How do you go from starting a brewery with your neighbor in 2008 to winning the 2012 Award for Best Craft Brewery in New York State at TAP NY? For Larry Goldstein, of Spider Bite Beer Company, it took a lot of hard work and plenty of trial and error. From the company’s website, Larry was “…trained by the American Brewers Guild, has brewed with such award winning brewers as Tomme Arthur of Lost Abbey/Port Brewing and Crawford Moran of the 5 Seasons Brewery chain.” Spider Bite Beer Company’s line-up includes: First Bite Pale Ale, Boris the Spider Russian Imperial stout, Robert’s Spider Wee Heavy, Eight Legged RyePA, and Crazy Eights IIPA.
Larry was kind enough to answer some questions:
When did you start brewing, and what was you inspiration?
(Larry): I started homebrewing around 1992 or ’93 in Atlanta. I was just getting into trying all different styles and brands of beers the prior year. We had a local bar chain that would carry different beers from around the world, and you could order off of a world map. I then started going to the beer stores looking for anything I had not tried before. I still didn’t know about craft or micro brews, or even that the beers tasted so differently because they were different styles. I just knew I liked the more flavorful beers. One day, my future wife and I were walking around one of the towns near us and noticed a homebrew shop. I couldn’t believe that you could make beer at home, so we went in. It was then that they told me that I was drinking different styles of beer and that I could make flavorful beers like the ones I had started to enjoy. So we picked a pre-hopped wort can that came with a packet of yeast and a bucket kit, and we were ready to go. I still don’t know what style it was supposed to be, but I asked how could I “raise the alcohol” on the batch. They told me to use two cans. Instantly there were now two cans in the bag. (Hey, I need to use the name “Two Cans” for my next strong brew.) So we boiled the wort on the stove, got it in the bucket, and after two weeks in my closet the beer emerged. We bottled it from under the moldy layer and enjoyed, sort of, the “beer” over the next few weeks. The second time was better—no mold. And so it began. For the first few years, ten, I never brewed the same recipe twice.
You recently won the 2012 F.X. Matt Memorial Cup at TAP NY. What was that like?
Being licensed only since October of 2011, we were greatly surprised by this. But more than anything we were very, very honored. It always feels great when you know other people like what you create. Especially since I brew what I like to drink.
You also went to the 2012 Craft Brewers Conference. What did you learn and who did you meet?
Since there were over 200 different beers to try, I learned how to drink. Kidding, I already knew how. Most of the classes I took were for brewing techniques, as well as ones for Belgian beers and sour ales. I was honored to take classes with, meet, or reacquaint with the likes of Tomme Arthur of Lost Abbey, Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River, Greg Koch of Stone Brewing, Steve Hindy of Brooklyn Brewing, Tyler King of The Bruery, Hedwig Neven of Duvel, Jean-Marie Rock of Orval, Peter Bouckaert of New Belgium Brewing, Rudi Gheguire of Rodenbach Brewery, and numerous other NY brewers. The list goes on.
Have you had another brewer’s beer and thought, man, I wish I made that?
Well, I have taken hand-written notes on over 5,000 different beers and who knows how many others I drank without any deep thoughts? So my answer is yes, hundreds. There were two recently at the brewers conference that I fell in love with. I since discovered they each just won a medal at the Brewers Conference/World Beer Cup.
Any new brews on the horizon that you can tell DnU readers?
I believe we finally locked down the ingredients for our Saison, and there is a good chance we will have some type of wheat beer out for the summer. We didn’t decide if it will be of Belgian or American style though. Other than that we don’t plan our main beers too far in advance. It depends on what we feel like drinking in the upcoming months. I do know that for some of the summer festivals we will have some fruited cask beers.
Cocktail olive, maraschino cherry, fancy umbrella or lemon twist?
If I’m not drinking beer, then I am drinking Scotch. If I’m not drinking Scotch, then I am drinking gin. Olive.
Thanks, Larry! Your future sure looks bright, and we can’t wait to drink what you’ve decided to brew next!