The sole brewer on Nantucket Island has been pleasing locals and visitors since 1995
Cisco Brewers is part of a unique family of brewers, winemakers, and distillers living on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts. This tiny microbrewery works closely with Nantucket Vineyard and Triple Eight Distillery to produce small batches of high quality brews, wine, spirits, and liqueurs. As said by the Cisco Brewers staff, "We are just about the coolest place on planet Earth."
The brewery was founded by Randy and Wendy Houston in 1995 Wendy had started homebrewing with some friends while living in California, and moved to Nantucket Island in 1992 where she met Randy. Not only did Wendy know Randy was her soul mate, but she had an intuition that he would make a great craft brewer - and she was right. After trying out a home brewing kit, Randy was hooked and so began their launch into the craft beer industry. He even converted a little pasta roller machine into a grain mill - his work at Something Natural (a Nantucket bakery) gave him the inspiration. As if that wasn’t reason enough to keep him around, he also made some excellent beer!
In late 1992, Randy and Wendy had the good fortune of meeting Dean and Melissa Long, the founders of Nantucket Vineyard in 1981. Randy and Wendy were looking for a place to live and the Longs needed helpers, so they ended up moving into the loft above the Longs winery. The Hudsons’ home brewing operation began taking over the backyard, and at one point, Cisco Brewers had the distinction of being America's Only Outdoor Brewery. Their open air operation was so small that Wendy would call it their nano-brewery, since they weren’t quite at their dream of being a microbrewery.
When the Hudsons and the Longs realized they were both in need of more space for their operations, they decided to find a space together that would house both the brewery and winery facilities. In 1996, they moved into their new building, the Mortan building. Due to the construction of the new building, Cisco Brewers was unable to sell beer in July and August 1996, which led to the talk of adding a distillery to round out their trifecta of alcohol brands, and brought about the company’s motto, “Nice beer, if you can get it”.
Triple Eight Distillery became a reality in 2000, with the help of Jay Harman, an acquaintance of Randy and Wendy who had been looking to start a brewery on Nantucket Island before he discovered Cisco was already doing it. Thank goodness they joined forces, because Harman’s hard work and passion would have made him a tough competitor. Not to mention on his own he capped 60,000 bottles in his first year alone. He has been an incredible addition to the team and actually serves as Cisco's CEO today.
The men of the operation, Dean, Randy, and Jay saw a unique synergy between Cisco Brewers making beer and Triple Eight Distillery making whiskey, since after all, whiskey is beer that has been distilled. In the fall of 2000, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts finally gave Triple Eight Distillery a license to produce high proof spirits. After overcoming several obstacles, Triple Eight Distillery began making Notch whiskey.
Since whiskey takes at least five years to make due to its long aging process in the wood, the new distillers decided to try their hand at vodka making. Why? The real question for them at the time was why not! Triple Eight Vodka ended up being the first product to flow into bottles from their tiny production facility.
In 2001, Cisco Brewers hired Matt Lambo as a distributor of Nantucket Vineyards, Cisco Brewers, and Triple Eight Distillery products. Lambo began self-distributing these products in the greater Boston area from his 1975 VW camper van with a large eight ball painted on the side. His help with distribution for the regional breweries led to the opening of over 200 accounts, and he now heads Public Relations, promotions, and events as a Brand manager for Triple Eight Distillery. Cisco Brewery and its sister products are now distributed in 12 states.
Today, all three businesses are open year-round and are constantly evolving, producing a wide variety of world-class wines, craft beers, and spirits. Cisco is well loved by locals and visitors for bringing quality into every glass. It continues to rank as one of the top places in Nantucket. We’re excited to offer these fantastic brews to our Craft Beer Club members. Cheers!