Foreign Objects Beer Company is a New York brewery headquartered in New Paltz that is quietly amassing a strong – and diverse – catalogue of hoppy ales, with other styles to follow. With an ever more crowded market, folks behind Foreign Objects have managed to carve out a spot for themselves by putting artistry at the forefront of all aspects of its beer. Everything from the beer to the can design exudes a craftsmanship that demonstrates why Foreign Objects is a brewery on the rise. I recently sat down with director of brewing operations Steve D’Eva in a small bar in New Paltz, NY to discuss his brewery, his time in the industry, and the shape of beer to come.
Boston Hassle: So, there’s not a lot of information out there about Foreign Objects. The little that there is, there seems to be some confusion about basic things. There’s a very mysterious air about it…
Steve D’Eva: Sure.
BH: Given that, how did Foreign Objects come about? What’s the, not to spoil the mystique, but what’s…
SD: I was a chef for a lot of years, working in the Philadelphia area, and got hooked up eventually with a place called Tired Hands Brewing Company – in Ardmore, PA – and became the executive chef there. So it was very sort of well-known, very successful opening, for a brewery. That was in 2012. Being there I knew I wanted to eventually brew for a living and having the sort of nature that demands creation at all times – not simply creativity but creation- of things and ideas and concepts and manifesting those ideas. I knew I wanted to have a business at some point in the brewing industry. Just seeing the way the industry was developing was what sort of tilted me that direction. So I basically spent the next year at Tired Hands and picked up everything that I could from there and y’know started to look for brewing jobs around Philadelphia, which there were about, I think at the time, maybe about a dozen breweries in the Philadelphia metro area. There weren’t a lot.
BH: Oh how times change…
SD: Yeah. There weren’t a whole lot. And y’know at that time the brewing industry was experiencing quite and uptake in interest, popularity both from the consumer side as well as the employment side – people wanting to really get into that industry. There were 30,000 people trying to find jobs at twelve breweries. So, I basically, long story short, had to go out of state to find a brewing job. I was also 26, 27 years old at the time and I was not willing to go work for pocket lint and, like, food scraps. I needed a job that was going to pay me and I need to be a brewer not keg washer, not a packaging line operator, a brewer. I found that in Arizona at a larger production brewery out there called Grand Canyon Brewing Company. From there I gained all the experience I could and then went to a small brewery called Urban Family Brewery. Urban Family Brewing was in Seattle. It was a young… y’know year, year and a half old, when I got there. Some mediocre stuff being made, nothing really bad, but they started in a very expensive, kind of cool area of Seattle and eventually decided they wanted to go more towards production and focus on that rather than try to run sort of a bar/taproom. I became the head brewer shortly after they decided that and got a different location set up more for production. And I dialed in a lot of my farmhouse and saison brewing there. It was the first chance I really had to brew my beer the way I wanted to brew it. And you know we were doing, I was doing, this style of hoppy beer out there in 2013 and nobody gave a fuck. I mean, really, nobody gave a shit. Which was so curious to me, although, y’know, that market is so saturated with the same brews, like it is all photocopies, man, and I feel like the industry at large is like that somewhat everywhere, but it was really distinct out there, like, if you have… it was very… it was not what I was expecting for such a large market. I excepted much more diversity. And so, y’know, there were people who were very, like very, into what we did at Urban Family, but it was a small portion of people. But, anyway, so then I came back east after, y’know, a period of time there and I was a little disillusioned and I was a little burned out. I made a lot of sacrifices to travel for a career like that. No possessions. Not making a lot of money. Sleeping on floors. And so I came back but I had started to turn that business around before I left, y’know in conjunction with having good brewing now, consistently good brewing, we were all able to turn the brewery around. I came back east, opened a few breweries doing consultations and opened a place in Jersey called Brotherton Brewing, in South Jersey, that did pretty well. And that was, sort of, during that… I was sort of at my last straw with opening breweries and building things that others would benefit from more than myself— not that I wasn’t taken care of by these places. They treated me well. And it was a job. But I didn’t want a job, I wanted to create something and leave an imprint on the culture and the world. Due to the work I’d done at Urban Family, when two of the founders moved back to the lower Husdon Valley (which is where they’re originally from) we discussed doing something else together. Foreign Objects changed forms several times during my initial design of what I wanted. It started off as a very small, very small scale farm brewery on land that my family owned – but that was not going to happen at the time. We then formed this idea to be a brick and mortar up in the Hudson Valley – Lower Hudson Valley, Westchester, New York area – but y’know that would have taken a huge, huge amount of money and would be a huge risk with the type of expense… for 10,000 or 12,000 square feet of space to run a brewery the size we were trying to do. So, with a little reconsidering I… we decided to launch as a contract brewery instead. The prospect of having no debt, really… Starting off with not much debt was a nice prospect. That was essentially just what we did. I shopped around. I found places that had capacity and just tried to build a business with a creative design that would also be able to allow me to put my process into work and produce good beer. I was very confident in my process that I had honed in over the years. I wasn’t concerned where it was being brewed as long as they did what I said and I or Sean could be there to ensure the process was followed. So, that’s how it came about.
BH: Very thorough.
SD: Trying to dial back my rambling.
BH: You said the two other people involved in it were… you met out in Seattle?
SD: Yes, so, two of my partners were two of the founding members of Urban Family Brewing. Sean and Tim.
BH: Did they follow you out here?
SD: They’re originally from the area, the Hudson area. And that’s sort of how the name came about- all of us met in a place where we were not from. We were ‘foreign objects’ in that area. That was sort of the concept but the name has a different meaning to me.
BH: I get a sense of dislocation. There’s a very… A lot of breweries that are popping up are tied to a specific place, a specific land. The idea of ‘terroir’ is becoming very big in beer…
BH: You seem very… if not nomadic then at least there’s some push pull between a sense of place and a sense of beer outside of place…
SD: Well I think… That’s not something we’re not conscious of. It was partly a decision made for expediency and business efficiency, in that we wanted to… we needed to hit a specific amount to make the business viable. A specific amount of production. Not having a place of our own, that requires selling beer in other outlets. We were always primarily focused on choosing the right distributors to work with that would ensure the quality of beer. Start to finish. We’ve definitely done that. We work with the best, in our opinion, the best distributors around. We’ve got great distribution partners. That being said, there was also a big gap in the market for people who don’t live… y’know, who are two hours away from the nearest brewery making this quality of beer. I’m sure people will argue that once these beers are distributed it’s not the same quality, but I’ll put our quality up against any big name brewery that people stand in line three hours for.
BH: Are you referencing a specific…
SD: No, no, of course not. That would be untoward of me.
BH: Just trying for some, uh, y’know, controversy there…
SD: No. Haha. No. Nothing that I’m gonna put in writing. That’s another article. So there was definitely a gap in the market. Like I said, I was and am very confident in what my process yields, in terms of producing beer. That can be managed with the appropriate strategy for distribution. And that was not necessarily the intention of what we wanted to show, but I think it’s the result and something that can be proven. If you’re a good brewery making good beer with good quality control and you chose distribution strategy properly, and appropriately, your beer does not have to sit on the shelf. If it’s good, it won’t sit on the shelf. There are a couple breweries that are attempting to make this quality, or this kind of beer… this style, let’s say. What I call ‘New-American hoppy ales’ – other people call ‘New England IPAs.’ and distribute them. I just think it’s the new standard for hoppy beers. It’s the best way to use hops. That’s why people wait in line for three hours to get it. I think a lot of other breweries are throwing their things all over the place but don’t have, maybe, the same quality control and the same dedication to seeing through the quality start to finish as we do. I’m not going to name names with this but there are a couple bigger breweries that are producing, maybe, tens of thousands of barrels of beer and are sending it to 15, 18 states and those beers eventually end up on the discount shelf, which our beer does not because we’re not sending an absurd amount to far-flung areas. So, yeah. But we do have intentions of being located at a brick and mortar at some point. Maybe not for the full production scale of our brewery, but there are farmhouse/barreling projects and blending projects we’re launching… we want to launch that as soon as possible and so we’re looking at different areas to do that and to also do smaller retail locations where people can buy our beer directly – in areas that aren’t getting a ton of it and also don’t have a ton of other options other than driving several hours to find something similar.
BH: So going off of the farmhouse beers… Your website also mention German lagers…
BH: So far, as far as I can tell, there’s just ‘new American hoppy’ beers…
SD: Just the hoppy beers so far, yes.
BH: Is there a planned rollout schedule for this stuff or is it tied more to how you see the business developing to determine how…
SD: Well, of course, any business is going to monitor the response to its beers but… any brewery, I should say… any business, in general, will monitor what they do. But, yeah, I… when I originally conceived this I wanted it to all… to just be unfiltered lagers, but the way that the industry is, the way to really be viable as a young business is to make good quality hoppy beer. That’s really what it is. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way it is right now. I mean, I miss diversity, but…
BH: Well, it’s a bad thing in that it is perpetuating that overload…
SD: Totally. It will reach critical mass like every style of beer has so far and it will ebb and flow, and it’ll reach peaks and valleys, but I do think this is the new standard of hoppy beer. It’s not a trend like a lot of people might say, or were saying for the past couple years before they just accepted that it is a really delicious, wonderful way to treat hops. It really is. I mean, It’s better than just sort of volatilizing away all the oils by adding your hops too early in the boil and not choosing the appropriate hops or usage processes. Those are production techniques, y’know, we can discuss separately, but, yeah, the plan was always to do several different styles, but this was the way to get the brand built efficiently and successfully, quickly. We wanted to have a brand name that people have confidence in. When I first started drinking Maine Beer Company, I had Peeper and it was brilliant and delicious and changed my mind about what hoppy beer could be at the time. And the next time my sales rep told me that they had Maine Beer Company beer available – this was when I was a beer buyer many, many years ago – I asked for Peeper and they said ‘we don’t have that but we have Lunch and a porter’ and I bought both of them. And from that point forward… They were both delicious, and from that point forward I bought any Maine Beer Company that I saw because I trusted the name, I trusted the company. They proved to me, consistently, that they were making really good products. And that’s what I always wanted for anything I was going to do. Y’know, like, you go to Hill Farmstead and it doesn’t matter what you’re getting, it’s going to be the best, y’know what I mean?But you go there and you know you’re getting the best of whatever you’re getting, and that is something I truly believe is the way to have longevity rather than be the exciting new brand that then people forget about when something else rolls around. So, yeah, hoppy beer, definitely. It’s a crowd pleaser, I love it, but there’s something to be said for really clean, beautiful unfiltered lagers, man. We’re rolling that out sooner than people might think. It will be very soon. It will be before summer’s end we’ll have that on the market.
BH: We kind of touched on this with the last question, but where do you see American beer, in general, going in the next year, two years and how do you see that impacting Foreign Objects?
SD: I always have been interested in the history of while styles of beer developed the way they have. German beer developed because they’ve been doing it for a thousand years and being very specific in method adjustments. Belgian beer developed the way it has because of the variety of yeasts growing on all of the orchards – just the agriculture of the region dictated sort of what happened there. Likewise in America, we started growing hops that were exceptional. I mean, we really had the most intense, bombastic characteristics in hops to date. Noble hops… continental hops were much more rounded and sort of smoothed on the edges. American hops were huge, truly huge. It only makes sense that our brewing will develop in line with that, just like German beer developed as it did and Belgian beer developed as it did. We’re also in the infancy compared to those other regions, the other big beer producing regions. We’ve really, craft brewing as an industry in this country- that’s not English beer or German beer- is really only 35 years old. People could probably argue Anchor, but I think that’s probably the first. But really it was Sierra Nevada – and maybe Sam Adams/Dogfish Head can be argued in that time frame, but American beer as we know it started in the early 80s. That’s less than 40 years. Look at… Even… It’s just so young. It’s one tenth of the age of any other culture’s brewing tradition. We’re going to through all kinds of twists and undulating, sort of, principles and undulating philosophies. We just, as brewers and business people have to innovate as well as satisfy. It’s tough to balance. We can’t just do any bizarre thing we want, otherwise a lot of people wouldn’t have businesses anymore. So everybody’s just trying to find the way to exist through that tumultuous, young period. And it will be that way for a long time. In the short term, one or two years, I don’t see the style of beer that we’re making getting less popular. I do think standing in line will become a thing of the past – although I think people do that for more social reasons or for reasons that are more hobbiest in nature moreso than because they really think it is worth it to stand in line for beer; standing in line to pay for beer.
BH: It has also become a bit of a status signifier.
SD: Exactly. That’s what I mean by the social aspect of it. There’s a lot of egocentrism and just egoism involved in everything most people do, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a thing. And that’s fine. If it satisfies people then they should do it, as long as everybody’s aware of what they’re doing, and getting into, then nobody’s at risk of being unsatisfied or getting harmed. But, yeah, so I think that’s going to become, sort of, an old thing. I think it’s pretty much out of the bag the way to make beer like this, at this point. Which is, y’know, good and bad. I think it’s bad in that everyone will think they can just jump right in and do it and that’s going to, as always, it’s going to create diaphanous brands that aren’t consistent and can’t be reliable. I think the brands that are run by and started by attentive, focused, and self-aware brewers, who really hold themselves to a true high standard and aren’t just in it for a short-term cash-grab, those ones will sustain and prove they are of a higher quality.
BH: Now, you’ve addressed high standards and craftsmanship… but how does your artistic, aesthetic, philosophical focuses… you talk about the need to be creative, how do those shape and structure Foreign Objects?
SD: Sure. If I can’t, at least express the multitude of thoughts that thrash through my mind on a daily basis, I’ll sort of go insane, I think. It turns poisonous if it’s not let out. I feel like a lot of people subdue that, and they lose the intensity and sort of creative spark and power they’ve got, when they don’t exercise that muscle it atrophies. And I think when you’re talking about building something, it needs to have some expression of the people personally invested otherwise it is, literally, just a hollow corporate presentation of empty things. It is not the craft of an individual or a small group of individuals, it is just a plastic product to be consumed. I certainly don’t worship that kind of consumerist philosophy. I don’t subscribe to it or want to support it at all. I feel like we built this intentionally to be… to incorporate all of the important, elementally important, artistic philosophies that we’ve got. One of which is visual art, aesthetic beauty – I think we’ve got some of the most striking and beautiful can art and packaging art around. Each label is an original piece of artwork that was inspired by my watercolor style. We have a phenomenal artist named Molly Dolan who does all of those labels and she’s brilliant. I basically just say “I want this abstract watercolor look with this kind of color palette and this general shape and feeling” and she really sees into my mind and makes it happen. She’s so wonderful.
But the different lines of beer we want to do are going to have different artistic concepts. The lagers are going to have more of an interesting cyanotype take. But again, every single label is and will be hand-rendered. It’s a piece of art and that’s critical, it has to be, for me, for us. That… like I said If it doesn’t I will very rapidly feel suffocated by… then it’s just a plastic… it’s just mindess function at that point. It’s just drudgery. It ceases to be creation. Even though we can create a recipe, can create a name, whatever, if it doesn’t come from a place of personal resonance then it is shallow and its meaningless to me. That’s why it is so important. It is about sanity. I think. Maybe the best way I can put it.
BH: With a couple other people involved, does it become difficult to… does your vision regularly coincide with that of your partners?
SD: That’s an important thing to consider before getting involved in a creative or financial endeavor with anyone. I think that’s why a lot of time people strip products and business concepts of all substance, of all personal substance, because it’s the only way to move along with 25, 30 other people— like a board of directors who don’t really care about each other’s individual interests beyond “how much money can we make off of this product.” That’s not the case with us. We wouldn’t have gone into business, or we wouldn’t have chosen to work together had we not had complete confidence in where those ideas were coming from and the way that those ideas would be presented. That being said, we each also have our areas of focus. Mine is designing the beers, designing the process, ensuring quality control, as well as making the art direction happen in a very particular way. Those were my strengths. And more than that, those were the things I had a very defined idea of, which is part of why we all decided to go into this. We knew this ahead of time, what the brand would be like. It was not, sort of, accidentally stumbled into. A lot of people do that and end up slowing themselves down because they can’t agree on what to do. It’s dictatorial when it needs to be and diplomatic, or democratic, when it needs to be. And in each group – everybody’s got their own area. But again we spent many, many, many months working all these thing out before even getting into anything. And, y’know, this idea was fairly well developed before we even started, before anyone else was around this was an idea that was pretty well developed for me. We worked on different names and stuff like that, but from as long as five, six years ago I knew what I wanted this sort of piece of original art for each label – abstract watercolor was, sort of, what I do, personally, and back in those early days I figured I would be doing everything myself so that’s… I knew I could do that, I thought “I could make that look good and interesting and attractive, so I’ll just do that”. And we stuck with that because… There are a few smaller breweries that have started doing that, that type of watercolor type design, but it’s been on my mind for many years.
BH: Jumping around a bit, but… Did you feel the need to differentiate the recipes you were creating from what you were creating at Urban Family or at your previous ventures?
SD: Definitely. Every batch of beer, to anyone with any serious objective critical thought and the ability to perceive themselves objectively should improve every batch of beer. Every single batch should improve. So that’s essentially what it is. I learned what not to do. I learned what ratios of things work and what do not work. I learned what to do. But yeah, different hop combinations, different malt bills… The things that I’m doing now are, I think, in the same vein but distinctly different from anything I’ve done in the past. I learned how to make good beer from a few points I picked up along the way and the rest of it… Y’know, nobody… I didn’t work for… when I was at Tired Hands, which was the brewery that I had the most experience with making that style of beer- the only brewery really I worked at that was making that style of beer – I was the executive chef. I had no… I did not brew there at all. It wasn’t my job, but it was a small business, there were six people that worked there, and I saw techniques and learned things, but not being a brewer and not having a chance to experiment with those concepts and those techniques, you don’t really know what the hell you’re doing until you get your hands in it. From that point, I worked at a production brewery making amber ale and pilsner in Arizona. Every day of my life for three batches a day on a 15-barrel system. So I didn’t learn much there – in regard to crafting recipes. I learned a whole lot about production and consistency. Urban Family had no real design for what they wanted – they knew they wanted to be a farmhouse brewery, but very little defined technique. So that was again something I just launched into, took what I had heard and what I had sort of learned and fumbled through it and honed it in as much as I could. And I started honing in hoppy beers the same way. And basically it was just being fortunate enough to make beer that was a little better than average at the beginning. Y’know, I had been a chef for a lot of years. I had a very defined palate and sensory systems. I’m also autodidactic, I teach myself a lot. I very intensely focus on something until I feel I’ve reached a point where I’m satisfied with my own execution of whatever it is. I’m a self-taught musician, self-taught painter, self-taught brewer, self-taught chef. I did not go to school for anything and that demands a higher degree of critical self-analysis, which is what I believe what separate exceptional craftsman and creators from forgettable or unexceptional people. And so over time, every batch of beer teaches something new… I have a short relative, relative to other brewers, life in professional brewing. Professionally. I home brewed plenty – and that’s good but it really doesn’t do much when you want to seriously brew beer professionally. Yeah, man, I had to just try not to fuck up to much while I was learning. And fortunately I didn’t – I’ve never really ruined beer… one or two small batches I messed up in the past, but most of the stuff turned out well because I was focused on it and that’s still happening now. I’m still focusing and trying to improve everything.
BH: You mention your time at Tired Hands… Now, I believe it’s Pig Factory, is a milkshake IPA…
SD: It’s not a milkshake IPA.
BH: Ok. I thought one of your beers was brewed with lactose and…
SD: Yeah that just had lactose in it. It wasn’t necessarily a milkshake beer. It wasn’t supposed to be. It takes more than just lactose to make a “milkshake IPA”…
BH: Well, given that that’s kind of the thing people now associate with Tired Hands, was that an intentional engagement with your time there or just looking at the potentials of that style of IPA?
SD: They did that… Tired Hands and Omnipollo did that beer long after I was gone from Tired Hands. I remember tasting it, I think I was in Arizona when the original Strawberry Milkshake came out. A friend sent a growler to me and I thought it was one of the most incredible things I’d ever tasted. Truly. I’ve never thought anything but exceptional things about the quality of most Tired Hands beer. I don’t think anyone being objective can really argue that. I don’t wait in line, I don’t go there frequently but I’ve always thought HopHands was one of the best beers that has ever been made in the southern PA region. I’ve said that in front of rooms of people when I worked there and I’m still saying that now. And I thought that the milkshake IPA was a goofy, bizarre, culinary approach and thought it was ironic because years ago in the early days Jean, and Jon and I had always, sort of, laughed about the horrible trend of putting ridiculous things into beer. But, at the same time, innovation has to come from somewhere. I do did think that beer is was delicious, but I wanted about 8 ounces of it and that was about it. That being said, Pig Factory was not made to be a milkshake. It was actually sort of a tongue-in-cheek joke about that, because anybody that had that beer knows it was very much like… it was sort of an attempt at making, like, Pliny The Elder, basically, which was- six years ago, eight years ago was- the only double IPA anyone would ever consider waiting in line for. Then Hill Farmstead came along – well Alchemist first, then Hill Farmstead came around and changed that game. Yeah, but I think that’s one of the most original… I would dare say it’s the first true new style of beer that’s been created in recent menory. I think there’s a big thing right now about New England IPAs being added to the BJCP or whatever it is. I don’t even know the…
BH: I still don’t quite understand how it is a new style rather that a tweak on…
SD: Yeah, that’s what I mean. Well, it does require a pretty specific set of processes to end up with that result so I can understand the thought process there. But, like I said, I truly and genuinely believe that that’s maybe one of the most innovative new styles of beer. And I don’t know where else it is going to go. But I think they’ve taken to calling them ‘culinary IPAs’ because they do pizza IPAs and all kinds of tomatoes in saisons and things like that, and I honestly can’t speak much to how they are because I haven’t had many of them but the one I had inspired me and was very delicious and really nice and very well-made, deftly approached, and it was a beautiful process invention. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to mock – y’know, it if I can – but we’re also going to make it. We’ll make it at some point. It’s a crowd pleaser. It’s an interesting thing; it’s a fun thing for us to do. We’ve got a slightly different approach that I’ve been considering and it’s something I haven’t seen before. It’ll be a new… It’ll be a new-ish, it’ll what we do will be a new-ish take on an innovation developed by some other very creative people.
BH: I’ll just wrap up with a couple quicker questions. Given that Foreign Objects seems to be a very, for lack of a better way to put it, carefully curated brewery, are there any plans down the road for collaborations or things along those lines?
SD: Yeah, I mean, we just did a collaboration with Greenpoint in Brooklyn – it’s actually coming out tomorrow, the 4th of April. But, yeah, we’ve got that. I’m doing some things with some friends for Philly beer week this June. Philadelphia is my hometown, technically south Jersey but I’ve been in Philadelphia for a long time. And it is where I live and it is one of our biggest markets for beer right now. I’m doing some stuff with Crime & Punishment Brewing, which is a great small brewpub in Philadelphia that I think doesn’t get enough attention. Really, really great people there. Really cool place. Love those guys very much. We’ve got some other stuff in the works that is not official yet so I’m not going to say anything about it. We will do that… I feel like collaborating is not what it used to be, in regard to why people do it. It used to be much more about people exchanging ideas and coming up with new ideas, or working towards stuff. And some people do that, of course, but I feel like there are a couple breweries that are just collaboration machines and that’s sort of all they do and it just devalues the whole concept, I think. You just… you cheapen… it makes it dirt cheap. Every time it’s like ‘oh there’s another collaboration, what is it? oh it’s just another beer like they just made.’ If you’re not going to do something interesting, creative in one way or another or trying to learn something by doing this new thing, I feel like it is sort of masturbatory. If not it’s just, like, elite brewers trying to pat each other on the back or whatever. I don’t necessarily agree with that. I understand why they do that, and I may strive for objectivity above all else, but I do have opinions on that. Of course there are some people I would love to collaborate with. I think the whole reason I brew beer in the first place is Jolly Pumpkin Brewery. Ron Jeffries was to me… y’know… invented an entire style of beer in America. Really, really made it… Proved it was possible to make beer that no one had heard of before. I cannot say enough… And Ron Jeffries is just a total… intelligent, soft-spoken, humble. Like, he’s just everything that makes a person exceptional to me…somebody who accomplished exceptional things. and I would learn so much from being in a room with him for five minutes. So that’s why I would like something like that, y’know. But I think if it’s not for that reason it shouldn’t just be run into the ground. I think. But yeah we’ve got some stuff coming up.
BH: You were saying about the brewpub in Philly… Is there any focus on engagement with community or place – I’m kind of coming back to that again… and, just, with that: ultimately, why New Paltz?
SD: Sure, sure. So the first part of the question: yeah, I mean, there definitely is. We have, and again this is… nothing is official, I just want to stress that nothing has been decided yet officially. We really… I feel like, to me… I honestly feel connected to each of the markets that we distribute beer in. We’re not distributing all across the country – we’re in Pennsylvania, New York, Boston, Massachusetts, a little bit in Rhode Island, and a little bit up towards Maine and we’ll send a tiny, tiny bit to Virginia and up to Chicago starting soon. We’ve got a really good distributor partner there who wanted our beer and we feel really good about working with them. We’re talking about very small amounts but it’s because Chicago is an important place to me and to my partners. Essentially, we’re located in the mid-Atlantic – Virginia, PA, New York, Massachusetts. A little bit up into New England. We’re doing events everywhere. Y’know we were just at The Publick House in Cambridge. Not Cambridge.. Is it Cambridge?
SD: Yup, Brookline, that’s exactly it. We were at The Publick House, recently. We were doing a beer and cheese event out there in Boston. We’re doing events in Philly. We’re doing Philly Beer Week. We’ll do New York Beer Week. We have collaborations in New York and PA happening. We’re sort of involved in each of our markets, in our own way. Part of the strategy… Part of one of the things we wanted to do – whether it works this way or not is yet to be seen – is to have retail shops/ tasting rooms in each of our markets. Everywhere that we sell beer.
BH: Sort of like Melvin?
SD: Sort of, but not so much like that brand. Each one will be interesting because of the market that it is in, made uniquely for the market. People in Philly respond… Philadelphia is a different place than Boston, y’know what I mean? It really is… So the Philadelphia spot would be different. We’d design it differently. We’d make it look different. It would be Foreign Objects but it would be a unique place from all of the other places and that’s sort of the idea of what we’re thinking about. For the second part of your question, regarding New Paltz… Why New Paltz? The answer to that is that we’ve all been through here several times. It’s a cool little town, man. I really like New Paltz a lot, every time I’ve been up through here and, y’know, we found a really decent office and basically just put it here, man. We eventually would like to do a barrel aging facility and real taproom – on-site taproom, here, full-on culinary location and taproom. That’s something we’d love to do, hopefully, within the next two years. We’ll have to see how things develop. But, yeah, it’s just… New Paltz is a great location. We’re close to friendly breweries around here. We’re not super far from people like Dan Suarez… Dan was.. I met Dan a few very brief times years ago, and then I went into there maybe six, eight months ago and I hadn’t seen the guy in five years and when we did meet it was pretty brief, but literally, as soon as I walked in he recognized me and said ‘hi’ and was like ‘how have you been?’ and I was taken aback by that. To me that really made a deep impact. It meant a lot that somebody who I had only met a very small handful of times in the past would have the presence of mind and the social courtesy to know and remember somebody. I don’t know, it made a big impact on me. So, like, things like that stand out to me, man. Really stand out to me. I feel things pretty intensely a lot of the time… And so… being around cool breweries and people like that, we want to get involved and do harvest events and other interesting things and that’s a place where we would be supported in doing that. That’s where we want to be. There’s not much better for agriculture in the area than up in the Hudson Valley, and that’s so important to us personally. That’s sort of what I can say about that now and we’ll be updating our social media and making announcements as things develop. Bottom line, New Paltz is just a really cool town. That’s essentially why. We needed an office space somewhere in New York. We knew we wanted it to be somewhere out of the city. We knew we wanted to do things like more agricultural things and have an interesting taproom, eventually, where we could do some interesting barrel stuff. There’re wineries nearby. There’re orchards. There’s all kinds of agriculture and culture to work with here. Artists and everything. Coalescing all of our interests. That’s why.
BH: Any last thoughts you want to voice?
SD: In relation to the business, we just… everybody that’s… we get many, many emails a day from almost evenly spread among all of our markets. People are just really very enthusiastic and we just really are… it means a lot that people give a shit about good quality beer. It’s interesting to me, man, like it could just be a throwaway product but people really care about it. So we are focused always on maintaining that and keeping it creative. We draw inspiration from a lot of different areas – film, music, art, visual art, writing, philosophy, all kinds of places. It’s too big of a world to just let beer be boring, conceptually. That’s sort of what the whole thing… This whole thing is about not being afraid of those new ideas that come into the mind, new inspirations and creations. That’s what Foreign Objects means. It’s like those ideas are foreign objects in the psyche and our initial knee-jerk reaction is to fear and rejects them and shut off to them but if we can have the focus and discipline and intensity of will, those ideas can become universes. They really can become a solar system of creation. That’s basically all we can commit to – continually trying to do that. Hopefully everybody is satisfied on the way.
BH: Thanks again for doing this.
SD: Yeah. Absolutely. Not a problem at all.
Photos courtesy of Rian L. Vai and Steven D’Eva