Springs feels different than the rest of the Hamptons. Slightly off the beaten path from the hustle and bustle of tony East Hampton Village, you might have the notion that you’ve stumbled into a North American, working-class version of Bridgadoon when driving into the quiet water-rimmed hamlet. And that’s exactly what brewer Lindsay Reichart loves about the community that spawned her and brewed the idea for her hopped-up project, Springs Brewery.
“Growing up in Springs, I grew up in the woods in a house off Fort Pond and all the kids I went to school with all lived right around the corner,” Reichart says. “We had no idea that the Hamptons were the Hamptons. We were clueless. We’d bike the trails, bike to the beach. And I’m talking elementary school!”
Reichart is among the younger generation of Bonackers, a group of families that were some of the earliest settlers of East Hampton. Largely made up of baymen, fisherman and clammers, only a handful of Bonackers still remain today. Reichart is among an even smaller subsection who left Springs but felt the pull to return and create something that would make her community come together.
History in a can
“[Beer] can be something that is tied within a community and representative of a place. From a design aesthetic, Springs has such a rich history of the arts and crafts. Beer can bring all those things together and be representative of this place,” says Reichart. “The identity of this beer is Springs.” Part and parcel to that are the ingredients she sources, such as honey from Springs Apiary, hops from the Hoppy Acre and oats from Amber Waves Farm, both in Amagansett, as well as local artists for the can label designs.
It’s not surprising that Reichart felt the pull of home when launching her business in the summer of 2021 with her partner, Gunnar Burke. Her father, Randy, also grew up in Springs and owns Hamptons Auto Collision. Her mother, Demi, is originally from the Upper West Side of Manhattan and works as a real estate agent at Corcoran. Reichart didn’t wrap her head around what the greater “Hamptons” image was until she started working as an adolescent.
“You start working pretty early out here. One of my first jobs was working at Bostwick’s [Chowder House]way back when and working at East Hampton Point [Hotel and Marina]. You start to get immersed in the high-stress Hamptons environment. It’s this dichotomy,” she says. “But then you come home and have a bonfire with your family at the beach. You get to see all sorts of living, which is interesting.”
An activist brews
At an early age, Reichart was inspired to get involved in food insecurity and social justice largely thanks to her grandmother, who founded the Springs Food Pantry. Today, her aunt, Holly Reichart-Wheaton, runs the pantry, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year.
That humane spirit of her family matriarchs inspired Reichart to be involved in community activism in college at Fordham University, where she studied sustainability and social justice, with a focus on design. It led to work with Weiss/Manfredi, the New York City-based landscape design and architecture firm focused on community projects like parks. And not unlike her grandmother’s urge to feed people, she also started Greene Hill Food Co-op in Brooklyn and ran a community garden.
“I started to see how I was doing a lot of the things my grandma had instilled in me,” Reichart says. “Sometimes you feel like you’re looking at jobs and… your interests are too disparate, but I started to see that they were more cohesive.” Recently, that melding of her history and her ambitions dovetailed at the Springs Pantry’s annual Chowdah Chowdown fundraiser, where she donated 20 cases of her and Burke’s burgeoning brews. “Everyone got to pick either a lager or ale,” she says. “I grew up working at the food pantry with my grandma so it is so fun to share the beer with everyone to support the much-needed pantry.”
A spring of inspiration
Reichart and Burke started out homebrewing simply as a fun activity to do together before realizing their beer was actually pretty good, and something they could sell. All of Springs Brewery’s products are limited run and small batch, though there are some popular beers that come back from time to time, such fall favorite Landbier, a 4.6 percent ABV helles-style lager. Beer names, too, draw inspiration from her life and the land she grew up around: names like Sandy Loam, Promised Land, Never Left Wasn’t Here, and Arethusa, which translates to mean “Swift Water” from its Greek origins and the mythological story of a nymph who was changed into (fittingly) a spring.
“We’ve released 16-plus beers, which are all scaled up recipes we’ve been working on after brewing at home for many years,” says Reichart, adding that they really try to create their beers in response to the seasons, like the Treiber Pilsner with Treiber Farms barley in Peconic, a forthcoming brew made with beach plums foraged by her Uncle Dennis, and another using barley from from Sagaponack’s Foster Farm (also home to Sagaponack Distillery). “We’re deeply inspired by the history of craft in Springs and the longstanding respect and relationship between the people of the East End and the land, as well as European lager beer traditions, plus more new school approaches to ales.”
Reichart and Burke brew cans and kegs of the beer at übergeek Brewing Co. with owner Rob Raffa in Riverhead. During the non-winter months, they love the interaction of selling their beer at the Springs Farmers Market at Ashawagh Hall on Saturdays, but there are other places to find the brews, too, all year round: Sagaponack Distillery and Sam’s Beverage Place, as well as behind the bars of Stephen Talkhouse, Doubles, Coche Comedor, Rowdy Hall, Inlet Seafood Restaurant and Townline BBQ. The ultimate goal is to open a tasting room right in Springs, where Reichart is back to living full-time. She’s in discussions with her dad about turning his autobody shop into a tasting room when he retires—a plan he fully and thirstily supports.
“Ultimately, what we want to bring to it is that same experience I had growing up here,” says Reichart. “We want to create an accessible product and a space for everyone. Springs has become more populated than ever before, with an ‘us’ and ‘them’ dynamic [between locals and tourists]. We see [the Springs Brewery] as glue that could bring people together.”
Reichart is also pretty excited about upholding and respecting her identity as one of the last remaining Bonackers.
“The identity of being a Bonacker, to me [is] how can we make this a more inclusive community and atmosphere, rather than being a term for locals only,” she says. “True Bonackers are from Springs, but to me it’s about the bounty of Springs and sharing that with people.”