Episode 186: Matt Katase of Brew Gentlemen Has a Bridge to Sell You

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Matt Katase and partner Asa Foster of Brew Gentlemen (Braddock, Pennsylvania) started writing the business plan for their brewery a decade ago, before they were of legal drinking age. They weren’t homebrewers when the idea gripped them, but they became homebrewers as they pursued the idea, creating batches and iterating recipes from the garage of their fraternity house at Pittsburgh science and engineering powerhouse Carnegie-Mellon University.

They launched in 2014, at a time when soft and hazy IPAs were of growing interest in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic. And while they embraced the hazy IPA trend, they never let it consume them—their flagship IPA General Braddock’s includes some hops in the blend that would be more common in 90’s and 00’s West coast IPAs than in the hazy IPAs of their peers. For Katase, the idea isn’t to throw out the past and start over, it’s to build a bridge, and create a continuity between old and new. The effort has been successful, too—over the years, Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®’s blind review panel has tasted a number of their beers, and four of those IPAs scored 96 or above. Ten of the twelve beers this magazine has reviewed scored a 92 or higher. There’s beauty in the connections they’ve made.

Like most brewers, you’ll hear Katase use the word “balance” many times, but struggle to define it. Yet, for Brew Gentlemen, another key axis in the quest for balance is time and inspiration. While they’ve committed the brewery to making beers that are soft and balanced, they’ve also committed to making beers that feel as comfortable and classic as they feel new.

In this episode, Katase discusses how they do that, from leaning on old school American hops in IPA blends to knocking down ABV in their barrel-aged beers, to perfecting their mixed culture feeder-aged table beer. He also discusses the impact of this past year of COVID on how they think about retail, and why they’ve chosen to keep the taproom closed while they reimagine a brewery experience that makes sense now.

For Katase, integrity matters and slow growth with intention is far better than rapid expansion. They’re committed to putting in the work, and the work is never done.

*This episode is brought to you by: *

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