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Brewery to watch: Building 8

For the owners of this Massachusetts brewery, decades of experience in the industry have boiled down to a single beer: their IPA.
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Meghan & O'Brian Tomalin of BLDG8 / Photo by Michelle Girard

Meghan & O’Brian Tomalin of BLDG8 / Photo by Michelle Girard

Building 8 Brewing makes and sells exactly one beer. Yep, just one. It’s called The IPA, and since September 2015 the piney, tropical stunner has earned high praise from fans and kept the new brewery afloat. Still, the oddity of a single-beer brewery (in the U.S., at least) cannot be ignored: At the Northampton, Massschusetts, taproom, a lone tap rises from a kegerator while a three-door cooler is filled with rows of 16-ounce cans of that same beer.

O’Brian Tomalin, who started the brewery with his wife Meghan, says both limited finances and a desire to focus all of their energy on creating a standout product led to Building 8’s one-track strategy.

“I think the days of making a porter, a stout, a brown, a pale; all that is kind of going to the wayside,” O’Brian says. “People are focusing on one target.”

And if the target is to sell beer, then they’ve got great aim: They churn out one batch of The IPA each week; the tasting room sells a little more than half of that and the rest is distributed within a 25-mile radius. And it sells out quickly, with each batch lasting only a few days.

While O’Brian has a long background in craft beer—he got his start in 1992 working for Atlantic Brewing Co. and later Amherst Brewing Co. before opening beer-centric restaurant The Sierra Grille in 2006—it was his wife Meghan who actually pushed him toward brewery ownership. Six years ago during a trip to Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp, Meghan told her husband that hauling and pouring grain sacks was remarkably similar to her longtime passion of baking. “Afterward she said, ‘You know, I really want to do a brewery,’” O’Brian says. “I said, ‘Well, me too!’”

In the fall of 2015, they set up shop in a former cutlery factory, located right next door to the Tomalins’ house. And though focusing on The IPA has provided a solid beginning for Building 8, the Tomalins don’t intend for their brewery to be forever known for just one brew.

“We are planning on some more styles,” O’Brian says, “But for now, we knew this would get us in the market and sustain us until we could do more things.”

The IPATomalin on his lone beer: The IPA

“They say a writer should write about what they know. So really, we’re brewing what we like to drink and we really wanted to get something that was tropical and citrusy up front with a piney, dank baseline to it and a clean finish. We’re all hopheads, so we wanted a real fresh West Coast-style, dry-hopped IPA.”

What’s with the name?
Tomalin says the brewery’s name originated during the licensing process. The old, subdivided cutlery factory that houses the brewhouse is home to multiple businesses, and when the Tomalins submitted the blueprint for their future business, O’Brien noticed their space was labeled BLDG8. “I liked the way it looked,” he says. “As an added bonus, Building 8 [of the Johnson Space Center] is supposedly where NASA keeps all their UFO stuff, so at the very bottom of the can, we added the iconic almond-shaped alien eyes to one of our hop cones as an inside joke.”

Building 8 Brewing 320 Riverside Dr., Northampton, Massachusetts

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