had a location. Why in that order?
We started buying equipment last year . Even though we have not found the perfect location yet, we did not want to pass on a few great deals that happened to fall into our laps. We also bartered with another brewery for our mash tun and few other things. We figured less things to worry about later on down the road.
Have you thought about what about what you’ll be brewing?
We have a lot of great ideas and plans for our brews. In the beginning, we will be concentrating on our flagships. These, in our opinion, will be the main sellers and revenue producers in the long run. So, in the beginning will be our 90-min IPA and pale ale. For the first year, that will be the main production. We also have a milk stout and abbey weizen that will get placed into the mix from time to time. With that said, we do plan on releasing something special as a brewery release that will be in conjunction with our grand opening. A limited run. I’m actually very excited to work on this and can’t wait for the end product. We take pride in what we make and do not want to flood the market with twenty okay beers just to get a new product on the shelf every other month. We will perfect what we have and make sure quality is put in front of all else. When we are sure it is the best, only then we will bring it to the masses.
Are you going to be at any future events this year?
As far as future events, we do not plan on doing any until we are licensed. We would love to participate and get our beer and name out further, but in a way that is beneficial to us. Now, I understand these events are the best forum to showcase your company and product, but the way I have to look at it right now is from a business perspective. There is a cost to doing these events. Entry costs, product costs, transportation…, etc. It all mounts up. I could have the best beer, and everyone that tries it loves it. At the end of the day, there is no way to bring it to market yet. So, that great beer that everyone loved can’t be sold to them. We, at this stage, are a company that only has expenses. No revenue yet. The shows for us would be just lost money. Also, we are in the middle of an offering to bring on investors. Investors like to see money spent well and not show a trend of just needless spending. I want to be able to bring our brand to all. If there are no funds, I can not do that. However, that is this stage. Once we are licensed it is another story. As soon as operations begin, we will be out there pouring away. I look forward to it.
What makes your beer vision different then the others already on Long Island?
My vision is pretty intense right now. We know what we need to do to make a successful brewery. We have been given great advice and education from people who are doing it in this great business, like Danny and Greg from Long Ireland. Also, Mark from Brewtopia, now the Port Jefferson Hop Shop, has guided and given us a wealth of knowledge on doing great business within the brewery business. We want to put out brews that are going to be creative and packed with every ounce of our brand, but quality. That’s the goal. We want you to taste the pride we put into it. We want it to be about the beer and not the hype. If we can do that and continue to listen to the right people, our kids will have a brewery waiting for them. That’s my vision.