Long Ireland Brewing Company has signed a distribution contract this week with Clare Rose, the largest beer distributor in Suffolk and Nassau counties, The Suffolk Times has learned.
Long Ireland will still brew its own beers in its Riverhead headquarters, but will hand over distribution and marketing responsibilities to Clare Rose.
Before the agreement, Long Ireland, whose trademark brew is the Celtic Ale, used a single driver to transport its beer to restaurants and stores. Now that driver will join the brewery as a full-time assistant, allowing the company to focus on making beer.
The brewery is currently stocking up the Clare Rose warehouses, which will begin distribution on March 1. Clare Rose will also create signs and buy glassware and beer tap handles to market the brand.
“Watching these guys evolve in their brewery…we are very excited about this,” said Clare Rose craft beer representative Ryan Niebuhr. “We’re partnering with great local people to get great local beer.”
“Their backyard is shored up for them,” Mr. Niebuhr said, adding that Blue Point Brewing Company, based in Patchogue, became the largest craft brewery on Long Island after teaming up with Clare Rose. Long Ireland is the third Long Island craft beer the company distributes, he said.
Long Ireland began as a hobby for co-owners Greg Martin and Dan Burke, both of Shoreham. The two worked together at Marran Oil in Holtsville, where they discovered they both shared a love for home brewing.
They started by brewing their first craft beer, Celtic Ale, after work. After selling their first kegs out of a Connecticut brewery in 2009, about 250 bars and restaurants currently stock the company’s Riverhead-brewed beer, including a new Double India Pale Ale.
With the new contract, their reach will only become larger. Clare Rose will handle the brewery’s Long Island distribution, and said they will use relationships within the industry to get Long Ireland beers into more bars, restaurants, and stores than ever before.
Still, Mr. Martin hasn’t had time to reflect on Long Ireland’s success. He’s too busy making beer, he said.
“It’s bizarre at moments,” Mr. Martin said. “We don’t take a lot of time to sit back and see the gravity of things. We keep our head down and we keep working.”