Yates and co. make one primary beer, and they make it well

  • Building 8 Brewing Company. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Building 8 Brewery. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Building 8’s signature brew — The IPA. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Building 8’s seasonal offerings. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • A look inside Building 8’s brewery. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Building 8 brew destined for stores. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Marketing Director and Assistant Brewer Dave Dumas stands outside Building 8 Brewery. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Head Brewer Mike Yates stands inside Building 8’s brewery. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

Recorder Staff
Published: 7/19/2017 5:06:04 PM

FLORENCE — Building 8 Brewing Company’s flagship IPA packs a hop-forward punch, with subtle crisp undertones of citrus and a clean, crisp finish.

It’s the kind of IPA that lingers long after the last sip. As memorable as the bright green hop plants creeping up the brewery’s black and white can.

“Building 8 is unique in that we do one product as our main flagship product, ‘The IPA.’ We do that weekly, and then seasonally we offer a ‘Session IPA’ in the spring and the summer and a ‘Double IPA’ in the fall and winter,” said Marketing Director and Assistant Brewer Dave Dumas, standing inside the micro brewery’s Cutlery Building tap room on Riverside Drive, in the heart of Florence’s Baystate Village.

In an adjacent room, malt fermented inside huge silver vats, bags of more malt waited on pallets for brewing, and a canning line spun out fresh frosty cans destined for store shelves. Outside, hop vines waved in a soft breeze, creeping up brick frontage of the tasting room, around a large silver “BLDG 8 Brewing” sign. It’s a quiet, peaceful space tucked around the building off the road.

Over the past decade or so, craft beer in the Pioneer Valley and beyond has exponentially expanded. These days, it’s hard to drive through a city or town that doesn’t have at least one beer company. From Springfield to Orange, to the Berkshires, craft breweries are aplenty.

“The Western Mass. beer scene has really exploded in the last 10 years, especially in the last three years. Every town has its own brewery now, which is great. People really seek out their local favorites,” said Head Brewer Mike Yates, who got his start in the brewing business “in a small brew pub in Vermont” about two decades ago. Along with Yates, the brewery is owned and operated by husband and wife O’Brian and Meghan Tomalin.

So what sets Building 8 apart from the many other micro breweries around? Consistency, freshness and a minimal product approach. Yates and company make one primary beer, and they make it well. And from that base, two seasonal brews provide slight nuances in flavor: the Session IPA is a little bit smoother and the Double IPA packs a dry wallop.

“Because we’re small, it allows us to specialize on one product and make it well, versus trying to win over every customer. We realize, with the IPA, it’s a limited customer base, but it’s a beer we like to drink, so we take pride in making it well,” Dumas said. “This is the same recipe that, once we fine tuned (in 2015), we make week after week. We take pride in our consistency.”

After first opening its doors two years ago come September, the local brewery is looking to the future now thinking expansion — but not too much.

“We’re looking to stay small, stay local, and keep it fresh. That’s kind of our game plan,” Yates said.

Each week, Building 8 cranks out about 30 barrels of fresh craft beer, which equals cans stacked to the ceiling, up from 15 barrels each week last year. Canning days are Mondays and Tuesdays. After that, the beer goes straight to store shelves for consumption.

“Right now Building 8 is available from Greenfield down to Springfield, out to Amherst, and mostly right here in Northampton — every week we sell out, so every time you have a can of Building 8 it’s always fresh and delicious. We brew two batches every week, and then three weeks later we can that,” he continued.

And looking ahead, Dumas noted “this fall we’re looking to add 50 percent capacity so we should be brewing three times a week at 45 barrels per week. If we expand (more) we might expand our production line, get a bigger canning line, but we’re trying to stay small and local.”

In terms of flavor, “Building 8 IPA is a classic West Coast IPA, which means it’s very clean and dry. It is a blend of six different hops featuring simcoe, citra, and mosaic, but it has a clean, dry finish,” Yates explained.

Compared to the New England IPA, known for its cloudy appearance and juicy, fruity aftertaste, the West Coast IPA is “a little drier, it’s clean, crisp, with a little sweetness at the end, rather than leaving a hop sock on your tongue,” Dumas said.

Sample beer or purchase four-pack cases at Building 8’s tasting room, open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 2 p.m. to 7, and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Notably, Building 8 IPAs can also be found at stores across the state including at Ryan and Casey Liquors in Greenfield and Stan’s Liquor Mart in Athol.

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