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(Photo courtesy of Montauk Brewing)

Montauk Brewing co-founder Vaughan Cutillo was never a runner. Athletic, sure. Growing up in Montauk, he was an avid swimmer, surfer and lifeguard; he played baseball and football. But running? Nope, not his jam — until now. Not only does Vaughan regularly log mile upon mile, but it inspired him and his co-founders to launch a brand-new non-alcoholic brew to boot.

“The interesting thing is I was not a runner as a kid. But a few years ago, I was in New York City and for whatever reason, I just decided to put on running shoes and take a run through Central Park. It was during Covid, and I guess it started as a meditating kind of thing and grew from there,” he says. “In a wildly positive way, I became addicted to running. It’s really freeing and fun. My health improved, my physical fitness and my mental clarity.”

Fast forward to a year ago when Cutillo took on a 50-mile ultra-marathon in Ithaca, New York. “It was a trail race through the mountains, and it was brutal! But when I finished, I felt like I could run through a wall – like I could do anything,” he laughs. At the end of the race, his wife was waiting for him with (what else?) an ice-cold can of Montauk Brewery’s Wave Chaser IPA, and it gave Cutillo two great ideas: first, create a delicious non-alcoholic beer and second, start the Montauk Brewing Run Club. As of this month, both dreams were realized. 

Montauk Brewing’s casual, inclusive East End vibe has been a strong part of their growing appeal. (Photo courtesy of Montauk Brewing)

“The N.A. IPA is our very first non-alcoholic beer. It’s a small market but it’s growing like a weed. We saw the non-alcoholic category making momentum and it makes sense for us to do one,” Cutillo says. “It took time to create the recipe and get it right —we wanted something that was more full bodied, like the experience of drinking an IPA.”

So far, the feedback on the beer’s citrusy, refreshing aromatics and flavor has been positive. Since it released in April, has made it into rotation at the suites at City Field Stadium, as well as Montauk’s Surf Lodge. “I think it’s here to stay,” says Cutillo.

As to the running club, Cutillo and crew have that underway as well. You can link up with the Wave Chaser Run Club via Strava, a free app that lets you track your running, biking, walking, etc. activities and share (or compete) with others, and join the social community of runners and beer lovers. It’s not only a fun way to get fit, but club members become eligible for limited release merch, giveaways, in-person events and discounts on road races. 

“Running is such a good way to build community, which is so important especially now, to get like-minded people to talk and come together. Montauk Brewing is about come as you are, whoever you are, and have a great conversation,” says Cutillo. “And that fit so perfectly with the running community. It’s a good, grassroots way to build an active community for the brand.”

Montauk Brewery opened in 2012. (Photo courtesy of Montauk Brewing)

And for the month of June, Montauk Brewing will donate $1 to the Movember Foundation, which raises awareness for men’s physical and mental health issues, for every Wave Chaser Run Club mile logged on the Strava app.

“We’ll be doing events throughout Long Island. It’s a cool social media thing for runners, bikers, surfers – you sign up to track your runs and compete with others on the app,” says Cutillo. “It’s a fun community of active people and have over 300 members on the Wave Chaser Run Club already and we just launched.” 

You can hit up the Montauk Mile run on Sunday, June 9, which starts at the Montauk firehouse and ends at Montauk Brewery’s brew barn (everyone 21 and over who finishes the mile-long race gets a free beer!) and on June 16, they’ll be buddying up with Blue Point Brewery for a Father’s Day Run, a 5k that starts and ends at the Patchogue taproom (225 W. Main St.). 

Montauk Brewery was founded 12 years ago by Cutillo, Joe Sullivan and Eric Moss, three friends who grew up together in Montauk. The brewery was purchased by parent company Tilray nearly two years ago, but Cutillo and Moss remain active, with Sullivan still invested, in the business they started together. 

“I like to say we were a 10-year overnight success!” laughs Cutillo. Today, the little craft beer company that started at The End is distributed far and wide, in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Florida, Georgia and Maryland, and much more of its “come as you are” good vibes is sure to spread. “We’re definitely expanding and continue to grow like crazy,” he says. “But the home market is so important to us.”