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NYT: “Staten Island Gets a Craft Brewery of Its Own”

We’re so stoked about this! Flag Ship Brewing Co. in Staten Island is open, and the New York Times did a great piece on them. Here’s a blurb:

As the craft-beer festival wore on and beer flowed, guests offered uninhibited opinions on Staten Island’s arrival in the community. Justin McNeil, a Staten Islander, paused at the Flagship table to sample the beer. “This is going to be the Brooklyn Brewery of Staten Island,” he said with the unassailable logic that can emerge after several hours at a craft-beer fest.

“Besides our parks and the Wu-Tang Clan,” he added, “we don’t have anything.”

Sam Forman, 24, saw irony in the brewery’s branding. “I’m not shocked Staten Island is the last to enter the craft beer market,” Mr. Forman said. “I’m from Manhattan. I carry all those prejudices.”

“I think for them to call themselves the forgotten borough is not entirely fair,” he added, suggesting that the stereotypes were partly self-inflicted. “This is a borough that wanted to secede.”

One sunny day in March, the Flagship team was busy finishing the brewing space, which is housed in a former car dealership on an industrial street one train stop from the ferry’s arrival dock. Imposing 930-gallon stainless-steel fermentation tanks were in place. The first batches of beer would be ready in a few weeks. Work was still required on the public tasting room, which abuts the brewery.

Flagship’s chief executive, John Gordon, mused on the brewery’s motto. “Millions of tourists come here every day, but none of them ever leave the ferry,” he said. “I ride it and I hear them say: ‘We’re not getting off here. There’s nothing to do on Staten Island.’ ”

Matthew McGinley, who manages sales, nodded in agreement. “It stings,” he said.

“It’s always been like that,” Mr. Gordon continued. “The ‘forgotten borough.’ Ever since I was a kid.”

Mr. Sykes, Mr. Gordon and Mr. McGinley have been friends since childhood, all raised in the West Brighton area. (Only Flagship’s brewer, Patrick Morse, is not an island native, hailing from Maine.) As young men, they shared an early interest in beer. (“John and I were home-brewing in his parent’s backyard,” Mr. Sykes said.) Mr. McGinley and Mr. Sykes ended up entering the industry, working for a company that distributes brands like Guinness, Heineken and Brooklyn beer; Mr. Gordon got a job in finance.

In 2013, the three men decided to pursue the idea of a local craft brewery. Mr. Sykes got the ferry tattoo on his arm five months ago, to mark the point of no return.

The success of Brooklyn Brewery, which pioneered New York’s current craft beer industry a quarter-century ago, looms over Flagship. “I think it’s very difficult whether a brand is going to take hold in the market, there are just so many factors,” said Steve Hindy, one of Brooklyn Brewery’s founders. “But a sense of place is a pretty good place to start, particularly for a city like New York.”

Check out the rest of at the article here.

By Nick Whitmer

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