Most people who dabble in home brewing beer would consider it to be simply a hobby. Jason Stein, a 2005 graduate of South Side High School, however, has made it a side business. After several years of brewing out of his parents’ Rockville Centre garage, Stein has expanded and gone commercial with a selection of his brews.
Stein, 32, earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan, and now lives in New York City with his wife. While living in Ann Arbor, MI, he developed an appreciation for craft brews. When two of his close friends, Matt Frederico and fellow SSHS alum Andrew Berman, began home brewing, he would observe the process. A few years ago, after settling in the city with a job at Ernst & Young, Stein began experimenting with his own recipes. He started in the kitchen of his apartment, then took over his parents’ garage when he realized he needed more space.
“It gets messy,” he said, “but they’re happy to have me visit.”
His operation, Timber Ales, is now brewed and distributed by 12 Percent Beer Project, a large-scale contract brewery, distributor and importer of craft beer based in North Haven, CT. Stein explained it as a licensed facility where small breweries collaborate in order to test the waters of the commercial market. He got involved with it after his friend, Zac Ross, became the head brewer at 12 Percent.
“When I first tried his home brew, I was blown away by how great it was,” Ross said. “I thought he should bring it to a larger scale.”
So far, Timber Ales has released two beers commercially.
Transitioning from home brewing into the commercial business is a learning process. Stein has to adjust the recipes as they are scaled up to a larger tank, but he looks to Ross for guidance.
“I’m still nervous about every beer I do,” he said, “making tweaks and making sure everything goes right.”
Stein focuses on barrel-aged beers, and is bringing a barrel program to 12 Percent; this means that, after the beer ferments in the stainless steel tanks, instead of straining out the sediment and removing the yeast, half of the batch is aged in the bourbon barrel for one to two years while the other half is canned. Through the barrel-aging process, the beer picks up the notes of whiskey, bourbon or cognac.
“Those oaky notes lend well to a barleywine or stout,” he said. “Our goal is to make an approachable barrel-aged stout. We want to start there and are hoping to have future offerings.”
Transitioning from home brewing into the commercial business is a learning process. Stein said the recipes need to be adjusted as they are scaled up to a larger tank. “I’m still nervous about every beer I do,” he said, “making tweaks and making sure everything goes right.”
His first beer, a barleywine aged on coffee, Maris Goes to Oceanside, was released in late January.
“I think the reception of the first beer went well,” Stein said, “especially considering it’s a style of beer people don’t generally gravitate toward.”
His second, Star Searching, an IPA, came out last week. Currently, Timber Ales beer is available at on tap at Effin Beauty in Bellmore and in high-end bottle stores in Syosset, Long Beach, East Meadow, and New York City. The online publicity he has received has been positive; prior to the release of his first beer, Forbes published an article about Timber Ales, and the brewery’s ratings on Untappd.com have been high for both beers.
Ross is looking forward to the next release, a stout. “It tastes like dark chocolate,” Ross said. “It’s incredible.”