Visitors to craft breweries can sometimes wrongly think they are seeing double, especially after a few pints of an imperial ale. But at Twin Fork Beer Co., which opened in Riverhead last October, customers would not be mistaken if they ran into the founders and owners, who are identical twin brothers Dan and Peter Chekijian.
Dan and Peter grew up in the Riverhead area and the brewery’s name is a triple homage—to the two forks of the East End of Long Island, to the twin brothers, and to the tuning fork used to tune musical instruments. Dan and Peter’s father, who taught college chemistry and owned and operated his own manufacturing facility, was also a classical pianist. The twins learned to play multiple instruments as they grew up and have a younger brother who is now a professional musician. “We use the tuning fork in our logo and in our distinctive tap handles to show our love and respect for music,” said Peter.
After pursuing a variety of jobs in manufacturing, sales and wine importing, Peter decided to explore the emerging craft beer industry on Long Island. He started homebrewing in 2008 and joined the Brewers East End Revival (B.E.E.R) homebrew club. “I learned a lot there,” said Peter, “and really enjoyed the camaraderie of the group.” Peter then interned at Long Ireland Beer Co. in Riverhead to deepen his brewing knowledge and skills, and his brother joined him in the dream of starting their own brewery.
The brothers took the leap in 2014 and founded Twin Fork Beer Co. in 2014, contract brewing their beers at Long Ireland and other local breweries. They wanted to be part of the craft beer boom in Riverhead that has now resulted in the town having the most craft breweries of any town on Long Island.
In 2017, they unveiled plans to build a brewery from the ground up on an undeveloped lot on Raynor Avenue. After getting through the permitting process, they broke ground in fall 2018 on an 11,480 square foot facility with a 20-barrel brewhouse, cold storage for distribution and a tasting room taking up about 10 percent of the space.
The expanded production capacity of their new brewery will enable Twin Fork to continue expanding self-distribution of cans and kegs across Long Island, throughout New York City and into the Hudson Valley. Twin Fork’s beers have names that also play tribute to musical terms, including the flagship Chromatic Pale Ale, Crescendo IPA, Minuet Session IPA and Sonata, a Kolsch-style Lager Ale. Seasonal beers include rich Legato Stout in the winter, Harvest Notes amber ale in the fall, and the soon to be released Summer Notes ale.
Before opening in October 2020, the brewery received a variance from the Riverhead zoning board to expand their tasting room space to 1,650 square feet, to provide more space for social distancing during the pandemic. Savannah Kurz, tasting room manager, said the brewery’s priority is the health and safety of its customers and employees. “We have an outdoor area with picnic tables that was great to use on warmer days,” said Kurz, “and we look forward to opening that up again this spring.”
Twin Fork participated in several events for Long Island Winterfest 2021, including hosting live music at the brewery and pouring beers at a Winter Beer Fest held at the Long Island Aquarium.
Twin Fork held its first annual St. Patrick’s party on March 13 and Kurz said it was a success. “We were only able to sell 50 tickets due to capacity restrictions but the party went really well and we look forward to having more events.”
Kurz also said Twin Fork will soon have its own permanent food truck at the brewery. The menu has not been finalized yet, but we can be sure that Twin Fork will have food that is in perfect harmony with its beers.
Twin Fork Beer Company is located at 970 Raynor Avenue in Riverhead. For more info visit twinforkbeer.com.
Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.