(Editor’s Note: This is part of a series in which we scoured the country to find 30 innovative brewers and beer professionals under 30 years old, each of whom hopes to further the scope and breadth of the American craft beer scene.)
Heather McReynolds, 29
All About Beer: Tell us about your brewery.
Heather McReynolds: The brewery in Red Hook, Brooklyn is a 15-bbl system. No tours or tasting room yet, but that’s in the works!
How did you first get into brewing?
I started with homebrewing (like everyone does) and after working a couple other craft beer gigs, I ended up at The Cannon Brewpub as a manager. My boss let me cross-train with the head brewer, and when he left for greener pastures, I took over. I was 27.
What was the first beer you ever brewed and where did you do it?
My first homebrew was a spiced ale with cranberries. It turned out surprisingly well for a first brew!
What’s your favorite beer style?
Whatever style the beer is that I’m drinking at the moment! I really enjoy all styles, but the weirder beers intrigue me the most.
Do you have a mentor in the brewing world?
She probably doesn’t know it, but I really look up to Leslie Henderson at Lazy Magnolia Brewing Co. in Mississippi. Not only is she a great brewer, but a successful entrepreneur as well. And she’s pretty kick-ass.
What inspires you when you’re brewing?
Creativity, definitely, but I doubt I’m the only one! I think this industry naturally draws creative-minded people.
What do you attribute to your success?
I think I can only take credit for a very small portion of my success. It’s attributed more to having a great team around you.
What do you think drives the popularity of craft beer?
I think it’s not just the great, interesting, flavorful products we’re putting out, but the consumer’s connection to the beer. Social media and events let brewers and breweries build a relationship with the craft beer drinkers that the big guys just can’t pull off. For craft beer lovers who aren’t in the industry, it lets them be a part of the community, and it’s pretty powerful.
In general, how do you think the next generation of brewers will shake up the craft beer world?
Only time will tell!
In particular, how will you contribute to that shake up?
Ze Frank sums it up for me: “And when I get that feeling in my stomach—you know the feeling when all of the sudden you get a ball of energy and it shoots down your legs and up into your arms and tells you to get up and stand up and go to the refrigerator and get a cheese sandwich—that’s my cheese monster talking. And my cheese monster will never be satisfied by cheddar, only the cheese of accomplishment.”
Last one: Cascadian dark ale or black IPA?
Just call it what it is—it’s a black IPA!
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