After , Long Ireland Beer Company co-owners Greg Martin and Dan Burke check yet another, and a big, "to-do" off their list on Friday when they open up their tasting room doors to the public.
Over the past eight months, the microbrewers have pulled double duty, working toward opening the Pulaski Street facility and growing their existing business. Burke conservatively estimates that Long Ireland has increased its accounts by about 40 percent in that time.
But work still remains to be done.
The business partners, who established Long Ireland in 2009 after working in the oil burning business together for a handful of years and home brewing on the side, recently spoke with Patch about what got them this far, how it feels to open their doors, and what they have planned for the future.
Patch: What were some of the challenges getting to this point?
Greg Martin: Not enough hours in the day (laughs). Everything took about twice as long and cost twice as much as we hoped. I wouldn't say there was one thing in particular that held us up.
But most businesses open the business, and then they're open. We've been still operating a day-to-day business while trying to open this.
But I don't think we would have been able to do it any other way. It's not like we're two rich kids who said, "Hey, let's open a brewery." (laughs). We didn't have any money and we both have families, so for us to go to a bank or an investor with something tangible was the only way we could do it.
Dan Burke: To balance between starting, getting the building completed, and keeping the day-to-day operations of the beer company in forward motion was hard. It's like running two separate businesses concurrently.
Patch: How about on the building side? Creating a brewery from scratch in an empty warehouse can't be easy.
DB: The infrastructure of the building was part of the challenge I'd say.
Looking back, we probably could have done a little more homework as far as our sewer connection goes. But when you're leasing a building, and starting a new business, you say "is the sewer connected? OK" You have a list of 500 things to do and sometimes you don't check things as closely as you should. We also had a huge electrical service, only to find out that it wasn't the correct voltage our equipment uses. So that was another thing.
Patch: How does it feel to be able to open the tasting room to the public?
DB: It's great to take an empty building and put all your effort into it and see it evolve. This will always be a project in motion, things are constantly being improved upon. My nature is to make things bigger, better, faster, more.
But producing our own beer here was a milestone. We're ready to open to the public. That's a milestone. Now we'll be honing our recipes until they are what we consider to be perfect. And we can start working on new projects – whether it's packaging and bottling one day, or coming up with new recipes ... I'd like to work on a rye-flavored beer.
GM: Oh, I'm excited. But there's always something. Like we went to order growlers for the tasting room and there must be one manufacturer or something, because all brown growlers are on back order until September. So we went with clear ones.
Patch: What will be the hours at the tasting room? And what will be on tap?
GM: Thursday and Friday we'll be open 3-7, and Saturday, 1-6. We'll have the Celtic Ale, Pale Ale, Breakfast Stout, and Raspberry Wheat.
Patch: And on Sunday you'll rest?