Mary Kimball and Eric Buth met each other through a common friend in 2011 and though they were only friends at first, they fell in love and now live together with their dog Roger and cat George. They got engaged in January and plan to marry next year. Mary and Eric began homebrewing a few years ago after receiving gift certificates to Bitter & Esters introductory class Brewshop 101: Homebrewing Essentials. The certificates were a Christmas gift from Eric's dad, who recognized that they both had an affinity for beer. "After buying a kit and realizing we could indeed make beer we wanted to drink, we immediately started ramping up our operation - and figuring out how to fit more equipment into our 1 bedroom apartment." says Kimball.
Kimball and Buth were 1 of 5 homebrewers randomly selected to participate in this year's NYC Brewers Pro-Am out of more than 60 entrants. They were partnered with the recently opened Strong Rope Brewery in Brooklyn, NY. Strong Rope is a farm brewery located just off 4th Avenue on President Street and is owned and operated by Jason Sahler. Regular listeners of the Brew To Share podcast will remember Jason from episode #020. Jason is producing some great beer while sourcing about 90% of his ingredients from New York State. This team joins homebrewers partnering with the Bronx Brewery, Folksbier, Greenpoint Beer and Ale, and KCBC.
Since opening in December of 2015, Strong Rope established a program of collaborations with homebrewers. He has brewed with Brett Taylor (Episode #011 of the BTS Podcast) and recently released a collaboration with the homebrew club the Brewminaries, of which Mary and Eric are members. As soon as Mary and Eric learned that they were going to be brewing with Jason, they headed to the brewery with beer in hand. If you've ever been to Strong Rope, you know there is a more than decent chance that Jason will be there. He's usually behind the bar pouring pints and laughing with friends; his tap room is usually filled with some of the city's best homebrewers. Before going pro, Jason was one of us, he was a staple at homebrew festivals and competitions and his beer was always exceptional and consistently every homebrewer's favorite. After sharing a few beers back and forth, they begin to focus on how to marry their respective strengths as brewers. Kimball explains the process, "For our part, we suggested our generally East-coast IPA grain bill, and, with Jason's focus on NY State ingredients, he proposed adding seasonal NY fruit from the farmers market."
They scheduled their brew day at Strong Rope and spent the day brewing, as well as helping out with other tasks around the brewery such as stacking bags of grain and kegging beer. They even went back to the brewery to help with the kegging of their collaboration; an IPA with rhubarb and strawberries. They will also be bringing a homebrew. Their homebrew is a dry-hopped, brettanomyces IPA with Mosaic, Waimea, and Nelson Sauvin hops. Kimball describes the beer, "It's a drier IPA with mild brett character (from the secondary fermentation) and a strong aromatic hoppiness that tastes more juicy than bitter. Really, it's the kind of beer we want to drink, and that's why we made it." Jason will also be bringing a beer. The same is true for the other 4 competing homebrewers and professionals for a total of 15 beers. Of the overall experience Kimball adds, "...there's no way to miss that operating a brewery requires an immense amount of hard work and passion. It makes us very much appreciate what great things Jason at Strong Rope and other local brewers are accomplishing here in NYC."
The NYC Brewers Pro-Am is taking place this Saturday at Covenhoven located at 730 Classon Avenue in Brooklyn. Advance tickets are $35 and are available online here. Tickets, if available, will be $40 at the door. Due to the limited capacity of the venue, there are 2 sessions. The 1st session is 1p-3p. The second session is 3:30p-5:30p. Your ticket entitles you to unlimited samples of the beers, a souvenir glass, a complimentary pretzel, and the chance to vote for Audience Choice. The winner of Audience Choice will have their beer brewed again. Will it be the Kimball/Buth/Strong Rope collab? The choice is up to you.