Long Island's first farm brewery, a new type of business that came into existence this year as a result of state legislation, is already here.
Long Ireland Beer Co. in Riverhead, which has been operating as a regular microbrewery since 2011, is one of 14 farm breweries that have been approved this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday. It is also the only one on Long Island, so far.
"There's an economic benefit as far as taxes and licensing fees," said Long Ireland co-founder Greg Martin. "We also wanted to support the local agricultural community." Long Ireland applied for the license five months ago and received its license a couple of weeks ago.
Farm breweries, like farm wineries, are required to use a certain percentage of New York-state grown ingredients in their beer — 20 percent until 2018, going up to 60 percent until 2023 and 90 percent by 2024. They are also able to sell various items besides beer, and run restaurants and shops on their business premises.
Long Ireland, which first started as a contract brewer in 2009, does not yet have any plans to expand its retail selection or open a restaurant, Martin said.
The brewery currently does not meet the 20 percent New York ingredient requirement for its beer, Martin said. He said he cannot find enough available malt barley and hops — two key ingredients in beer making — grown in New York State. Martin said he has not been given a timeline to comply, but is actively looking to introduce more local ingredients into his brews.