Hey fans of Blue Point Brewery, in the words of Bob Marley “Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing gonna be alright.”
This past Saturday, Blue Point held its 10th Annual Cask Ales Festival, a wildly popular love fest for craft beer conditioned in small casks called firkins — something rather unique to the brewery. Prior to the ceremonial tapping of the first cask, Blue Point founders Mark Burford and Pete Cotter held a very informal meet and greet with representatives from Anheuser-Busch InBev, new owners of the brewery.
In quintessential laid-back Blue Point style, the meeting was held in the brewery’s tasting room and beer was served as Burford and Cotter introduced the group to Goose Island Brewery’s CEO, Andrew Goeler. Goose Island was purchased by A-B InBev in 2011 and Goeler is overseeing the A-B InBev/Blue Point transition.
Any and all fears of a mega-corporation coming into town, buying up and in turn, ruining our beloved Blue Point Brewery were dashed by the ever-so-relaxed and straightforward dynamic between Burford, Cotter and Goeler. In an upbeat Q&A, the three men discussed the future of Blue Point as best they could, considering the ink on the deal was barely dry. The bottom line takeaway is Blue Point fans will have “more of the same, and take that up a notch,” said Cotter. Goeler expanded on that, “any changes will only enable these guys to make more of their great beer.” Blue Point will be able to take advantage of the capital behind A-B InBev and its distribution. There is talk of expanding their facilities here on Long Island. “We are still peeling back the onion, but it’s pretty amazing,” added Burford. “More opportunities and budget means more creativity on the brewing side. We are looking at expanding our firkin program. We are just beginning the planning stage. We are going to make a lot more beer.”
Goeler, when queried about what brought Blue Point Brewery to the attention of the folks at A-B InBev, didn’t hesitate for a second. “The people and the culture of Blue Point Brewery,” he said. “Blue Point means something to the consumers. There is an incredible lifestyle on Long Island that connects people to Blue Point. There is something that is really cool about Long Island that people want to know about. Craft consumers want to know the story behind the beer. We love the vibe, the culture, the rawness, the way they built the brands. Passionate and raw — this is the essence of a great brand. Passion is what makes beer people great.”
In addition, Goeler has a clear appreciation for the iconic Blue Point name and its historical connection to our shellfish industry, “This is an amazing location. Wouldn’t it great to build out the tasting room and make this a destination? Blue Point beer and Blue Point oysters; the possibilities are exciting,” he said. Goeler told a story of a colleague in St. Louis who was amazed that one could go from beautiful beaches to the greatest city in the world within an hour. “The guy’s comment at the end of our conversation was ‘You know, it seems like what Kirin is to sushi bars, Blue Point is to seafood restaurants’, and you know what, he is absolutely right. The Blue Point name transcends.”
When asked about the social media frenzy after the deal with A-B InBev was announced in February, Goeler went right back to his passion theme. “I love the passion of Blue Point fans. If we didn’t think anyone was going to care, then we wouldn’t have cared or been interested.” Burford added, “we knew the reaction was coming. We will win them back with beer. Nothing has changed or is changing. We are still here. The beer is still here. Let’s go.”
Meanwhile nearly 1,000 cask ale fanatics were gathering under the tents. The Northport Pipe and Drum Band was tuning up, and it was time for the ceremonial tapping of the cask. Yes, Blue Point Brewery has been taken up a notch, but it is still our Blue Point Brewery. “Every little thing gonna be alright.”