Photography: Mike Shane Photography
Top left photo from left to right is co owner Jay Sykes,
co owner John Gordon, Head Brewer Patrick Morse
and co owner Matt McGinley
Home brewing starts with a few pots and pans on a stove, as it did with Flagship Brewery, but when the idea was tapped about reviving a once booming beer industry to Staten Island, John Gordon, Jay Sykes and Matt McGinley started looking into the logistics of starting the first craft microbrewery in years.
“Looking into a microbrewery was a gradual progression that just built upon itself,” says John Gordon, CEO and President of Flagship Brewery, “it began with a portable burner in my parents’ backyard and a stove in Jay’s apartment.”
Lifelong friends and neighbors, Gordon and Sykes started the passion of home brewing as a bonding experience, where conversation ranged from catching up on their day jobs and their families all the way to sales aspects of the beer industry and how a microbrewery could be a viable business on Staten Island.
“We started just by reading about brewing beer, and then it became researching and business planning,” explains Gordon.
Gordon and Sykes attended small business workshops provided by the St. George branch of the New York Public Library (NYPL) that sparked the research into gathering statistical and demographic market research of Staten Island.
“The workshop provided statistical data and information on Staten Island demographics – including income analysis and market data, “ explains Gordon, “and it showed and supported our hypothesis that there was indeed a market for a microbrewery on Staten Island.”
So, with the help of small business programs available to Staten Islanders, such as the Small Business Development Center located within the College of Staten Island (CSI), the business plan for a brewery began to write itself.
Matt McGinley, who grew up in a West Brighton house behind Gordon and Sykes, has always been intrigued with craft beer and knew Staten Island was ready for a microbrewery.
“I’ve talked about opening a brewery on Staten Island for about two years with Jay,” McGinley, Director of Sales for the brewery reveals, “we were both working in the beer distribution industry at the time, and when I heard they were drafting up a business plan, I was intrigued.”
With the St. George neighborhood revitalization project in progress, the trio jumped at the chance to join in with the transformation.
“We hope to be the centerpiece of this transformation by providing a place for people to drink quality local beer,” McGinley explains, “and we hope it catches on throughout the city
Flagship Brewery will have a production capacity is a 3,600 barrel per year brewing facility. The Brewer’s Association defines a microbrewery as a brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels of beer per year with 75% or more of its beer sold off-site, which classifies Flagship Brewery as a microbrewery in the craft beer industry.
Flagship Brewery will have with three brews to introduce. An American Wit, an American Pale Ale, and a Dark Mild.
“We want to have styles that introduce beer to people who may not necessarily like craft beer,” explains Sykes, “and our American Wit is our way of taking the local palette into consideration.”
Sykes explains the American Wit is brewed in the Belgium Wit Style. “We are using American hops, yeast and water, so the style no longer becomes a Belgium Wit, but now an American Wit,” explains Sykes.
The style of the American Pale Ale is a style that the business partners all personally enjoy. “The American Pale Ale is not as hoppy as the average IPA, and I think people want that type of beer available to them, it’s more in the craft beer drinkers’ world.”
The Dark Mild brew is exactly what it sounds like - it’s dark and color and on the lower end of calorie and alcohol content than the American Wit and Pale Ale.
Along with the three signature beers, Flagship Brewing Company also plans to do four seasonal beers. The summer ale named “America’s Pastime” will be featured in Staten Island Yankees Stadium and around New York City throughout summer 2014.
Article and information by Cara Liander
The Flagship Brewing Company
38-40 Minthorne Street
Staten Island, NY 10301
Phone: (718) 448-5284