Good Times Still Hopping at Glendale Brewery

Potluck Dinner And Market Attract Artisans, Beer-Lovers And Friends

Local artisans, friends and faithful customers gathered to exchange gifts, ideas and holiday cheer at a potluck supper last Thursday, Dec. 18, at Finback Brewery in Glendale.

Residents from all walks of life enjoyed a fine potluck dinner at Glendale’s Finback Brewery earlier this month.

Abiding by their motto “good beer for good friends,” Finback founders Kevin Stafford and Basil Lee opened the tap room doors and invited patrons to “bring a dish and feast and drink.” Potluck attendees brought everything from turkey chili and eggplant parmagiana to pulled pork sliders and pumpkin pie.

The guests represented a veritable roundtable of Glendalebased artisans, craftsmen and entrepreneurs. Tom Wilk, local beekeeper and founder of Wilk Apiary, was on hand to celebrate with the group. Last fall, Wilk collaborated with Stafford and Lee to create “Wilk & Honey.” This unique, honey-infused beer was made especially for NYC Honey Week back in September.

In addition to the highly successful ale collaboration, Finback and Wilk also partnered to house two busy hives of honeybees behind the brewery over the past summer. The bees will help produce the honey sold by Wilk as Zip Code Local Honey 11385.

Wilk’s wife Barb Bellas-Wilk also joined in the festivities. She is the creator behind Woof ‘n’ Whinny, a successful line of homemade dog and horse treats.

Glendale residents Michael and Kyle Christine Darnell also joined the party. Darnell’s eponymous line, Handmade by Kyle, features handcrafted wreaths, coasters and ornaments made from wine corks. A few of Darnell’s ornaments, including a cork snowman and cork reindeer, adorn the Finback Brewery Christmas tree in the taproom. The Darnells were joined by fellow Glendale resident and Finback fan Ed Tait, who uses the brewery’s beer as a base for his line of beer-infused chocolate sauces.

Toasting a Great Year

Finback’s potluck supper capped off a year of firsts for the brewery. Although originally founded in 2011, Finback found a permanent home in Glendale in January. After a great deal of work and refurbishments, the taproom was opened to the public last May.

For $2 per glass, taproom patrons can sample a rotating menu of seasonal brews, like the “I Pumpkin A” ale, as well Finback mainstays like the spicy “Double Sess(ion)” and citrusy “Ford Tildenist.”

Back in February, Finback participated in its first beer festival, The New York City Beer Week where they debuted their first barrel-aged cask beer. They went to host an open house at the brewery for Queens Beer Week back in April, putting Glendalebased brewing back on the map.

Finback capped off a successful summer with the release of its barrel-aged “BQE” imperial stout to rave reviews. The unique brew combines Mast Brothers cocoa from Brooklyn with coffee from Astoria-based Native Coffee Roasters.

In addition to providing a delectable and innovative assortment of brews, Finback has also become an important part of the local community. In September, the brewery welcomed Walk to End Alzheimer’s and held a fundraiser in the taproom to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association NYC Chapter. The brewery has also played host to community game nights and even held an end-ofsummer pig roast back in October.

This past month, Time Out NY listed Finback among their top 100 best dishes and drinks in New York City for 2014. In addition to their in-house success, Finback has had a string of successful collaborations with other local breweries.

Earlier this month, Finback partnered with Patchogue-based brewery Hoptron Brewtique to create “Trip Against Humanity,” described as “a Belgian triple” infused with notes of black peppercorns and vanilla. he fall also saw the debut of “Smoke Detection,” a dark English brew with abundant notes of cigar and tobacco. This complex brew was created in conjunction with Blind Bat Brewery, a Long Island-based microbrewery specializing in “wood smoked and other rare rustic ales.”

Crafting a market for success

On Dec. 13, Finback hosted its first annual Holiday Market. The event was created and organized by Finback taproom manager Leah Blair. Local artists and crafters sold their handmade wares while market patrons shopped and sipped. The mood was both festive and welcoming.

Among the vendors was Barbie Rodriguez, mother of eight and the creative mind behind Plachi Plushies, a wildly successful line of handmade cloth dolls and accessories. Many of Rodriguez’s unique creations, or “creatures” as she calls them, evolve from her own imagination and a delightful mix of fabrics and prints.

Other dolls draw inspiration from popular culture, including her recent hand-drawn “American Horror Story” series.

Angelica Harris from the Glendale-based Excalibur Reading Program was also on hand. Harris promoted the literacy program as well as her original comic book, “The Crusaders” in which she appears as Lady Excalibur. Proceeds from the sale of the comic book go to the Excalibur Reading Program / Unicorn Project.

Harris followed her appearance at the Finback Market with a family fundraiser on Dec. 17 at Atlas Park’s California Pizza Kitchen. Local favorite Sally the Puppet led children in a group read-along.

Wilk Apiary debuted a new line of small-batch honey steeped with seasonings and spices like red chili pepper. Wilk’s line of locally produced 11385 honey, beeswax candles, bee pollen and honey straws were also a big hit with shoppers.

Market organizer Leah Blair also displayed her line of intricately woven metal jewelry and hair accessories. Glendalebased Cook’s Crafts had a table of pop culture and video game inspired Christmas ornaments, with characters ranging from Super Mario Brothers and Dr. Who to creatures from the summertime blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy.

Crystal Williams of Norma’s Cafe tempted shoppers with both sweet and savory offerings, including banana brownie muffins and the “Lumberjill,” a mushroom and spinach counterpart to their famous “Lumberjack” muffin. Their beef stew, however, proved to be the sleeper hit of the market. This hearty creation was brimming with fresh herbs, carrots, tender beef and fingerling potatoes. The base for the stew was Finback’s own “I Pumpkin A” pumpkin ale.

Blair hopes this market was the first of many more to come. She is considering hosting another market in the taproom in the coming months and was very pleased with the success of the Holiday Market.

Finback Brewery is located at 78-01 77th Ave. in Glendale. For more information, call 718-628- 8600 or visit www.finbackbrewery.com for information on ongoing and future events.