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May 29, 2019 1:04 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Brewing Co. Sees Substantial Growth In First Year As Owners Balance Two Full-Time Jobs

Co-owner Brian Sckipp came straight from his job as a high school teacher to work at the brewery on Tuesday. ANISAH ABDULLAH
May 31, 2019 2:47 PM

Brian Sckipp and John Salvaggio began their Friday with an early morning beer delivery to Gurney’s Montauk, a little more than an hour drive from their brewery in Westhampton, as they prepared for their first full summer on the East End.

That was just another morning for the owners of Westhampton Beach Brewing Co., who deliver all of their beer themselves to 120 locations throughout Long Island and Manhattan when they aren’t working their other jobs as high school teachers.

“There’s nothing typical about our day. We can, we package, we deliver, we do a little bit of everything. So we’re running the bar, we’re doing the books—you name it, we do it,” Mr. Salvaggio said.

Along with their other co-owner, Kate Tedesco, and their master brewer David DeTurris, a former master brewer at John Harvard’s Brewery and Ale House, the four of them tackle all daily operations to keep the brewery running, like taking turns hand-labeling and packaging every beer can that goes out the door.

“We’re truly a microbrewery still at this point,” Mr. Sckipp added. “It’s very hands-on.”

And now that Memorial Day weekend has unofficially marked the start of summer, they have been stocking up as many places as they can, like grocery stores, resorts, beer distributors and seasonal restaurants and bars.

In only 11 months of being open, the owners expanded their presence from about six nearby locations to 120, going as far as Newport, Rhode Island, where one of the Gurney’s resorts is located. The rapid growth was due in large part to canning their beers just three months after opening.

Locally, their brews are found in nearly every place in Westhampton Beach that sells beer, as well as places farther east like Doran’s in Hampton Bays, Sag Pizza in Sag Harbor and Rowdy Hall in East Hampton.

“We just started carrying them. We carried them a little over the fall and the beer sold out like crazy,” said Eric Silverman, a bartender and server at Margarita Grille in Westhampton Beach. “When it’s the locals, the locals really like the beer. When it’s more of the city people and the tourists that come out, you have to verbally explain who it’s from, what it is.”

Margarita Grille currently has the brewery’s Jetty 4 Lager on tap, and Mr. Silverman said that he sold a lot of it over Memorial Day weekend.

The brewery owners said they were unable to gain as much traction as they would have liked last summer because they opened in the middle of the season and did not start canning their products until October. Many local beach clubs and restaurants set their summer menus in March, so they were too late last year, Mr. Sckipp said in an earlier interview.

But despite missing that opportunity, Mr. Sckipp and Mr. Salvaggio said business has been going very well and they plan to thank their supporters with a first anniversary party next month.

“Most people have been very generous with their praise and with their support,” Mr. Salvaggio said, adding that they appreciate local restaurants taking a chance on them.

Their four signature beers, sold on tap and in cans, pay tribute to the local area. Their Jetty 4 Lager is named after one of the village’s two beaches along Dune Road and their Hurricane IPA is named after the hurricane of 1938, which severely damaged the South Fork. They also sell four seasonal beers to make up their eight selections on tap. They partnered with East End Advertising, based in Center Moriches, for their packaging label and logo designs.

For one of their seasonal beers that was released last month, the Copper Ale, a portion of the proceeds goes toward the Tunnels to Towers Foundation, a charity that supports the military and first responders.

The brewery’s growth within the last year happened while the three owners balanced the time with their other full-time jobs. Mr. Sckipp and Mr. Salvaggio are both high school teachers farther west and Ms. Tedesco works in finance. Because they have other means of income, the brewery’s revenue is reinvested for further growth and production.

“We sacrifice a lot of time right now with our families,” Mr. Sckipp said. “We’re hoping that once we get through this summer, we’ll be able to settle back and maybe hire some more people at the brewery to take the load off of our shoulders.”

Mr. Sckipp and Mr. Salvaggio were two longtime friends from Kings Park and former partners of Sherwood House Vineyards in Jamesport. They often visited the East End growing up and were so drawn to it that they later moved to the area, Mr. Sckipp first and Mr. Salvaggio shortly after.

“We used to frequent here quite often, so it only made sense to have our business out here,” Mr. Sckipp said.

To start this brewery—a business idea they wanted to pursue before entering the wine industry—they partnered with Ms. Tedesco, who was a former customer from their vineyard and lived in East Moriches, and Mr. DeTurris.

The brewery officially opened last July in a 4,800-square-foot rental unit in the Hampton Business District based at the Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton.

The back of the space, which customers can see through a glass wall, is where the beer is brewed, canned, stored and distributed. Four 15-barrel fermenters that line the back room produce about 1,500 barrels of beer a year. A tasting room that can seat about 40 customers operates out of the front of the unit. In the evenings, the brewery hosts live music and “Paint Nite” events for guests.

Much of their clientele for the tasting room are year-round residents and those stationed at the neighboring Air National Guard Base. Unlike other breweries, Westhampton Beach Brewing Co. does not sell food, other than packaged snacks, because the owners said they do not want to disrupt business at local restaurants.

The owners have already made big plans for this summer. Last weekend, they launched their seasonal Strawberry Blonde beer at Nettie’s Country Bakery in Center Moriches during its fifth anniversary event. For upcoming events, in addition to their first anniversary party, they will have a table at the North Meets South farms, food and drink festival in Calverton on June 8 and they will sponsor the Moriches Bay Project’s Oyster Fling taking place on June 29.

If they have a profitable summer, the owners said that they will consider growing their staff and production. They are looking to add four 30-barrel fermenters and other brewing machinery in the near future, likely requiring additional space. Moving to a larger location would not be necessary because the business district where the brewery is located has similar-sized units available for rent.

The district’s developer, Rechler Equity Partners, intentionally left the adjacent unit vacant in case the brewery wanted to expand, Mr. Sckipp said.

Reflecting on what she and her business partners were able to create, Ms. Tedesco said, “It’s very surreal, quite often.”

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