Katarina Martinez, owner and operator of Lineup Brewing based in Sunset Park is on a mission to fight baseless snobbery in beer.
“IPAs are great,” she gives as an example, “but not everybody likes them. I think a lot of people pretend they like them. At Lineup Brewing, we don’t want to embrace people drinking things because they feel like they have to,” she told me, with a laugh.
A healthy dose of humor
Martinez, who started Lineup in 2015 after years of home brewing as a hobby, has gotten a lot of press over the recent Bïeryoncé scandal. The brewery received a cease-and-desist from the singer’s legal team for her German pilsner named in homage to Queen Bey. What flew under the radar in that moment, however, was the undeniable quality of the beer itself—a crisp, bright lager that’s since been renamed “Kätariná.”
Lighter, well-lagered beer (aka more crisp, less fruity than an ale), Martinez says, may see a wave of popularity similar to the moment IPAs are currently enjoying, in part because of how drinkable and accessible they are and even to those who don’t identify as beer drinkers. Which is not to say they’re less serious or complex than darker, more bitter styles.
“It takes a more advanced palate to be able to taste what makes a lagered beer a well-lagered beer.”
But apart from offering an extensive menu to appeal to different and serious beer palates, Martinez approaches her brews with a sense of humor. The brewery, and most of the beers, get their names from adventures in dating in New York; a friend commented once that Martinez’s series of exes and bad dates are “like a police lineup.” Beer names range from specific digs at exes (one particular East Coast IPA is the password to all of one of her ex’s accounts) to a Session IPA named “In Defense of Ghosting.”
The names are, in part, a symptom of Martinez’s commitment to sharing her love of beer with other women. Noticing that beer sometimes suffers from a “man’s drink” stereotype, Martinez tries to break down that notion and invite more women to the table. She hopes the dating humor will help make the brews more approachably gender-neutral.
While the beer names are cathartic jokes, ultimately brewing is serious business to Martinez. Having quit her career in the tech startup world last spring in order to fully commit to Lineup, she’s already looking for ways to expand. Since its founding Lineup has gone from a single-barrel system in-house, serving only at the Sunset Park taproom, to using a 30-barrel system at sister brewery Great South Bay that allows Lineup to distribute to bars around the city. Martinez is now looking for investors to help the company continue to grow.
When it comes to the struggle to be taken seriously, Martinez is no stranger. As a woman single-handedly operating her own brewery—the only one doing so in New York City, to her knowledge—she says most people she’s come across have been supportive. But not without exception. She gestures to the way women like herself and those she looks up to are frequently condescended to in male-dominated industries, brewing included, and the resilience necessary to overcome it.
“We’re so good at getting past it—going home and crying about it, but then working hard. We’re kind of awesome.”