BeersIn Interview: Baystate Foods
For those of you familiar with Cooliage Corner, you’re probably familiar with Baystate Foods. We recently had the chance to chat with Drew (Twitter: @DrewShal9) from Baystate Foods in Brookline about their craft beer selection, and the rise in the local craft beer scene in Brookline and Greater Boston.
BeersIn: Brookline has always been on the forefront of Boston’s Craft Beer scene. How do you think this puts you at an advantage/disadvantage when it comes to providing Craft Beers at BSF? Do the customers require more?
Drew: I don’t see any disadvantages to being in Brookline, only opportunities to attract more people to Craft Beer! We’re in a great location in Brookline too. I try to take into consideration all of my customers’ requests but I can’t make everyone happy because I don’t have enough cooler and building space! That’s probably the only disadvantage we have.
BeersIn: How long have you been working for BSF? During this time, what changes have you seen to the overall receptiveness in the Craft Beer industry?
Drew: I’ve been behind the scenes consulting Marcello, the owner, with what beers to bring in and whatnot for the past year and one day he offered to hire me part time 3 months ago as the Craft Beer Manager for Baystate Food and Spirits. I immediately became fulltime and dropped my service industry job. Over the past few years I’ve seen Craft Beer boom in sales gaining national attention and more awareness/education to the people of the different styles of beer rather than beer just being watered down fizzy swill.
BeersIn: What is the hardest part of your job? Is working with distributors in the area difficult at times? What are the hurdles that you must overcome?
Drew: Hardest part is not having enough space in the store to get everything I want and not having enough coolers to keep beers that customers want cold. This also relates to distributors because I sometimes have to say no or refuse some beers that aren’t up to my standards i.e. older dated hoppy ipas and pale ales or mishandled boxes. Only hurdle is trying to spread the word of good beer to the people!
BeersIn: Besides Craft Beer, what other things is Baystate Foods known best for?
Drew: Baystate is a one stop shop with an excellent liquor and wine section with some of the most reasonable prices. Our wine guy, Brian, has a vast knowledge of wine and is actually tutoring the staff and me as well as customers.
BeersIn: What would you like to tell customers about Baystate Foods? If you are in Brookline, why should you come here?
Drew: I think i’ve already said it a few times but I honestly feel we are the best kept secret in Boston. Great prices and a constantly expanding selection of beer, wine, liquor, and groceries. Brian, Marcello, and I always try to bring in new beers and wines every week! We have tastings every Thursday and Friday night from 6 to 8pm. Just come check us out and tell me if I’m wrong.
BeersIn: What is your favorite beer bar in the Boston Area? How come?
Drew: Great question. I have too many places I enjoy but Publick House is right down the street from us so I try to say hi to those great folks at PH or I like going to Kinsale in government center since it’s a little bit quieter. Saturdays I’m usually at the Harp near the Garden as they’re the sponsor for my rugby team, Mystic River. Other places I enjoy are Deep Ellum, Sunset/Big City, Lord Hobos, and Cambridge Brewing Company. All great selections and my apologies if I didn’t mention your bar.
BeersIn: What is the best beer that you’ve drank in 2012?
Drew: Big head turner for me was Mystic Brewery’s Flor Ventus at the American Craft Beer Festival, heady topper, and having fou foune from Cantillon.
BeersIn: What is the most popular seller for Craft Beer at BSF? Any surprise brewers/beers that sell well?
Drew: Hands down Pretty Things, Slumbrew, dogfish head, and Stone Brewery are my stars. Jacks abby, notch, firestone walker, port/lost abbey, and founders are becoming big hits with everybody once they try their brews.
BeersIn: How long have you been involved in the Craft Beer Industry? What brought you into the industry?
Drew: I’ve been in the service industry since I was 12 as a busboy and graduated to a server then bartender so I’ve always been around beer, wine, and liquor. Even as an underage college kid (I don’t promote or condone underage drinking) I wasn’t able to enjoy BMC beers and was constantly the butt of the joke that I drank “fancy beers.” Really got into craft beer once I was 21 and had the epiphany that I wanted to be a sales rep or become a brewer a few years ago after befriending some of the reps at the restaurant/bars I was a bartender and now I’m at Baystate as the Craft Beer Manager/Beer Buyer!
BeersIn: Things your most looking forward in the local beer scene? Nationally?
Drew: I feel we are blessed to live in MA as we constantly have new breweries popping up everywhere and have one of the best distributions in the country! I’m waiting for Rising Tide and Bull Jagger from Portland, ME to arrive in the state. Trends I see are beers becoming more sessionable (less than 4.5% abv) with Chris Lohring from Notch and a few others leading the way and more sours popping up everywhere. Also the blending of different styles and more lagers.
Thanks again Drew for taking the time to interview with us! Keep up the great work with keeping Bay State Foods stocked with the latest local craft beers!
Have you been to Bay State Foods in Brookline? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!