STATEN ISLAND — The first Staten Island breweries to make suds in more than 50 years could soon be pouring beer with a distinctive outer-borough flavor — complete with hops grown on the island.
The Staten Island Brewing Company and the Flagship Brewing Company both plan to open local breweries in January.
“I was born and raised on Staten Island myself, so I knew the need for one,” said Jay Sykes, 30, one of the owners of Flagship. “I know what I drink, I know what I like and I wanted to see what other people are into.”
Flagship has just secured the lease on its new home at 215 Bay St., in St. George, after a long search for a spot.
“We want this product here, even if it takes a little bit longer to grow to get a bigger space,” Sykes said.
Jonathan Schulman, 67, owner of Staten Island Brewing Company, said there has been a void of local beer in the borough since the last major brewery closed in the '60s.
“When the last one died and went away in the '60s, it's been kind of a vacuum out here,” he said. “I figured this is where I want to do it.”
While Schulman, a former news assistant for the New York Times and an avid home brewer, has not signed a lease for a space yet, he’s in talks for a spot in Mariners Harbor. He said it’s been tough to find a place zoned for manufacturing, but never thought about leaving Staten Island for his beer.
“I feel that opening a brewery here that’s responsive to the community is a real give-back kind of thing and that's more important than the money,” he said. “That’s why I want to stay right here.”
While many popular brewers — like Sixpoint and Brooklyn Brewery — contract some of their beers to be made in bigger spaces out of the city, both Sykes and Schulman said that all of their beer will be brewed locally.
“We're going to brew every last drop right on Staten Island,” Sykes said.
Sykes even planted hops — which are used for flavor and aroma in beer-brewing — in Silver Lake Parks this week. If the plants grow well, Sykes will use them in his Indian Pale Ale.
When Flagship opens, they will have three beers ready to go. They will start working on getting their homebrew recipes in order with their brew master next week, said Sykes, who currently works for a beer distributor in Brooklyn.
They also plan to bottle beer on location. It will be sold around Staten Island for the first year, then branch out to other locations.
“We want to grow this on Staten Island,” Sykes said. “We think it's the right way to grow it.”
Schulman plans to also have three main beers and also intends to bottle on location.
Though two breweries opening about the same time could be seen as competition, the Staten Island beermakers claim to welcome it.
“I’m sure that the island could support half a dozen breweries,” Schulman said.