I have some insanely talented friends.
Matthew and Lauri Spitz, proprietors of Fine Liquid Provisions at the incredible Moustache Brewing Co., opened their brewery just over 2 years ago. After a successful Kickstarter Campaign, and a ton of hard work, they opened their brewery and tasting room on Hallett Ave., in Riverhead, NY.
Please see my first Moustache Brewing Company post, A Love Letter…
Matt and Lauri, just after their brewery opened in 2014…
I texted Matt and Lauri on their first day off in a long time (I’m so sorry… Lauri told me how excited she was to watch the Giants game and drink their beer from a can…) to get some information, because I’m a hard-hitting journalist who likes to deliver THE TRUTH. Also, I’m very serious.
According to Matt, they started as a 2BBL (BBL = barrel, which is equal to 31 gallons) brew house, with 5BBL of fermentation capacity. Today, they have a 7BBL brew house and 30BBL of fermantation capacity. The giant steel tanks lining the walls of their space are incredible.
With expanded capacity comes expanded distribution! Just last week, they delivered their beer to three locations in NYC (which, as a big city boy, is VERY exciting), The Jeffrey on 60th St. in Manhattan, Alewife in Long Island City, and Mugs Ale House in Brooklyn. They will be distributing citywide next month, so NYC, prepare yourself. They distribute to venues across Long Island, and even into the Hudson Valley, and just signed on (is that what it’s called?) with Whole Foods, so you’ll be seeing their beer there as well! This is really exciting stuff.
Speaking of really exciting stuff, I stepped into the brewery last week for another amazing milestone. As I stepped through the doors, a massive mobile canning system stood in front of all the glistening, steel fermentation tanks. An assembly line was set up, with Matt and Lauri, Rob, their brewer, Vinessa, who works in their tasting room, and Pete and Jay from Anvil Craft Services (who provided the canning line).
Lauri sent me a text a week earlier, seeing if I wanted to come to visit for their first ever canning venture. They were going to can a fresh batch of Proton Double IPA. This is the first beer in their Atomic Series, which is, as described to me by Rob, and inscribed on the can, “A collection of Double IPAs harnessing the power of new and interesting hops”. This one features Azacca, Simcoe, and Lemondrop. Matt poured me a small taste (it doesn’t get any fresher) and I was overcome with dreams of tropical citrus fruits dancing in my head, while driving past gorgeous towering pine trees, balanced by some really nice malt sweetness. Is it possible to be transported to both a tropical island and the Pacific Northwest in one sip? Yeah, it’s possible.
Another writer came by the brewery from North Fork magazine, and because of my hard-hitting, guerilla-style journalism, I was able to hide under a table (not really) and hear Rob describe Proton as a “mango bomb”. What’s funny about that, is, about 45 minutes earlier, the Fed Ex guy showed up, and said “smells like mango in here.” (The smell from the hops was absolutely permeating the brewery). This was out of Rob’s earshot. So, boom, guys, you’ve nailed it. Put that one in the books.
My goal at first was just to stay out of everybody’s way. I didn’t want to trip over someone, or comically slip on a banana peel that seemingly came out of nowhere, knocking over the entire pallet of empty cans, only to raise my head out of the rubble and have a can that (inexplicably) still had air time come crashing down onto my head, followed by cartoon birds tweeting and flying in circles around me. (I like cartoons.)
The canning process goes like this: the cans get sanitized and lined up, and fed towards the filling station, where two cans can be filled at once. Those cans are passed to the next person where they get a top, and then seamed, and then passed through a car wash-esque shower to rinse them off, they’re then picked up, dried, and put on a conveyer belt to be put through the labeler (WHICH IS SO COOL), then down another conveyer where they are picked up, weighed for quality control, and put into those really cool new black plastic 4-pack can fun time party holders of America (patent pending on that name I just gave them).
Click the link below to see a video of the Canning Line!
As the day progressed, I chatted with Lauri, Matt, and Rob about how excited I was for them, how excited they were to be canning, their new distribution, and what’s next (be on the lookout for their Cream Ale, Lawn, to be available in cans soon!!). By about lunch time, (PIZZA) some extra hands were needed on the canning line, so everybody started rotating positions. I stayed away from the actual filling and crimping of the cans, (leave that to the professionals), but I switched back and forth between drying the cans and feeding them into THE LABELER (I love the labeler. Can you tell? It labels things. OK?) and weighing, sorting the beer into 4-packs, and into cases (which hold 24 beers).
I will never look at a can of beer the same way again. Seeing the hard work that everyone was putting in, seeing the love and passion that Matt and Lauri (and Rob and Vinessa) have for their craft, and the love and dedication Pete has to the quality and craftsmanship of his system, setting up the night before, and working alongside the Moustache Brewing Co. crew from 7am (I rolled in at 10, because, you know, traffic…), until 6pm when all 120 or so cases were packed up and ready to be sold.
This is not easy work. This is back breaking, heavy lifting, hard, sometimes monotonous labor, I smashed my head and lip once, and I wouldn’t have traded a second of it, because I helped my friends turn something they created (using their mind grapes!) into something tangible, something real, something real good, something smooth, something tropical, something piney, something in a can. And those cans will be gone and probably drank within a week. And that’s cool.
Until next time.