The Secret to Free Beer in Montauk: Look for the Wooden Coins

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The craft beer explosion is all about throwbacks: the unearthing of forgotten styles of beer, the assumption that each town should have its own brewery, the flaunting of manicured facial hair. And now the easternmost brewery in New York has reclaimed yet another time-honored tradition, wooden chips that can be redeemed for free beer.

The three lads behind Montauk Brewing Company are savvy marketers. They have built an outsized Instagram following with ethereal images of co-eds sipping suds on the beach. They outfitted a show-stopping float in the Montauk St. Patrick’s Day parade with oversized beer cans. And now when you fill up a growler with Montauk beer at Peconic Beverage or grab a six pack at Montauk Beer and Soda, you receive a wooden token good for one free beer at the brewery.

Like the new mug club at Rowdy Hall, the Montauk coins reward you for drinking more beer, and for showing your face. “We were thinking of good ways to tap into the Long Island market and the idea came from our Long Island distributor, Boening Bros.,” says founder and brewer Vaughan Cutillo. Customers have been pleasantly surprised. “One guy came in on Saturday to redeem two tokens for him and his wife; they had purchased two six packs at Montauk Beer and Soda. After the tasting he went back and bought two more just so he could get two more tokens!”

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Currently the tokens are scattered around Long Island beer stores. And as the program grows, it’s not hard to imagine the coins becoming a sort of currency, to be traded and gifted among beer-lovers. “It is a way to keep people excited about coming to the Gallery Taproom and feeling like they have done their part to help a start up brewery,”ays Cutillo. Beyond the bustling tap room, which doubles as a gallery for local artists, the bowels of a brewery are being built out. Steel I-beams were lowered into place this winter, with cement floors and drains coming next. The founders hope to install brewing tanks and other equipment by this fall. “We have an iconic building,” Cutillo adds, “and we want it to be a community center for people to enjoy good company, local art, and fresh beer.”

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