KILLS BORO BREWING CO. TAKES SHAPE AT NORTH SHORE FAVORITE CRAFT HOUSE RESTAURANT AS AN EXCLUSIVE BREWPUB EXPERIENCE
BY JENNIFER VIKSE
For craft beer lovers and childhood friends Sean Torres and Phil Gardner, quietly brewing their own beer wasn’t enough. It began as a hobby, with the aim of saving a few bucks on suds, Torres confided with a laugh, then they decided they’d try to connect with other home brewers.
So early in 2012, they started Pour Standards, a home brewing club. Members began meeting once a month to talk about the process, how to brew better beer, and to share pourable results with one another.
Patrick Wade joined the group early on. “He’s a like minded individual who loved craft beer,” explained Torres, one of the owners of Kills Boro Brewing Company, located on the Island’s North Shore. “We developed a friendship.”
The club began putting together an annual fundraiser for Autism Speaks, called Brew for Autism. At the second annual event, restaurateur Vincent Lima attended and enjoyed the beer.
The four Torres, Gardner, Wade, and Lima got together and started talking about starting their own brewery. And unlike many who talk about the idea and are discouraged by all of the city, state, and federal regulations, these four actually did it.
Officially opened in July of this year, the Kills Boro Brewing Company is housed at the Craft House restaurant, Stapleton, and is the Island’s first and only brewpub, according to Torres. Its name is also unique, paying tribute as it does to the borough’s long brewing history. “It pays homage to the beer culture that started here with German migrants in the 19th century,” Torres explained. “They used the fresh runoff water from the Kills for their beers, their lagers.”
Running a business is hard work, but for the four owners, turning a hobby into a fulltime venture has been a great experience. “We’re a four man team, we do everything. We all have our lanes,” Torres said. “It feels great. It’s very satisfying. It’s this evolving passion that keeps growing.”
Currently, the company has six beers available and is slated to brew no fewer than 50 in its first year. While they are distributing to Manhattan, Brooklyn, and to Adobe Blues right here on the Island, the bulk of their offerings is available exclusively at the Craft House.
“The [restaurant] is like our tap room,” noted Torres. “It’s really the only place for our pilot, one off experimental beers.”
Although Torres said he doesn’t have a favorite beer, he’s favoring IPAs these days.
“I like them all. I don’t have a favorite style,” he said. “Everyone loves IPAs, but I’m drawn to ours because they are less reliant on the bittering characteristics; it’s more about the hop flavor and aroma, the flavorful, juicy experience.”
Torres also cautions beer drinkers not to get pigeonholed into just one style.
“We want to encourage people to be open minded. You don’t eat the same food every night, you don’t listen to the same songs every day,” he reasoned. “People like variety; they can get that same experience with beer. We run the gamut of styles and we want you to find the one or ones you like.”
While brewing on the Island had been a vanished market for decades, a resurgence occurred in the last few years with the opening of Flagship Brewing Company and the Staten Island Beer Company.
“It’s definitely exciting; we’re honored to be a part of it,” Torres said, adding that, unlike some in the industry, he regards those who at first might seem like competitors as friends. “We’re very friendly with other breweries, it’s a communal industry. Everybody helps each other out.”
That industry is constantly evolving, too, which makes things exciting for Torres and his partners.
“One fun part about starting brewing now is that the market is going in a bunch of directions. There are a lot of avenues to follow; that’s what’s really encouraged us,” he said. “We have a lot to share with beer craft enthusiasts and the New York City beer community.”
Killsboro Brewing Co
60 Van Duzer Street//347.277.8680//killsboro.com