By Janee Law
As the fall season steers around the corner, expect cool weather, leaves falling from the trees, pumpkin flavored everything, and, when it comes to beer, Harbor Beverage Merchants, Inc. in Huntington has the hookup for seasonal ale.
From several microbreweries across the Island, its growlers station currently offers 10 different craft beers on tap, including Stevens Point Whole Hog Pumpkin. “You want to keep themes of the seasons and we’re going to bring in more darker beer,” said Harbor Beverage Merchants owner Matthew Griffith, owner. “It’s a great tool to create diversity within the beer and go with the trends.”
With the beer industry taking off and his experiences as a beer aficionado, Griffith came up with the idea to start a beverage retail store. “I thought this would be a great place to have a beverage center because it’s close to the marina and close to the middle of town,” Griffith said.
The building, located at 204 New York Ave., has been in his family since the 1970s, housing a butcher market and a chicken processing plant before Griffith transformed it into a thriving beverage center in July 2014.
Also selling soda, water and ice, Harbor is known for its diversity of domestic, international and craft beers. Within the country, Griffith, 47, said Harbor sells beer that come from New York to Oregon.
“We get beers from big distributors and, because we have a wholesale license, we’re trying to get exclusive with craft beer companies so we can sell them all over the Island like big distributors.”
Harbor focus on providing an exceptional customer experience, Griffith said. With an array of beers, the company runs a delivery service and offers tastings from its in-house growler station.
“Growler systems are very big and they’ve grown a lot throughout the country,” Griffith said. “It’s a fresher beer and it enables us to be very creative in what we present to the public.” Its growler provides a wide variety of beers that customers can sample and bring home in a 32oz or 64oz growler pours.
To offer an even greater diversity of flavors, Griffith plans to improve the growlers station by building a big tap system in the back of the store, which will house 20-30 ales.
“Taste is personal to everyone,” Griffith said, who aims to provide beer that’s been proven in the market and beer that’s a “diamond in the rough.”
In addition, the business wants to develop in its deliveries, which services 15-30 deliveries a week. “Our idea is to encompass Cold Spring Harbor, Huntington, Huntington Bay, Lloyd Harbor and go a little bit further south into Huntington,” Griffith said. He also plans to build a computer platform, which will allow customers to order products online for delivery or pickup.
Meanwhile, Griffith continues to grow as a beer specialist, learning the technical aspects of beer, the brewing and handling process, through the Cicerone certification program. “Our purpose is customer service and providing knowledge and information about beer,” Griffith said. “I am the luckiest guy to have the opportunity to service this town because it’s just an exceptional area.”