The first keg I ever purchased was from Beach Brewing Co., their Hurricane Wheat Ale. It was fittingly named and pared for the occasion of being trapped in doors during Hurricane Sandy.
As the wind threw a tantrum of broken tree foliage and darting rain on my roof overhead, I was nourished with their beer.
This year the craft brewery has moved across the street to their larger warehouse facility, with more beer and a new fearsome logo, which seemed like a good excuse to ask some questions of their head brewer, Justin MacDonald. He began brewing batches of beer some ten years ago on his stove at home. He cites Homebrewing and trying all the beer of other American craft breweries as motivation for opening his own company.
AltDaily: From my experience–and what I’ve seen in my eyes and felt in my taste buds–a sort of Beach Brewing specialty are the bitter IPAs. Is there a specific beer you prefer to brew or a favorite?
Justin MacDonald: IPAs are close to our hearts and important to our company culture. We like drinking them and because of that, we enjoy creating them. We brew other things too, but hoppy American ales are definitely a focus here.
It can be said that American craft beer was originally influenced by the Belgians and Trappist monks with their craft beer making (and thus the popularity of ales and Belgian style ales). Which historical styles or processes have inspired you?
American craft beer has been undoubtedly influenced by European brewing culture, and not just the Belgians. What we do at Beach Brewing is try to draw inspiration from more than one source in order to create something we can call our own. These sources don’t always necessarily have roots in the brewing industry. We can’t claim a specific inspiration because of this, but we admire all the brewers who continue to push the craft forward.
Indeed, he is right. We can look to the English and Irish for their porters or stouts, characterized by Beach Brewing’s SeaDevil Imperial Stout or the limited released smoked American porter Fire at Sea, rich with malts and a dark coffee flavor. Their Riptide Altbier borrows from the German tradition of fermentation, with a soft amber color with a lighter caramel taste that’s easy to down. Their regular rotation on draft available at the Brewery’s tasting room is the altbier, Hurricane Wheat, Hammerhead IPA, Hoptopus Double IPA, and SeaDevil Imperial Stout. It is a lineup with diverse European inspirations that makes it distinctively American.
The new brewing facility resulted in quadruple the space, meaning, of course, more beer carbonated in their brite tanks. “We were out of room and out of capacity in our original facility, so it was a natural step. That’s not to say it was easy; running one facility while designing and coordinating the build-out of a second is one of the toughest things we’ve had to do. We couldn’t be happier with the transition, though.”
The company began canning the west-coast style double IPA Hoptopus as well, their signature beer with Simcoe and an underlying grapefruit taste. Another innovation that came about was their beer soap, which I am still eager to try. I’ve been doing “research” at the brewery by trying their limited beer or seasonal releases, including Diablo Red Ale, Ghost Ship Pale Ale, Oceanus Aurum Saison, The Kraken Triple IPA, Unwitting Servant American Wild Ale, and Zephyr Rye Session Ale. There are six seasonal beers throughout the year, and barrel-aged beers to be expected.
Like sticking your nose in a snifter, the tasting room’s tasty aroma plays an important part setting the atmosphere of the brewery. There’s a steady stream of food trucks parked out front for events. Barrels are spaced out as invitations for setting down your drink and staying a while. The penny-lined bar provides an area for merry patrons to bellow and chatter.
“We make beer we want to drink and enjoy sharing these creations with people,” said MacDonald. “Beyond that, I think the liquid should speak for itself.”
And so it does. Try a few pints and you’ll start to hear the beer talking.
For more on Beach Brewing Co., here is their Facebook page.