For Old Tappan Brewing Company co-owners Matthew Cryan, 47, of Bayville, and Brent Kunkle, 37, of Sea Cliff, the debut of their new storefront in Bayville is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication.
Once the site of a dance studio, the small-batch brewery, at 37 Ludlam Ave., pays homage to Cryan and Kunkle’s past in more ways than one. From the wooden dance floor that the pair converted into their bar space to the movie posters that adorn the walls — a tribute to the projects the two worked on together while in the film industry — the first-time business owners said they could not be prouder of the space they’ve created to serve their craft brews.
“We just want to be a part of the community and have a community business,” Kunkle said, “and to be able to share something with the people in Bayville and Locust Valley and the surrounding areas that they can enjoy in a social environment feels so important.”
Deeply rooted in the local community, the “Old Tappan” name itself comes from the road in Glen Cove of the same name that Cryan frequented as a kid to skateboard and ride BMX bikes.
“It’s a very short, meandering road through old woods, and everything has been built up quite a bit since I was a kid, but I’ve always liked that road,” Cryan said. “I used to play in bands back in the day, and we would actually make songs about Old Tappan Road so it makes me think of home.”
The winding road, flanked by trees and a harvest moon that Cryan remembers so vividly now, serves as the brewery’s logo, one of many reminders from his past that the brewery showcases. The bar’s six taps feature an array of homemade brews, each named after something of significance to Cryan and Kunkle.
For example, Cryan said the pair’s “Bog Monster IPA” was named after a Revolutionary War legend of a monster in the swamp between Lattingtown Road and Old Tappan Road in Glen Cove, while their “Box Office Blonde Ale” is a call-back to the duo’s history together making films in New York City.
The pair met in 2007 on the set of the independent film “I Sell the Dead,” where Kunkle was a producer and Cryan worked as a lighting grip. After his wife bought him a home-brewing kit six years later, Cryan said his beer-making hobby quickly became a passion, and Kunkle came aboard when they drew up their business plan in 2015.
While both began turning down further jobs in the film industry to focus on the brewery, Kunkle, who wrapped production on a documentary just two weeks before the brewery’s opening on July 12, said the feeling of leaving the industry behind “hasn’t quite sunk in yet.”
“It’s part of your identity,” he said. “I very much feel like I’m on hiatus at the moment, and if this takes off, and we never look back, I’ll accept not going back to the film industry.”
So far the pair’s efforts have been rewarded. At their grand opening on July 12, Cryan said they were “caught off guard” by the volume of support they received, both from community residents and elected leaders, including State Sen. Jim Gaughran, Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan, Bayville Mayor Robert De Natale and Glen Cove Mayor Tim Tenke, all of whom attended.
“We expected some support, but we didn’t expect the amount of genuine support and care that the village and the community has been giving us,” Cryan said. “It’s very humbling, it’s very heartwarming and we hope we can sustain this model to keep everybody happy and satisfied with their expectations.”
Mayor De Natale called the brewery a “huge plus” for Bayville, which he said will add to the North Shore’s budding brewery scene, which already includes the Oyster Bay Brewing Company in Oyster Bay and Garvies Point Brewery in Glen Cove.
“We’re thrilled to have them establish their new brewery in the heart of Bayville,” De Natale said. “We’re wishing them good luck, and we’re hoping the village residents will support them.”
Using a two-vessel brewing system to craft up to four barrels of beer per week, Cryan said he first brews the beer in two large kettles, and from there it’s transferred into one of four fermenting vessels for a week to two weeks. The beer is then moved to clarifying vessels and finally kegs, where the beer can be chilled and served at the taps.
Putting nothing to waste, Kunkle said the pair has also formed a partnership with Orkestai Farm at the Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, where they take around 200 pounds of grains used in the brewing process to the farm to use as compost each week.
While Kunkle said the two eventually plan to sell four-pack cans and serve their beer at local restaurants, for now he said they’re gauging community interest in their brews, enjoying the one-on-one experience of interacting with customers.
“We like the social aspect of a brewery,” Kunkle said. “I’d rather people come in here so we can talk to them and enjoy our beer together, as opposed to just having a tap at all these restaurants that we don’t get to go to and we don’t get to talk to the patrons.”
Although just starting out, Cryan said the residents of Bayville have embraced Old Tappan “with open arms,” laying the groundwork for success in the years to come.
“When we first came in, we didn’t know how the village would receive us,” Cryan said. “Now that we’re here, I feel a certain responsibility to provide the town where people can come and get some good beer and maybe help the village become more of a destination for people who are traveling around the immediate area.”