Craft Beer / Eat, Drink, Blog / Uncategorized

Meet Barrier's Winning Brew Masters Craig And Evan

photo by John Vaccarelli

Fresh off their glow of winning TAP New York’s F.X. Matt Memorial Cup: Best Brewery in New York State (congrats, guys!), Craig Frymark and Evan Klein will be gracing Jimmy’s No. 43 with their presence this Saturday, July 23rd, as part of our “Meet the Brewer” series. Join Craig, Evan, Jimmy and all your friends and drink some award winning Barrier beer. Craig recently sat for an interview about the brewery, which recently celebrated its first anniversary.

Barrier is a relatively new label. How do you successfully transition from home brewer to commercial brewery?

Fundamentals are key. You have to be intimately familiar with the brewing process, understand the physics, chemistry, and biology of the various brewing processes, and be able to produce a clean and consistent product every time you brew. There’s no such thing as too much homebrewing or too much reading. Evan and I have both been homebrewing for more than six years and continually read as much literature as we can get our hands on. We also have the added benefit of having worked in a commercial brewery for several years to better understand large scale production and the business of beer. That experience was invaluable to us.  

What is your favorite Barrier beer?

No such thing. I love them all! We are equally proud of each beer we brew and would never release a beer we didn’t truly love to drink.

Barrier brews in smaller batches. How does seasonality factor into the beer making process?

We’re a bit unique in this respect in that we don’t brew “seasonal” beers, nor do we have a flagship or core brands. We brew all the beers in our portfolio year-round and try to give equal fermenter time to each beer. That means we’re still brewing stouts and porters in the summer and wheat beers and saisons in the winter. I see nothing wrong with enjoying a nice roasty stout in the middle of June or July, and based on our Saturday growler fills at the brewery, a lot of people agree. As far as our brewhouse size is concerned, the fact that our batches are so small (1bbl) means we don’t have to fill numerous kegs with weeks’ worth of inventory, giving us the freedom and flexibility to produce a very wide range of beer styles on a regular basis. We’re currently producing 22 different beers and hope to reach between 30-40 by the end of the year.

Jimmy’s No. 43 featured Barrier brews about a month ago and you guys visited the bar. What were your impressions of the average Jimmy’s No. 43 beer drinker?

We feel incredibly fortunate to be a regular on the taps at Jimmy’s. Jimmy Carbone has been one of our biggest supporters from day one and has done a lot to help educate people about Barrier. His tap selection always features some of the best beers around and as a result, the people who frequent Jimmy’s really know their beer and have some well developed pallets. To be on tap alongside some of the best beers in the world and to be enjoyed by truly passionate beer drinkers is an honor.

What is the first (great) beer you ever remember drinking and where were you drinking it?

I was 17 years old in the parking lot of a Phish concert and this granola looking dude came up to me and asked me if I wanted to try a beer from this “super heady little microbrewery in Burlington, VT called Magic Hat. They make the dankest beers on the East Coast! Check this one out, it’s called FAT ANGEL!” He won me over with his salesmanship. The first sip caught me totally off guard. It was the first really hoppy beer I’d ever tasted and initially I didn’t know what to think. I wasn’t even sure I wanted another sip. But the more I drank, the more the flavors opened up and the more I really started enjoying it. By the end of the bottle I was an IPA fan.

Where would you like to see Barrier on its 5th anniversary (i.e. in 2014)?

Firmly established as everyone’s favorite brewery (or at least my mom’s!).