5 Albums We Played The Hell Out Of In 2017

Headphones 2017 square

As we approach the conclusion of 2017, it’s time once again to bust out the headphones and compile our year-end album list. Check out our previous installments from 2014, 2015, and 2016.

We don’t necessarily assert that these five albums are the best albums of the year, as authoritative lists like that are best left to music blogs and magazines. They are merely the ones we played the hell out of, a glimpse into an important part of our company culture: our collective soundtrack.

So without further ado, here are 5 Albums We Played The Hell Out Of In 2017.


1. Pinegrove – Cardinal [2016]

Pinegrove exists in a world of hybrid genres. Labels like alternative-country and indie-folk are certainly appropriate catch-alls, but if you factored in everything else that’s going on throughout the New Jersey band’s concise but impactful first album, you’d be left with some serious word salad. Garage-Americana? Punk for sitting cross-legged on your living room rug?

Cardinal is music about memories, friendships, and home – subjects that may not come as a surprise from a band whose promotional photos look like a brochure for a small liberal arts college. But that youthful energy comes across as thoroughly genuine – frontman Evan Stephens Hall’s vocals are intimate and vulnerable, full of quiet disclosures, pleading yelps and a unique, rolling drawl.

There’s a low-fi warmth to Cardinal. Muted, quarter-note-downstrums (normally the bread and butter of pop-punk rhythm guitar) give way to soaring, Built to Spill-style riffs and some tastefully minimal banjo twang. For an album that takes the listener so many places in such a short period of time, Cardinal somehow feels complete, cohesive and intensely familiar. And familiar is exactly how an album about growing up should feel.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Old Friends [3:30]

lcd soundsystem

2. LCD Soundsystem – american dream [2017]

Whatever your opinion of LCD Soundsystem, it’s safe to say that they’re very proficient at three things: crunchy, booming synth-bass, cynical scrutiny of modern society, and the slow build.

As such, american dream is not about finding it and living happily ever after. It’s dark and cavernous, illuminated only by the light of bizarre little art-rock blips and retro-futuristic beats. Compositions are deliberately paced and incrementally layered, often opening with simple, repetitive riffs that gradually balloon into sweeping maximalism. It’s as jarringly dissonant as it is eminently danceable, sometimes simultaneously.

If detached, sardonic wit was the only thing american dream had to offer, few would have hailed the return of a band whose most recent album was seven years and a breakup ago. Fortunately for us, we’ve been given an appropriately neurotic soundtrack to wash it all down.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Oh Baby [5:49]


3. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN. [2017]

Overwhelming ambition is one of Kendrick Lamar’s most defining qualities, a feature that’s presented itself in more abstract and experimental ways on the his previous two critically deified albums. On 2017’s DAMN., however, we get the full level of versatility and theatre that we’ve come to expect from the Compton prodigy, but in a much more accessible package. Where his previous work felt like an arthouse documentary, DAMN. takes the autobiography in a tighter and more lucid direction.

DAMN.‘s balance and refinement doesn’t come at the cost of depth or complexity. We’re still getting Kendrick at his weirdest and most cerebral, but this time alongside a savvy and intentional selection of producers grinding out some well-polished trunk-rattlers.

It’s rare to see the majority of mainstream music publications agree on the best album of a given year. Given that DAMN. could be found at the top of nearly every list, it’s safe to say Kendrick Lamar continues to bat a thousand.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: DNA [4:45]


4. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – Blueprint for Armageddon [2013-2015]

We’re going to temporarily loosen the definition of ‘album’ to mean ‘collection of audio recordings’ for the sake of this entry’s inclusion. Released in six parts and totaling over twenty three hours in length, Blueprint for Armageddon is the entire start-to-finish story of World War One.

For those of you who aren’t diehard history buffs, that may sound absolutely insufferable. If you’re familiar with Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast, however, you’ll know this is not some dry, academic lecture. Carlin’s delivery is conversational and full of enthusiasm, bringing context and color to an expansive, complex topic.

Blueprint, at its core, is about a world unprepared for its own future. Major industrial developments of the time allowed military technology to advance far more quickly than tactics; simply put, the most powerful nations on the planet went to war in tangled alliances using next-century weapons but completely outdated methods of waging war. This utterly catastrophic combination reshaped human history, catapulting us into the 20th century and laying the groundwork for the modern era.

If you’re only going to listen to one part, begin at the beginning and buckle up. [3:07:20]


5. The Grateful Dead – Cornell 5/8/77 [1977/2017]

If you enjoy a good, hearty jam session but have neither the patience nor the psychedelic fortitude to sit through the stoned-out, atonal noodlings of acid-era Grateful Dead shows, this one’s for you. Perhaps the most replicated and exchanged live recording on the ‘blanks and postage’ circuit, the Dead’s May 1977 concert at Cornell University is the stuff of legend (as evidenced by its 2012 induction into the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry and official 2017 release).

It’s an amazingly crisp recording of the band at their tightest, featuring nearly every element of their signature eclectic sound – Americana, space jazz, outlaw country, and everything in between. But 5/8/77 is not merely a demonstration of breadth – it’s well-structured emotional arc that paints a unique, continuous, and thoroughly enjoyable landscape for the audience.

If you’re only going to listen to one song, make it two: Scarlet Begonias / Fire on the Mountain [26:01]

Honorable Mentions: Our Individual Picks

ASA’S PICK: Croquet Club – Love Exposure [2016]

This short, sunny EP from French producer Croquet Club is without a doubt the most played vinyl record in our collection. It’s a versatile album that’s calming yet infectiously bouncy, weaving a thread of soft, airy piano through a lush, ambient electronic soundscape of downtempo grooves and sequencer loops.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Careless Love [4:54]

MATT’S PICK: 16 Bit Lolitas – ABGT250 (Live DJ Set) [2017]

Rather than an album, this year’s pick is incredibly introspective live DJ set by one half of Dutch DJ/producer duo 16 Bit Lolitas. The Gorge Amphitheater in Washington state, one of the most scenic concert locations in the world, was the perfect setting for 16 Bit Lolitas to take us on an emotional, hypnotic, and soulful journey.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: L. Doblado – Lie Alone (16 Bit Lolitas Remix) [5:37]

BREWHOUSE PICK: The National – Sleep Well Beast [2017]

The National’s 7th studio album is their most unique and progressive album to date. The signature ethereal baritone and haunting, resonant piano arrangements are still present, but this time flanked by looser, more experimental compositions and liberal electronic intervention.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness [3:56]

Lou 2017

Those of you who have been along for this ride for more than a year or so now may recall our past involvement with Ales for ALS, and our annually-released double IPA, Lou (named for baseball legend and ALS victim Lou Gehrig). Ales for ALS is a unique program wherein participating brewers around the country are given access to a proprietary blend of hops, and a portion of the proceeds from the resulting beers are donated to ALS research.

When we first announced our participation in Ales for ALS three years ago, we spoke about our longtime fraternity advisor and mentor, Bob Dax, who had been diagnosed with the horrific neurodegenerative disease. We were connected with Ales for ALS through our fraternity’s philanthropic work following Dax’s diagnosis, and have since been making Lou in his honor. Two months ago, Bob Dax sadly lost his battle with ALS.

Now more than ever, we’re honored to be a part of Ales for ALS and contribute to the terrific work being done by the ALS Therapy Development Institute, the world leader in ALS research.

This year’s edition of Lou features flavors of mango, passionfruit, lemon, and pine, and will be available in our taproom beginning this week. We’ll be donating $1 from each draft sold (plus $0.50/6oz, $2/750mL, and $3/2L) to the ALS TDI.

3 Years of BG

Anniversary Trio square

As our company comes to the conclusion of its third year, there’s an nearly endless list of things we could wax poetic about. While the four of us that work here full-time operate as a cohesive unit, we’ve always kept things pretty well-stratified, making for four completely different perspectives on what we’ve accomplished thus far. So rather than write a single, overarching reflection on three years of Brew Gentlemen, we’ve each decided to talk a bit about what’s been most meaningful to us.

Matt AnniversaryMATT • Co-founder / CEO

It’s kind of wild to be sitting here after an intense week of projects, deadlines, and crazy amounts of work. Kind of reminds me of finals week from back when we were in college. Because we started this whole journey while still in school, the lines between the two are slightly blurred; to us, this is the never-ending senior project.

Asa and I made the decision to start the company back when we were twenty years old. We’re both twenty-six now. Building and working on this business has really been our only job post college. As we round the bases for year three, I can only begin to see how much we’ve grown up because of the brewery, and how much the brewery has grown up as a reflection of ourselves and our team.

At the start of it all, we had no idea we would become the brewery that we are now. We had a vague idea of which direction we wanted to go in, and we set sail. We’ve course-corrected innumerable times along the way (rebranded, hired and fired, shifted business plans) but we’re still aiming for our number one goal: to create meaningful experiences.

Where we stand now still feels like the beginning. We will remain true to our core values (ask us over a beer, we still haven’t made that list public) and expand our company as thoughtfully as we can. This is – and always has been – a marathon, not a sprint.

The future of beer, of our company, and of Braddock has yet to play out. We’ll do whatever it takes to make all three of those things a resounding success. Thank you for allowing us to do what we do, and we look forward to serving you.

Asa AnniversaryASA • Co-founder / Creative Director

One discovers a lot about themselves in their mid-twenties, and one thing I’ve realized over the past three years is that, instead of being a specialist, I’m most definitely taking the ‘jack of all trades, master of a few’ path in life. And while the road to becoming a jack of all trades may be long, small business ownership puts you in the express lane.

Because we’re both a.) fiendishly DIY about everything we do, and b.) a fairly small team, we’ve each been forced to take on an extremely broad range of roles, tasks, and projects over the past three years. A huge amount of our time and resources have been spent teaching ourselves new things, researching the ever-loving hell out of something before proceeding to attack it for the first time.

For myself specifically, that covers pretty much anything that needs to be designed or built. What I really learned in college was how to learn, not how to be the creative director at a brewery – therefore, further self-guided study has become a sink-or-swim necessity. Plunging into new territory armed with little more than an attitude of “I’ll figure it out” has become routine enough that it’s no longer scary. In fact, it’s deeply addicting.

Here at Brew Gentlemen, we embrace continued education of any kind. We will sacrifice bottom line in exchange for leveling up our team’s stats any day. In my line of work, one never knows when a particular skill may be required, so developing an ever-expanding list of them has consumed much of my free time – I’m more likely to be watching a video about furniture building than watching a movie, or reading an article about typography rather than a novel (in fact, I haven’t read a fiction book in years, with the singular exception of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist).

Looking back on our past three years as a company, I’m honestly more proud of how much we’ve all learned than I am of our material accomplishments; the material accomplishments are simply a reflection of that which we’ve learned. Looking towards the future, growth brings with it entire new categories of things to be learned. It’s the unknown unknown. Needless to say, we’re geeked.

Alaina AnniversaryALAINA • General Manager

In 2016, hygge was among Oxford Dictionary’s words of the year. I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on about the Danish concept recently – since the moment I laughed looking at the calendar, realized how quickly the last month blew by, and found myself asking, “How do we slow it all down?”

Hygge is defined as enjoying others’ company in “a relaxed and intimate atmosphere,” and an overall “state of mindfulness: how to make essential and mundane tasks dignified, joyful, and beautiful; how to live a life connected with loved ones.”

Specifically considering our taproom, from day one, we’ve tried to create a space that’s comfortable yet elegant, combining the familiarity of a friend’s living room with the attention to detail and hospitality that might accompany a fine dining experience. Over the last three years, the space has changed in countless ways. Asa is constantly building or repairing, Zach refines recipes and keeps the quality of everything we serve at its highest, and we’re learning better ways of operating with every day of service.

Yet, the environment remains true to its original intent: A space where everyone is welcome, and great conversations and experiences take place. In many ways, the taproom is the heart of what we do – make beer, sell beer – because it’s where the beer can become more than what’s in the glass, and where we can interact with each of you.

Every person that walks in our door makes a choice to visit Braddock, to spend their time with us, and to include Brew Gentlemen in their lives. Knowing so many of you personally fills me with a profound sense of gratitude, and one of the things I get most excited about is finding new and thoughtful ways of making space and time for similar relationships and interactions.

In the gauntlet of daily tasks and checklists, the idea of mindfulness and being connected to one another can, at moments, seem obscure. However, approaching this third anniversary, my mindset has clearly shifted from “How we slow down time” to “How are we making the most of the time we have?” As we plan in decades, think in years, work in months, and live in days, the most straightforward answer I keep coming back to: We’re running a tight team, working together, growing up, and having fun along the way.

Zach AnniversaryZACH • Head Brewer

Our tiny brewhouse has grown quite a bit over the years: we’ve packed in more fermenters, a bottling tank, a fruit aging tank, countless wine barrels and a couple of oak foeders.

The introduction of our Mise en Rose Collection (our oak-aged farmhouse ale program) brought on an array of challenges I was eager to face, as these styles are my personal favorite to drink and to brew. The production of these wood-fermented beers requires a completely different, more complex thought process than our standard lineup of products – perfecting them takes a lot of time, energy, and learning. I was ready to invest whatever it took to get this program up and running. The program is still a work in progress, but we’re committed.

Being a part of a perpetually changing company with so much growth ahead has taught me how to stay on my toes, adjust quickly, and handle whatever new things come my way. Since working at Brew Gentlemen, I’ve not only learned to adjust to new equipment, new programs, and new recipes, I’ve also had to adjust to working as a solo brewer.

In my past experiences, I worked with a team of brewers with whom I shared responsibilities, ideas, and shifts. It’s been a whole new experience working on my own. I’ve had to work harder than ever before, but with complete autonomy and creative control. Being able to oversee all aspects of the brewing and fermentation processes from start to finish is worth the added workload.

The four of us couldn’t be more different, but we’re confident enough in each other’s abilities to give each other total sovereignty. It’s like we have an unspoken arrangement, in which we acknowledge our individual area of expertise and relinquish control when we need to. Even though we operate with clear divisions of labor, we’ve also learned the how to come together and accomplish things as a team. Brew Gentlemen wouldn’t be where it is today without the unique dedication and perspective we all bring to the table.

A Beer for All Tables

Table Beer Milliron 1 square.jpgLast month, we introduced our interpretation of a table beer – affectionately dubbed Table Beer – as part of our new Mise en Rose Collection.

We’ve received quite a few questions about this lone bottled beer that’s been available in our taproom. The concept of a “table beer” isn’t as straightforward as some other historic beer styles – it is a broad and amorphous category with roots in several European countries and countless modern interpretations, so a bit of explanation seems appropriate.

Table beer (referred to in Europe by the Dutch word tafelbier) has meant many things over its centuries-long history. The tradition was central to the rural areas of Belgium and Northern France, with farmhouse brewers making low-alcohol beers for themselves and their families (children included) to consume throughout the day. Because of their frequent companionship to meals and basic nature, these beers came to be known by the straightforward catch-all ‘table beer’.

As the industrial revolution pushed the European farmhouse brewing tradition out from rural homesteads into urban factories, table beer became a commercial product that has since come in all shapes and sizes: light, dark, clean, funky, spiced, hopped, and everything in between.

Despite its many forms, there are a few common threads that have come to define the table beer style, however loosely. The most prominent of these features is a low alcohol content and a reserved, balanced flavor profile. They are complex but unassertive, serving to complement other flavors without stealing the show. Belgian-style tafelbiers share quite a bit of conceptual overlap with the saison category of farmhouse beers – a style which is already the Swiss Army knife of food pairing solutions – and further accentuate those food-friendly elements.

Given our passion for beer and food, Table Beer is a special thing to us. Our version is a straw-colored farmhouse ale that’s been aged in oak foeders with our house culture, then naturally conditioned in the bottle. It has a lightly funky aroma of lemon, pear, and hay, with flavors of oak, earth, cracker malt, and a very mild tartness. We’ve designed it with versatility in mind, so that it may be shared with good people and good food of any variety.

Table Beer serves more or less as the flagship beer of the Collection, and is the only Mise en Rose brand that we are aiming to keep permanently available. This is a beer that we want to see enjoyed alongside a meal as often as possible.

The Spring Revision: Introducing BG Lime

spring seasonals 2017.png

Spring is here, but alas, Loose Seal is no more. With the recent launch of our new farmhouse ale collection, the dry-hopped saison that was part of our spring lineup for the past two years was rendered redundant. But the eulogies and funeral dirges have been cut short, dear reader, by the thunderous sounds of superior drinkability and 100% natural lime flavor.

The vacancy created by Loose Seal’s departure has been filled by BG Lime, a beer so deliberately straightforward that the inclusion of tasting notes in this introduction could potentially be taken as patronizing*. This light and refreshing American blonde ale has been flavored with excessive quantities of fresh lime zest and juice, an Entirely New And Original Idea We Had™, for maximum springtime enjoyment potential.

The trio remains otherwise intact with the return of Overgrowth and Albatross, our spring pale ale and double IPA. Overgrowth is a lush, juicy pale ale dripping with citrus, lemon and berry flavors and a serious contender for favorite seasonal with much of our staff. Similarly juicy but substantially more assertive, Albatross showcases the huge, tropical flavors of the Australian Galaxy hop varietal.

With the freshly revised spring lineup in place, here’s a look at our updated 2017 release calendar:

Product Calendar 2017.png

* For the curious, thorough, or especially dull amongst us, this beer tastes like lime.

Mise en Rose, Part Three

Mise en Rose Logo IG.png

This is part three in a three-part series announcing our upcoming farmhouse ale collection. Read part one here and part two here.

Mise En Rose, our oak-aged farmhouse ale collection, is named for “setting the rose” – the stage of the barrel-making process where the barrel first begins to take shape. With a focus on mixed culture fermentation, extended aging, and careful blending, the beers we truly love to brew and share are brought to life.

And while farmhouse beers are usually made on a farm, Braddock’s historic past was built upon industry, not agriculture. So why are we making farmhouse beers in a steel town? Because sometimes, tradition is more of a reference point than a rulebook.

After over two years of research, preparation, and aging, we’re proud to announce the arrival of the first beers in our Mise en Rose Collection.


Table Beer is our interpretation of a Belgian tafelbier. Traditionally served with meals, this delicate saison is aged for three months in oak foeders with our house culture, then naturally conditioned in the bottle. Straw-gold and refreshing, Table Beer is mildly tart, funky, and dry with an aroma of lemon and pear. Perfect for your next dinner party.

Essentially a series within the collection, Exploration & Discovery is our ever-changing line of experimental and blended farmhouse ales – our creative outlet for special styles, new techniques and unique ingredients.

Exploration & Discovery No. 1 is a saison aged in fresh white wine barrels with Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus for eleven months, then naturally conditioned in the bottle. This tart, honey-colored farmhouse ale has aromas of white grape, peach, earth, and light funk leading to flavors of sour orange, minerality, bread, and oak.

Exploration & Discovery No. 2 is an American wild ale aged in red wine barrels for twelve months with a unique blend of wild yeast and bacteria, then further conditioned in the bottle for six months. Coming from a different end of the farmhouse beer spectrum, the mahogany-red beer is less tart than its predecessor, a bouquet of dark fruit and red wine with a character of oak, tannins, strawberry, cherry, and grape.

The Mise en Rose Collection will expand as we move forward to include additional core brands and ongoing Exploration & Discovery releases.


As the modern American beer release formula descends from frustrating (excessively long lines) to self-satirical (absentee lawn chairs, Craigslist mules, social media-fueled flash mobs), we’ve decided to try something new for this release.

  • Over the course of this week, we’ll be taking reservations in the taproom to purchase Mise en Rose Collection bottles when they are released this Sunday (February 26th).
  • Each day (Wednesday through Saturday) we’ll be accepting 90 reservations. Reservations must be made in person with your photo ID.
  • Upon making your reservation, you will be assigned a pickup window for Sunday’s release during our regular taproom hours (12-8p), during which may purchase up to three 750mL bottles of each variety (for a maximum of nine bottles per person).
  • Pricing for 750mL bottles:
    • Table Beer – $14
    • Exploration & Discovery No. 1 – $18
    • Exploration & Discovery No. 2 – $18
  • A reservation is not a presale – no money will be taken until Sunday.
  • Your photo ID will be required to both make your reservation and confirm it during the release.

We’ve decided upon this system for releasing our Mise en Rose Collection for three reasons: to minimize inconvenience to our regular customers, to keep our taproom experience pleasant, and to be respectful of our Braddock neighbors by avoiding excessive lines. Please bear with us as we test out this new process.

EDIT: The bottle limit has been increased from two of each variety to three of each variety, for a maximum of nine bottles per person.

Mise en Rose, Part Two


This is part two in a three-part series announcing our upcoming farmhouse ale collection. Read part one here, and part three here.

By the time Braddock’s first barrel factory began its operation in 1850, barrels had been made in much the same way for more than a millennium and a half. Much like the act of brewing, cooperage is all about human influence on natural elements.

The beginning of the barrel assembly process – the point at which the barrel begins to take form – is known as the mise en rose. At this stage, the cooper selects the staves and aligns them within a metal hoop, with the ends of the staves projecting outward to resemble a flower. Following this stage, additional hoops are added, the staves are made flexible with heat and humidity, and the barrel is tightened into place.

Named for this process, the Mise en Rose Collection is our take on the historic tradition of farmhouse ales. Originally exclusive to the European countryside, the style nearly met its end with industrialization and the rise of macro lagers. Thankfully, these versatile and complex beers have found new life as a significant niche of modern brewing culture.

These beers are designed to develop naturally over time with minimal human intervention. They are fermented and/or conditioned in oak for anywhere from a few months to multiple years, as our house culture of wild yeast and bacteria creates unique aromas and flavors not found in our other products. Finally, these beers are conditioned in the bottle for several months to develop soft carbonation and additional complexity. They can be consumed fresh or aged further, and are the perfect companion to a wide variety of foods.
Bringing farmhouse beers to Braddock has been part of our vision for quite some time. It’s taken time and resources, research and experimentation, tasting and travel. We’re excited to broaden our knowledge and understanding of the subject as we bring more of these creations to life. And we’re even more excited to finally share them with you.

Get the details about the first beers in our Mise en Rose Collection in part three.

Mise en Rose, Part One


But not for Braddock was the lure of green fields and running  waters. Hers was to be a life of action and achievement, hers was no Lotus land of dreams. Already the faint tapping of a hammer and musical song of a distant saw-mill come at intervals on the quiet air: her industrial history is beginning.

– George H. Lamb, The Unwritten History of Braddock’s Field (1917)

Braddock’s first factory, the first spark of manufacturing that kicked off its century-long tenure as an industrial epicenter, was a barrel factory. Established shortly before 1850 by a group of Scotsmen from Massachusetts, the cooperage was building oak barrels and furniture more than two decades before the arrival of Andrew Carnegie and the construction of his Edgar Thomson Steel Works.

The arc of industry rose and fell. This beating heart of Carnegie’s empire, once so central to the growth of America’s infrastructure, was barely hanging on by the end of the twentieth century.

Not much is known about Braddock’s short-lived barrel factory, but it began an industrial legacy that carries through to today. Even after steel’s collapse, manufacturing never left Braddock’s blood. Edgar Thomson still extrudes steady columns of steam into the sky, day and night. The rusted skeletons of old warehouses and utility vehicles sit amongst their modern, operational counterparts. These overgrown, graffiti-adorned monuments to industry, past and present, were what initially drew us here.

Being a part of that industrial legacy is an essential aspect of our company’s identity. A brewery is a factory: we take raw ingredients, process them using production equipment, and manufacture a commercial product. The beers we’ve made thus far rely on technical precision and methodology.

With the addition of oak barrels to our brewhouse, however – a fitting coincidence, given Braddock’s inaugural export – we’re now capable of producing a line of beers that are entirely unique to us. While technical precision remains a necessity, these farmhouse-style beers are allowed to develop their own character with minimal intervention.

While farmhouse beers were usually made on farms, Braddock’s historic past was built upon industry, not agriculture. So why are we making farmhouse beers in a steel town? Because sometimes, tradition is more of a reference point than a rulebook.

This is part one in a three-part series announcing our upcoming farmhouse ale collection, leading up to its release later this month. Learn more about the name and production process next in part twoand get the details on the first beers in part three.

2016, The Year of No.


There’s a small nugget of business wisdom that we’ve come to hold sacred around here:

If you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, say “no”.

It’s the central lesson of a very short post by CD Baby founder Derek Sivers, and became our de facto motto of 2016. While we celebrated the close of 2015 with a sprawling list of numerical accomplishments, we celebrate the close of 2016 – the year of no – with a look back on the benefits of focus and reduction.

Given the infinitely open-ended nature of brewery ownership, opportunities of every shape and size present themselves on a perpetual basis. On top of the constant temptation to take on new projects and events of their own, breweries are bombarded with an endless stream of invitations and requests. As wide-eyed 23-year-olds with a newly operational brewery on our hands, we were kids in a candy shop. The world was our burrito.

We quickly developed the symptoms Sivers identifies in his first sentence of Hell Yeah – we were over-committed and too scattered. His solution:

When deciding whether to do something, if you feel anything less than “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!” — then say “no.”

When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say “HELL YEAH!”

Over the course of 2016, we took that advice to heart. We turned down a lot of things. We scaled back our distribution to bars and restaurants. We made less one-off beers. We stripped down our frequent and varied string of events, including our monthly food truck roundups. We even shed the brand identity we’d had since before we opened.

In turn, we threw ourselves completely into the rare things that made us say “HELL YEAH”: we focused on our taproom experience, solidified our entire line of flagship and seasonal beers, planted the seeds for our upcoming farmhouse ale series, made Beer + Yoga the best it could be, and revamped our brand identity to create something more iconic and long-lasting. Paring down our entire operation to only that which is absolutely essential has increased efficiency, decreased clutter, and provided us all with a lot more peace of mind.

A lot of the things we’ve said no to, it’s merely us saying not yet, so that at some point down the line we can say hell yeah to them as well.

Thank you for saying hell yeah along with us.

5 Albums We Played The Hell Out Of In 2016


Two years ago, a small personal project cataloguing our most-played albums of 2014 kicked off one of our favorite traditions. We gave it a second go-round in 2015, and we’ve now found ourselves at the end of another year. We don’t necessarily assert that these five albums are the best albums of the year, as authoritative lists like that are best left to music blogs and magazines. They are merely the ones we played the hell out of – a glimpse into an important part of our company culture: our collective soundtrack.


1. Bayside – Vacancy [2016]

Following a messy divorce and a subsequent stint living in the motel pictured on the album’s cover, you’d think Bayside frontman Anthony Raneri would be writing far darker music than Vacancy. Make no mistake, Vacancy is dark as hell. But the pained, broken, and lonely thematic material is not delivered somberly; instead, it is on the backs of sweeping and theatrical melodies. Over catchy, anthemic arrangements, Raneri examines with raw and pleading honesty the position he’s found himself in and everything that led him there. His impressive vocal range and crisp enunciation add to the Broadway-style flare, weaving and snarling amongst big, soaring, Built To Spill-style guitar riffs and anthemic major-key hooks. In the end, the glimmer of hope still shines through, finishing with the straightforwardly-titled “It’s Not As Depressing As It Sounds”.

I’ll be the first to admit that Vacancy isn’t wildly innovative. It falters when it leans too heavily on formulaic pop-punk compositions. But Bayside’s genre-bending seventh album is certainly varied enough to warrant regular listenings, making for an experience that’s as enjoyable as it is reliable.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Pretty Vacant [3:12]


2. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo [2016]

We’ve all been made well aware by this point of how Kanye West feels about Kanye West. He’s a neurotic and unpredictable narcissist who’s seemingly morphed into a caricature of himself via his constant string of high-drama media outbursts and bizarro-world commentary. Taking cues from both the highly polished maximalism of 2009’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and the gritty, industrial minimalism of 2013’s Yeezus, The Life of Pablo feels like a manifestation of his volatile public persona: a glitchy, messy and unpredictable collage of sound.

The jagged pile of audacious boasts, however, is layered with admissions of deep insecurities – especially when it comes to family. As Rolling Stone‘s Rob Sheffield notes, Kanye “hides behind the douchebag mask” so not to be seen as “a restless husband (“FML”), a guilt-ridden son (“Wolves”), a manipulative phony (“Real Friends”), a distant dad (“Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 2″) and all the other things he worries he is.” The man-child prodigy we all love to hate still has quite a bit of soul-searching to do, and he continues to give us a deeply personal front row seat.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Waves [3:02]


3. Cubicolor – Brainsugar [2016]

Two Dutch producers and a British vocalist make up the deep house trio Cubicolor, whose unique flavor of electronic music comes to life in their debut album Brainsugar. It’s quiet and atmospheric, the kind of soundtrack best suited for a peaceful late night drive or a foggy early morning. Lush compositions of gently pulsing rhythms form the liquid undercurrent upon which haunting tenor vocals float. Layers of smooth, clicking percussion, spacious and meandering piano arrangements, dark, textured synths and rich basslines paint a cavernous yet elegantly muted landscape. Like its title would suggest, Cubicolor’s first go-round is an immersive and cerebral experience.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Falling [4:30]


4. Classixx – Faraway Reach [2016]

The level of esteem with which we’ve held Classixx’s first album Hanging Gardens (2013) certainly made for high expectations concerning their sophomore release. Moving in a more pop-focused direction but still retaining the bouncy, retro world-beat vibes present on Hanging Gardens, Faraway Reach features an ensemble cast of vocalist collaborators (from Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos to T-Pain) to round out the sun-drenched tropical house melodies. Their signature effervescence returns in full technicolor, gliding to and fro through cascades of blips and pings – the musical equivalent of rainbow Dippin’ Dots, minus the brainfreeze.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Safe Inside (ft. Passion Pit) [4:03]


5. Band of Horses – Why Are You Ok [2016]

By all standard technical metrics, Band of Horses’ newest release Why Are You Ok is a mediocre album. It’s a bit over-simplistic, relying on many of the same sonic cliches that made many of their previous albums so homogenous. But to bring this back to beer for a moment, Why Are You Ok is like a well-made pilsner: what it lacks in innovation, it makes up for in accessibility. The theme of home is woven throughout the album, a fitting topic for an album that excels within its own four walls. The few boundaries that it does push are Band of Horses’ own, amplifying all of the best elements from their previous work and wrapping them up in a more polished package than we’ve seen from them in the past (as with any project involving Rick Rubin). It’s a simple, sweeping indie rock crowd-pleaser soaked in reverb, warmth, and nostalgia, and that’s all it needs to be.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Solemn Oath [4:00]

Honorable Mentions: Our Individual Picks

ASA’S PICK: Lord Huron – Strange Trails [2015]

Strange Trails is an Americana epic with all the flow of a classic movie. Melodies and hooks resurface in multiple places and forms, popping up in reprises and callbacks that feel like theme songs for its many characters and locations. The soundscapes recall the pastoral deciduous vistas of Hudson River Valley School-style paintings, a folktale Odyssey winding through field, stream, and prairie.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: La Belle Fleur Sauvage [5:41]

MATT’S PICK: Various Artists – Anjunadeep 08 [2016]

Another year, another Anjuna family pick from me. Even though it was released only a few weeks ago, the Anjunadeep 08 compilation has already received heavy air time. Producers James Grant and Jody Wisternoff spent the better part of the last eighteen months building one of the most eclectic compilations to date. The result is deep, danceable, and vibrant, a two-and-a-half hour journey will surely move you (or get you to move).

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Yotto – Edge of Affection [5:10]

BREWHOUSE PICK: Thrice – To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere [2016]

Thrice returns from a five-year hiatus to deliver their 9th full album, To Be Everywhere – a forceful and dynamic adventure across the veteran band’s ever-changing musical spectrum. Punishing guitars, melodic bass, and powerful political lyrics, fall under a blanket of ambient harmonies, the type of complexity we’ve come to expect from such a diverse and longstanding group.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: The Long Defeat [4:11]