Cisco Brewers

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Cisco Brewery
Cisco Brewers Massachusetts logo.png
LocationNantucket, Massachusetts, United States
Opened1995 but see text
Cisco's Tripel

Cisco Brewers is a brewery, distillery, and winery on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts. It is the sole brewer on the island. It was established as a winery in 1981 and started making beer in 1995 and distilled spirits in 1997.


Nantucket Vineyard[edit]

Nantucket Vineyard, a sister company of Cisco Brewers, was founded in 1981 by Dean and Melissa Long.[1] After failing to grow grapes on Nantucket Island for their wine due to unsuitable climate and soil conditions, Dean and Melissa began to import grapes from California, Washington state, and New York to use in production.[2]

Cisco Brewers[edit]

In 1992 Randy and Wendy Hudson moved into a loft above Dean and Melissa Long’s winery where they helped to produce wine. Wendy had met Randy on Nantucket in 1992, shortly after moving to the island from California. While living in California, Wendy had experimented with home brewing along with friends. Wendy purchased a home-brew kit for Randy which he used once before creating his own grain mill from a pasta roller machine. Because Randy had previously worked at Something Natural, a Nantucket Island bakery, he had experience working with yeast and grain.

Shortly after beginning to work at Nantucket Vineyard, Wendy and Randy began to produce beer on site. The area used to brew the beer was entirely outside except for the cold-room, which was inside a small room and cooled by an air-conditioning unit. This outdoor brew space was referred to as a nano-brewery and was credited with being America’s only outdoor brewery.[3]


A larger space for the Brewery was deemed necessary in 1995 and construction was completed on a new building in May 1996. The new building, the Mortan Building, took its title from Wendy’s maiden name and offered more room for equipment and storage.

In 1996 Jay Harman joined Cisco Brewers. A student at Fairfield University in Connecticut, Harman wanted to open a brewery on Nantucket Island until he learned of the existing Cisco Brewers. Harman was brought on to assist in production.

Due to the construction of the Mortan Building, Cisco Brewers was unable to sell beer in July and August 1996. The absence of product led to the creation of the company’s motto, “Nice beer, if you can get it”.[4]

Triple Eight Distillery[edit]

In 1997, Dean Long applied for a license from the state of Massachusetts to manufacture high proofed spirits with the hope to produce grappa and fruit brandies at a point in the future. As whiskey can be distilled from beer, Dean Long, Randy Hudson, and Jay Harman saw a potential for a distillery making whiskey.

In Fall 2000, Dean’s license was approved and they began making Notch whiskey, a single malt whiskey that is “Not Scotch”. As Notch whiskey is aged for a minimum 5 years, Long, Hudson, and Harman began to make vodka from organic corn that was triple distilled and blended with sand-filtered Nantucket water from Well #888. It was from the well number, 888, that the venture found a name, Triple Eight Distillery. To raise capital for the production of vodka, they allowed the public to purchase futures on barrels of the Notch whiskey.


In 2001, Cisco Brewers hired Matt Lambo to begin distributing the Nantucket Vineyards, Cisco Brewers, and Triple Eight Distillery products. Lambo self-distributed the products beginning in the greater Boston area in a 1975 VW camper van with a large eight ball painted on the side of it. Lambo was able to open over 200 accounts and currently heads Public Relations, promotions, and events as a Brand Manager for Triple Eight Distillery.

Cisco Brewery beer along with its sister products are currently distributed in 12 states.


Cisco Brewers support the shark research activities of OCEARCH. As a result, a Great white shark tagged by OCEARCH in October, 2016 near Nantucket, Massachusetts was named "Cisco" after the brewery.[5] The brewery also produces Shark Tracker Light Lager in support of OCEARCH.[6]


  1. ^ "Cisco Brewers | Union Beer Distributors". Retrieved 2017-04-10.
  2. ^ "Who We Are :: Cisco Brewers, Triple Eight Distillery, Nantucket Vineyard". Retrieved 2017-03-21.
  3. ^ "Cisco Brewers -- | Craft beer industry news, events, and jobs". Retrieved 2017-04-10.
  4. ^ Planet, Lonely. "Cisco Brewers in South Shore". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 2017-04-10.
  5. ^ "OCEARCH.ORG »Profile Cisco". Retrieved 2017-07-04.
  6. ^ "Shark Tracker Light Lager :: Cisco Brewers, Triple Eight Distillery, Nantucket Vineyard". Retrieved 2017-07-04.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°15′48.7″N 70°7′52.5″W / 41.263528°N 70.131250°W / 41.263528; -70.131250