A long, narrow strip of land running about five miles off the southern coast of Long Island, NY, Fire Island is a popular summer destination for urban New Yorkers wishing to cast off both their business suits and the cares of a hectic lifestyle. It’s simultaneously laid back and quirky: no cars are allowed on the island (which is accessible by ferry), numerous whitetailed deer roam the beaches, casual beach and coastal attire is the norm, and residents haul their belongings around in red wagons. The wagons epitomize the care-free nature of the island, its inhabitants, and its visitors; when you go to Fire Island, pack light, take only what you need to relax, and leave all the other accoutrements of your normal life behind.
The history of Fire Island Beer Company goes back to when brothers Tom and Bert Fernandez and their cousin Jeff Glassman were young and spent many summers on the island, eventually becoming the operators of a well-known concession stand at the beach, known as The Shack. It was at this time that Tom took an interest in homebrewing, and in 1999 they served up one of his brews to the patrons of The Shack. The flavorful but easy-going lager was a hit, and The Shack became known as not only a place to grab a tasty bite to eat, but a place to grab a couple tasty, well-crafted brews.
The continued success of their homebrews with the thirsty Fire Island residents and vacationers led Tom, Bert, and Jeff to launch Fire Island Beer Company in 2009 with the goal of delivering a taste of the Island’s care-free attitude throughout the rest of New York and beyond. With the guidance of master brewer Paul McErlean of the Olde Saratoga Brewing Company, they were able to scale up their recipes for much larger batches, and in May of 2009 they released their first beer, Lighthouse Ale, followed by Red Wagon IPA in November of the same year.
Cheers to Tom, Bert, and Jeff for embracing their entrepreneurial spirit to turn their dream into a (very tasty) reality. For more info, visit www.fireislandbeer.com.