As an up-and-coming beer connoisseur, blogger and Instagrammer, one of the things I some day wish to accomplish is to have relationships with breweries all over the country. I’ve joked with my wife that I would consider this entire endeavor a success if some day just one brewery sends me a free beer to drink, photograph and write about. While I’m not quite there yet, I did have a really pleasant experience with one of the breweries whose beer I put on the windowsill, and I think it makes for a pretty good story.
Here’s what went down. The other night, I photographed and reviewed today’s windowsill inhabitant, the Super Bad–a double IPA from Brooklyn’s Interboro Spirits & Ales. As part of my writeup, I did a brief tongue-in-cheek anti-hipster rant related to the beer’s chosen home base of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which is basically hipster central in New York City.
I then went into a few “hipsterish” things that Interboro was involved in, before praising them for their ability to make tremendous beer. In that little diatribe, I said Interboro embraced hipster culture for the following reasons:
Their brewery is carved out in an old woodworking factory. They crowdsource a lot of their research and development. The decor in their tap room is “rustic.” Hell, they even have a live-in cat named Bingo.
Keep in mind that I did my research before posting this. I Googled the brewery and found several articles from a time when cofounders Jesse Ferguson and Laura Dierks were ramping up to launch their new brewery and distillery (the only combo booze making spot in Brooklyn). This included an interview Ferguson did with Edible Brooklyn in November of 2015, a quick writeup on Brownstowner, and the actual Kickstarter page that helped the brewery get the initial equipment they needed to get off the ground.
Fast forward a couple of hours, and I noticed the following direct message on my Instagram (@beersonwindowsills):
Hi there. Laura from Interboro here. Just wondering what the source info is on our R&D. Not sure what crowdsourcing you’re referring to and really curious where that came from, mostly because I would say it’s not the case at all. Feel free to drop me an email instead, if that’s easier [her email]. Looking forward to hearing from you.
I’m assuming “Laura” was Interboro cofounder Laura Dierks, because she referred to the head brewer as her “cofounder” later in the conversation, but I can’t confirm that to be 100% true, so I won’t. Anyway, for fear that I had misrepresented the company in any way, I immediately removed the sentence from my write up, and I emailed Laura back to explain my sources, and to offer up a sincere apology. For those of you wondering why I didn’t keep my description as is, I removed the line, because, even though they did crowdsource initially, and their Kickstarter campaign referenced R&D specifically, my sentence did make it seem as though this was an ongoing strategy for research and development for the company, and not a one-time thing they did to help them get started. It was definitely a misunderstanding on my part, and my sentence was a bit misleading, so I gladly took it down. After all, I had more than enough hipster stuff to cheekishly poke fun at without it.
I explained all of that to Laura, who graciously thanked me for removing the line. She mentioned that she hadn’t connected the Kickstarter campaign when she’d read my original sentence–perhaps proving that my line was a bit unintentionally misleading–and that she just didn’t want folks to think their beer recipes were coming from anywhere but them. I responded that I would feel awful if I thought my followers got that impression from reading what I had posted, and that I was happy to remove it. After a few back-and-forth messages, we bid each other a fond farewell and went about our businesses.
Look. I stand by the research I did, and what I had written at its core, but at the end of the day, the way I said it was not fully accurate. Also, like I said, I think this brewery kicks ass, so I definitely didn’t want people to think they were getting their beer ideas from anyone other than themselves. After all, cofounder Jesse Ferguson, who, according to my research, handles the beer side of things while Dierks skillfully handles the distillery side, is, by all evidence I’ve seen, a tremendous brewing talent. He was once head brewer at Carton Brewing (home of the 077XX IPA and the Unjunct Stout), and has also worked with the folks at Other Half Brewing Co (a brewery I hope to visit this summer). I would never want to insinuate that the Interboro crew wasn’t as good as I think they are.
Also, I guess I was just really glad that Laura reached out to me about this. First of all, it’s nice to see a company that stays on top of its brand and fights to make sure it’s well represented, even by a fledgeling Instagram account like mine. Secondly, she was extremely gracious, and downright nice to me about the whole thing. Maybe if I had been combative, she would have been too, but we were able to pleasantly settle everything with communication. In 2017! Hey, at least she didn’t call my blog the enemy of the people, like our POTUS would have.
Did I mention there’s also a beer review in this post? Spoiler alert: It’s really good! I picked up the Super Bad double IPA the day it was released, not knowing anything about it. My wife was buying, so I asked the guy at Beer Table, a craft beer store inside Grand Central Terminal, for a recommendation for a really good hazy IPA. He motioned to the Super Bad, which had been delivered just hours before. A few days later, I decided to give it a try with dinner.
Wowsers! It was delicious. All the flavors–a little grapefruit, orange, mango and caramel–shined through, but they didn’t over power my palate at all. They immediately gave way to the nice bitter, floral IPA finish that the hops brought through as the brew traveled down my throat. It was aggressive, but also really nice and refreshing.
The beer, and then the exchange with Laura, really cemented my fandom for this up-and-coming brewery. I really wish them well, and can’t wait to try some more of their beers. Hopefully, some day, I’ll even take the train down to Brooklyn, fight through the hipster nonsense, and visit myself… if they’ll have me.