People may be surprised when they hear that Setauket resident and environmentalist John Turner and his wife, Georgia, have entered the brewery business, but the new venture is all about family.
Turner said his son, Travis, 29, a few years ago began working with Brian Baker, who opened Bellport Brewing on Station Road in the South Shore village Dec. 3. The father said his son developed quite an interest in brewing beer while working with Baker and became an assistant brewer. When Baker thought about opening a brewery in Bellport, the Turners decided to become investors in the new business and support their son’s career dreams.
“Kind of the stars aligned right, and we decided for that reason and a few others, to take the plunge,” Turner said.
Baker, a former IT network administrator turned brewer, agreed that everything fell into place regarding going into business with the Turners, and the location that he spotted seven years ago finally became available. He credits his wife, Danielle, for being “absolutely amazing” during the process and is grateful for the Turners who he described “like a fairy godmother.” He said he couldn’t have done it by himself.
“I’m grateful for everything that everybody has ever put into this brewery to make me a success and to make this brewery a success,” he said.
Turner said the brewery is in an ideal spot as those walking around the village may pass by and drop in to check it out.
“We hope to get a lot of people just walking on the street during the summertime,” he said, adding he hopes walk-ins combined with social media will provide a good following.
Turner, who is the Town of Brookhaven’s open space program coordinator on a consulting basis, said he and Georgia hope in the future to become more than investors in the brewery, maybe even part owners. Leading up to the grand opening, he said his family enjoyed working with the Bakers in helping to get the building, the former Rooster’s Cafe, ready.
In the future, Baker said he would like to have an outdoor space and a food truck, maybe even cornhole and bocce ball games.
For now, Turner said he and his wife are learning a lot about beer making. From first boiling the water to opening the tap to pour it out, there are certain steps one must go through carefully that he compared to chemistry.
“If any one of those steps isn’t followed completely, you’re not going to turn out with the beer with the alcohol content, and the flavor and the character and body that you hope to have,” he said.
Baker agreed that creating a beer recipe is similar to a chef’s job.
“You need to know what the malts will do by themselves and how they work with others,” he said.
The brewer added Long Island was once one of the best locations to get hops from.
“The soil is everything for the hops environment,” he said. “When you have great soil and great farmers you get great hops and malt.”
Turner said the family has enjoyed helping Baker to shape the flavor and character of the business as well as speaking with potential customers to see what they like.
“It’s exciting but there’s also some trepidation because obviously the brewery opened up in the middle of a pandemic,” Turner said.
Despite the challenges the pandemic has created for businesses, Baker said both families are grateful for what they have today, even though they don’t know what tomorrow may bring. At the same time, they are aware of the current business climate and public health crisis.
“Today we have a brewery,” he said. “Today we have our health. Today we have our family. You know, let’s focus on that and not so much of what’s going to happen tomorrow.”