Getting to know BREW: Q&A with SingleCut Beersmiths
Updated: Aug 9, 2022
We've gone stateside and are 'getting to know' a whole new world of breweries, starting with SingleCut Beersmiths.
Back in 2012, SingleCut Beersmiths was founded in Astoria, Queens, New York, by Rich Buceta, who sold his sold his collection of vintage guitars to finance the brewery. Talk about trading one passion for another, but Rich's passion for music is still clearly visible in everything they do in the brewery. In fact, it's at the heart of most of their branding decisions. Many of SingleCut's beers are named after, or inspired by their favourite musicians such as The Beach Boys with the aptly named 'Hop Sounds' and Weird & Gilly IPA, influenced by David Bowie. KT66 and all the other number and letter combination named beers are named after Rich’s favourite tubes and amp parts. Plus for those of you who don't know, the name Single Cut is actually a body style of guitar. They're definitely running with a theme, and it rocks.
But what do they know about beer and operating a brewery? Plenty!
We caught up with Rich Buceta, Founder of SingleCut Beersmiths and General Manager Dan Bronson to discuss everything from exporting their beer to the rest of the world, to the requirement to brew lower ABV beers due to expanding demand.
Q. How did the idea come about to open your own brewery?
I've been a craft beer fanatic well before craft beer was so common in the US, let alone the East-coast which had far less than the West-coast. I needed to influence change! -Rich
Q. What do you look for when you source brewing ingredients (i.e. Local varieties, particular distributors)?
Anything that can give us distinction and a difference in the marketplace gets my attention. -Rich
Q. How important do you think branding/package design is for your beers?
When we shop for beer, or well- anything, we're looking for a story. Something that tells us about the experience that we're about to have and about the inspiration that went into that beer. For us, we're music obsessives, and everything that inspires us starts and ends with music- so our labels are an extension of that creative process and provide a template to keep that story going. Plus- who doesn't like a slick looking label as good as their beer? -Dan
Q. How do you feel about crowdfunding investment for your brewery? Is it something you’ve either done or thought of doing?
That's not something we've done or considered, but brewing has traditionally been a community-centric industry, so it makes a lot of sense to look to your community for financial support. -Dan
Q. Is exporting beer from the US an integral part of your marketing strategy or do you prefer to only distribute to the USA/CAN?
We've always looked at exporting not as real revenue line, but more as an opportunity to share our beers and our story with folks far fling from NYC. Though our beer's Quality Control is top notch- sending beer that far away always presents a challenge for freshness, so we tend to send small amounts a few times a year rather than constantly. You can find SingleCut every now and then in the UK, Norway, Sweden, Thailand, Australia, and Hong Kong/Shanghai. -Dan
Q. With low ABV beers gaining a bigger market share, do you intend to change your core beers to incorporate low/ No ABV beers this or will you stick with traditional brewing?
Our flagship beer, 18-Watt IPA, has always been proudly been a bit below the American ABV curve, sitting right at 5%- there's a time and place for bigger, higher alcohol beers, but like most folks who work in brewing- we always find ourselves reaching for more sessionable styles.
The rise in low-ABV brewing is something that we're really interested in- but non-alcoholic brewing is a totally unique process and something that we wouldn't try half-heartedly. When alcohol is removed from the production process, you're opening a whole new world of ways that brewing can go wrong, and we hope that any brewers who are interested in Non-Alc brewing really do their homework and put safety and Quality Control above all else in their processes. -Dan
Q. Do you find attending beer festivals to benefit your brewery or do you think it’s better to invest your marketing spend elsewhere?
There's nothing more valuable than getting the occasional opportunity to sample your beers to a large group of people and get that (often unfiltered) reaction. Feedback from retailers and Tap Room patrons is critical, but comes with its own biases - the "festival" puts your often in front of consumers who are excited about what you do, but not necessarily sold on your brand or your wares- the products they're drawn to and what gets them excited is some invaluable consumer data.
That being said- we've all been to festivals that simply revolve around guests trying to get as drunk as possible with little regard to what's in their cup, save for it's alcohol content- like everything, it's a mixed bag that hopefully works in your favor. We politely decline as many as we attend. -Dan
Q. Does your brewery support any charitable causes?
We feel it's important to note that our biggest goals are always going to revolve around getting our guests the best pint they possibly can, but when we can use our business to support organizations that showcase our team's values, it's a particularly proud moment. Our primary focuses have been on supporting LGBTQ+ Youth orgs in the NYC area and Civil Liberties groups, and occasionally those will line up with our passion for music and music education. We tend to release 2-4 beers a year that support Non-Profits. -Dan
Q. How important do you think reviewing platforms like Untappd?
Everyone has an opinion, and being frank, not all opinions are created equal- However, Untappd is an unrivaled tool for us to check on in the field quality for our beers. Out of Code beers are the bane of a distributing brewery. You ship out the beer and then just hope that your distribution partners and retail partners will care for that beer in the manner they deserve, but often that plan goes awry.
With Untappd we get a constant stream of info telling us how our product is doing out in the market, how our cans are aging and holding up, and which new products are really making folks happy. Speaking specifically of Untappd, we've had the pleasure of pouring at several of their festivals, and though internet trolls are everywhere, Untappd festivals tend to be some of the nicest and most appreciative crowds we get to pour for. -Dan
Q. Do you think it’s important to promote your ethos or should you keep personal beliefs and politics out of it?
We're the Rock N Roll brewery, and there's always going to be some of our values out front and proud. Our #1 goal is getting our guests the best pint possible, but after that, we'll gladly use our platform to reflect the values of our team. -Dan
What’s your Favourite Pub/bar?
C'est What in Toronto Ontario is where I fell in love with East-Coast craft beer (Canada had a craft scene well before the US, and I happened to live in Canada back during those days). -Rich
Favourite beer you’ve brewed?
So hard to choose! But I'd have to go with 18-Watt IPA as it's the brew I've consumed the most of over the years. -Rich
Favourite beer style?
Still the almighty IPA. -Rich
Higher ABV or lower?
Decidedly lower. I like to function the next day. -Rich
Favourite Hop to brew with?
Nelson Sauvin. -Rich
Favourite snack to have with beer?
Pizza always wins. -Rich
Huge thanks to Rich and Dan for taking the time to speak to us. We are definitely going to head over to the brewery when we are next in NYC...perhaps on the way to Citi Field Stadium when we watch the New York Mets. #LGM
About SingleCut Beersmiths
19-33 37th St,