From Honolulu but with familial ties to Boston, Casey Furtaw started his hospitality career at 14 years old, washing dishes at a local Cape Cod restaurant. Many years and cities later, he fell upon the unique and exciting culture around craft beer. Since then, he’s immersed himself in all things suds-related. Today, his title is Resident Beer Enthusiast and General Manager of Beat Brew Hall. Just in time for the beeriest time of the year, he talks about one of the proudest moments of his career, Beat Brew Hall’s upcoming Oktoberfest plans, and advice on the best way(s) to expand your beer knowledge.
What brought you to Boston? How long have you been here?
My family is originally from the Boston area. I have been living in and out of Boston for the last 15 years, relocating to other cities as opportunities presented themselves to build my career in the restaurant industry. My most recent move brought me back to here seven years ago, and since then, Boston has been my home.
When did you start working in the hospitality industry? Where else have you worked?
I started working in the hospitality industry when I was 14 years old, washing dishes at a local restaurant on Cape Cod, and have been working in the restaurant industry in some capacity ever since.
When did you join the team at Beat Brew Hall?
I joined the team at Beat Brew Hall almost a year ago now, prior to its official opening. I was brought on to help build and lead the opening team as well as assist in creating and evolving the brew hall’s concept to what it is today.
Tell us about the beer program at Beat Brew Hall and your role in shaping it.
Our goal was to build a beer program that was both approachable for the casual beer drinker, but also exciting and intriguing for the biggest craft beer enthusiast. My goal is and always has been to support local breweries as well as represent the breweries that helped grow the beer scene into what it has become today. My role is to help foster the culture that these breweries have shared with us and give the guests an experience that they can’t get anywhere else.
How did you first get into beer?
Breweries started doing some really funky and unique things about 10 years ago. It was evolving and promoting a unified culture, bringing together groups of people from every walk of life to enjoy beer and celebrate with friends. Experiencing this first-hand working in the industry, I knew I wanted to be a part of this growing community and I did everything I could to immerse myself in it.
When did you realize you could make a career of it?
As more and more breweries opened over the last 10 years or so, the culture and demand for local, craft and unique beer has expanded immensely. I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but I found myself right in the middle of it all and I decided that whatever this “thing” was that craft beer was doing, I wanted to be a part of it.
How did the collaboration with Jack’s Abby/ Springdale come about?
The collaboration with Jack’s Abby was mainly driven by the relationship that we had built over the last five years. We worked together at many of my previous restaurants and bars, and when I joined the opening team at Beat Brew Hall, we were excited to start the conversation on collaborating on something unique that reflected the spirit of both brands. One thing led to another, and we began working on a Beet Beer about a month later.
What was that like? What were your favorite parts of the process?
It was extremely humbling and exciting. Hands down, one of the proudest moments of my entire career. I mean, I got to brew a beer with one of my favorite breweries. Not a lot of people get to say that.
My favorite part of the process was deciding the blend of barreled aged sours we would use and then tasting the final product. What the beer started as, to how it came out was truly remarkable, and not what we expected at all.
Is Beet Beer still available anywhere (as far as you know)?
It is not currently available, but we do have a small stash saved for special day in our cellar. And, who knows, we just might brew another beat beer in the near future!
What’s on the list at Beat Brew Hall currently (or coming soon) that you’re super excited about?
I am super excited to be adding Springdale and Zero Gravity’s new collaboration beer, Away Mission to our taps. It’s a fun and very unique American IPA brewed with spruce tips from the Green Mountains and raspberry puree… unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before.
We are also thrilled to celebrate our first year in business with our “Cheers to 1 Year Birthday Party” on October 2nd at the brew hall, where we’ll have some very special beers lined up for the day. We’re working with several great breweries in the area to pour a selection of very rare and kick ass beer including a new brew from Vitamin Sea Brewing in Weymouth, MA.
Follow our Instagram; we will be releasing more details as the date approaches.
Oktoberfest is approaching…Is it a big deal at Beat Brew Hall? Is it a big deal for serious beer nerds?
Oktoberfest is one of the biggest days of the year for us. Harvard Square throws a huge Oktoberfest event for the neighborhood each year, and we are right in the middle of it all. This year, we are hosting a three-day celebration starting on Friday, October 11 through the weekend, leading up to Harvard Square’s annual Oktoberfest on Day 3, Sunday, October 13.
Serious beer enthusiasts look at this day as a time to enjoy and embrace some of the world’s oldest and best beers/breweries, all while scarfing down some German sausages and pretzels.
Are there things that you’ll be adding to the offerings at Beat Brew Hall that you’re really looking forward to?
For Oktoberfest, yes! We are teaming up with Jack’s Abby and Weihenstephan to offer a variety of seasonal beers throughout the 3-day celebration, from Jack’s Abby Copper Legend to Weihenstephan’s Festbier. We’ll also be serving a special German/Bavarian food menu to complement our exclusive beers offerings with classics like Schnitzel, giant pretzels and sauerkraut.
Are there trends in the beer industry? (Sour beers? Hazy IPAs?) What’s coming next?
Just like with anything in the world of trends, they come and go, and the beer industry is no different. What I find pretty unique, is the continued demand for New England IPAs and/or Hazy beers. They don’t seem to be slowing down — at least not anytime soon. Personally, I enjoy all styles of beer. I am currently on a sour beer kick as the warm days of summer are slowly fading. I guess I just don’t want summer to end! The one trend that I am most excited to see is the reemergence of lagers and pilsners. It will happen. I don’t know when, but they will come back in a big way.
What would you tell someone who wants to expand their beer knowledge?
Drink something you have never tried before. Experiencing beer is about tasting or consuming it, and then talking about it. Just because you don’t like one IPA or sour, doesn’t mean you will dislike all beers within these categories. They are all different and all bring something unique to the table, so take advantage of exploring brews that are new and different, as you may discover some styles pleasantly surprise you!
Where should they go?
Go to your local brewery and talk to the tap room bartenders. They love beer and love sharing their passion for beer. You will leave with a whole new understanding of what makes beer so fun and interesting. Or, stop by Beat Brew Hall and ask for me! I would be delighted to walk through our selection with you, and entertain you with some of my favorite beers.
What should they drink?
Drink what makes you happy. Also, try something new every once and a while.
What should they be reading?
Drink Better Beer: Discover the Secrets of the Brewing Experts by Josh Bernstein, one of the country’s most celebrated and knowledgeable beer writers. It provides a great take on everything currently happening in the world of beer.