Finback Brewery will join the growing ranks of brewers in Queens this month when its beers start hitting taps around the city. The brainchild of homebrewers and friends Basil Lee and Kevin Stafford, Finback is located in Forest Hills, Queens, and will soon have a taproom open to the public. In the meantime the duo will hold launch events to celebrate the release of their beers at Owl Farm on Wednesday, January 22 at 7 p.m.; Jimmy’s No. 43 on Thursday, January 23 at 6 p.m.; and Station House Forest Hills on Tuesday, January 28 at 7 p.m.
Lee and Stafford met during school in Boston and began homebrewing together soon after. We caught up with Lee, who told us about Finback’s inspirations, its Kickstarter campaign, and sour beers:
What was the first beer that you brewed?
Honestly, don’t remember the first beer we brewed. In the beginning Kevin started with a more beer kit and brewing with extract. After a year or so he graduated to all grain. I started a bit later and Kevin guided me through all grain process. Many of our first beers were pretty experimental. I recall a cucumber wit, many porters/stouts and IPAs.
Does Finback have a particular focus in certain styles or a philosophy you are looking to bring to your beers?
We’ve aren’t about a particular style. Our philosophy is about trying new things, imagining how ingredients would work – definitely hop leaning. We like to think about a style as a starting point, and how we could make it interesting or delicious, or to suit a mood. We love playing with smoke – in malts, and we’ve also been playing around with smoked teas. We want to make beers that are fun to drink.
You used Kickstarter to help fund a barrel aging program, how big a part of the brewery will this be?
Don’t have a specific number in mind, but once we get everything running, likely will do about 20 to 30 percent sours and barrel aged beers. We’ll have a development phase where we try things and see what works before we release many things.
What breweries have inspired you?
So many! And for so many different reasons. Love New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series, recently Maine Beer Co is very cool, Founders is great, and of course Russian River and everyone passionately making sours.
What do you see Finback bringing to the New York beer market?
I think Kevin and I have interesting backgrounds – a graphic designer and an architect who are both serious beer drinkers and brewers. I think having a creative background lets us think about beer and flavor and concept differently. I think we are beer guys but with a slightly different culture that will be interesting.