Interviews

Published on July 31st, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz

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Blue Point Brewing’s Mark Burford On Visiting Its Brewery, The “Clocktower Sessions” & More

Founded within the Long Island, New York town of Patchogue in 1998, the Blue Point Brewery kicked off its brewing adventures with American Amber Lager-styled Toasted Lager. Toasted Lager went on to earn two World Beer Cup gold medals, and over two decades later, Toasted Lager remains a popular staple of the still-growing Blue Point lineup of easy-drinking and innovative craft beers.

In 2014, Blue Point partnered with Anheuser-Busch and joined its family of craft brands in The High End business unit. However, Blue Point remains based in Patchogue. The company recently unveiled a new state-of-the-art brewery on Patchogue’s Main Street which all are welcome to visit.

I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Blue Point Brewing Company co-founder Mark Burford on behalf of The Hype. More on all things Blue Point can be found online at www.bluepointbrewing.com.

When the Blue Point Brewery was being redeveloped, you had described what was forthcoming as a “Disneyland for adults.” Does that description fully reflect the end result of what was built?

Mark Burford: The new brewery has all the bells and whistles we set out to include! The upstairs brewpub has an awesome view right onto the brewery production floor, where we’re brewing up all the beers folks can enjoy right there. It also stacked with games, beautiful unique artwork from local artists and a performance stage where we host a variety of musicians and events. There’s even an outdoor beer garden if your dog wants to join the fun too!

We’re most proud of our amazing kitchen and bar staff, who are some of the most hospitable folks in the industry. We welcome everyone like family and once you’ve come to visit, we believe that’s something that will continue to bring people to Main Street for more. Did I mention we make beer here, too? (laughs)

Your recent What The L? beer had a lot of people talking, given its reference to Brooklyn’s L train. Do a lot of people visit Patchogue from New York City?

Mark Burford: Yes! We have a lot of folks that come visit Patchogue year-round. The new brewery is certainly a draw but they stay to check out the thriving town of Patchogue itself and during the summer often hop over to Fire Island for some beach time. There’s a LIRR train station right in town making it accessible for all. In fact, there are a few people in our Blue Point family that commute from Brooklyn and NYC to Patchogue every day. We as a brewery are New Yorkers through and through so when we heard about the L train shutdown we knew we had to create a beer to help our fellow New Yorkers get through the madness and a little beer always helps.

Do you have a favorite of the Blue Point beers available?

Mark Burford: This really depends on how I’m feeling; it’s hard to choose just one. If I’m just relaxing on the water, and want to drink a beer that I don’t have to think too much about it’s our Shore Thing Lager. The Amagansett sea salt we brew with really balances out some tartness created in the kettle, giving this a quenching finish. Recently though, I find myself reaching for our Hazy Bastard NE-Inspired IPA which clocks in at 8% ABV. This beer not only punches your ticket with the higher ABV, but it is loaded with aroma and flavor from our favorite American hops.

What is coming up for Blue Point in the coming months?

Mark Burford: Tons of great stuff happening for Blue Point in the coming months! We’re hosting a few big events right here at the brewery like our THE Summer Friday event on Friday July 26th. Think everything you would want to do on your Summer Friday times ten with a special musical guest,New Politics. Then in the fall on October 5th, we will be inviting oyster farmers near and far for our first annual Oyster Festival. We are especially excited to provide a unique experience to those that want to not only taste different kinds but also want to learn about the incredible power of the oyster.

What do you wish more people knew about Blue Point?

Mark Burford: Really it’s all about the family. It would be easy to talk about our environment initiatives, our platform for emerging artists or even our dedication to being a voice for democracy, but all of those things are rooted in this deep sense of familial ties at Blue Point. We drink, laugh, cry, and celebrate together. Our motto was always “We brew it, we keg it, we drink it. If there’s any left, we’ll sell it to you,” which tells you a lot about the people here and what matters to our employees. I don’t think that there is a better group of people that I could call my Blue Point family.

Is there company accomplishment you are most proud of?

Mark Burford: Well it goes without saying, but this amazing building that we call home now. And the fact that we were able to create this destination in our hometown, just steps away from the boatyard where the Blue Point dream was realized 21 years ago.

Do you have a favorite facet of the retooled brewery?

Mark Burford: The fact that we can make more beer? Is that a good answer? But really, the additional space not only has increased our capacity to brew but has allowed us to bring more people into our space. It’s nice that not only did we welcome back our regulars from River Ave but we’re able to invite new people into our Blue Point family who may not have been able to fit in our space before! The building itself also has an iconic clocktower in the Northwest side of the building that really serves as a beacon for this brewery — you could almost see it from the other side of town.

We have deep roots in music and art here and we are currently utilizing this space to celebrate the amazing local musicians and artists in this community. Our new web series called Clocktower Sessions sets out to celebrate the talented members of our extended Blue Point family, check out the episodes on YouTube.

When not busy with Blue Point, how do you like to spend your free time?

Mark Burford: If I’m not at the brewery, I’m definitely doing something on the water. It’s such an integral part of life on Long Island and that’s why we felt it was so important to integrate into everything we do at Blue Point including building the first brewery on the Patchogue River. We actually are adding a pontoon boat to our Blue Point fleet so you might catch me on there!

Are there any restaurants or spots near the Patchogue HQ that you can recommend to our readers?

Mark Burford: I would be remiss if I called out any specific restaurants in town, because it seems like each day another amazing spot opens up. The renaissance that this town has gone through over the last 10, 15 years has been a sight to behold. There are certainly some partners that have supported Blue Point since the early days, and we like to think that our growth with the town of Patchogue has opened the doors for more businesses to thrive in our backyard. You need to just come to Patchogue to experience it for yourself!

Finally, any last words for the kids?

Mark Burford: Don’t overcomplicate your beer — there’s a right time and place for any style that might be out there. Just make sure it’s a Blue Point.


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About the Author

is a New York resident (and Long Island native) with over 15 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. In the years following, he worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer.Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Format Magazine, Businessweek, The Improper, the L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. He has been a member of the SATW and the IFWTWA organizations as a food and travel writer.Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host the recently-launched "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with PureGrainAudio.


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