By JIM MCCUNE //
Enjoy them now, because they grow up so quickly.
We’re talking, in this case, about Riverhead’s award-winning microbrewery, Moustache Brewing Co., which turns 2 on April 30.
If you’re not familiar with the Moustache story, it started back in 2012 when Lauri and Matt Spitz decided to give up their day jobs, launch a KickStarter campaign and pray they’d reach their goal of $30,000.
More than 500 pledges and $31,413 later, the pair started renovating a modest-sized industrial unit on Hallett Street, then hauled in some brewing gear and, in April 2014, joined locals Long Ireland Brewing (Pulaski Street) and Crooked Ladder Brewing (Main Street).
“We didn’t know quite what to expect,” Lauri remembers. “We thought it would be a lot of friends, family and others who had followed us along the way, however the turnout was crazy! There was a line down the street, and people were waiting over an hour to get beer. It was surreal to see that many people we’d never met, supporting us.”
Part of their recipe for success may be hidden in the brewery’s slogan, “Creating top-notch craft beers brewed with passion and love.” Beyond that, Lauri and Matt are just cool people. And people love buying beer from cool people, especially when the beer is delicious. And that’s pretty much what we have here.
Riverhead is becoming something of a hotbed for craft brewing, with additional breweries on the way. Long Beard Brewing Company (opening soon) and Twin Forks Brewing (already on some local taps) are the newest to the Riverhead scene and, cosmically, part of a much larger, international craft beer movement.
There are now more than 4,200 U.S. breweries in operation – the previous high-water mark was 4,131, set in 1873 – and 99 percent of them are small and independent.
And it’s not just breweries. Riverhead and the general vicinity are home to multiple farms that grow and sell fresh hops, one of the main ingredients of all beer but especially important to craft brews, which use more hops, in different ways and at multiple times throughout the brewing process.
Riverhead is also home to other beer-related firms, including Brew Crew Cycles, which offers tours and transport using a 14-passenger bike. The town also features a multitude of craft beer events and festivals, like the East End Craft Beer Festival at Hotel Indigo in May, the Rivercraft Beverage festival in July and the North Fork Craft Beer Festival in August.
“There’s such a sense of community out here that I love,” Matt said. “Also, being in the company of so many other artisans on the East End really encourages collaboration and innovation. I see Riverhead only getting more revitalized as this culture continues.”
Moustache Brewing expanded its production capabilities last year, adding two seven-barrel fermenters in an attempt to stay abreast of demand.
“We can’t seem to keep up with production,” Lauri lamented. “We have a 15-barrel fermenter and a 15-barrel brite storage tank on order that should be arriving soon. We’re ordering a seven-barrel brewhouse and looking into possibly getting a small canning rig very soon, too.”
As you can probably imagine – them owning a brewery and all – Lauri and Matt know how to throw a party. The company’s second birthday fete is set for April 30 from 1 to 7 p.m. at Polish Park, just across from the brewery. Live music, food trucks and a photo booth are on tap, along with fresh, handcrafted Moustache beers, of course. They’ll also be tapping one-off casks throughout the day and staging the annual public-shaving of Matt’s rally beard.
“We can’t believe it’s two years already and can’t wait to celebrate with everyone who has supported us,” he said.
For more information and tickets ($10 and $25), go here.
McCune is director of the Craft Beverage Division of Melville-based EGC Group. Reach him via firstname.lastname@example.org or at 516-935-4944.