Photo by Andrew Dominick
Nine Westchester brewers have banded together to bring Fill the Boat, a new easy-sipping summer ale, to beer lovers.
Brewers from Run & Hide, Captain Lawrence, Soul, Alternative Medicine, Yonkers, Simple Motive, Marlowe Ales, Wolf & Warrior, and 18th Ward all enter a “room.”
That’s not a setup for a longform joke. And although many laughs were shared that brew-day morning — over several beers, of course — the punchline, a.k.a. the goal here, is camaraderie.
Spearheaded by Tim Shanley, brewer and owner of Port Chester’s Run & Hide Brewing Co., the beer collaboration that’s going to result in a summer wheat ale, came about from a few reasons combined.
“I read about this anchovy hop created by John Segal [a Washington state hop farmer], and I asked him what was up with this new experimental hop, so he brought in some beers that Russian River and Stillwater Artisanal had brewed using it,” Shanley recalls. “At that point, Paul from Decadent Ales was letting me brew there and I was set to brew something there using the anchovy hop, but then he called me to say he sold part of the brewery and it’s being renovated.”
Not being able to brew at Decadent, plus a business/family trip out to California, got Shanley thinking about his relationship with brewer Michael Chiltern of Wolf & Warrior Brewing Co. and how if either of them needs the other, they’ll literally meet on the side of a road somewhere to exchange ingredients and have an open line of communication to swap ideas.
That led Shanley to hit up every brewery in Westchester to create something together, using that anchovy hop, and to ultimately form a “club” so they could support each other and share ideas.
“I reached out to them all and I got nine,” he says. “The first person I reached out to was Scott Vaccaro at Captain Lawrence to brew it at his place, plus he’s tight with John [Segal], whose hops we’re using.”
Segal (whose hop farm, Segal Ranch is in Grandview, Washington) is actually from Westchester, specifically Larchmont, where he grew up; he now resides part-time in Scarsdale. And while the anchovy hop is his creation, hops aren’t something he became familiar with during his stint as a brewer at San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Company…they’re part of his DNA. His grandfather, George Segal Sr., started a hop farm in Malone, NY in the 1940s, and his father, John Segal Sr., took over the family business in 1950 and is credited with bringing the Cascade hop to the mainstream of craft beer.
So, yeah, in a way this is an all-Westchester collab given Segal’s roots. Plus, even though 18th Ward is based in Brooklyn, it has a taproom in New Rochelle.
But the beer needed a name. Because of the fishy-monikered hop, Shanley ideally wanted to use a quote from a classic 1975 film to name this summer wheat.
“The word ‘anchovy’ isn’t an appetizing name for a lot of people, so I wanted to come up with a Jaws reference because it’s summer and I’m a big Jaws guy, but all the names have been taken!” he says. “’You’re gonna need a bigger boat.’ Nope, there’s a beer. ‘I’m talkin’ ‘bout sharkin.’ There’s a beer. I looked into Latin terms and fishing terms, and we came up with Fill the Boat, and the label has John Segal on it, fishing in a boat.”
What you can expect from this team project, according to Shanley, is an easy-sipping (at 5.5% ABV), summer ale that’s brewed with white wheat, flaked wheat, and rolled oats. And no, it’s not going to be reminiscent of the banana-clove taste of a Belgian wit.
“We’re using S-04 yeast, so you won’t get that flavor,” he explains. “It’s an ale yeast because I want those hops to shine. The hops give off a smell and taste like watermelon and a candy necklace. If you go too much with that hop, though, it’s grassy and green. Definitely Segal’s Zumo hop for some lime zest flavor. We’ll play around and find out when we’re brewing.” (They settled on a double dry hopping of anchovy, Zumo, and a little Citra.)
Thirsty yet? Good. Brew day was August 18, so that fresh drop of Fill the Boat should be bubbling to the surface right about now, give or take. The plan is for the nine breweries to divvy that batch up, which should be roughly 10 kegs and two cases of cans for each, and have it released on the same day. It’d be wise to stay tuned into all the proper social channels for when taps open.
As far as the future of these nine breweries getting back together to run it back, Shanley is sure it’s going to continue.
“Let’s keep doing stuff together,” he says. “When people go to breweries, they draw a circle on a map and hit a bunch. I wanted to see if I could pull this off, like I know I can get my boys involved, but wanted others on board to build a relationship and further the craft beer movement in Westchester.”