Staten Island brewery's beer getting noticed

- During the last week of January and the first week of February, more than 36,000 bottles of Staten Island-brewed beer entered and then left this fridge forever. Flagship Brewing Company co-owner Jay Sykes opened this business not even two years ago. His co-founders grew up in houses across the street and behind his own childhood home here on Staten Island.

"It's been crazy. My wife is like: 'That's it. Get home,'" Sykes said. "For us to be able to do what we love, where we're from, there was never a thought of going anywhere else to do it."

About what you'd expect from a guy with the borough's ferry tattooed on his forearm.

Flagship's six employees bottled all that beer on site with no outside help.

"We always joked about how we had a bottling line but we didn't have enough money to get any bottles," Sykes said.

Draft sales and deals with 250 area restaurants allowed the brewery to save up for the bottles necessary to put out the largest release in flagship's short history just in time for the Super Bowl, marking a major milestone and for the founders a dream realized.

"We started developing it, talking about how great it would be to bring the tradition of brewing back to Staten Island, which was always very rich in the past," Sykes said.

Flagship is not the first or even the most successful brewery on Staten Island. A hundred years ago, Becktull was the first business on the island to convert to electricity and at its peak R-and-H employed 375 people. But in 2016, Flagship is this borough's only active commercial brewery on Staten Island.

"Everybody is kind of excited and proud that they have a hometown brewery, putting out good beer," Sykes said.

At any given time, flagship offers five year-round styles plus a seasonal in bars and restaurants and now stores and distributors in all five boroughs with plans to expand to New Jersey and upstate New York in the next few months.

"If you see us out there, give us a try," Sykes said. "And remember to drink local."

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