Meet & Eat: Jeff Glassman, Fire Island Beer Company
Jeff Glassman wants to capture the laid-back and tranquil essence of Fire Island in a bottle. A beer bottle, specifically. The co-founder and president of Fire Island Beer Company has hit the ground running this summer, spreading their Fire Island Lighthouse Ale to bars, restaurants, and stores throughout the area. Here's hoping that their beachy brews will help us make the summer last even longer.
Name: Jeff Glassman
Location: Ocean Beach, NY
Occupation: Co-Founder and President, Fire Island Beer Company
How did you get into the beer business? My cousin and business partner Tom has been into home brewing for as long as I can remember. He used to brew up all sorts of different types of beers to serve friends and family at "The Shack"--a concession stand that we ran during the summer on Fire Island in Atlantique. People loved Fire Island Beer, and with that came the idea that we should create Fire Island Beer Company. I have always wanted to start a business, and what better one that a beer business! Also, a place as original and amazing as Fire Island deserves to have a namesake beer.
What is your connection to Fire Island? We are fortunate to have a house on Fire Island, so my cousins and I spent most of our summers out there. (In fact, you can still spot my cousin Bert tying up boats in Ocean Beach. I think this is his seventh straight summer as the Dock Master.) Fire Island is one of my favorite places in the world. It's a quick 25 minute ferry ride from the south shore, but you feel as if you are light years away from everyday life.
Your first beer is Fire Island Lighthouse Ale. What else is in the works and when might we expect it? Fire Island Lighthouse Ale is based off a recipe Tom has been brewing for almost ten years. It was a favorite of ours, so we chose it to introduce first. We are very excited about our next beer, Fire Island Red Wagon IPA, which is due in October of this year. It is going to be hoppier than Lighthouse Ale, but definitely smooth.
You describe yourselves as "brewers of world-class beers that are inspired by the color, character and overall experience of Fire Island." How would you explain that to someone who's never been there? Fire Island is a place unlike anywhere I've ever been. It's an island where neighbors know each other, and take the time to say hello. A place without the frustration of cars because generally there aren't any allowed on the island.
What's it like working with family members? Any good fights? I've had a great time working with my brother and two cousins. We all get along very well and couldn't be more dedicated or enthusiastic at seeing our beer company do well. We are all good at separating out what is business and what is family.
Where is your beer available outside of Fire Island? Do you plan on expanding beyond New York? We are currently available in over 700 restaurants, bars, grocery stores, and beverage centers on Long Island and the New York City Metro area. (Visit our website and use our beer finder application.) We have a lot of work in our home region before we start thinking about expanding. But eventually, that is a goal of ours.
Is there a dish served somewhere on Fire Island that you think pairs well with your Lighthouse Ale? It doesn't get any better than sitting on the bayside dock at Island Mermaid's in Ocean Beach, having their Herb Roasted Monkfish with a Fire Island Lighthouse Ale. It goes perfectly.
Describe your dream New York meal. I really like restaurants that serve up amazing food but aren't at all formal. I think a nice flank steak at Morandi in the West Village with my family would be a very nice evening out.
Favorite burger? I am a big fan of the burgers at Corner Bistro in the West Village. Huge, cheap, and delicious!
Favorite bagel? Murray's Bagels--just don't ask them to toast it!
Best late-night eats? John's Pizza.
Undiscovered gem? Not so much undiscovered, but I love the fish tacos from La Esquina.
What's in your fridge that you'd be embarrassed to tell us about? Nothing. Honestly, I think there are two six-packs of Fire Island Beer and ketchup in my fridge at the moment.
Food you won't eat? Octopus or squid.
What's the best recommendation you have gotten? A friend of mine took me to Alta on West 10th Street for my birthday. That was a great idea!
We have so many events going on, that the best way to stay on top of it all is to check out our Fire Island Beer Facebook page. Here are several through the end of September:
August 16th: Blues, artisanal brews, and smoked foods at Chanterelle restaurant in Manhattan, featuring Fire Island Beer Company
September 4-6: Participating in the Great World Beer Festival at Armory Park in Manhattan
September 6: Private Jon Fogarty concert on Shelter Island to benefit Group for the East End
September 16: Let Us Eat Local, part of the NYC Beer Week
September 29: ASPCA benefit at Comix in Manhattan