This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper. Read more about #EverythingEastEnd here
Less than a quarter-mile away from the Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton, and under 10 minutes from Main Street, sits a blonde waiting to be greeted. I’m talking about the Beach Blonde Ale from Westhampton Beach Brewing Company on tap alongside seven others to try.
The brewery was established in 2016, with an official opening on July 1, 2018. Longtime friends Brian Sckipp and John Salvaggio teamed up with Kathleen Tedesco and their brewer Dave DeTurris. Sckipp and Salvaggio grew up together in Kings Park before working together in the wine business, where they met Tedesco, a customer at the time, and who later introduced them to DeTurris. It all ‘hoppened’ rather organically.
The brewery and tasting room sit in a 3500-square-foot industrial building in the up-and-coming Hampton Business District, and includes an outdoor seating area for 45 people. It’s situated away from any residential properties and off Route 27’s exit 63, near Riverhead, making it a convenient drive for both the North and South forks.
“I think the best part has been the welcome we received from the local people. We were open for maybe four weeks and every restaurant in town had us on tap,” said Sckipp. “Now that the South Fork and the North Fork are truly opening up, we feel like this is going to be a great opportunity for people to taste the beer and get to know who we are.”
Walk through the brewery company’s doors to sky-high ceilings and decor paying homage to both Westhampton’s beach life and aerodynamic history. Unique airplane bar hooks and shelves, with a personalized autographed photo of Francis Gabreski himself during World War II, and bolted steel and leather couches, all surround the shiplap walls and bar. What sets the tone upon walking in is the logo, a surfboard stating “Every Day’s A Beach Day.”
Salvaggio said, “The beer industry lends itself to variety. Others who come to us love their favorites but they want to try our favorites too.” The company manages its distribution; each beer is canned on property with its own canning machine. Sckipp and Salvaggio do the sales themselves, knocking door to door. To date, they have successfully landed their hops in 100 locations between Montauk and Manhattan.
“We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from the people we’ve been dealing with. The opportunity that presents itself we’ve been taking advantage and enjoying it,” added Salvaggio.
Notable tap options include a Hampton Pumpkin Ale, for those wanting pumpkin year-round, and an Irish Eyes Cream Stout made with Netties Country Bakery brownies. Be on the lookout in the next two weeks for the new German-Style Maibock and the company’s first New England Style IPA. Come summer will be a strawberry blonde ale sourced with local strawberries. Currently, the brewery makes approximately 1500 barrels annually but with plenty of room for growth; the company has a five to 10-year projection of 8000 to 9000 barrels.
Tedesco said its customers were “excited to have a new business in the area that they thought would draw people to the town to see all we love about it here.”
As the fanbase continues to grow, so does the inventive Mug Club. For a $100 annual fee, craft-beer lovers receive a 22-ounce, ocean-blue mug that can be used on property each time. After 12 fill-ups, it essentially pays for itself and by the year’s end, makes a great keepsake of all the memories made, such as the $5 mugs every Tuesday and $1 off mugs every Sunday. The club plans to expand to involve social events that extend to bars and restaurants as a way to introduce members to new hospitality locations.