As many beer lovers in Massachusetts know, the Boston area has been a hot bed for new brewing companies lately, be it nano breweries with small set ups or upstarts leasing time on the equipment of another established brewery. Backlash Beer is the latter, although Massachusetts residents have taken note that this is one of the faster growing of this type. Helmed by founder Helder Pimental, they've already spread distribution across the state and show no signs of looking back now.
Helder didn't come from a commercial brewing background but, rather, quit his job in finance to focus on his dream, which was brewing beer. At the beginning of this journey, it wasn't unusual to see Helder show up to tastings in a suit and change (or with his suit in a bag already), the detrius of a day working for "the man." Well he's freed himself of that encumberment now and has moved on to running Backlash full time. Luckily, he was able to give us a few minutes to talk about Backlash Beer, the craft beer industry and what he likes to drink.
Drink Craft Beer: How did you get into craft beer?
Helder Pimental: I started down the craft beer path by becoming a homebrewer when I was in college. It was really all downhill from there.
DCB: What was the turning point (a beer or moment) that made you love craft beer?
HP: I'd say taking the first sip of the first beer I ever brewed (a brown ale). It was borderline undrinkable, but that beer really lit a fire in me to better understand the ingredients and procedure that make great beer what it is. While learning, I discovered some amazing beers and completely fell in love with craft beer.
DCB: You walk into a magical beer shop with every beer currently available. You can put together one six-pack. What do you walk out with? Only one beer can be from your brewery.
HP: To be honest, right now I'd probably walk out with a 6 pack of Heady Topper.
DCB: You’re going out for one big night in [the city your brewery is in or closest to]. Where do you go (it doesn’t all have to be beer)?
HP: Haha, Oh man - Holyoke, what a town. I think Maggie and I can both agree that we've (ironically) had the most fun out in Holyoke at - wait for - a Chili's. Last winter we spent the coldest day of the year at the brewery all day wax dipping bottles, and afterwards we were famished. We sat at the bar at a Chili's in Holyoke, had margaritas and watched the Patriots beat Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos. I have a lot of nostalgia about that night and that Chili's in general now.
DCB: What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t in beer?
HP: Probably being a shmuck in a suit like I used to be, and hating my own face/existence.
DCB: What do you drink when you’re not drinking craft beer (or beer at all)?
HP: I'm really into bourbon. That sounds bad, but oh well.
DCB: Where do you see the craft beer industry going in the next year?
HP: Well I don't think it's a secret that there are a ton of new breweries and new beers coming to market, so I think we'll see a huge increase in the number of products out there and probably some increased pressure on retailers to carry them all. It should really make things interesting as people start to compete more and more for shelf space.
DCB: Thanks so much for your time, Helder! Cheers!