Wondering what cheeses go with your brew, or why the Brooklyn air is so important to our terroir? Just ask Matt Raw, our UX lead by day and brewmaster by night. He's a friendly guy, so no question's off the table.
(Really, just try him.)
What are the common things a good brew and a good UX would have?
Awesome question. Both a good beer and a good user experience should be balanced, attractive, and ultimately satisfying to consume. And, with the very best beers and user experiences, there should be an unexpected new twist, something just a little bit surprising.
If i'm an aspiring brewmaster what's the most cost effective way to get started on my brew?
There's definitely an up-front equipment cost when you start homebrewing, but that can be minimized in a few ways: brew in plastic buckets instead of glass carboys. Save and reuse your commercial beer bottles so you don't have to buy them. Go to one of those giant kitchen supply warehouses to find a stainless steel kettle. Buy ingredients in bulk, if you can. Or, better yet, find a friend who's a homebrewer and "help" on a batch (i.e. stand around and watch). You'll probably get some free homebrew for the effort.
Isn't all this home-brewing just an excuse to get drunk and throw snowballs at cars? If not, get real; if so, how many bottles of 5:30 IPA does it take to get on a south-side quarters "Hot Streak?"
Thanks for your question, Sweaty. Homebrewers have many motivations for getting into the hobby: some want to save money, others enjoy the experimentation, while still others strive to make world class beer. As for getting on a "Hot Streak," I'm not sure I understand the question, but my guess is it takes 10 pitchers to do that.
Where do I get the beer? It's 6.30 already.
It's like Jesus said, "Seek and ye shall find at the bodega around the corner."
What's the difference, chemically and otherwise, between a porter and a stout? (I'll be really embarrassed if you tell me they're the same thing)
No need to feel embarrassed, because it's really confusing. The short answer is that there is very little difference at all. The rule of thumb I've heard most often is that if roasted barley is used in the mash, it's considered a porter. Otherwise, it's a stout. But I doubt many brewers consider this a hard and fast rule.
The history of the two terms is actually pretty interesting, and this article covers it far better than I can. For a long time, "stout" was just another name for a strong porter, which is probably where the confusion started.
As a tangent, if you're reading about the history of porter, the London Beer Flood of 1814 is really good bar trivia. In the early 19th century, porter was not only incredibly popular, it was also aged by breweries for up to a year in giant vats (a practice that is practically unheard of now). These giant vats did a good job of aging massive quantities of porter to satisfy London's thirst. That is, until one exploded.
What cheese would you pair with the 5:30 IPA?
I went straight to our client Brooklyn Brewery for some advice on this one. Our IPA should pair well with a nicely aged cheddar. The dry, salty sharpness of the cheddar should be a nice complement to the citrus flavors from the Cascade and Sorachi Ace hops. The higher alcohol content of our IPA should also serve as a nice palette cleanser between bites. Whatever direction you go with the cheese, support the local farmers who make high quality cheese possible.
I have a friend who sometimes overindulges in high ABV suds. While he claims that he could "pass any test," I'd like to recommend some lower alcohol beers for him to try. What do you say? Oh, answers involving O'Douls will be rejected.
Session beers sound like just what your friend needs. Don't be fooled into thinking low ABV equals low quality: a well-made 4% beer should pack just as much flavor into a pint as a high ABV counterpart. That said, overindulgence is overindulgence, and if your friend is boasting about his tolerance it may be time to intervene.
Hey Matt, I've seen some starter homebrew kits with options between plastic buckets and glass containers for the carboy. Does this choice drastically change the flavor of the beer? Are there any other things to keep in mind about the choice between plastic & glass carboy?
If you protect your beer from direct light and keep it at the correct temperature, you should notice no difference in flavor between plastic and glass fermenters. Plastic buckets let in less light, are easier to haul around, and are more durable. Glass carboys look much cooler and are easier to clean and sanitize. Over many batches, plastic buckets may harbor microscopic bacteria, but that's only a concern if you brew a lot and are sloppy with your sanitation process. I brew with both.
Ever consider quitting your day job to become a full-time brewmaster? Seems like you've got the right stuff.
Thanks for the kind words, tb3. Brewing professionally is an entirely different ballgame. There are a lot of barriers to entry for a desk jockey like myself. For starters, my wardrobe would need a complete overhaul. My Campers, a perfect combination of comfort and style for client services, would be totally out of place in an industrial brewery.
What's a good style of beer for a beginner to brew at home?
American pale ales are where lots of homebrewers start, and for good reason. They're usually pretty simple recipes, which allows you to get familiar with the ingredients and understand what each one lends to the brew. The process is also straightforward—no need to get familiar with decoctions, lagering, or any other advanced techniques. Finally, pale ales usually have a healthy amount of hops in them. The hop bitterness and aroma help cover up any rookie mistakes.
What investment in equipment, space and time is necessary to get started brewing?
You don't need much to get going. Lots of homebrewing stores and suppliers provide starter kits that give you everything you'll need for your first batch. In addition to the starter equipment, you need a way to bring several gallons of liquid to a boil. For most people, a stovetop will work. If you have outdoor space and can use a propane burner, even better. Personally, I brew in a 400 sq. ft. apartment. Space is tight, but it's definitely possible. Urban pro tip: put your big brewpot over two (or all four!) burners on your tiny apartment stove for a quicker boil.
Where is a good place to take a first date in Greenpoint?
I get this question a lot. For dinner, I like the seasonal focus of Eat (Meserole, between Leonard and Eckford). Calexico is a fan favorite, but you might want to think twice about a giant burrito on a first date. For drinks, the Manhattan Inn is lovely and I've heard good things about the cask ales at Keg & Lantern. If your date is really into smoked foods, you could do worse than a lunch date at Acme Smoked Fish followed by a rauchbier at Brouwerji Lane. What it lacks in romance it more than makes up for in smoky, backwoods flavor.
What are the pros and cons of brewing on a rooftop in Brooklyn?
Pros: fresh air, plenty of space, and pairs well with grilling. Cons: moving hot wort is dangerous, NYPD will pepper spray you if they find out you're up there.