Drew Kostic’s journey from lawyer to brewer is so intriguing that someone literally made a movie about it.
The new head brewer at Archetype Brewing, Kostic was born in New York City, grew up in Connecticut and earned a law degree from Duke University. He then worked for six years as a litigator in Manhattan, where, in his words, he “helped bad guys and banks get richer.”
While Kostic says the salary was nice, the long hours left him with little time to enjoy his earnings. After a few unfulfilling years, he thought back to his senior honors thesis at Colgate University, where he focused on the Buddhist perspective of death anxiety — specifically how the impermanent nature of life has the power to inspire people to follow what they love.
“That was the motivating factor to pursue something that I truly, truly care about and that I want to get out of bed and do every day,” Kostic says. “I haven’t looked back since.”
While enrolled in Auburn University’s brewing science and operations graduate program in 2016-17, Kostic was recommended by a mutual friend to be interviewed for a documentary about beer. What was supposed to be a brief chat about craft beer turned into a deeper conversation with the filmmakers about his unusual background and career goals. Three hours of filming soon turned into a seven- to eight-month endeavor and resulted in the 2018 feature documentary Brewmaster.
That same year, Kostic landed a job at Circa Brewing Co. in Brooklyn, N.Y. Subsequent experience includes time at Brooklyn’s Keg & Lantern Brewing Co. and Little City Brewing & Provisions Co. in Raleigh.
At Archetype, Kostic takes over for Erin Jordan, who accepted a job at Resident Culture Brewing Co. in Charlotte earlier this summer. In his new role, Kostic seeks to represent what he calls “the beer rainbow,” brewing balanced beverages that take drinkers on a journey of flavors while avoiding “palate fatigue,” a term he uses to describe patrons’ lack of interest in ordering a second beer from the same style.
“I’d like to say that I have a foot in all three traditions: the American progressive style of beer, the traditional German style and the traditional Belgian style,” Kostic says. “That’s the beauty of the industry. There are so many different things you can do that you never get tired of making beer.” avl.mx/9zn
Steel City love
Asheville and Pittsburgh breweries have collaborated on several beers over the past few years, including Dancing Gnome Brewing partnering with both Burial Beer Co. and DSSOLVR on two separate projects. Now, the connection between the two cities’ brewing industries is about to get significantly stronger.
It all started when the Pittsburgh Brewers Guild contacted the Asheville Brewers Alliance and asked if its members would be interested in making a collaborative beer for the 2021 Three Rivers Beer Week, which has been dormant since 2017.
“The more we’ve talked to the PBG team, the more we realize we have in common,” says Leah Rainis, the ABA’s executive director. Both are situated in Appalachia, and each is in the western part of their respective East Coast state. Furthermore, Rainis says, “we [both] missed making and drinking good beer with cool people during [the COVID-19 pandemic].”
Brandi Hillman (Hillman Beer), Katie Smith (Highland Brewing Co.) and Rainis will travel to Eleventh Hour Brewing for the brew day in early September, while Jordan Boinest (White Labs) will represent the ABA there during Three Rivers Beer Week. The ABA and PBG teams will continue having regular Zoom calls to finalize recipe development, packaging and distribution, and they plan to use locally sourced ingredients from their respective regions.
“Some folks might assume that most cities have their own ABA or PBG, but there aren’t a ton of regional guilds out there,” Rainis notes. “This Alliance/Guild collaboration provides an opportunity not only to shine a light on the beer scenes in our respective regions but also a platform to highlight the value and importance of having a regional entity that promotes and supports the collective needs that are unique to that region.”
The beer will debut at Three Rivers Beer Week, Oct. 6-10, and each group’s legal counsels are working together to nail down a distribution agreement to bring some of the collaboration beer to Asheville. One possibility for sharing it locally involves the ABA hosting a Three Rivers Beer Week pop-up event in October as part of the Road to AVL Beer Week series.
“Our hope is to return to a ‘normal’ — and new and improved — AVL Beer Week in May 2022,” Rainis says. “The Road to AVL Beer Week aims to get out and about all over Western North Carolina to tell the stories of the faces, places and spaces that make this place magical.” avl.mx/9zo
Beer plays a key role in Steven Tingle’s debut novel, Graveyard Fields, which he’ll launch at an author event at Bhramari Brewing Co. on Thursday, Aug. 12, at 6 p.m. The Cruso native has lived in Greenville, S.C., since 2012, making a living as a freelance writer with a focus on luxury travel pieces. But detective novels, he notes, have been a longtime passion.
“I thought it would be interesting to put a private detective in Cruso and throw all kinds of bizarre characters and situations at him,” Tingle says. “And create a detective who’s not very good at detecting anything — a guy who has a laundry list of flaws, apathy being one of them, and stumbles upon solutions more by accident and dumb luck than by using powers of deduction.”
Part of why the novel’s protagonist, Davis Reed, struggles with life stems from imbibing copious amounts of homebrew, a labor of love with which Tingle has some experience. When Tingle was in his 20s, he and his father sought to create “a sensational beer” called Old Crab Ale — a nod to Cruso’s tagline, “Nine Miles of Friendly People, Plus One Old Crab.”
“It was a complete disaster,” Tingle says. “It tasted like what I imagine Pine-Sol must taste like. After that one batch, we decided there were enough great beers out there that our time would be better spent drinking rather than brewing.”
Davis’ aim in Graveyard Fields is to write a book about the B-25 bomber that crashed on Cold Mountain shortly after World War II. While no fictional version of Highland Brewing Co.’s cult favorite Cold Mountain Winter Ale makes an appearance, Tingle has great admiration for Asheville’s longest-running craft brewery. In the late ’90s, he managed a small restaurant in Cruso that featured Highland Gaelic Ale on tap, and, one day, brewery founder Oscar Wong called simply to thank him for carrying his beer.
“That was years before Asheville became the beer mecca it is now, but it’s an example of the attitude that has propelled [Highland] to such acclaim — nice people making great beer,” Tingle says.
With help from his son Julian, who’s a cook at Bhramari, Tingle stays current on Asheville’s brewing scene. Like Deputy Dale Johnson in the novel, the elder Tingle is a fan of IPAs and recommends Boojum Brewing Co.’s Hop Fiend and BearWaters Brewing Co.’s Stiff Paddle as excellent local representations of the style — and apt pairings while reading Graveyard Fields.
“I tip my hat to those two breweries,” he says. “When I was writing the book, their output kept me going.” avl.mx/9z2