Long Island brewery owners come from all different backgrounds but now someone unexpected is looking to get into the game—the government. Babylon Brewery, currently in the early planning stages, will be built and funded by the town of Babylon with some help from the state and federal governments.
Matthew McDonough, chief executive officer of the Babylon Industrial Development Agency, already has a site in mind for the brewery. The building, at 1305 S Strongs Avenue in Copiague, which has been vacant for decades, was scheduled to be condemned on the same day that “Newsday” ran a piece on Blind Bat Brewery struggling to find a location. McDonough and his team drew inspiration from the story and thought they could turn the building into an incubator space for local brewers. “It’s a market failure that these brewers can’t find homes. You’re talking about a $4 billion industry.”
However, Babylon Brewery is not the first to recognize the gap. A Taste of Long Island in Farmingdale has been operating as an incubator brewery for the last year. Owners Jim and Courtney Thompson provide more than just a place to brew, they guide tenants through everything from writing a business plan to applying for licenses. “A lot of people can brew beer but not everybody is an entrpreneuer,” says Jim. “The possibility of it backfiring is there.”
The plan for Babylon Brewery is to outfit the building with enough space for 10 breweries of varying sizes to produce beer and also run their own tasting room. Beyond that, it’s hands off for the government. They’re looking to find a host brewer who will use the space and act as building manager to deal with day-to-day operations.
McDonough hopes that once tenants outgrow the space, they will take over nearby run down buildings and turn the area into a brewery compound of sorts. There are currently no plans to open the incubator space to businesses outside of the brewing industries.
However, none of this will happen without the support of the community. The town of Babylon is currently going door to door to listen to the concerns of residents. “Right away people hear alcohol and they think it’s a bar,” says McDonough. The tasting rooms will not keep bar hours but will offer patrons around 50 beers under one roof. Restaurants and public transportation are nearby.
A representative from Babylon Brewery spoke at the Brewers East End Revival Meeting last night. Stay tuned for updates and check out their Facebook page.