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Blue Point Brewery eyes 2016 for big Patchogue expansion

Blue Point Brewery expansion

Update: Blue Point’s plans were set to go before the Patchogue Village Planning Board on Thursday, March 3, but that hearing was adjourned until March 22 at the request of the applicant.

Original story: Blue Point Brewing Company has always emphasized its connection to Long Island and its waterways.

The brewery itself, which launched in 1998, was built in a shipyard on River Avenue in Patchogue. Its now-iconic logo showcases a navigational buoy, the kind you might find in the nearby bay.

Yet there’s been a conflicting issue for those enjoying their weekends or happy hours at Blue Point: Save for the occasional whiff of salt air, and, of course, a few boats around, you’d be hard-pressed to even know you were actually spending time on the water.

Blue Point’s planned brewery and tasting room expansion seeks to change all that.

“We’re in an old boatyard on the water,” said Mark Hegedus, Blue Point’s president. “It would make a lot of sense for our fans and customers to experience our great beer while they’re also experiencing the water, and all the peace and tranquility [the water] affords us during our busy lives here on Long Island.”

To that end, Blue Point is looking to replace its current tasting room with a brand new one to the east of its current location. It would be along the riverfront and feature full views of the water.

The other component to the expansion plan is to build new brewing, packaging and office operations in an area separate from the tasting room. Those operations would be built closer to River Avenue to the west of the property.

The overall project would amount to some 40,000 square feet in all, roughly double the current space.

The folks at Blue Point hope to begin construction in early 2016.

Above all, business wise, the extra infrastructure would free up the brewers to experiment more, ensuring Blue Point remains at the forefront of the craft beer industry. The existing tanks are being used almost entirely to keep up with the growing demand, Hegedus said.

And demand is growing.

Since Anheuser-Busch InBev — the world’s largest brewers and the makers of Budweiser — took over the Blue Point company last year, production has spiked by 34 percent, he said. The output of Toasted Lager alone, the brewery’s flagship brew, is up about 41 percent, all according to plan. The beer is now being brewed not only in Patchogue, but upstate New York, New Hampshire and Connecticut as well.

“Blue Point has always had a great lineup of beers, and is always coming up with great things,” he said. “But it’s been a struggle to find those windows for creativity, because you’re just trying to keep up with the demand. We’ve maxed out a long time ago.

“So we have to make the brewery larger and much more efficient, this way we can continue to be that innovative brewery that Blue Point has been over the years.”

Hegedus said the company has met with Patchogue Village officials to get a better idea of what would be acceptable and allowable on the property.

The’ve since been tweaking the plans, which are still preliminary.

He said he hopes to get to a formal planning process with the village soon.

As for a possible Blue Point Restaurant, he said that’s not in the plans as of now.

Blue Point’s idea is to recreate that relaxed, boat life vibe the brewery has established in the lot that sits between the hodgepodge of seven buildings it currently uses for brewing, storage and offices. 

The scene in the lot during the warmer months typically consists of a tent, park benches, food trucks and a stage for the bands, which this summer has included some surprise shows from well-known acts like Gin Blossoms and The Blue Oyster Cult.

“Food’s been an integral part of this place, but we’ve never driven that pub type of environment,” Hegedus said. “This has always had a great happy hour, bar feel. It gets the day started, and then our customers go out into the local community.”

“We still plan to take that approach,” he said of the future, much larger tasting room. “We plan to have a little more food facilities for outside catering, or even get some of the local restaurants to come in. Maybe Thursday is Bobbique day or Friday is The Tap Room, or a Flo’s. We want to maintain those relationships.”

But nothing’s been finalized just yet, building wise, he stresses. What won’t change is the basic concept, he said. 

It’s what has made the current brewery such a happening place to begin with.

And that is, “some great beer and music.”

mike@greaterpatchogue.com

Related reading: Inside Anheuser-Busch’s craft beer deals

Photo: Artist rending courtesy of Blue Point Brewing Company

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About the author: Michael White

Michael White is a Bellport resident, longtime newspaper reporter and editor, and the owner of greaterpatchogue.com. Email him your story ideas or tips: mike@greaterpatchogue.com