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INTERVIEW: Montauk Brewing Company Co-Founder Vaughan Cutillo On The Brewery's Beer Naming And Can Design Contest

Nicole Barylski

Some of the exceptional entries. (Courtesy Photo)

The competition to name a Montauk Brewing Company (MBC) beer and design the brew's can is fierce. On April 21, the Brewery announced the contest on its Instagram, and less than a week later, Montauk Brewing Company Co-Founder Vaughan Cutillo had received more than 1,000 emails requesting a blank can template. While it would be pretty cool to earn bragging rights on this one, Montauk Brewing Company simply hopes that creating a can or two provides a much-needed distraction, while giving all the chance to showcase their creative side.

We caught up with Cutillo to learn more:

Naming a beer and having your artwork featured on a Montauk Brewing Company can is a pretty big deal. Where did the idea for the contest come from?

VC: It's funny; it's really morphed into something way bigger than I had thought. The initial thought was that I know people are stuck at home and we wanted to do something very simple and get people's minds off of what's going on. Our cans are super simple, just white with a color background. We couldn't do a coloring book, so this is the next best thing.

The first post that I put up, we went very kind of analog with this. We didn't set up any sort of landing page or downloads and I just figured it would be a few requests. My inbox just started to get flooded with requests from people from all over the country who had heard about it. A lot of Long Islanders and New Yorkers, which is great, but a lot of people from all over - that were just looking for some sort of outlet. It's actually been really fun to watch it take off.

How many entries have you gotten so far [as of Monday, April 27]?

VC: So far we're at about 175 submissions total, in five days. I've sent just over 1,200 emails to people who emailed me first looking for it and I responded to all of them.

Where's the furthest entry from?

VC: We actually had somebody from Germany ask, who had visited The Taproom a couple years ago, and reached out. But I expect it to grow. The deadline is June 1.

It's such a wide range of submissions. I've had some really funny emails from parents who are at home, homeschooling their kids, and they're like, geez, this is kind of a savior - for even a few hours. One mother sent four entries that were very much hand done, crayons, and they were from her four kids who are young and at home. She was like, it was so great the other night to be able to print this out, crack open a beer or have a glass of wine, and let our kids have some fun for a while.

Also there's a lot of freelance graphic designers, illustrators. Some of the talent that's coming back is just absolutely mind blowing. There's so much talent out there. It's been really fun to see.

What's been really touching, the feedback with the submissions is great, and obviously that was the goal, but just the messages from people in their responses. Everybody's so caring and they really appreciate what we're doing here. Like I said, it's a very simple thing, but it's going a long way.

The template. (Courtesy Photo)

I've seen a bunch of the entries on Montauk Brewing Company's Instagram and they range in terms of what beer styles they are. Is MBC going to create the beer around the name and design of the winning can - or how will that work?

VC: It's likely going to be an IPA. We have a bunch of different recipes that we're thinking about, but I really didn't want to put any guidelines on this, because I just wanted people's imagination to run wild. So, it's kind of a bit of both. I mean we have some terrific recipes that we've never brewed that we'd like to, but if some of the names are just so wild and awesome, if the style is something else, then we can certainly pivot and do that. Really no specific guidelines, but we initially had thought an IPA.

When do you plan on launching the beer?

VC: It all depends on when this whole thing settles down. It's going to definitely happen this year. Our eight-year anniversary is June 30th. So, it could be around there. We'll do 16-ounce four-pack mobile cans. So, super limited, one time. We're hoping for the summer, but it certainly depends on when things can go back to a little bit of a sense of normalcy.

But also, with so many submissions, I'm starting to really think about what else could we do here. I think there's a real opportunity where we could do some sort of Andy Warhol Campbell's Soup Cans - some sort of collage with all the entries and donate something towards charity. I don't really know what that looks like now, but just judging by getting so many entries, I feel like this could be a lot bigger than just a one time can run.

This definitely could be something that turns into a yearly occasion.

VC: Absolutely.

Have you established a criteria as to how you're judging the entries?

VC: That is ongoing, just because there's over 100 now, and I'm guessing there's going to be a lot more. My gut tells me it's going to be a panel. The cool thing here is obviously our brand has that very simple geometric design. But this is not that. If there is something that stands out that's in line, it's great. But I think this is more of an art project than staying on brand with what we've created. So, we're probably going to have a panel of some of our team members here, and we'll see. But nothing really set yet.

The Brewery donated beer to The Better Man Distilling Co., which was used to make hand sanitizer. Could you speak a bit about that?

VC: We had heard about Better Man, they're based in Patchogue, we had heard that they were looking for beer and once this whole thing really hit, our keg sales went to zero. We're really focused on packaged beer and the seltzer and we didn't want to just dump beer down the drain. The first initial run was about 1,000 gallons that we donated and they came out and pumped some of our beer that wasn't out of code, but it probably would be out of code in the next couple of weeks. So, rather than just sit on that or destroy it, we figured we could put it to use. We don't like sitting on the sidelines while this is all going on. It was a way for us to give back a little bit with some of the beer that we make.

Is MBC currently doing takeaway at The Taproom - or is that totally closed at the moment?

VC: We are going to be starting curbside pickup that we are calling..."Come As You Are...But Stay In Your Car." This will be available from 12 to 5 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. People can pre-order specific items ahead of time.

To receive a blank can template, email Vaughan Cutillo at v@montaukbrewingco.com.

For more information, visit montaukbrewingco.com.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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