The COVID-19 virus will have an impact on the nation’s economy that cannot yet be measured. It is likely that many businesses that have been shuttered for weeks will not survive. However, a pair of lifelong friends, Will Grundmann and Mike Betros, have boldly launched their brewing business in defiance of the pandemic.
The Middletown natives formed a bond in 2002 when they attended Bayshore Middle School. They have remained close for years, and ultimately realized they shared an interest in brewing beer.
They began to dabble in home brewing in February 2016. It didn’t take long for a hobby to morph into an enterprise. In July of that year, they formed their business, Twin Lights Brewing, named after the iconic lighthouse located in Highlands, overlooking Sandy Hook Bay.
Many hurdles remained before Twin Lights would be able to go into production. Securing a location and obtaining a license from the state were two of the most arduous steps.
Grundmann and Betros developed a business plan late in 2018 and pitched the proposal to local banks in an effort to secure financing. The funding campaign failed, but the fledging entrepreneurs were undaunted. They found creative ways to work around the lack of capital. Enlisting a group of friends to assist in building their walk-in cold box is a prime example.
Finally, after repetitive document filings, they received their license from the state this past March. Coincidentally, it was the same month that the first COVID-19 case in New Jersey was identified.
Once licensed, the operation proceeded quickly. They released their first beer, the Twin Lights Lager, on April 24. Just seven days later on May 1, the Twin Lights Double Vision IPA was announced. On June 5, their first limited edition brew, the House Party IPA, was released.
At this writing, Twin Lights products are already available in 30 locations throughout Monmouth County. They anticipate further growth through distribution to taverns and restaurants as COVID-19 related restrictions are eased.
The pair bring attributes to the management team that are quite different and mesh well. Betros started his brewery career at Kane Brewing and eventually transitioned to the head of production at Torch and Crown Brewing in New York City.
“After I entered the industry, I quickly realized that there’s no other profession I’d rather be in,” he said. “It is an industry that is constantly innovating and keeps me motivated to continue to grow as a brewer and a business owner.”
Grundmann is a former financial advisor with International Planning Alliance in Shrewsbury. He also has extensive experience in the restaurant industry as a side hustle.
“Our entire mission is to be a community brewery,” Grundmann said. “We owe all of our success to the people that support us because without them, our dream isn’t possible.”
To learn more, visit TwinLightsBrewing.com.