Gentile Brewing talks beer styles, collaboration, and the #BeverlyBeerMile
Gentile Brewing has been open for business since early 2016 in Beverly, Massachusetts, a small city on the state's North Shore (population almost 40K) that now has four (!!) brewery taprooms (one is currently working toward full operation) within less than a mile of each other.
LoveLocalBeer got the story on the newly minted "Beverly Beer Mile" plus the brewery's local ties and patron preferences from head brewer and owner Paul Gentile.
Q: You folks seem to have kicked off the town's eponymous beer district! What's Gentile Brewing's take on staying unique and getting patrons back into the taproom when there are lots of choices nearby?
A: Competition is good for business. Some of our customers will split their time among us all, other customers will try the others and come back to us, while some will like another taproom's beer or vibe better. The idea is that this "Brewery District" will increase the number of available customers within the city and then we all win.
What we need to continue to do is make good beer that people want to drink and to deliver great customer service and an excellent experience for our guests. I think if we do that, people will continue to come back. We try to release a new beer every two weeks and create a new beer every month. We started canning in February 2019, plus we're bottling special beers twice a year now as well. We've collaborated with the other local breweries (and a cidery!) and will do more of that in future. We'll continue to look for ways to remain creative and innovative while always keeping our customers in the forefront.
ED. NOTE: Gentile and its Beverly beermaking compatriots collaborated on Oct. 26, 2019, in the first "Fall Crawl," during which the four breweries joined forces to welcome patrons to their taprooms, with passports and t-shirts and festive food.
Q: Can you explain what "local" means to you as a brewer, a business owner, a community member? What are Gentile Brewing's local ties, initiatives, and programs?
A: As a brewer, "local" means making the beer that the people that live near you want to drink and also the beer you'd like them to drink. What I mean is: Do the people that live nearby know what a hefeweizen is? If not, then you should brew one, brew it very well, and educate them. How about a bitter? A table beer? Use your platform as a creator to educate the community.
As a business owner, "local" means sourcing the raw material, goods, and services as close to your location as possible. We make a point to buy some of our ingredients from Massachusetts farmers. All of the snacks we sell at the taproom are made locally. The designer we hired to create our can label and the artist we hired to paint our bottle labels both live and work in Beverly. We host as many local restaurants for pop-ups and food trucks as we can to promote their businesses alongside our own.
As a community member, "local" means to give back as much as possible to the community: When our regulars ask if we can donate to causes or charities, the answer is "YES." When PTOs are trying to fundraise for the kids in our schools, the answer is "YES." We live in an active neighborhood within Beverly called Ryal Side; it is walking distance to the brewery even though the brewery isn't technically in Ryal Side. On the first Sunday of every month, we host a fundraiser for the Ryal Side Civic Association, where a portion of the days' sales go to them. It's enabled that organization to continue to do great things for the area that we and many of our customers live.
My wife Christen and I are both Massachusetts transplants: She is from Wisconsin and I'm from Connecticut. We bought a house here almost 10 years ago after moving up from Boston. We're raising our family here and our daughter is in the local school. Ever since we moved here, we've felt connected to this community. There's a passion and a pride that we both identified with coming from our respective home states.
Q: Is there a certain style that you at Gentile Brewing are going for? Put another way, what's the philosophy behind choosing what beers to brew when?
A: We make beers that we want to drink. Lower in alcohol, balanced beers. And we try to stay true to style without being too traditional. I was trained to brew English-style beers but I have since branched out, brewing German and Belgian styles. All of these styles came from brewers making beer for their local markets, beer that those people wanted to drink after a long day. So when we think about what beer to brew or how to brew a certain style, we try to channel those brewers, those people. Personally, I like to drink with the seasons. So in the summer we had eight beers on tap that lean toward the lighter side. That said, porter and stout never leave the tap list! Funnily enough, our blonde and our English bitter are some of our top sellers in the winter.
Q: What was your first craft-beer epiphany? And name names! The first time you tasted a microbrew? And what do you drink at the end of a long day--something sweet and comforting or lighter and refreshing?
A: For me it was post-college, once I got a little money in my pocket. Guinness, Harpoon IPA, Sam Adams Boston Lager. This was the early 2000s and there wasn't much available then. Over the next few years I found Flying Dog, Dogfish Head 60/90/120-Min IPA, and those started to blow my mind. Finally, when I got my brewery gig at Ipswich Ale, that's when I really figured out what craft beer could and should be.
After a long day, I usually tend toward something lighter and refreshing. A guilty (not guilty) pleasure would be Miller High Life but really all I want is a well-made pale ale/saison/lager or a regular IPA.
Q: Let's look into your crystal ball and think about the next hot style in the craft-beer world.
A: There's definitely a market for sours that will continue to grow. I think that double and triple IPAs will shrink; they'll not go away or even lose top status, but other styles will grow. We've already seen an uptick in the marketing and production of pilsners and lagers. I think that will continue. Maybe Belgians are next? Maybe come "full craft beer circle" and everyone is raving about a well-made pale ale or amber?
There's also a huge trend toward healthy beverages and health-conscious drinkers. Going along with that, lower-calorie hard seltzer is incredibly popular right now and many people are adding that to their tap lists. But craft beer is a finicky world. Remember glitter beer from last year? Everyone seemed to know it was a fad; everyone made just one and now they're gone.
Ultimately, we try to make our beers easy and approachable. At the end of the day every member of the Gentile team just likes to enjoy good beer with good company.
Local beer lovers can find Gentile Brewing Company in Beverly, Massachusetts, and at www.gentilebrewing.com.