Brewers raise a glass — anxiously — to Blue Point sale

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | Blue Point is Long Island's oldest craft brewery.

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Blue Point is Long Island’s oldest craft brewery.

News of Anheuser-Busch’s purchase of Long Island’s own Blue Point Brewing Company is being met with mixed reviews from fellow craft beer makers on the North Fork.

While expressing their congratulations for Blue Point founders and brewers Mark Burford and Peter Cotter,  some microbrewers are still hesitant about the idea of a locally-owned product now being run by an international corporation.

“I’m happy for the owners who have invested a lot of time and energy into it,” said Duffy Griffiths, co-founder and head brewer of Crooked Ladder Brewing Company in Riverhead. “But, I think overall it’s another example of the big breweries trying to gobble up the market.

“I’m not sure how good it is for the craft beer scene.”

Anheuser-Busch announced the buyout on Wednesday.

Anheuser-Busch itself merged with two Belgian and Brazilian companies in 2004, creating the multinational AB Inbev in 2004. AB Inbev is the world’s largest beermaking company, and while best known for its sale of big name beer brands like Budweiser and Bud Light, purchasing smaller breweries is nothing too new. The company bought out Chicago-based Goose Island Beer Company in 2011.

Although the full details of the agreement weren’t disclosed, the deal is expected to fund additional resources and expand Blue Point’s operation, according to a statement released by Anheuser-Busch.

Blue Point was founded 15 years ago in Patchogue — where the brewery will continue to operate, according to the statement.

That brewery — said Greg Martin, co-founder and brewer of Long Ireland Beer Company in Riverhead — played a pivotal role in shaping craft beer as it stands today in the area.

So whomever it belongs to now, he said, might not be such a big deal.

“They started when there was no beer scene on Long Island,” Mr. Martin. “We’ve said many times they helped pave the way for us. I think that they should be congratulated that the biggest distributor in the world thinks their product is good enough to sell nationally.”

However, Mr. Martin isn’t exactly ready to follow Blue Point’s latest move.

“We never started doing craft beer with the intention of selling the business,” Mr. Martin said. “I’m sure if you asked [Blue Point’s owners] 10 years ago if this was their goal, it wasn’t on their radar. Business models change. You can’t fault them for taking the next step.”

Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. — the oldest of four breweries to open up shop on the North Fork, launching in 2009 — noted the following on its Facebook page earlier today: “No one has contributed more and worked harder to promote Long Island craft beer than Mark and Pete. Their success is well deserved and we congratulate them. We do hope that as the brands get absorbed in to the A-B InBev world that the investment in the beer and the brewery is focused on Long Island. Where it all started.”

Blue Point Brewing Company is Long Island’s oldest and most award-winning brewery, offering more than 40 craft beers. In 2013, Blue Point sold approximately 60,000 barrels, making it the 34th largest craft brewery in the country.

Anheuser-Busch’s purchase of Blue Point is expected to close in the early part of the second quarter.