Beer Scout: Burial Beer puts down roots in South Slope

OUR HOUSE: Expect Burial's outdoor space to expand and more live music now that Burial Beer owns 40 Collier Ave. Photo of Big Nasty Jazz Band courtesy of Burial Beer

In late June, David Paul Seymour — the man who creates all of Burial Beer’s artwork — started posting pictures of can designs for Scythe Rye Pale Ale on Instagram. While Burial’s closest thing to a flagship is certainly popular, the idea of it in a can is forward thinking to say the least.

Burial is currently only open a few days a week. With a one-barrel system, it serves all the beer it can produce in just three days. How would it suddenly have enough surplus beer to can by fall?

The original plan, according to owners Doug Reiser, Jess Reiser and Tim Gormley, was to build a second brewery on a farmhouse outside of town.

“When we moved in [to 40 Collier Ave.] last year, we didn’t know if people were going to dig this space. It’s an old run-down building in an alley without a sign,” says Doug Reiser. “But the positive response happened immediately. We’ve had people come three days in a row partly because of this space. … It’s become a part of who we are.”

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READY FOR ACTION: Burial Beer’s new 10-barrel brewing system is ready to be installed. Photo courtesy of Burial Beer.

So the owners decided the farmhouse would have to wait. The first priority was to purchase 40 Collier Ave. “We have a new 10-barrel brewing system ready to install right now,” says Reiser, “but it took us a long time to determine if we could stay here.”

The Changes Ahead

Purchasing the property is just the first in a series of many steps for Burial. Now that they have a home for new equipment, and ownership of the entire space instead of just part of 40 Collier, here’s what to expect:

– A brand new brewery in a brand new room: The new 10-barrel brewhouse will be installed in a part of the building nobody has ever seen. “We’re going to move the one-barrel system we have now over there too,” says Reiser. “But we’re going to knock down the wall so the brewing systems are still part of the taproom. There will be a chain link, but you’ll still be right next to the brewery.”

– New bathrooms and a revamped main taproom: “We still need to sit down with our architect, but one of the first things we need to do is expand our one bathroom into two,” says Reiser. “That will give us a men’s and women’s room, but it will also help us increase our capacity.” Reiser says that the bar will then expand, some half-dividing walls will be torn down, and small coolers will be removed to take the taproom from about 1,200 to 1,900 square feet.

– Outdoors galore: “The property that everyone has seen — our main building and the side yard behind that back wall — will be our brew house. But then there’s another 600-700 square feet of space. Behind that building is a lot on Millard that will now be ours, too,” says Reiser. The owners plan to turn that eighth of an acre up into a beer garden and small urban farm. “We want to do something similar to Roberta’s [in Brooklyn, N.Y.],” says Reiser. “They grow about half of what they use. … Our property has good soil and we plan to have wildflowers, fruit trees and even some vegetables back there.”

What about the front loading bay? “We’re hoping to build a big deck off the front, too, if the city is OK with it,” says Reiser.

The Timing

While the brewery may come online in August or thereabouts, the owners say the rest of the changes to the building will be incremental. They hope to have everything completed by the end of 2014, but there are no guarantees.

However, they say that once the new brewery is up and running in late summer or early fall, Burial’s fans have plenty to look forward to. First, there will be more beer. The team brewed 150 barrels on a one-barrel system in their first year. With a 10-barrel system, they can brew that much beer in as little as two months.

According to Reiser, the large system will mean Scythe, Skillet, Spade, Bolo, Hayknife, Billhook and Surf Wax will all be regular fixtures on tap at the brewery. They also may start finding their way to other places around town.

As for taking Burial beers to-go, “We’re looking into canning later this year … probably Scythe and Skillet first, though that’s not yet finalized,” says Reiser.

Once the taproom is ready to expand capacity, the owners say to expect regular hours Wednesday to Sunday, likely until about 11 p.m. most nights.

“We can’t wait to have more people by for events like our anniversary party,” says Reiser, “barrel-aged bottle releases and music outside. … We can’t wait for those to be more regular things.”


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About Thom O'Hearn
Thom O’Hearn is a writer, book editor and homebrewer. Twitter: @thomohearn

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