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:

G&D
G&D Chillers: As the brewing industry’s premier choice for glycol chilling, G&D Chillers has set the standard on quality, service, and dedication to their customer’s craft. For 25 years G&D has led the way on innovative solutions that match their brewing customers immediate and future needs. With a wide selection of custom built chillers; G&D offers the Nano chiller, the perfect solution for Nano breweries all the way up to their larger capacity units like the Vertical Air Chiller, built for higher volume operations. Contact G&D Chillers today for your chiller sizing needs at 800.555.0973. Reach out online at Gdchillers.com

BSG
BSG is partnering with Leopold Bros. to bring a new line of small-batch, handmade malts to brewers and distillers. Leopold Bros. is a family owned floor malting operation and distillery and 2020 James Beard Award Finalist, located in Denver, Colorado. Since brothers Scott and Todd Leopold first opened their doors in 1999, they have created everything from classic unfiltered lagers to a number of spirits, including a wide array of whiskey styles. Learn more about the upcoming malt line by going online to BSGCraftbrewing.com, or contact BSG at 1.800.374.2739

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Five Star Chemicals & Supply Inc. is your leading provider of cleaning, sanitizing and adjunct chemicals for breweries, throughout North America and internationally. All products have been formulated with safety, equipment material, and quality in mind. Interested in trying our products? Contact [email protected] to inquire about a free Craft Brew Sample Pack and only pay the shipping. Cheers to Beer!

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Yakima Valley Hops is your hop source whether you are brewing 5 gallons or 5 barrels. Get all the hops you want, when you want them. We source the highest quality hops from the Yakima Valley and premium growing regions around the world so that you have access to the largest hop portfolio possible - even the hard to find varieties like Citra®, Nelson Sauvin, and Galaxy®. Homebrewers: YakimaValleyHops.com // Wholesale: SpotHops.com

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ABS Commercial is excited to be a part of today’s Podcast! ABS is a full brewery outfitter offering brewhouses, tanks, keg washers and small parts. ABS wanted to do something fun for the craft beer industry, so they are giving away an ABS Keg Viking Keg Washer LIVE on December 5th, which happens to be national repeal day. To enter, go to www.abs-commercial.com, click on “Keg Viking” page and fill out the contest form for your chance to win!

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

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