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Matt Katase and partner Asa Foster of Brew Gentlemen in Braddock, Pennsylvania, started writing the business plan for their brewery a decade ago, before they were of legal drinking age. They weren’t homebrewers when the idea gripped them, but they became homebrewers as they pursued the idea, creating batches and iterating recipes from the garage of their fraternity house at Pittsburgh science-and-engineering powerhouse Carnegie Mellon.
They launched in 2014, just as soft and hazy IPAs were of growing interest in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic. While they embraced that trend, they never let it consume them—their flagship IPA, General Braddock’s, includes some hops in the blend that would be more common in ’90s and ’00s West Coast IPAs than juicy contemporaries. For Katase, the idea isn’t to throw out the past and start over—it’s to build a bridge and create continuity between old and new. The effort has been successful, too—our Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® blind review panel has tasted a number of their beers over the years; four of those IPAs scored 96 or above. Ten of the 12 Brew Gentlemen beers reviewed by this magazine scored 92 or higher. There’s beauty in the connections they’ve made.
Like most brewers, you’ll hear Katase use the word “balance” a lot but struggle to define it. Yet for Brew Gentlemen another key axis in the quest for balance is time and inspiration. While they’ve committed the brewery to making beers that are soft and balanced, they’ve also committed to making beers that feel as comfortable and classic as they feel new.
In this episode, Katase discusses how they do that, from leaning on old-school American hops in IPA blends to knocking down ABV in their barrel-aged beers, to perfecting their mixed-culture, foeder-aged table beer. He also discusses the impact of the pandemic year on how they think about retail, and why they’ve chosen to keep the taproom closed while they reimagine a brewery experience that makes more sense today.
For Katase, integrity matters, and slow growth with intention is far better than rapid expansion. They’re committed to putting in the work, and the work is never done.
This episode is brought to you by:
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The founders launched Ss Brewtech with a very clear goal to advance brewing equipment design, performance, and quality to the very highest standards in the industry. With a team that draws upon strong functional backgrounds in brewing science, mechanical engineering, industrial design, supply chain, and manufacturing, Ss Brewtech has the people and skill sets you would want and expect from your supplier of pro brewing equipment. Head over to SsBrewtech.com for more information on their brewhouses and brewing gear.
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