New York & New Orleans based Photographer, Carlos Detres gives us an insider view of the musically inspired brewery, Singlecut Beersmiths in Queens, NY.
An essay by Carlos Detres
- Beer and music?
- A lyrical coupling to a legendary pop song.
- The right idea for a beer-obsessed culture.
Singlecut Beersmiths became the first Queens-based brewery in decades when it opened in 2012. Although their beers can be found at establishments throughout the Northeast, the location is at least half a size smaller than NOLA Brewery here in New Orleans. The beer is made with the character one would find on a concept album and brewed through a process as old as the pairing of songs and pubs that have followed mankind throughout the ages.
I once wondered what “singlecut” meant. Any cursory search on the internet will be satisfied with a quick answer. Singlecut is a body style of a guitar. Music begins the story of a brewmaster and owner, Rich Buceta’s obsession that became a brewery. Nearly all of the beers brewed on site from KT66 to the Is This The Real Life are musical references. Even the taps are shaped like guitar headstocks and fretboards.
I arrived to the bricked exterior building with two bags of photography gear as the light, sweet aroma of malt wafted through the early Monday morning. To the people working in this building, it was a place of passionate employment but for those of us who visit, it’s the place where that little bit of excitement of good tasting beer and the prospect of long, dimly lit evening conversations to cap off restless days. On this day, I was going to roam throughout the facility and photograph whatever I thought would progress the story of my visual piece.
As an adult who loves the taste of beer, it was like being inside Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory but much safer. There were buttons pushed, knobs turned, steam rising to the ceiling, gauges checked, sugar poured into a vat and there was even a little stream emptying into a drain that ran beneath the large stainless steel tanks to keep the floors clean. Aside from the machinations of brewing, I noticed the brewery was as spotless as a laboratory. I noted to head brewer, Will Arnaiz, my observation to which he replied, “Yeah, 75% of what we do is clean.” I have to admit that about 75% of what I saw on this day was cleaning. A laboratory of beer.
I began to setup still photos of the beers, watching as Will poured each glass with several of their popular drafts. And when I was done shooting, I did the professional thing and walked away without tasting a single beer. I returned a few days later, with one of my friends to that dimly lit taproom, as Paul Simon was played through the speakers with a glass of Jan Olympic in my hand while we carried our conversation about small and big things deep into the night.