Craft beverage business booming in NY

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AQUEBOGUE -

New York is quickly becoming one of the leading craft beverage producers in the country.

Matt and Lauri Spitz were high school sweethearts who used to brew beer as a hobby. They eventually opened the Moustache Brewing Co. in Riverhead. Their story is similar to dozens of others who have also gone into the craft beverage business.

"We always give advice that was given to us when we came to Riverhead -- rising tides float all ships," says Lauri Spitz. "So we absolutely welcome being in an area where there's wineries, distilleries other breweries."

Bob Gammon's family started an apple orchard in Jamesport in the early 1980s. They decided to branch out and are now well-known for their hard cider.

"We did a great job with the 'you-pick' apples in the fall," he says. "But there was always the other 10 months of the year."

New figures show there are more than a thousand craft beverage producers statewide, with 131 on Long Island. That includes 50 new ones in just the past six years.

The rapid expansion goes back to 2012, when the state enacted a series of measures to help expand the craft beverage industry. Among them was lowering taxes and licensing fees on the industry.

Long Island is the third-largest region in the state in terms of craft beverage producers. And New York is now the leading state in the country when it comes to hard cideries.

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