A local couple is starting a brewery in Hicksville.
Bryan and Kristine Murphy are planning to open Barnshed Brewing only a few miles from their home in Bethpage, after raising over $15,000 on Kickstarter earlier this month. They successfully used the online crowdfunding platform, a popular tool among brewers (including locally) to raise start-up money for new businesses or purchase new equipment to expand existing operations, in hopes of turning their hobby into a viable career.
The couple, led by Bryan’s six years of brewing experience, currently makes beers like Pineapple Express, a hefeweizen dosed with the namesake tropical fruit, from a tall barn-style shed in their backyard. As members of The Handgrenades Homebrew and Craft Beer Club, they’ve served their developing offerings at local events like the Westbury Music Festival. Their next appearance will be the Long Island Craft Classic at East Islip’s Heckscher Park this Saturday, August 6.
We recently chatted with the Murphys to learn more about their decision to open a brewery and their plans for Barnshed, including when they hope to start making beer.
Edible Long Island: You’re married and opening a brewery together, so presumably beer was somehow involved in how you met.
Bryan Murphy: We actually met while I was working. I’m a fireman in Queens, going on nine years, and my house got called to a fire next to Kristine’s building while she was having boozy brunch with her friends. I guess you can say “sparks flew.”
Kristine Murphy: Sure. [Laughs.] You know, I didn’t even like beer when we met. But I got the taste from taking him to so many beer festivals; I couldn’t let him have all the fun. Plus, I knew right away that if I wanted to hang with his family I had to step up my game.
BM: I’m from a big Irish Catholic family, one of seven kids, so there’s always a lot of drinking at our family gatherings.
ELI: Bryan, when did you start homebrewing?
BM: It was in 2010, after a failed attempt at making wine. And Kristine has been helping me for the last two years when she’s not at work.
ELI: What kinds of beer do you like to make? Is it similar to what you like to drink?
BM: I like to dabble in a little bit of everything. I don’t discriminate or focus on any one style.
ELI: Have any specific beers or breweries influenced you over the years?
BM: My family has a cabin near Ommegang in upstate New York. They really put craft beer on the map for me and introduced me to Belgian-style beer. It showed there was a huge market other than the commercial lagers.
ELI: You’re both members of Homebrews and Handgrenades‘ homebrew club.
BM: Kristine really pushed me to come out of my comfort zone when it came to joining. I had always done research and brewed on my own. But when we decided to turn things into more than a hobby, we knew we wanted to be surrounded by people that loved doing it as much as usual.
KM: We only joined a few months ago and it already feels like this little family. Everyone’s so close, everyone bounces ideas off each other and everyone helps each other out.
BM: Pete [Tripp, Homebrew and Handgrenades’ owner] is a great guy and he’s incredibly knowledgeable. We’ve gotten a lot of ingredients from the shop.
KM: He also hosts a style class about every month where you can learn about the judging guidelines, and you sample beers that fit into that specific category. It’s been a great learning experience.
ELI: When did you decide to start a brewery? Was there a specific moment or event that prompted it?
KM: We were given an opportunity to purchase used equipment from a nearby brewer; he was upgrading. So it felt like the perfect opportunity.
ELI: You used Kickstarter to raise start-up money for the brewery and surpassed your campaign’s goal by over $6,000. How did that feel?
KM: It was all a very positive experience. Everyone we know has shown support, and we’ve met a lot of new people that are really excited to have brewery in the area.
ELI: Long Island’s brewing community is bigger than ever, and local beer drinkers have a lot of choices. What will make Barnshed unique?
KM: We’re really lucky to be in a high-traffic area and centrally located to Bethpage, Hicksville and Levittown. Our goal is for people to feel at home in our tasting room. So stopping by for a pint or growler fill will feel less like a chore and more like a necessary pitstop.
BM: You really can’t compete with fresh beer served right where it was made.
ELI: You’ve been pouring a lot of different homebrews at local events. Do you have any finalized recipes for the brewery?
BM: We made a beer called Bethpage Black IPA for the national conference of the American Homebrewer’s Association back in June and hope to have that in our rotation.
KM: As a farm brewery we’ll be sourcing a large portion of our ingredients locally from New York State farms.
ELI: How far along are you in the licensing process?
KM: As of now that we have our federal and state licenses submitted, so we’re just waiting for approval. But we did just receive the go-ahead from the town to pull permits on the space build-out!
ELI: Congratulations! Can you tell us about the facility?
BM: We got incredibly lucky on the space. It’s in a small warehouse off Route 107 on the border of Bethpage and Hicksville, less than two miles from our house and where I grew up.
ELI: How do you visualize the layout?
BM: We’re starting with a one-barrel system, which is really small, but we felt it would be a good starting point. For the tasting room, we’re thinking a rustic vibe. Barn-ish—
KM: Southern charm!
ELI: The final question: When do you expect to be open and making beer?
BM: That’s the hardest question to answer! We have our sights set on next spring, but we’re praying it can happen sooner.
This interview has been edited and condensed.