Hebrew name: Ruban
Job: Co-owner and founder, Granite Coast Brewing; outdoor educator
Currently living in: Lynn
Alma maters: Marblehead High School ‘99, Johnson State College ‘06, American International College ‘16
Favorite foods: Falafel, brisket
Favorite beer: Our Red Hot Moon Kentucky Common
Favorite movies: “Star Wars” series, “The Crow,” “Spaceballs”
Favorite TV shows: “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Batman,” “Game of Thrones”
Favorite books: “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”
Favorite travel destination: Mountains, specifically the Green Mountains in Vermont
Somewhere you’d like to go next: Yellowstone National Park
Favorite Jewish people not in your family: Mel Brooks, Michael Twitty
Favorite Jewish holiday: Passover
Favorite North Shore spot: Lynn Woods
What is your Jewish identity?
I grew up third generation, watching what was a very large Jewish community slowly move out and change over. I grew up in the Shirley Ave. neighborhood of Revere, but because it had been a Jewish community for so long, I went to afterschool at the Jewish Community Center, and I grew up going to the Jewish day camp, Camp Menorah. I was raised in a pretty traditional Conservative Jewish family, probably leaning more toward Orthodox: The house we kept kosher, and our Jewish identity was a big part of who we were … as I got older and moved communities, and moved out of Revere [to Marblehead], being part of those communities helped me be connected in a place I hadn’t grown up in.
What was it like watching Revere change?
It was kind of my mom’s generation that first started leaving the area. My grandparents were in the area, but the generation above me had already started moving up north or to MetroWest. I recognized it more as I got older when I saw temples close and the JCCs close. I like being able to have a local kosher butcher and deli, but I saw that change. It was sad to see, but we decided to move somewhere bigger, somewhere a little less crowded. I grew up right below Bell Circle, so one of the busiest intersections in the state was just past my backyard, and we wanted to see if we could get somewhere a little quieter.
How did you get into brewing beer?
I had always enjoyed different beer styles and major mass produced styles. I went to lots of small breweries, got interested in making beer, got into it as a hobby, and my best friend from high school and I slowly decided this was something we needed to schedule consistently because we’re brewing so much … when we started increasing the complexity, people were like, ‘Hey, your beer’s really good!’ Then we decided to do a crazy thing of converting a garage in Marblehead into a test brewery, and for a few years we were hanging out every other weekend brewing beer, bottling beer, and one thing led to another and we said we’re going to look for a commercial space, and we opened up two years ago [in downtown Peabody].
How was it during the pandemic?
We spent most of our time being in business dealing with the COVID restrictions. We’re a small-scale brewery, we’re about making small batches of creative styles, with the goal of getting it to the customers mostly through our own taproom facility. When we couldn’t have people coming in, that completely changed our revenue stream and profit margins. There were still sales out the door, but it wasn’t the same model. We lost a lot, but a good friend has been helping. It helped us build up stronger relationships with our customers through doing online get-togethers, playing games, doing online trivia, and slowly [we] built it up again so people felt comfortable enough to come inside.
Is there such a thing as kosher beer?
If you make beer off the four primary ingredients, which are water, yeast, hops, and barley, in essence, it’s all vegetable matter. It’s kosher by the fact that there is nothing ever unkosher as part of it. There can be ingredients that could get added in later that could mess with it: there are places that have used bacon … there are places that get pureed, and some use shellfishes for certain beers … but for the most part, if you’re using just regular plants, your beer is kosher by nature.
What kind of beer is the North Shore known for?
The North Shore has less a beer style native to its region and more connected to the culture. Beer brewing was brought over with the English, so in the Colonial Boston area the beer would be brewed with molasses, sugar cane, and a lot of the stuff was pretty dark, high potency beer. That would be more of what the North Shore is known for, and apple cider, because we have so many apple orchards.
What about the name ‘Granite Coast’?
I have for the last 14 years been a teacher, I’ve been a middle school science teacher, and I’m a rock climber, so I’m kind of connected to this area. From Boston all the way up to Maine, this is all granite rock. The beaches in Marblehead are very rocky, and it’s the same style of granite you see in Gloucester, or Acadia [in Maine].