2015 New York Rising Star Brewers Basil Lee and Kevin Stafford of Finback Brewery
78-01 77th Avenue
Queens, NY 11385
Home brewing is constrained only by the science of fermentation, and maybe the limits of your imagination. This may be why Kevin Stafford and Basil Lee, the founders of Finback Brewery, seem to be having so much fun.
A graduate of Lesley University, Stafford was a graphic designer and Lee, a graduate of Harvard Graduate School of Design, was an architect. Friends for a long time, they got into home brewing separately. But as they began home brewing, they discovered a passion—and an unexpected creative outlet—that would bring them together and lay the foundations for Finback Brewery.
A few hiccups were inevitable, including finding a space (which took 16 months and ended with the Brooklyn-dwellers brewing out of Queens) and a name. Finback originally began as Narwhal, but ran into a mild legal snafu with a bigger brand that trademarked a Narwhal Imperial Stout.
Finally, settled in a space and reborn as Finback (to honor the whale who beached himself in Breezy Point in December 2012), Lee and Stafford began brewing idiosyncratic, assertively interesting beers. They haven’t looked back since. Going from three inaugural beers to a rotating list, the two have expanded from five gallons to 20 barrels, incorporating barrel-aging and sour programs.
Interview with New York Rising Star Brewers Basil Lee and Kevin Stafford of Finback Brewery
Mary Choi: What’s your favorite brewing tool?
Basil Lee and Kevin Stafford: A portable brewery pump.
MC: What’s a tool you wish you had?
BL and KS: A bottling line.
MC: What’s your favorite resource for brewing?
BL and KS: www.brewyorknewyork.com.
MC: What’s the most important brewhouse rule?
BL and KS: Cleanliness! Clean as you go, and always clean up after yourself.
MC: What’s your favorite style of beer to make?
BL: Any smoked beer, really.
KS: … and IPAs.
MC: What’s your favorite beer to drink?
BL: Sour beers.
KS: Imperial stout.
MC: Where do you most want to go for brew-travel?
BL and KS: Belgium, to check out all the traditional breweries and monasteries.