Fire Island Beer Co. in Bay Shore (greaterbayshore.com)

By BJ GAMBOA | Long Island’s Greater Bay Shore area is about to receive an infusion of more craft beer goodness with the coming arrival of the Fire Island Beer Company.

Founded in 2009, Fire Island Beer Company began dispensing suds out of the Shack in Atlantique on Fire Island. You could also find their offerings (Red Wagon IPA, Sea Salt Ale, Sunken Ferry Stout and others) at select retailers and bars around the island.

But brewers and owners Bert Fernandez and Simon Leonard now hope to give their faithful fans a more personal experience, by setting up shop in the burgeoning beer scene of Bay Shore. 

They are leasing space in the same building that houses Great South Bay Brewery. 

This may seem akin to Bellport’s Spicy’s setting up a kiosk in a corner of a Buffalo Wild Wings, but craft beer folks are a friendly lot and Leonard looks forward to a mutually beneficial, collaborative relationship rather than a competitive one.

He anticipates that this new location will allow Fire Island Beer Company to brew their own beer as opposed to contract brewing in Connecticut, as many craft breweries lacking space are forced to do. The new setup should eventually double their production, as well give them the chance to experiment with new recipes, Leonard believes.

[Clarification: Fire Island Beer Company is not moving entirely away from contract brewing, but rather will be adding to it.]

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Simon Leonard at Fire Island's contract facility in Connecticut. (courtesy photo)

Simon Leonard at Fire Island’s contract facility in Connecticut. (courtesy photo)

Having an actual, physical location “will also allow us to have a true home for Fire Island Beer in Bay Shore, letting us to be a bigger part of the beer — and overall community — and have a physical location for fans to come and visit.” says Leonard.

Additionally, the new tasting room will let folks try out small batch brews, seasonal offerings and just hang out.  (Let’s be honest. What good is opening a brewery if there isn’t a spot to sit and chill and sample the goods?)

Fire Island has already signed a lease and hopes to begin construction in the next month or so.  They expect to be open by the end of the year.

Rick Sobotka, the brewmaster and owner at Great South Bay Brewery, said 15,000 square feet of the 40,000-square-foot building he rents at 25 Drexel Drive wasn’t being utilized.

“I turned to longtime friend, Bert Fernandez, who had been looking for a home for Fire Island Beer Company, and said let’s build you a brewery!” Sobotka said. “I couldn’t be happier to have Fire Island join Great South Bay. Both brewing companies will now be able to network our businesses and attract a larger customer base.”


Bay Shore already offers tasty eats and quaffables at established craft beer spots such as T.J. Finley’s, The Cortland and the relatively new Corks and Taps

Fire Island Beer Company, in addition to Great South Bay Brewery and Destination Unknown Beer Company (another craft brewery in the vicinity) will only help further develop Bay Shore as another prime Long Island craft beer destination.