By Daniel Ford
I love Astoria, N.Y., for a variety of reasons, but great beer is pretty high on my list.
Fellow Astoria lover, and Writer’s Bone contributor, Lindsey Wojcik swears by the brews at SingleCut Beersmiths and may or may not have been drinking a flight on Thursday night while her brother was in town.
SingleCut’s head brewer/president Rich Buceta took a break from brewing those beers to answer some of my questions about how he got started, what his biggest brewing mistake was, and which beer he’d like to have with him on a deserted island.
Daniel Ford: Give us a little background on your history and how you started brewing.
Rich Buceta: I was a longtime homebrewer who became disenchanted with my then career (advertising) and quit. Not having a “Plan B,” I decided my next chapter might revolve around beer since it was such a longtime passion of mine. I brought samples of my homebrew to a local brewery and got hired by the first place I went (Greenpoint Beerworks). I started cleaning kegs and climbed the ladder to eventually become a brewer. Once I had confidence in my “big league” capabilities, I left to start SingleCut Beersmiths.
DF: I’ve lived in Astoria twice during my time in New York City and it still holds a special place in my heart. How are you involved in the community and what kind of response have you gotten from patrons of your brewery?
RB: We’ve invested quite a bit in our tap room to make it a comfortable and welcoming environment and it’s become a well-known destination in Astoria. We’ve supported many local charity events. The notoriety of SingleCut throughout New York City has helped increased Astoria’s profiles and we believe has added considerably to the wealth of higher end pubs and restaurants that have and continue to open since our establishment.
DF: What was your biggest mistake brewing? What lessons did you learn from a bad recipe or brewing mishap?
RB: Experimenting with a new yeast strain on a full batch! The results were not what we anticipated whatsoever. Lesson: Have such experiments worked out in our pilot system first.
DF: Your logo is simple, but so awesome. What was the process like for coming up with it?
RB: I knew I wanted the SingleCut origin (guitar body shape) to somehow tie into the “S.” It took many versions before I arrived at the current logo, which was the simplest solution and, not coincidentally, the best.
DF: You’re very active on social media, and also manage a blog on your website. What’s your social media strategy and how has it helped build your brand?
RB: Tell as many newsworthy and inside stories as we can while encouraging a dialogue with our audience. Such stories speak to our passion and qualify far better than a contrived advertisement.
DF: If you were in Prohibition times, do you think you’d be bootleggers?
RB: Ha! Not sure I’d have the stomach for it. More likely, I’d move to Canada or elsewhere where I could operate legally.
DF: If you were stuck on a deserted island with just one case of one of your beers, which one would it be and why?
RB: 18-Watt, no question. It’s been my go-to beer since the first day we brewed it. I love hops and the sessionable aspect of its alcohol by volume makes it something I can drink often enough.
DF: What’s next for Single Cut brewery? What does the future look like?
RB: We’d like to start to package our beer. 16 ounce cans are on the very near horizon, most likely stating with 18-Watt and 19-33 Queens Lagrrr! Packaging our beer would expose us to a whole new market and provide us with greater visibility. It’d be the best form of advertising we could imagine.
DF: Name one random fact about your company.
RB: The vast majority of our employees are musicians.