Not many of us are lucky enough to find something we are passionate about, let alone lucky enough to turn it into a successful career or a thriving business. But Samuel Richardson, Matt Monahan (wearing the Eldridge in Charcoal), and Andrew Burman (wearing the Norden in Navy) did just that. Their passion? Craft beer. Other Half Brewing Company was founded in 2012 with a simple mission – to create beers they wanted to drink from a company they wanted to be a part of.
Samuel Richardson and Matt Monahan met on a job. With a degree in food science (with a focus on fermentation) from Oregon State University, Samuel had experience having worked in a brewery for over 15 years. Matt worked as a line cook for a few years and did some brewing at home as a hobby. At the time, the New York craft beer scene was almost non-existent. Nevertheless, they decided to take a leap of faith and strike out on their own. Other Half has grown exponentially since opening its doors in 2014, now employing a team of 26 people.
There are now more than 300 beer brands and breweries based in New York, but only a handful have achieved a cult like status among the beer lovers. Other Half has gained recognition as brewing some of the best IPAs (India Pale Ale) available in the states. And it is not a rare occurrence for people to make an obligatory detour to Brooklyn during their visit to New York to sample the latest additions to the menu available in brewery tap room.
Located on one of the random side streets of Carroll Gardens is where you will find Other Half Brewery. The entrance is unassuming, but it is not difficult to miss the queue, sometimes stretching around the block - a few hours wait is not uncommon for the opportunity to purchase one of their fresh six packs. The brewery features a taproom, usually packed and buzzing with activity and chatter. People come to relax, catch up with their friends, sample the latest releases and of course talk beer.
And while Brooklyn is their home, their beers know no boundaries. They’re gaining universal recognition in part due to their collaborations with breweries from around the state, country and across the world. As they say it themselves - this is their way of continuously pushing the industry forward.
Is there a blue print for the Other Half’s success? How did they become one of the most popular breweries in the city? Surely, it can’t be just about the passion, it takes a lot more to succeed in New York. It is the passion that drives them, but it is hard work that got them there. These two things are at the core of everything they do. They are passionate about their craft and they work hard to provide value for their customers. That is how the Other Half accomplished the Herculean task of making a name for themselves in a notoriously finicky city.
We joined our brewers to talk beer, when they knew they made it and what does the future hold for the Other Half.
Every guy wants to start their own brewery. How did you guys get started?
We founded Other Half Brewery in 2012 after working as brewers and chefs around the city. Basically, we wanted to create beers that we wanted to drink and a company that we wanted to work for, and from that came Other Half. We also knew that no other brewery was kegging and delivering beer on the same day. We searched Craigslist to find a space that could handle brewing beer, knew the styles that we wanted to create and put a lot of energy into the label design. In those days, we were doing basically everything from making the beer to running the brewery and sales, which is how we got off the ground.
What made you guys choose Brooklyn to build the brewery?
Brooklyn is our home. We found the space, and also understood that bars and restaurants around the city really wanted beer that was brewed in their backyard.
What is your most popular beer? Please describe it for our audience.
Our model isn’t about creating one popular beer and we don’t hang our hats on that. Our goal is that every beer we produce is great. Our flavor profiles are hoppy, clean and straightforward and we want our beers to showcase our premium grains, hops and yeast.
Looking over the beer names, it seems to me that you guys use music as a source of inspiration. How do you come up with the names and where else do you find inspiration?
Music is definitely one of our main inspirations for the names of our beers, as well as our label designs. Many of the music-related beer names we come up with are references to classic hip-hop.
What goes into developing a new brew? How often do you release a new brew?
We’re constant innovating, creating different hop profiles and combinations that bring out the best taste, as well as searching around the world for the best hops we can find.
We release beers at the minimum every Saturday. We’re starting to add Tuesday releases to some weeks as well.
Was there a specific moment when you realized that Other Half Brewing had finally “made it in NY”?
When we came in for a Saturday morning beer release and had a line of people waiting for us to open—that was when we knew.
Favorite thing to do over a cold beer?
We often hang out over beer and talk about how we can continue to innovate, pioneer and produce the best beer possible. We’ve stayed true to our original mission: to create beers that we want to drink from a company that we want to be a part of.
In the New York Times, Sam had said that “People are fanatical about it, to the point they don’t want to drink anything else.” What is it about your beers that have people willing to wait up to 11 hours on line?
The number one reason is that our customers love our product and we’ve dedicated our lives to providing them with value. To us, that means we can never get complacent and continue our effort to move the industry forward, while elevating the craft. Also, our line culture doesn’t hurt. From sharing and exchanging beers from around the world to engaging in dialogue over the craft beer experience, it is obvious that our customers enjoy their wait.
What are you guys brewing up (excuse the pun, but couldn’t resist) for the future? Any expansion plans?
We’re actually just in the process of opening up a new taproom, right next door to the original. We needed more space to brew and host, so come visit.