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Blue Point brewery is only 'couple of weeks' from launching: co-founder

Mark Burford, co-founder of Blue Point Brewing Company,

Mark Burford, co-founder of Blue Point Brewing Company, speaks during a networking event hosted by the Long Island Chapter of Alliance of Merger & Acquisition Advisors, on April 11 at Carlyle at the Palace in Plainview. Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Blue Point Brewing Co. is only a couple of weeks away from launching operations at its larger, state-of-the-art brewery in Patchogue, a sort of "Disneyland for adults," said Mark Burford, co-founder of the Long Island-based brewer.

Plans for the new $35 million brewery, announced early last year, called for the redevelopment of the former Briarcliffe College campus along West Main Street into a roughly 53,000-square-foot brewery, according to Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency documents. 

In addition to a second-floor catwalk that will give visitors an opportunity to tour the facility, a portion of the second floor is to be used as a tasting room and restaurant with glass walls giving guests views of the brewing operation and Great Patchogue Lake. Additionally, a piece of the property's 485-car parking lot is to be transformed into a green space and outdoor beer garden.

Burford, who started the Island-based beer maker in 1998 with co-founder Peter Cotter, gave the update Wednesday evening at a fireside chat hosted by the Long Island chapter of the Alliance of Merger & Acquisition Advisors. Fielding questions from attendees, the former brewmaster, who is now an adviser to the Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned craft beer company, talked about the struggles of the business before its acquisition.

“We were extraordinarily underfunded,” said Burford, whose company was sold in 2014. Pressed for financing, the company twice turned to family, friends and supporters for backing in the form of equity offerings written down on napkins and paper plates, he said.

“That’s how we raised the money; paper plates and paper napkins,” Burford said.

He said the decision to sell was borne out of a desire to determine the worth of the closely held company, which, in turn, led to offers from hedge funds and eventually AB InBev.

The nearly yearlong negotiation that led to Blue Point's sale was “extraordinarily stressful” and at times “a long drawn-out process,” Burford said. Initially, there were concerns that the sale could result in changes in the quality of its beers, including its flagship Toasted Lager.

During early test brews, Burford said AB InBev went through nearly 10 iterations until supply chain changes were made to make the beer taste like the original. Given the company's resources quality control measures, the beer tastes "better now," he said. 

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