One thing Rich Castagna of Ridgewood’s Bridge and Tunnel Brewery did not expect when he woke up two weeks ago, feeling the impending loss of his sick uncle, was to check his computer to find some good news.
The tasting competition he had entered stout, introduced seven years ago and named for his late mother, had won a silver medal in a statewide competition.
The Ridgewood resident founded Bridge and Tunnel Brewery in his home neighborhood had lost his mother prior to starting the venture which has grown from a garage operation to bringing 300 gallon batches to about 20 bars throughout the city now has more opportunities to expand the brand with his mother’s last name, Gilmartin, on the can.
“The beer itself, I named it after my mom because she had passed away not long before I had started the brewery, I launched with her in mind,” Castagna said. “Her family, they all identified with this particular beer and her siblings are all up in age. The day we actually won I had gone out to see the last surviving sibling. He passed away last week … I brew early in the morning, I got up and I checked to see what the results were for the competition and our name was in the mix. We submitted a few beers and the one that won was the one that was name after this family.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office and the New York State Brewers Association hold the annual Craft Beer Competition to promote local, up and coming beer makers which make on a collective level a significant contribution to the economy and challenge national companies in popularity.
Castagna could not be in Albany to get their medal, but once the winners were announced opportunities for expansion came knocking with a distributer helping with the family name get served at a greater number of locations with less strain on the brewery itself and a grain supplier offering product at a lower rate increasing their margins.
“It’s going on seven years now that we’ve been a brewery and we’ve never submitted anything, partly because we’re always scrambling in all these different directions and we’ve never really had the time to sit down and put together our samples and send it off properly,” Castagna said.
Bridge and Tunnel Brewery is located at 1535 Decatur St. where it has a pub house which Castagna prides himself on offering affordable beer options for the residents in the area. The business has modest origins as a 50-gallon batch licensed operation, known as a nano brewery, out of his father’s workspace in 2012. But Castagna has over 15 years experience and continues to grow his brand.