508 GastroBrewery, one of Manhattan’s three brewpubs, announced in December the appointment of its new brewer: Chris Cuzme – homebrewer, beer expert and professional musician.
“I am really excited to be here,” Cuzme says. “To contribute to making this city a force to be reckoned with when it comes to making beer.”
Cuzme follows Anderson Sant’Anna De Lima, who built 508’s two-barrel brewing operation in the basement of the restaurant, located in Tribeca. His first task after taking the helm was dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. “There was six feet of water downstairs,” he recalls. “Brewery equipment floating around, we lost a ton of grain. I cleaned everything.”
Once the operation was back in working order, Cuzme started small – “I wanted to know what the little system can do” – brewing a single-hopped beer with his pal Jonathan Moxey, and then a Belgian. Cuzme has since made an ESB, a nut brown, the White House honey porter, a blonde and a stout (below), which will be two staples of the draft list.
While Cuzme plans to tweak the recipe of the blonde (dubbed Beauty Booty Blond), the Nug Bug Stout is just the way he wants it. “I’m really f*cking proud of that beer,” he says. “That’s right where I want a dry stout to be right now.”
Cuzme has big plans coming up at the restaurant – next up is a “Four More Beers” event where he will serve the White House Porter, which he made with honey purchased at the McCarren Park Greenmarket in Greenpoint. He plans a Berliner Weisse and an oyster stout, with oysters caught off of Long Island: “I’ll have them from oyster to beer in four hours.” He’s also planning a beer in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. to serve during Black History Month, and one for Craft Beer Week.
When it comes down to it, Cuzme says, “I’m a homebrewer. I will always be a homebrewer at heart.” Through 508 he will give back to the homebrewing community in New York City, which he has been a part of since 2001. Once a month, Cuzme will bring in a homebrewer from one of the groups in the city to brew with him. One tap line at 508 will always be dedicated to these collaborative beers. One dollar will be added on the price, which will be donated to the brewer’s favorite 501 (c)(3).
As for his own brewing, Cuzme’s philosophy is elegant and audacious, he says, always focusing on drinkability and striving to further the brewpub culture in NYC. “I believe beers are best served fresh… nothing sings louder than the beer itself.”
If 508 can produce great beer in such small quarters, many other places can do the same, urges Cuzme. “It’s important that this place exists… brewpubs are the center of the craft beer industry.”
In the near future, look forward to beer pairing dinners at 508, which will also be involved in the upcoming Craft Beer Week.