What was once a plumbing supply warehouse on 400 Hallett Avenue in Riverhead, New York, now gives off the aroma of numerous craft beers.
There are countless breweries on the island, but Moustache Brewing Company is unique because it is run by a married couple.
Moustache Brewing Company provides Long Island with fresh, local and handcrafted beers. The beers are based on a brewing tradition and are constantly changing to keep the homebrew spirit and to emphasize fresh locally grown ingredients.
Matthew and Lauri Spitz, the co-founders and co-owners of the brewery, met at East Islip High School and married seven years ago.
Growing up, the couple always strived to be different than everyone else.
While all of Matthew Spitz’ friends drank Bud, he would drink Guinness, and turned Lauri Spitz onto these beers as well.
“We were the cool kids drinking our fancy beers,” said Lauri Spitz.
Since the couple shared such a strong passion for beer, they began home brewing in 2005.
“After our first batch, we started day dreaming about having our own brewery,” said Matthew Spitz. “We doodled names and logos, thought of seasonal releases, and just talked about how cool it would be to have our own brewery.”
Matthew, who worked in retail, and Lauri, who worked in health care, became unhappy with the way their life was going. They decided to turn their dreams into a reality and started a Kickstarter campaign in April 2012 to raise money to help them open their brewery. Their goal was to raise $25,000 and in just 30 days they managed to raise $31,413.
“We figured we had nothing to lose,” said Lauri Spitz. “And sure enough everyone was really behind us and super supportive. People we had never met and people all around the world were giving us money. We went from there and managed to put it all together.”
A large section of the Moustache building is devoted to the brewing itself, while another portion of it is a designated tasting room. Unlike many local breweries, Moustache has a farm-brewing license, where they use at least 20% New York State-grown hops, flowers of the hop plant, Humulus lupulus, which are used as a flavoring and stability agent in beer. They also use at least 20% locally grown miscellaneous ingredients such as malt or flavoring components. This helps out the brewery while also supporting local farms. Moustache buys hops from the North Shore’s Condzella Farms and gets its malt from a farm in Ithaca.
“One advantage to our small size and staff is our ability to make small batches,” said Lauri Spitz. “We are able to switch up the styles and let the consumers decide.”
As for the name, Matthew and Lauri Spitz have drawn inspiration from one of Matthew’s most prized possessions.
“I’ve been wearing a handle bar moustache for a few years now,” explained Matthew Spitz. “One idea we had for the brewery early on was to give it a Victorian era British feel and I think the gentleman’s moustache plays into that theme nicely.
Aside from the brewery, Lauri Spitz runs the Long Island chapter of Girls’ Pint Out, a ladies educational craft beer group. She is also the secretary for Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts, where Matthew Spitz is the head of the brewing committee.
Matthew and Lauri Spitz have come a long way since their Kickstarter days and are now hiring new people to grow their business.
“We’re in the process of interviewing a few people right now for an administrative assistant position,” said Lauri Spitz. “Matt already has his help on the brewing side, but now I need someone to help me with all of the phone calls, emails, and things like that.”
But even without other employees, Lauri and Matthew Spitz manage to run their business just fine and make it work, thanks to their strong relationship.
“Matt and I get along really well,” said Lauri Spitz. “We pretty much never fight. Which is kind of crazy and most people don’t believe us.”
But running a business with your spouse has its pros and cons.
“It’s a pro because you’re always doing business, which is good because you don’t have to wait until the next day to talk to your partner and you can take care of things as they pop up,” said Matthew Spitz. “But it’s also a con because you’re always doing business. There’s never any down time. It’s hard to get that work life balanced because right now there is none, it’s all work, and this is a 24/7 job right now. But it’s definitely a benefit having your wife be your business partner.”
They both agree that it is harder to maintain a separation of personal life and work life while running a business together.
“We’ll be in bed at night and one of us is like ‘hey hey, what about this?’ and it’s like ‘shut up and go to sleep, we’ll deal with it tomorrow.’” said Lauri Spitz.
“We work 70-80 hours a week, every week, 7 days a week, no days off,” she added. “That’s probably a lot of time for some people to have to spend with their spouse without wanting to kill them, but for us it works.”