We love the story of St. John Brewers. It all starts with two friends in their 20s deciding to leave their jobs and go live the shorts and t-shirt island life on St. John, which is the kind of thing most people just dream about at work while sitting at their desks. But these guys actually did it! What was supposed to be just six months turned into a permanent relocation to paradise. Oh yeah, and with a brewing company thrown in for good measure.
Chirag “Cheech” Vyas and Kevin Chipman had been college roommates and buddies at the University of Vermont. While Cheech was working for NASA as a scientist, and Kevin as a physical therapist, they quit and left to hang out in St. John. At first they rented an old sailboat with the money they earned from bussing tables. Conditions were primitive, with no electricity and only ice on which to store food. Eventually they moved up to tending bar and found an apartment, and life on the island was great. Everything, that is, except the locally available beer, which was bland and boring – an unacceptable situation for these native New Englanders.
In 2001, after a quick trip to the public library to use the internet, they bought a homebrew kit for fifty bucks and soon were making their own craft beer in their apartment. It wasn’t until around 2004, when they had dialed in their recipe for Mango Pale Ale, that the idea of a brewing company began to seem realistic. Realizing there was a niche for locally-produced beer, Vyas and Chipman started brewing on a larger scale, perfecting recipes, and testing the market with their friends. After hiring a bottling company, they picked up their first loads of beer in their Toyota pickup and began distributing it themselves around the islands.
Now with a distribution company, St. Johns Brewers’ beers can be found in seven US states, Puerto Rico, and of course, the Virgin Islands. Their “Tap Room” brewpub is located at Cruz Bay in St. John and offers the largest selection of craft beer in the Caribbean.
For more information, call the Tap Room at (340) 998-1333.