Interview: Katarina Martinez, Lineup Brewery

A few Saturdays ago we had the privilege of following around the witty, sharply funny, and wildly popular, Katarina Martinez, to ask a few questions about her brewery while we enjoyed Threes Brewing’s Saison day. Kat is the badass brewer behind Industry City’s Lineup Brewing and makes beer inspired by hilarious stories. For some of those stories, read below. To try some of her delicious beer, visit Lineup and take in the gorgeous view with a beer you’re sure to remember. 

BBR: What was the inspiration for starting a brewery? 

Katarina: What was the inspiration for starting a brewery? It’s so funny I actually have an ex in this room that I blew up in that Mic Magazine article last week.. Lineup brewing was based on bad dates and ex boyfriends. The whole idea was based on a police lineup. It’s just kind of a fun way to vent and also poke fun at myself. At first I thought I was maybe a little crazy but then I have very self-deprecating humor. Some people might look at it and say that girl is crazy, could maybe be a psychopath, but it was more a fun way to make fun of these crazy experiences I was having when I moved from Colorado to New York. We didn’t have Tinder or any of those things in Colorado so I was meeting a lot of people through beer. 

BBR: So why Brooklyn for the location?

Kat: I moved to Brooklyn because I had a dog when I moved from Colorado. Being in Manhattan was too much. I have lived here in Brooklyn the whole time I’ve been in New York. It’s quite simply a space issue. You’ll find there is really only one new brewery opening up in Manhattan and they’re opening a ridiculously large brewery in downtown Manhattan. The logistics of doing that are just kind of dumb right? You have to take into account spent grain and system space. Even though our system is only 1-2 barrel expandable it takes up a lot of space and a lot of water. Anybody opening up in Manhattan, my question is: how are you doing this? 


BBR: Did you move to Brooklyn with the intention of starting a brewery?

Kat: I home-brewed back in Colorado and found Colorado is a beer strong place.  I have been into craft beer for a very long time since then. So Brooklyn is very neighborhood-y compared to Murray Hill. If you move from somewhere like Colorado which has a bunch of space, Brooklyn just feels much more comfortable. Brooklyn I have yet to leave, however, I am looking to expand, I might look a little bit farther out.  

BBR: So tell us about the opening you have coming up!

It’s this Friday (Interview was recorded April 8th, so this unfortunately already happened, folks!) It’s kind of beating a dead horse at this point honestly because I thought everyone knew we were opening. It’s really just a late opening party because someone came up to me and said Merlin Ortega, of Wartega Brewing, is having a launch party, everyone is having a launch party, you need to have a launch party. So it’s a bit of a late, launch party. We’re going to do it anyway. I’m giving a bunch of beer away obviously. I did it because I think there is some confusion around whether I’m open. All the licensing happened a week before beer week, so I distributed a bunch of kegs so everyone was like, “Oh, Kat’s in bars now, I guess she’s open.” More than anything I feel bad throwing a party for myself. Everyone says fuck that though, you should have a party, and this has been 11 months of painstaking process. It was a really long time; the party is Friday the 14th.  I’m going to have a guy walking around with chicken and waffles, maybe even bacon on a stick. We’ll have beer and Industry City distillery will have cocktails. (Lineup shares a space with Industry City distilling). Their vodka is delicious and the cocktails are amazing. I’m a huge fan girl because the vodka is super smooth and you can drink it and the next day you’re not hung over. That’s my plug for Industry City.  I am also having DJ Rabbi Darkside there, which is going to be a big deal. It’s going to be a huge party. 

DJ Rabbi Darkside at the Lineup launch party.

DJ Rabbi Darkside at the Lineup launch party.

BBR: James indicated he was from Larchmont and we got talking about DeCicco’s (grocery store chain and craft beer mecca) and Kat mentioned she knew DeCicco’s well. We asked, how do you know DeCicco’s?

Kat: So I actually dated Joe DeCicco but we’re on good terms. He’s one of the owners; we hang out and are on very good terms. They’re having an event coming up, they want to do a Brooklyn event and I was like, “do you only want the beer I named after you?’ I freaked him out so we’re working on a name together. He’s obviously Italian so I my first idea was, “It’s Not Amore.”  Or “That’s Not Amore.” He loved it so we’re bouncing ideas back and forth. That event is coming up later in April at the Armonk DeCicco’s with a bunch of Brooklyn breweries. Threes will be there, we’ll be there. I am going to have three beers there and one will be, “That’s Not Amore” because I think it’s really fucking funny. I haven’t figured out what kind of beers those are though. Most of the beers have to do with who the person is. 

BBR: So a lot of sours eh?

Kat: I actually haven’t made a sour yet that has that resemblance. The beer I made with an ex who is here, we made together when we started dating and we got in the newspaper about “brew love” and a bunch of stupid shit. After we finished dating, I named it St. Anthony’s Fire, which is a flesh-eating bacteria in the middle-ages that infected yeast and grain. People would have bad ale and get super sick. My ex’s middle name was Anthony so I named it after him, and he knows about all of this by the way. All of these beers, the beer has a name and a style, the style is influenced by the person.

The first beer I did this with was a beer called Grumpy Mort. This article came out and blew everyone up so bad, so I feel terrible but not really. This guy owned an apple farm, so after this date I was at the farmers market and I picked up some apple cider and made a cyser (beer and cider combo) called Grumpy Mort. Obviously that is not something I can scale. I also named an IPA after him, and I was worried he was going to try to sue me, but it was funny and he thought it was funny, but he couldn’t believe I was serious. He also email broke up with me and called me, “Fantastic, brilliant and wickedly sexy” and said, “but I want to be single.” So I decided to name the IPA, “Fantastic, Brilliant.” But the email was titled “Things” so I also thought about naming it that. The reason I chose IPA, and the point of this story is that I introduced him to IPAs, so all of these names have a story. The style is more something I recognized about the person, something that I connect to the person even if that isn’t relatable. 

BBR: Has anybody had a really negative reaction to naming a beer after them?

Not yet. I’m waiting for that, especially after the article I did with Mic. Grumpy Mort was in Cuba when the last article came out so I have some concern he might come back and see it, but I have been very vocal about telling people they are getting a beer named after them. It is not for them though, it’s for me and the reaction I’ve gotten so far is, “I would love to go on a date with you so I can have a beer named after me. “ When this came out I was like my dating life is over, because they know that I do this and before it was kind of secret. There are some people in that article who didn’t know, like I named a beer after a guy I dated, which I called, “Washed up Rock Star.” He was such a diva I didn’t tell him I was naming it after him, but after that article he started liking all of my stuff on social media. More than anything I think guys almost like it.  Ultimately it’s for me or people who connect with funny stories, I don’t care if the guys think it’s cool.

BBR: What happens if you settle down? How will you name your beers?

Kat: I will say that I was not single when I came up with the idea of Lineup, I just thought it was a funny idea. My boyfriend at the time did not like it, but I thought it was really funny. The brand is starting to rotate to beers that aren’t just named after dates. For example, I have a beer named “Under Pressure” which is my favorite ESB and is a tribute to Freddie Mercury and David Bowie that I made with some English experimental hops. So I said, what is more English and experimental than David Bowie and Freddie Mercury. It was coincidental that it came out right when David Bowie passed away so it became a really cool tribute and I won’t ever get rid of that beer. 

I also have a beer called “Bieryonce.” Every brewer has a favorite beer, that they love, and for me that beer is Bieryonce. It’s a German Pilsner and other breweries love it. It’s one of my beers that I think people really respect. So to answer your question not all are named after dates, but now that I blew my cover I probably won’t be able to do as many based on dates. 

BBR: What are the plans for the future? Are you going to can or bottle?

Kat: So we’re just draft for now because our system is so small. To can you need at least 15 barrels and we have a 1-2 barrel expandable. The plan was to get the license under this system, which took forever to get, so I got the license, which is a farm license, and I’ll be going to CBC (Craft Brewers Conference) to look at systems. I am actually re-writing my business plan and am considering taking investors, which I have never done before. I own the whole business and I wanted to do that on purpose. I learned that from one of the Owner’s of Threes Brewing, who is an amazing venture capitalist.  Angel investors, and tech investors don’t often invest in breweries because they’re too risky. You can see at Threes that they have the restaurant and coffee shop to balance it out, just in case. So the owner of Threes advised that I don’t take on friends and family as investors, it’s hard to do with all the things that come along with it. It’s great to have friends and family that want to be part of it. It’s good to have people in the industry I can talk to who can give me this advice because my next step is probably seeking funding. I don’t want to be any smaller than 15-barrel system at this point because you spend the same amount of time on a one-barrel system as a 15. It isn’t worth it to be smaller than that. 

BBR: What is it like being a female brewer? 

Kat: It’s weird; the hardest part is standing out. I am just a brewer like everyone else. It’s weird to get attention for it. It’s anti anything feminist to bring attention to it because the dream is that it isn’t something people think about; it’s just great beer. I understand that it’s unique and I get that, the hardest part is the attention which is great marketing wise, but are people really going to ask me what kind of beer I am going to make? I did an interview where they asked me, “As a woman what kind of beer are going to make for your audience?” And I said I am going to make good beer that both men and women want to drink. They thought I was maybe going to make a pink beer or something. Why does that have to be the thing that gets thrown out there? I can’t escape the fact that I’m a woman and I am going to keep embracing it. If I can make really great beer and be an example of a woman in beer who does that, it will prove everyone wrong and extinguish all the beliefs that that isn’t possible.