The North Fork - and beyond - could be getting more beer.
announced on Monday that it plans to close on purchasing the Lucas Ford building and the surrounding property in Peconic next spring, in time quadrupling its output, adding a bottling operation, growing more of its own hops and ultimately adding the first outdoor beer tasting facility on the North Fork.
The Greenport facility will remain open — there are no plans to close it — cautioned co-owner Rich Vandenburgh. Vandenburgh added that he and partner John Liegey hope to use the Carpenter Street space in Greenport for an apprenticeship program, "giving those interested in breaking into the business an opportunity to learn."
The brewery opened in the summer of 2009 after renovating an old firehouse one block from Greenport Village's Main Street. The location right off the main drag and its distinction as the North Fork's first homegrown craft brewery (Riverhead's Long Ireland ) allowed for rapid growth, despite the down economy. According to the Brewers Association, retail sales in the craft brewing industry jumped 12 percent in 2010.
However, the decision to expand relatively soon for the new business came as a surprise even to Vandenburgh.
"I never thought it would be this quick, and we constantly second-guess ourselves that it is the right move, but we do know that we are going to max out on production by the end of next year," he said, referring to the brewery's ability to keep up with demand. Vandenburgh said he's been "sounding the alarm bells" and after discussing it with his partner, they decided the increase in space was necessary.
The Peconic location is just under three acres, and the building itself is 13,000 square feet. The increased space will allow to production of up to 25,000 barrels, four times its current amount — even after the brewers . More space and beer also means more employees, Vandenburgh said, as he foresees a doubling of his current workforce of 13.
Vandenburgh said he's hoping the expansion will be up and running by 2013 following a spring closing.