A strong example of the craft-beer industry’s inherent camaraderie is collaborative brewing, and Asheville, North Carolina’s Burial Beer Company recently came to New York City to make special beers with two local breweries: Carroll Gardens’ Other Half and Transmitter in Long Island City, Queens.
We spoke with two-thirds of Burial, Tim Gormley and Doug Reiser, to learn more about the joint joints.
Edible Brooklyn: How was your visit?
Tim Gormley: Awesome. I feel like we had an advantage because our third partner, Jess [Reiser], she grew up in Bay Ridge and her mom still lives there. That’s where we stayed.
Doug Reiser: I already miss going to Bagel Boy every morning.
EB: You brewed with Other Half and Transmitter during your stay. How did you connect with them?
TG: Our friend works the tasting room for Other Half. She used to live in Asheville. When the Other Half crew was traveling through the South doing some collaborations not too long ago, she got in touch with us to see if they could come by. We hit it off and talked about us coming to Brooklyn to see their space and make a beer together.
EB: What did you make with Other Half? It’s named Diamond Mausoleum. It’s being released first, this Saturday.
TG: Right. In cans for their anniversary this weekend. We decided to do a Cascadian dark ale, or a black IPA, because Doug, Jess and I all originally met in Seattle and Sam (Richardson, co-owner of Other Half) had lived in Seattle and Portland before he went to New York. It made sense to do something really hoppy with those guys and making it inspired by the Northwest tied it all together.
DR: Our illustrator, David Paul Seymour, designed the art for the cans and Other Half did the graphic design, so the label was collaborative as well.
EB: How did you connect with Transmitter?
TG: Doug met the Transmitter crew the last time he was in New York. He was very impressed with the beers and the humans who made them.
DR: We emailed them basically just to see if he would be down to grab a beer while we were here. They said yes, and they asked us if we wanted to do something together.
TG: What they do is very much up my alley. I’m a total Belgian beer geek.
EB: The beer you made with them is named AF.
TG: That’s for Appalachian Farmhouse. It’s a farmhouse ale with their house wild yeast and a bunch of North Carolina ingredients we brought: winter white wheat, cracked raw wheat, wildflower honey and foraged sumac. We also decided to throw in some black lemon even though it’s not from home.
EB: That sounds like a very different beer from Diamond Mausoleum.
DR: Definitely. Diamond is going to be dark, minimally roasty, and aggressively hoppy. And the Transmitter is going to be a mix of tartness, earthiness, a perceived sweetness, and some floral components. I think our trip speaks on how much variety there is in the industry now. There are so many breweries doing so many different things well.
EB: You’re based in Asheville. Can you tell us about your brewery?
DR: We opened in June of 2013 as a nano-brewery on a one-barrel system. That gave us some freedom to experiment. We’ve put out probably around 150 unique recipes since then. And we’ve expanded to a 10-barrel system. It’s been great.
EB: What kinds of beer do you like to make?
DR: Whatever make sense to act as a canvas for experimentation.
TG: We get a lot of inspiration from the culinary and cocktail worlds. We challenge ourselves to use odd ingredients. We’ve used birch bark and squid ink and everything in between.
EB: What’s with your name? It’s… morbid.
TG: [Laughs.] Doug and Jess lived in New Orleans at one point and they were really inspired by the jazz funerals there. Instead of mourning the lost one, their life is celebrated… It’s just a really positive, beautiful way to deal with loss. Now we view the name as more about the mysterious, cyclical nature of life. Brewing itself is very cyclical. When something is buried underground, it ultimately becomes part of the earth that sprouts life — maybe the grain or hops that we use. Our name is morbid on its face, but it’s meaning is everything but.
EB: Asheville has developed into one of the country’s biggest beer destinations. Why did you choose to headquarter your brewery in the city?
TG: The three of us were all looking for an urban environment that still had a close-knit community. We’ve been able to truly connect with the area and the people here.
DR: This city attracts passionate, hard-working people. Almost every single person you meet, once you get to know them more, it’s revealed that they do something cool. They play guitar in a band or make jewelry or teach yoga or cure their own meat. It’s an inspiring place to be.
EB: How do you think New York City’s craft-beer scene compares to Asheville’s?
DR: I think we’re more brewery-centric than New York. I mean, when you’re by us you’re going to be spending most of your time at brewery taprooms. We just don’t have many great bars here. But we do have a lot of breweries and those breweries have really great taprooms with outdoor space and food options, and live music. It’s surprising how few breweries there are in New York City when you consider the population. That being said, for how few there are there’s a lot of great beer being made.
TG: Quality over quantity is never a bad thing.
EB: Before we end: What were your favorite eating and drinking experiences during your time in NYC?
TG: That’s tough. I really enjoyed the house beers at Threes. I loved the Belgian, homey vibe at Spuyten Duyvil and the Euro-basement aesthetic at Jimmy’s No. 43. And one of the more exciting taplists was at Fools Gold.
DR: We ate a lot of pizza mostly because, well, it’s New York. But also because there isn’t much good pizza in Asheville.
EB: What was your favorite?
TG: Di Fara.
DR: Definitely Di Fara.