Rising Star Brewer Kevin Stafford of Finback Brewery - Biography

Queens, NY

February 2015

The journey of home brewing has many possible ends, most of which involve yeast and delicious beer. A precious few end with a professional gig and considerably larger output than originally expected. The latter was the case for Kevin Stafford. One half of the team behind Finback Brewery in Glendale, Queens, Stafford got his start in brewing as a side job. A graduate of Lesley University, he was pursuing a career in graphic design when a Christmas gift changed his life. Opening a Mr. Beer kit one December 25, Stafford unwittingly inaugurated a near decade-long career in brewing.

Stafford brewed with that first kit for about two years before moving on to extract- brewing and, eventually, all grain-brewing. By this time, he had unofficially joined up with longtime friend and fellow beer lover and brewer Basil Lee, experimenting with ingredients and beer types—a style which would become their professional trademark.

What began as a mutually creative endeavor took on official proportions when the duo decided to open their own brewery and tasting room. Looking for a brewery space—a semi heartrending endeavor that took more than 16 months—Stafford left graphic design to work at a commercial brewery and learn the ropes. His efforts were well worth it, with Finback Brewery beginning distribution in January of 2014, expanding Queens’ local craft beer output with boundary-pushing creativity and earning a 2015 StarChefs Rising Star Brewer Award.