photo by andrew dominick
At Decadent Ales in Mamaroneck, Paul Pignataro brews some of the wildest beers you’ll come across. Strawberry Cream Pop, Butter Pecan, and Double Toasted Marshmallow are just a sampling of this former investment banker’s creativity. We caught up with the man who brews these ‘desserty’ IPAs.
When did your brewing journey begin?
I brewed my first batch in 2005. It was one of those things where you bought a kit. I thought, Here’s something cool to do. I lived in the city then, so I’d leave it at my parents’ house, come back in two weeks, and see how it was doing. The first time I did it, the bottles exploded. People told me I’d get hooked. I got hooked.
How did Decadent Ales come to fruition?
Regulations had to get passed in Mamaroneck, but there was stuff in-between. The dawn of a farm brewery license made it possible [to start up] for $400 instead of $10,000. You just need an industrial spot to brew it at. That’s where my aunt’s chocolate shop [Chocolations] came in. It met all requirements. I sent in the SLA application; they approved it; I made a website and home-brewed beer that I dropped off to local bars. I took some to Tørst in Brooklyn, and that affiliation got me connected with Twelve Percent Beer Project. They sampled my beer and wanted to distribute it. I wanted my own brewery, and the owners of [Mamaroneck retail-beer emporium] Half Time wanted to have a bar. This all took two and a half years.
Where do you come up with these flavors?
Everyday life. My wife will order blueberry pancakes with whipped cream, and I’ll think, That’s gotta be a beer. Beer labels would read, “It tastes like this,” and it wouldn’t. I became obsessed with that. For fall, we’re working on pumpkin-spice latte, chai latte, and apple-crumb beers.
With the beers you’re brewing, one might accuse you of having a sweet tooth.
It’s funny; I don’t. And I don’t eat much. I’m a big salad guy. I’d rather drink my dessert than eat it, so we’re trying to salvage the tagline: “Eat your beer.”
What do you do when you’re not dreaming up decadent ales?
My social life ended when we opened. I go to the gym a lot. But when I get a couple of free days, it’s dedicated family time with my wife and daughter. We’ll get away and spend a few days on the beach.