Grapevine

What’s Brewing on the East End? Twin Fork Beer Company

The East End is well known for its many vineyards, but did you know that there are six breweries with several more in the works? They range in sizes from small batch operations, known as nano-breweries, to pub brewers that brew and serve on premises, to full-scale production breweries. A new brewery has just been added to the rich mix—the Twin Fork Beer Company.

Identical twin brothers Dan and Peter Chekijian have just launched their brand of all grain beer. They come to this new venture from varied backgrounds, giving them special skill sets and sensibilities particularly suited to the task. Their father, George, was an organic chemist who taught college chemistry and owned and operated his own manufacturing facility. A son of Armenian immigrants, George was also a classical pianist. Not surprisingly, the Chekijian children grew up playing multiple instruments—the oboe, the cello and the piano—instilling in them not only a love of music but also discipline and a good work ethic.

Dan and Peter followed their father into manufacturing as teenagers, starting on the shop floor and eventually taking control of many facets of the business, including outside sales. Anxious to branch out and utilize their skills, they sought other business opportunities. In 2002, Dan opened his own outdoor construction business with a focus on excavation and masonry. In 2005, Peter’s father-in-law Joe Lozito began to import wines from the Friulli region of Italy. The two brothers covered both the forks of the East End, as well as Manhattan, on evenings and weekends “serving, pouring and selling” Lozito’s imports. Good looking and convivial, they learned the business and began thinking about starting their own winery.

Researching the possibilities of starting a vineyard, they came to the conclusion that the competition would be stiff. Then there was a shift. An old idea they used to throw around came back into focus. Dan and Peter spent many summers barbecuing and fishing with their buddy, Jeff McKay, where they would pass the time talking about their dreams. McKay wanted to open a bar. He and his wife, Christine, now own Vines & Hops Café on Main Street in Riverhead. Dan and Peter always mused about making beer and, all these years later, it has finally become the right time. Sometimes dreams do come true.

Peter took the first step. He bought a home brew kit. With his manufacturing background, before he even started, he felt the need to modify it. He did his research and made his first batch in 2008. It was five gallons, making 38 bottles of pale ale and he was not at all confident that it would be even drinkable. He let it sit for a month or two in his basement when his wife, Michele, finally insisted they try it. Lo and behold, to their amazement, all agreed “it was good!”

That was enough to fortify the inspiration into real action. Peter doubled down on his research and joined a home brew club. There were about 50 people of all skill levels, but common to all they were eager to plumb to depths of fine beer making. The first hurdle for the beginner is to obtain a consistency, and Peter’s beer had that from the very beginning. The twins began to produce beer. As with the many wine makers here on Long Island, beer brewers too, are a sort of brotherhood, easily sharing secrets, technologies and encouragement. The Long Ireland Beer Company in Riverhead took Peter in as an intern, mentoring and inspiring, happy to nurture a new member into the beer brewing society.

So what’s brewing? The Twin Fork Beer Company, that’s what. Their beer is fermenting now and ready for public consumption. Twin Fork Beer Company is self-distributing and currently only available on tap.

You can follow them at twinforkbeer.com, where you can sign up for their emailed list of events.

Look for their distinctive Twin Fork tap handle, which resembles a musical tuning fork and pays homage to the twin forks of the East End. You will find specialty beers, all of which will be full grain, hand-crafted and in the mid to high range in quality and price. Cheers!

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