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Long Island is home to more than 130 craft beverage makers, state report says

Moustache Brewing Co. in Riverhead is among Long

Moustache Brewing Co. in Riverhead is among Long Island's 131 craft beverage makers. Credit: Moustache Brewing Co./Fred Langstaff

Long Island is home to more than 130 craft manufacturers of wine, beer, spirits and hard cider, putting it in third place statewide for the most craft beverage makers, according to state data released Thursday.

Nassau and Suffolk counties came out ahead of neighboring New York City — the Island with 131 makers of alcoholic craft beverages and New York City with 84. The Finger Lakes and Hudson Valley regions took the two tops spots with 178 and 153 manufacturers, respectively.

Tourism on Long Island has been a beneficiary of the growth in craft beverages, said Jamie Claudio, vice president of marketing and sales for Discover Long Island, the region's chief tourism promoter.

"Craft beverage tourism is a real thing," Claudio said, adding that as visitors come to try the Island's wine and beer offerings, they spend money on other services such as lodging, restaurants and other attractions. Ultimately, she said, that impact encourages others to open up new businesses to capture that demand.

"When you get a higher number of people visiting, you get a higher number of businesses opening," Claudio said.

New York State is now home to 1,005 craft beverage manufacturers, which include wineries, breweries, distillers and hard cider makers, the governor’s office said. More than 530 craft manufacturers have set up shop since Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo hosted the state’s first Beer, Wine, Spirits and Cider Summit in 2012.

“The growth of New York’s craft beverage industry continues to boost local economies throughout the entire state,” Cuomo said in a statement. “By working to remove barriers to expansion, we have helped foster new opportunities for small businesses and will continue to support breweries, wineries, cideries and distilleries as they develop their brands, create new jobs and drive tourism all over New York."

Nationally, the state now ranks first in the number of hard cider makers, second in craft distillers, third in breweries and fourth in total wineries, according to the announcement.

Andrew Luberto, former president of Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts and a certified grand master beer judge, described the rise of brewers and other beverage makers as "a boon to the economy."

The growth in craft beverages, particularly beer, has been "unbelievable," he said, and can be mostly credited to state laws allowing tasting rooms.

"Tasting room laws are allowing a lot of small manufacturers to get their foot in the door," Luberto said. "Prior to having tasting rooms, you would have to dump hundreds of thousands of dollars into a brewery" to gain enough exposure to be sold by retailers. Tasting rooms allow brewers to generate revenue on site while they build up operations over time, he said.

Luberto said that while much of the growth has been in beer, other beverage entrepreneurs are taking notice and opening businesses.

"Long Island's first meadery is in the works right now," he said.

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