Podcast Episode 157: Finback Cofounder Kevin Stafford Strives For Harmony in Creative, Boundary-Pushing Beers

New York City’s Finback Brewery has developed a reputation for successful risk taking with unexpected, fun ingredients in everything from imperial stouts to IPAs.

Jamie Bogner Oct 20, 2020


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For Kevin Stafford, Head Brewer and Cofounder of New York’s Finback Brewery, exploration and creative expression has always been the brewery’s goal, as they wholeheartedly embrace the new. But there’s a certain cohesiveness to the range of their experimentation that grounds it. They’re not purists and don’t subscribe to the artificial limitations imposed by style—what matters is that it tastes good, and evokes a spirit of playfulness.

In this episode, Stafford talks about their approach to hazy IPA, unexpected hops combinations, using ingredients like coconut in flavored IPAs, and tracking customer feedback loops like Untappd scores to help understand customers’ tastes. With their rich dessert stouts, he discusses adjunct processes around ingredients with high fat content such as nuts, which can pose challenges in the brewhouse, and he discusses additions of high-sugar ingredients (such as Froot Loops cereal) while fermentation is still active. Body in big stouts is very important, and he walks through how they build it without some of the sweetness inherent in lactose approaches.

“If that imperial stout coats the glass—when you rotate the glass a little bit—as long as it sticks and makes the glass brown, and stays there for a while—that makes me happy,” says Stafford. “I don’t care if there’s no head.”

What does matter to Stafford is maintaining a spirit of weirdness and creativity, putting coconut in everything, and constantly challenging themselves to find new possibilities in the beer they make.

This episode is brought to you by:

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Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].