DUNEDIN, Fla. (WFLA) – A small brewery in Dunedin set aside from the main downtown drag of craft beers is making a splash with an ever-changing menu of everything homemade.

Beach Island Brewery is located at 2058 Bayshore Blvd, Suite 5, in Dunedin. Jay Gaughan III is the owner and master brewer.

Gaughan and his wife, MaryLu, opened the brewery at the height of the pandemic after moving to Dunedin from Connecticut four years ago.

“I retired, took an early retirement at 52. Me and the wife moved down here, loved Dunedin, so I was going on my boat everyday and my wife told me I was having too much fun and ‘you need to go back to work for a few more years’ while she was working,” he explained. “I didn’t want to go back in the office, I’ve been passionate about beer, I’ve been in the industry for 40 years on the side.” 

Like many in Dunedin, Gaughan started off as a home brewer at home before moving to Florida and continuing his craft. Gaughan was trained in the purity laws of German brewing in Connecticut in the 80s with no internet and no home brew shops.

“It was not an easy task, trying to figure out how to brew. So I just started banging on the doors of the breweries until one guy finally let me in to work for free,” he said. “So I volunteered there and this wonderful German gentleman who swore a lot at me in German helped me out. And he started me on my path. That’s where it all started.” 

Garghan applied for a brewery permit in Dunedin. He said, to do so, a brewer must have a location and equipment in place. He said he invested a lot of money before the pandemic shut everything down, but he still didn’t know what to do.

“I had to make a decision of the amount of time I’m going to spend money before I pull out,” he said.

After a year and a half, Garghan decided he could afford to go ahead with no loans. He received his permit to open in the middle of the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Beach Island Brewery opened its doors last April. 

“That’s basically what we did. We didn’t have a big opening, we just opened the doors,” Garghan said. “Our friends, a lot of our friends, we knew before we opened. Corporal Landing is about a block away, we know a whole bunch of couples over there, great people behind us in the canals, the golf course community, and our friends basically were the only ones who knew about us being open. And worked out fine.” 

Garghan said Beach Island Brewery doesn’t have any “staples” of beer. He collects yeast from around the world – from major, popular breweries across the globe, to “little shacks” in Germany, to also growing his own.

“I make a lot of lagers, which takes a lot of time. Brown ales. I’m very passionate about a lot of darker beers. And big beers. So I make everything across the board. I grew all my own hops up in Connecticut, so I’m a big hop-head,” Garghan said.

The beer he offers ranges from a very hoppy IPA named after his granddaughter to fruit beers that his wife and daughter became fans of after the release of “Blue Moon.”

“I don’t have a staple beer because I have thousands of recipes,” Garghan said. “So right now, I have about 100 porter recipes, ‘could you just let me make a couple and get them by ya, and then we’ll pick out a favorite.’”

Garghan said he helps his customers find the style and flavors they like, and he always has a beer in their style on tap.

“Most of the time they’re just never the same, one end of spectrum to the next, just because I want to utilize all my yeast and all my different recipes and keep playing. So I get enjoyment out of a new creation making, blending some of my old ones together,” he said.

Garghan said he was quickly accepted into the Dunedin craft beer community.

“Breweries… there’s not much competition, per say, it’s a different business community than most, which is nice. Any brewery that comes in there, they want information, they want a recipe, whatever, I’ll give it to them, I have no problem,” he siad.

That’s what drew him and his wife to Dunedin in the first place. Even with the “downtown draw” from other breweries in Dunedin, Garghan said he is getting along just fine.

“My neighborhood is my customers, basically. And when they go downtown, they’re not in here. So obviously, it’s not the best for me, but I don’t want to work that hard, so I don’t need it packed all the time,” he said. “Which is a good thing, but the neighborhood is very, very supportive, our friends are in here, they mob the place, we’re doing fine.” 

Garghan said his customers come on bikes and golf carts in their last stop of the night after being downtown. He’ll even offer them rides home on his golf cart, saying they’re a “very tight knit group of very good people” and his customers “humble the heck out of him.”

Garghan said the artwork, social media and murals inside the brewery are all courtesy of his with, MaryLu.

The Beach Island Brewery scene is welcoming, and Garghan wants all his customers to try it all.

“I want everybody to try every tap. If you don’t like something, I accept the challenge and I will help you find something that you can like to indulge in,” he said.

Beach Island Brewery is open from 6 to 10 p.m. on Thursdays, 3 to 11 p.m. on Fridays, noon to 11 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 9 p.m. on Sundays.