Two guys walk into a St. John bar …

Kevin Chipman
and Chirag Vyas, the founders of St. John Brewers at Mongoose Junction, didn't exactly just walk in to a bar.  They got there the old fashioned way.  They earned it.

Their story began soon after they graduated from the University of Vermont and decided to move to St. John.  The first year, they lived on a sailboat with no electricity while they figured out what they would do with the rest of their lives.  "You don't worry about what might go wrong in life when you're snorkeling, hiking or sailing," they told Islands magazine.  "Very quickly, we fell in love with the lifestyle here on St. John," and decided to stay.

But doing what? Well, they loved craft beers, and Paradise had no craft beer.  So they made some.

The key to their 'overnight' success, which has taken several years: hard work that began with their idea, and then their explaining – and selling – it to restaurants and bar owners.  "When our first 40-foot container arrived (with 1,300 cases of Virgin Islands Tropical Mango Ale), we warehoused it ourselves.  Half on St. Thomas, half in our apartment."

For all those people who think they'd like to c move to the island, the Brewers story is pure gold.  They found the harder they worked and the more they cared about the comm,unity, the greater their success and acceptance and support.  "Part of knowing everyone is supporting everyone," they said.

It also helps that St. John's a happy place. "If St. John  has a reason to party, it definitely will," they told Islands.

22 thoughts on “Two guys walk into a St. John bar …”

  1. They make awesome beers. I had it on my vacation to St John almost two years ago. I’m still hunting down Island Summer Ale, buying it by the case(s) here in California. I don’t know how many I hooked on the Mango Ale…. but I admit I did that to keep them all away from my Summer Ale~!
    Great story.

  2. Reminder:
    Paradise’s “craft beer” is brewed in Portland, Maine at the Shipyard Brewing Company (who bought origional Casco Bay Brewing company).This is not an island made beer using Caribbean grains or anything else. It is New England brew masters, their professional experience and machinery that makes this beer, not Virgin Islanders.

  3. First of all, contract brewing by a third party is commonplace in the brewing industry. Secondly, it is a rare brewery that uses ingredients that are indigenous to their area. Finally, this is a unique recipe developed by two dudes on St John.
    Just what exactly was your point?

  4. Don’t care where it’s brewed,it still has the Island Spirit! Love their beer so much,I have some labels I saved and framed and are hanging on my bedroom wall! Just wish I could get it here in PA.

  5. Whoa. Can you say photoshop? I lived on St. John and I never wore a sweater like that…especially at the beach. Never did get the marketing slant of this outfit either. “Support us because we support you” I think it goes. Kind of goes with the “We’re all here because we’re not all there” and this pic captures that sentiment. lol These sentiments combined with an agreement with Lem leaves me thinking this “story” doesn’t say much for St. John or this beer. “We made our dreams real in St. John!” and that’s it hugh?

  6. I LOVE their Root Beer but I refuse to drink it anymore because it is not all natural. They pump artificial preservatives into it for a longer shelf life. What a shame.

  7. They make good beer and I could care less about preservatives. If you’re that much of a health nut you probably should avoid the beer anyway. Party-on!

  8. Hey guys! Rock on! I’m a Porter drinker myself but I always love to stop by for a laugh, a party, a cold one or the AC! Good job!!

  9. Simple: its not brewed in the USVI. Just want people to know that its not local. Dudes are. beer not. I drink CARIB thats better than their beer…brewed in Trinidad or RED STRIP…from Jamaica…those are Caribbean beers. I also buy products and souvenirs for friends made here, not China….or Portland Maine. Sure…buy it in Portland and market it as a VI beer…that’s capitalism.

  10. Sorry to hear the beer is not made on St. John, kinda takes away a little of the ambiance of the beer’s name!!
    Nice story, glad to here 2 guys came up with a product to market a product to once again deceive the consumer.
    kinda like “American Girl Doll” that is made in CHINA!!
    The only kudo they get is for supporting the locals and hopefully the economy and

  11. . I drink CARIB thats better than their beer…brewed in Trinidad or RED STRIP…from Jamaica…those are Caribbean beers. I also buy products and souvenirs for friends made here, not China….or Portland Maine.

  12. Thanks to those with the positive comments. Kevin and I have worked hard over the past ten years to build a true island brewing company, one that is fully owned and operated by the two of us. We started brewing in 5 gallon buckets in our apartment in Chocolate Hole while holding down two jobs. We have brewed and created every one of our beers and soda on St John in our brewing system at The Tap Room. When it came time to expand our St John based business we didn’t have the several million dollars to build a brewery in the VI so we contract with a brewery in Maine that brews to our exact specifications. Frank, if any of your readers want to invest several million dollars to build a brewery and bottling plant please feel free to have them contact us. As for the sweater photo, its a promotion for our annual Sweater Party in December. You all are invited. And finally, Red Stripe is owned by Diageo and also brewed in Canada. Guinness is brewed and bottled in more places than Ireland.
    Thanks again to those that support locally owned businesses. -Cheech

  13. Aw, come ON! Do you think Foxy has some kind of mega brewery set up on JVD for his beers? These guys are contributing to the local economy no less than anyone else, and probably paying dearly for it.

  14. Hey Cheech,
    I was one of those positive comments and still a huge supporter and costumer. However, getting Summer Ale this summer in Sacramento CA was next to impossible…come-on man hook a guy up~!

  15. Those that are concerned that their beer is not brewed on St. John are only jealous that they didn’t come up with the idea in the first place! – HA! Are the household items and food that line the shelves at any of the Markets on the island from St. John? Get off your high horse!
    This is a great story cultured out of the minds of two bright St. John residents. I wish you guys all the best. Great beer enjoyed in a great place.

  16. So whats wrong with another company brewing their recipe? That’s how entrepreneurs work- they delegate when needed. I don’t care where it is made so long as it is exact to their recipe and instruction.
    AND if they actually built a brewery on the island? All you people that complain about the beer not being made there would be the same group screaming about the unsightly brewery.
    You just can’t please them all. Good beer guys- keep up the good work!

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