Part I: Lori Robin, Cheezehound
Lori is the founder of the vegan cheese company, Cheezehound.
Part II: Gabriel Heymann, Smart Beer
Smart Beer founder, Gabriel Heymann splits his time between the Hudson Valley and Brooklyn, NY. He realized he needed a beer that he could enjoy without feeling like he compromised his health-conscious and active lifestyle. He thirsted for a beer that was made from sustainable ingredients and a brand that supported his social and environmental values. This thirst gave way to the concept of Smart Beer.
“I wanted to enjoy both my social life and my healthy, active lifestyle,” Heymann said. “You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your lifestyle or values in order to celebrate, and that’s what this beer is about. We can have it all.”
“I set out to create a great tasting and refreshing organic beer that would go perfectly with my life and my friend’s lives. A beer I could feel good about holding and drinking at a bar. I’m happy to share Smart Beer with you. Cheers!”
In addition to founding Smart Beer, Gabriel has an extensive professional background in the music business and fitness/well-being. He’s also a certified yoga teacher who seeks to help people feel good and enjoy life.
Caryn: Hello everybody! How are you doing out there on this chilly day here in New York City? I’m at the Progressive Radio Network’s studio right now. I’m Caryn Hartglass. You’re listening to It’s All About Food. We are live streaming here in the studio if you want to watch what’s happening in addition to listening you can. This is going to be a very fun show. I’ll tell you the truth, I’m doing this for me selfishly. I am in great need of celebrating and partying and this is my moment right here and I’m going to share it with you. So, how is everybody? If you hear those sounds, and you’re not watching, my guest is quickly unwrapping all of the fabulous treats that she brought with her today. We’re going to be having a beer and cheese party, starting with the cheese here. You may remember, maybe 6 months ago, I’m not quite sure when it was…but I was going nuts because literally nuts, it was about nuts! It was about cheese made with nuts, vegan cheese. My partner Gary and I and a friend of mine Laurence we took a little visit to Riverdale, a vegan cheese shop in Brooklyn. Do you remember when we did this? I was blown away. It was so much fun. Vegan cheese has really reached a whole new level and my ultimate favorite of all the ones we tried was made by Cheezehound. I’m honest, I’m telling the truth. So I tried to find and contact and get the creator of these amazing cheeses in the studio. It took me a long time but finally, I got her and she’s unwrapping all of these wonderful things that she’s made and we’re going to hear about them in a moment. So, I hope you enjoy this and if anything sounds tasty and tempting to you, you’re going to have to find out how to acquire them. I must say, it’s not the easiest thing but we’ll find out more about that in a bit. But you know, things that are really wonderful and things that are special, I like to call them treats. Unfortunately, we’ve kind of taken the word “treat” and abused it in a way because treats are for special occasions. Treats are for quality things that are really unique and when you have them every day they’re not treats anymore. So, I’m looking at all of these wonderful things I’m starting to smell them. And these are really treats. OK. So, I’m going to introduce my guest Lori Robin, the creator of Cheezehound- Caryn Hartglass’ most favorite brand of vegan cheese and OK I haven’t eaten cheese in almost 30 years but these just might be even better for lots of reasons. So Lori can you just say hi to everybody as you’re slicing…
Lori: Hi everybody!
Lori: I’m in the middle of slicing some mozzarella cheese
Caryn: Mozzarella! Are you going to let me taste it?
Lori: Yes, I will
Caryn: Oh my goodness. Now before I put it in my mouth, can you give me a little hint? What’s it made with? Not everything because you’ve got some secrets.
Lori: OK well the main nut in this one is macadamia nuts.
Caryn: Ah, you like using macadamia a lot.
Lori: I do because they’re incredibly rich. They have lots of fat. They’re great because they are microbial for that reason. What do you think?
Caryn: Oh my goodness! You know to begin with, it melts in your mouth and I have to say, I’ve lived without cheeses for almost 3 decades. So it’s not like I have this, “I NEED CHEESE” thing going on. And I’ve been very critical of the vegan cheeses that have evolved over time. I think we’re getting to a place where they’re better and better. Yours is the best. OK. There’re always some odd flavors in some of the vegan cheeses, even the ones that are nut based. There’s this lingering kind of weird aftertaste or something. Not terrible and most people don’t notice it. I’m kind of finicky. But this…
Lori: I think that is something that people notice.
Caryn: But this one is perfect.
Lori: I think it depends on the cultures you use as to what the aftertaste is going to be.
Caryn: Yeah! Not all bugs are the same
Lori: No they’re not.
Lori: And also, what you’ll find when you taste the whole cashews…I use whole organic cashews, I don’t use pieces because I think they make a different cheese flavor. They don’t have the same content as the whole nut does.
Caryn: Yeah, well I tend to buy whole also for lots of reasons. As soon as you take the nut out of its shell, it’s going to degrade and even become rancid and as you chop it up even more it’s going to degrade the flavor and the quality of the nut. So the wholer you can get it, the better it’s going to be.
Lori: I’m also really, I get a COA so all the listing of all the tests that have gone down are, I can see.
Caryn: What is a COA?
Lori: Well it’s a certificate telling you…
Caryn: Of authenticity?
Lori: Yes, right. And they’ve all been tested. The average lifespan is a 2-year shelf life. The last 500 pounds I received were actually packed in August of this year.
Caryn: Wow, fresh!
Caryn: Mm. You know I just want to say, I think a lot of people have learned how to accept a rancid nut or a not very fresh nut and with salt and oils it tastes better to them. But, I’ve had people serve me rancid nuts and like not even thought twice about it. But a fresh nut…
Lori: Is very different.
Caryn: Oh please…OK so Lori Robin, I’m very excited and I can’t get the words out of my mouth, but just briefly, how did you get started with this crazy cheese making?
Lori: Well I…
Caryn: Who are you?
Lori: I gave up cheese I thought there’s just no cheese it’s OK I can live without it you know? It’s a thing I love but it’s the thing that probably makes you feel awful if anything makes me feel awful after I’ve eaten it. I had been at a restaurant with friends of mine, a Mexican restaurant. I ordered a burrito, just vegetables, rice and beans, and they said to me, “Oh you’re vegan?” I said, “As a matter of fact I am.” They brought me out a burrito and I bit into it and this white gook dripped out of it.
Caryn: Oh gosh don’t tell me it was like Daiya or something…
Lori: It was. It was Daiya.
Caryn: Which a lot of people like a little bit seemed OK with me.
Lori: I mean if you’re a food snob it doesn’t matter what you’re eating, you’re just a food snob.
Caryn: Yes, I guess I’m a food snob
Lori: And then there’s cupcake people you know? Devil dogs are just as good as you know…
Caryn: I was happy one day it came out I learned how to pronounce it correctly because everybody calls it Daiya but it’s Daiya. I always sing the song to myself.
Lori: That was the beginning. I sent back the burrito and the next day I started making cheese.
Lori: And for 4 years all I did every day was make cheese and give it away to everybody to taste. I had built a large studio to teach conservation and restoration and that’s now the commercial kitchen. It never happened. All the benches are in there suspended, they’re just suspended and this is what happened.
Caryn: Cheese making in an art. How did you develop your art?
Lori: Well, because…you know both my brother and I started cooking when we were 5 and 6 years old. My mother was like, “Make your own food, go ahead cook!” That was just it. We were set free in the kitchen. Coming from conservation, restoration, carving, gilding- these are all recipes. Making varnishes…so for me, it was just more alchemy. It was finding plants that also acted as coagulants. Right now I’m playing with beech nuts because they’re local to the Catskills. And black walnuts, butternuts. Those are the things are more indignant in my opinion which I don’t have a lot of time for because I’m so busy with this. But that’s the exciting part!
Lori: I think that I’m really driven by curiosity.
Caryn: I love it. Well you know there are many, many animal milk-based cheeses in the world. They all have very different kinds of flavors because they come from different animals that are fed different diets.
Lori: And all throughout the year there…but you know.
Caryn: We can do the same with nuts.
Lori: Generations take over. They go through…everything tastes exactly the same every time. We find that with vegan cheeses as well. So anybody who’s gone down the corporate root will have a cheese that is actually measured so that every batch is exactly the same. That’s what makes the difference between something that’s artisanal as something that isn’t. It’s not going to be the same every time. There will be a flavor variation. That’s not what everybody wants but that’s what some people want. I mean, for me that has more integrity.
Lori: I obviously know I’m never going to be a wealthy as Wal Mart but you know, so what? What can I say?
Caryn: So what? Yeah…I have a small non-profit OK? We work hard, we like what we do, we like to say we will never have pop-ups.
Caryn: Because they’re annoying. And everything’s free on our site. I never really want to be too big.
Lori: Right. Oh, I’d love to be massive. On everybody’s table because this is what I think people should be eating.
Lori: These are live. You know? And once they’re in you they’re in you. I have a friend who said, I was over there the other night. They’re not vegans and but they just gravitate…
Caryn: Everyone loves these cheeses
Lori: And they said, “I eat your cheese all the time because it makes me regular.”
Caryn: Hahaha. There are many reasons to want this cheese.
Lori: And these are good healthy live bacterias. Once they’re there they’re there.
Caryn: Yes, OK I’m not going to ask you specific secrets. You can only share what you want but let’s taste this.
Lori: So this one is a cultured cashew. This is the Cashevre.
Caryn: Cashevre, like a chevre?
Lori: Yeah and that was really fun because New York State labor doesn’t allow you to use dairy cheese names for your cheeses. Although I see some people are and I’m not understanding how they’re getting away with that. But that’s great, whatever.
Caryn: OK this is amazing.
Lori: You have to use the word “imitation”
Caryn: Yeah, you don’t want to do that.
Lori: So they said to me, “You can say chevre imitation.” Alright OK, tomorrow I’m putting that on my label tomorrow. So what do you think of that?
Caryn: So, OK I’m going to tell you I love everything. Now this that you have the salt flavor that kind of first comes on your tongue before all the creaminess and I’m someone who doesn’t cook with salt or like too much salt but this isn’t overwhelmingly salty. It’s just like open the curtain and the rest comes through.
Lori: This will…
Caryn: And it’s covered with one of those…
Lori: This is fresh ground Italian herbs.
Caryn: I was going to say, Herbes de Provence, Italian herbs are kind of similar.
Lori: Did I bring an Herbes de Provence? No, it’s an Italian.
Caryn: They’re very similar.
Lori: I do happen to have the Herbes de Provence. That has lavendar.
Caryn: And what’s nice about the herbs on the outside is they’re not too gritty. They are grounded a little bit.
Lori: I like to make them powdery.
Caryn: Yeah, I’ve had another vegan cheese that has herbs on the outside and it’s a little too coarse.
Lori: Yeah, it’s like eating sticks.
Caryn: Like eating sticks, exactly.
Lori: Yeah, they get stuck in your teeth, they stab you.
Caryn: I’m remembering when I first became vegetarian which I was a teenager at the time. A lot of vegetarians will eat cheese.
Lori: I don’t think there’s such a thing as a vegetarian.
Caryn: I was just going to say that because the rennin in cheese is from an animal.
Lori: There’s just no such thing as a vegetarian. Because if you’re eating dairy…
Caryn: It’s liquid meat.
Caryn: Yeah, yeah. I didn’t know that at the time and it took a long time to figure it out but when people would say, “You know there’s rennin in the cheese and that comes from a cow’s gut.” And you’re like, “Huh? What? No, I don’t want to know this.”
Lori: You may as well have tripe.
Lori: OK now this is one of my new ones. I tend to name, well I have some of the names, this is Ninny-O and this is named after a dear friend of mine who owns a company called Tay Tea. Her name is Ninny and her last name begins with an “O” so we call this Ninny-O like Jackie-O. It’s just Ninny-O
Lori: We love Persian, well she is Persian so hence we have this is saffron.
Caryn: Oh saffron!!!
Lori: And I don’t skimp on it.
Caryn: OK because whoever doesn’t know about saffron it is very expensive and you get a very little bit. The reason why it’s expensive is because they have to like hand pick these very small fibers. It’s very labor intensive.
Lori: And you only get the tops of the thread. What do you think? Can you taste the saffron?
Caryn: OK. This is like bringing me to the Middle East.
Lori: Now this is rolled in Advieh spice. Which I also fresh grind. This is cardamom, cumin, a lot of rose petals, a bit of cinnamon, and some nutmeg.
Caryn: Yeah, there’s…OK after you get the first curtain opening…
Lori: And you can still taste the saffron as well.
Caryn: Mm. It’s in this spectacularly light, creamy base and it’s really creamy.
Lori: This is heavy on the cultured macadamias and that’s so rich.
Caryn: Oh my goodness.
Lori: On rice is just insane.
Caryn: It’s times like these that I wish we had like smell-o taste-o vision because…
Lori: It’s coming…
Caryn: It’s coming! Hahaha. I want everyone to know what it is I’m experiencing and this is just the most amazing, amazing.
Lori: OK so now we go to a completely different flavor. If you take your fork and take some of that.
Lori: This is a lip tower. A lip tower is an Austrian spreading cheese. It has cornichons, capers, onion…
Caryn: Cornichons, capers, onion…OK, it’s a spread it looks like a…
Lori: Yeah, it’s a soft.
Caryn: Mm and smoky too.
Lori: Caraway! Caraway too. And I thought oh my god Caryn doesn’t like Caraway seeds
Caryn: I love caraway!
Lori: Oh you do?
Caryn: Of course!
Lori: Just not too many…hahaha
Caryn: You know it’s a funny thing, you have to…
Lori: Never going to let her live that down.
Caryn: You have to watch what you say to people. I don’t even remember exactly saying it.
Lori: As I remember everything.
Caryn: Exactly! I met Lori maybe 3 years ago. I don’t know at a seed, what was it, a pop-up seed event where vendors could sell their things and I came towards the end and everybody was saying, “You have to go to Lori Robin’s place with Cheezehound, the cheeses are amazing.” I finally got there, there was very little left. I tasted I guess a caraway seed and she just kept apologizing and saying, “Everything’s all gone.” And I said, “OK this is nice but…” You’re telling me it tasted too strong in caraway. Mea culpa! I’m sorry.
Lori: You’re more than making up for it. No, I think it’s funny. It’s endearing actually.
Caryn: Yup. Well, this is really fun. I love the smoky flavor that I remember in the Mulshenock.
Lori: Yeah but that’s very different. The Mulshenock is a smoked cheese. This is smoked paprika in there.
Caryn: Oh I love smoked paprika
Lori: You’re tasting the smoked paprika
Caryn: I’m going to have a little more of this
Lori: It’s all yours, you can take it home, you can bathe in it
Caryn: Oh my god I’m taking it home! Hahaha I’m going to have a mud pack here of cheese
Lori: So now when you…I’m really probably feeding you too fast but I’m funny that way just, “Eat, eat, eat, eat.”
Caryn: No it’s OK. I want to eat.
Lori: Now what I would love you to do with this one, actually I want you to see how crumbly this is.
Caryn: Yeah so that’s the other thing, the textures of all of these are very unique. So the last one I had is a smooth spread, but the other ones had a firmness.
Lori: OK now I want you to use your hands and crumble that as you would…
Caryn: It looks a little like a blue cheese.
Lori: This is herbs.
Caryn: Oh that’s what it is.
Lori: So we have a plain one as well. But if you pick the whole piece up and just crumble it.
Caryn: OK, oh I see getting my hands in it. Mm.
Lori: And look at that.
Caryn: Beautiful. Yeah oh my goodness it’s all over my hands now.
Lori: So now you can lick your fingers clean. Oh Hi! Hello, I have my back to you.
Caryn: Oh my goodness.
Lori: What do you think?
Lori: OK so now one of the sharps that…
Caryn: What is this reminding me of?
Lori: So this is the Ferdie Yeta.
Caryn: Oh so this is like a feta?
Caryn: Mm. And again, not too salty.
Lori: No. We’re very careful about that.
Caryn: I am… everybody knows how much I complain about salt. This is good because a Riverdale, in fact, there was another feta that we sampled and the 2 guys they just loved it because they’re like, “I love salt.” And I’m just like *cough cough cough* “Too much salt!” But this is good.
Lori: You like that?
Caryn: Mm. I’m licking my fingers. Wow.
Lori: They can see you licking your fingers, can’t they?
Lori: But I love this, look! Where can you watch this?
Caryn: Well it’s only live so we’ll have audio later but I don’t think they save the video, do you guys? You do save the video? Oh no. Yes. Oh, you can see it later?
Lori: Oh, super! So now this one a shop that I delivered to, you asked me for a feta quite some time ago. I had been working on one but just never got down to it and then someone else asked me so I finally did it and it took a few goes but this I think is the magic combination.
Caryn: So what are the herbs that are in here?
Lori: Now that one had oregano, margarine, a little bit of sage, and some thyme.
Lori: You like?
Caryn: Yeah, I mean I’m thinking of the tofu-based quick fetas that I’ve made over the years just because.
Lori: Well this is kind of a sprouted tofu quick feta but I think…
Caryn: It’s the creaminess.
Lori: It’s more than that. Well, I also, there’s, you know here’s the thing. I’m not saying that it’s in this but if it’s less than 1% that’s your secret ingredient.
Caryn: If what’s less than 1%?
Lori: If an ingredient is 1% less than the entire volume you’re making that is your secret ingredient. You know, and Coca-Cola, there’s something that’s 1% less and that’s their secret ingredient.
Caryn: OK, this is fabulous.
Lori: Is he here?
Caryn: Yes, he is here.
Lori: Oh good because he must taste that. Should we invite him in?
Caryn: Yes, Gabriel. Whenever you’re ready we have a cheese that’s made with your beer.
Lori: Well this is the pate. The pate is made with his beer. We met.
Gabriel: We met?
Lori: Yes, we have.
Caryn: The party really is getting good here.
Lori: In Williamsburg, a little shop on the corner. Little Shop of Horrors on the corner.
Caryn: Yes anyway, if you want to share your stories, do so at the mic. Gabriel Heymann has just come into the office here, the studio and is setting up here. But, Lori now this is a huge coincidence for me but Lori used one of his Smart Beers to make one of her cheeses.
Lori: We met at…
Gabriel: And it was unplanned!
Caryn: Not planned.
Lori: It was completely unplanned. What was the shop on the corner in Williamsburg? You know.
Lori: No no no in Williamsburg where you sponsored one of the shop ups.
Gabriel: Oh, Brave Gentlemen, no?
Lori: Yes yes yes
Gabriel: The fashion.
Lori: No not the fashion, when it was the food shop.
Gabriel: We do a lot of events so…
Lori: It was a Sunday pop up market
Gabriel: Oh! See now I’m forgetting too. Yeah, the one with Champs and Screamers
Lori: Yes yes yes, that’s it.
Gabriel: Why am I drawing a blank now too?
Lori: Isn’t that terrible?
Gabriel: Oh man. That is bad.
Lori: Well we met there. And that was the first time, no the second time I had your beer.
Caryn: OK well I cleaned my plate…
Gabriel: Well thank you so much. Yeah, we try to do as many of those as possible
Caryn: And I’m ready for something else.
Lori: On the way home I think I pushed you through them rather quickly, we still have the pate. So this pate has your Brooklyn beer in it.
Lori: I don’t know, here you have to grab that bit.
Caryn: OK what I wanted to say is while I’m like going nuts over your cheeses made with nuts, where do we find them? They’re not necessarily easy to find.
Lori: They’re not because I’m terrible.
Caryn: Because everyone I know is wanting them now as they’re salivating as I describe these cheeses.
Gabriel: Should we put some here?
Lori: No put it on your hand and just take it and eat it, don’t stop it anywhere. Just put it straight into your mouth. Look he wants to give it a pit stop
Gabriel: I always do. Very nice
Caryn: Wow, this tastes like a meal.
Gabriel: Which beer? The Gold Ale? The organic Gold Ale?
Lori: This is your organic lager whichever one that was.
Gabriel: Yeah, the organic Golden Ale, delicious.
Lori: Do you like that?
Gabriel: Yes, I do. I did just have some food so…
Lori: No it’s alright it’s just a taste.
Caryn: What is all the chewy stuff in there?
Lori: OK so what we have in here is lobster mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, we have chicken of the woods, lobsters, chanterelles.
Lori: Well there are 4. Chanterelles and there’s one other. For the life of me…yellowtail? Could be yellowtail
Caryn: OK as I put all these things in my mouth I am like so grateful that I am a vegan because these are the most amazing things that are like tickling my tongue right now.
Lori: We have to get them in more shops, we really do.
Caryn: So I imagine you have some challenges…
Lori: No no. The only thing I’m challenged at is getting out of the kitchen. The only thing I’m challenged at is yeah, getting them in the shops. Yes, we must get them in the shops
Caryn: OK so where can people find them?
Lori: Right now well they are as far as Louisville.
Gabriel: So you do get out of the kitchen?
Lori: No. The cheese gets out of the kitchen. Unfortunately, I rarely do. They are at Riverdale, they’re at Mother Earth’s Storehouse on all holidays they’re upstate New York in Livingston Manor at Mainstreet Farm. They’re at High Vibe on East 3rd Street.
Caryn: Can people get them online?
Lori: Well…you know, OK so here’s the thing. I do have a few clients in Oregon, Washington that I do send cheeses to and what I’m beginning to do, and this is me I’m terrible…I like making everything fresh.
Lori: I don’t like keeping back stock.
Lori: Because I want everything to hit the shelf with its full shelf life. Much to my chagrin and really it shouldn’t be that way. So what I’m starting to do is actually make back stock. So that it is…because these have an incredibly long shelf life- what I’ve brought here today.
Caryn: Yeah, fabulous.
Lori: Some of them I refuse to put more than 2 and a half weeks on in the store but they will last much longer in your refrigerator.
Caryn: Can you freeze them?
Lori: I never freeze anything, you know what I mean? Except ice cubes. I have this thing about freezing stuff. These don’t really freeze but they do freeze, people tell me they freeze them. I’m like, “Oh…ok.” People say, “How long will this last?” I say, “You can eat it before…”
Gabriel: That’s what I say too.
Lori: It is true because somebody does sit down and really eat that in two seconds.
Gabriel: Especially two people sit down and enjoy it together, done.
Lori: This is a really nice one.
Caryn: Yeah, Gabriel you want to try some of these?
Gabriel: Yeah sure. I shouldn’t have but I did just eat so I’m going to…
Lori: So that’s the saffron.
Caryn: That’s going to take you to Persia.
Gabriel: That’s really nice.
Lori: You like that?
Lori: You’re not just saying that?
Gabriel: No not at all, not at all.
Lori: You better just say that.
Gabriel: I do like that one a lot.
Caryn: OK so Cheezehound cheeses, we’re not allowed to call them cheeses but we can call them “cheeze” with a “z” right, here in New York?
Lori: Well you actually can call them cheese. An actual fact, with a nut, they’re just nut milk cheeses. What they have in common with dairy is they have fat, protein, and they’re microbial so they will respond the same way to cultures and enzymes used in dairy cheese making. They will respond the same way. So it depends if you say that the word cheese comes from casein.
Caryn: Oh, I never thought of that, OK.
Lori: But yes, we are allowed to call them cheese. Or they’re an artisanal cultured nut product. These are a cultured nut product really.
Caryn: Have you brought these to France?
Lori: No but I have French people. At Delices et Sarrasin, the chef loves them and she’s French.
Caryn: Pour le gouter.
Caryn: Yes, I think the French would love them and I’d like to bring them there for them to taste.
Lori: OK when are you going?
Caryn: Sometime in 2018 I think I will be making a big Europe visit.
Lori: Well I’ll make you a care package.
Caryn: Yeah that would be fantastic.
Lori: That’s great. And you can work on commission.
Caryn: OK very very good, alright. Just like two more minutes and then we’ll move to the beer.
Gabriel: Yeah, beer tasting.
Caryn: Beer tasting because I need something to drink obviously after all of these wonderful flavors.
Gabriel: Just give me the queue.
Caryn: But just your challenges…you don’t want to tell me everything but what have been some of your challenges with this process?
Lori: Well, I think the challenges really came early on when there was just about me and Treeline. What we were allowed to do.
Caryn: How long ago was this?
Lori: Over 3 years ago. I started much long before that but I wasn’t licensed until July 2014. Having Ag and market understand, I had dairy first phoning me and it was like no but this is…and then they go, “Oh you’re not dairy.” So there were those regulatory, those were really the big challenges. For me, nothing else is really a challenge. It’s great when I have a challenge because it just gets…well how can I get there with that? To me, it’s an opening for another way around.
Caryn: One more question before we move to Gabriel and that is, do you. You’re vegan?
Lori: Oh god yeah.
Caryn: I was just assuming. Have you tasted any dairy cheeses to kind of get a feeling for…
Lori: Oh god yeah. I was vegan from the time I was 15 till my very late 30’s. Then I started eating flesh again. Part of that was dairy. I do, I have one great challenge and that is to make vegan cheese that is as good as Vacherin or Epoisses, which are washed rind really stinky cheeses. If I can accomplish that…
Caryn: Would you taste one now?
Lori: No because I can remember.
Caryn: Because I know some people say that sometimes they feel the need to taste something, but I don’t really have that need but…
Lori: I won’t imagine in the third quarter of my life, well maybe it’s the last quarter that I’ll return to anything but where I’m at now because it’s also ethical as well.
Caryn: Yes, we didn’t even touch on that today but you all know who are listening we’ve already talked about the ethics behind why we choose not to consume bovine mammary gland secretions.
Lori: Well, you wouldn’t want to be made to lactate your whole life, would you?
Caryn: Gosh, no.
Lori: Even once.
Caryn: I don’t know, my breasts ache when I think about those types of things. I have empathy for those animals.
Caryn: Alright Lori, fabulous.
Lori: I’m going to wrap these up and put them back in the box so.
Caryn: Did you want to try any more before we…
Lori: I think you should.
Caryn: Yeah, give him a little taste of each.
Gabriel: I’m having a small taste just because I did just eat.
Lori: I’m just going to give you small tastes.
Caryn: So, feel free to hang around while we talk about beer.
Gabriel: Do we want beer? Is that what we want?
Caryn: Yes! Oh my goodness.
Gabriel: I brought some just in case, I didn’t know…
Caryn: I need this. As I said in the beginning of the program, this is a selfish program because life brings challenges. I’m having my own challenges in life. My 89-year-old dad is not doing very well and I’ve been spending a lot of time…
Lori: Oh is that why you were across the state?
Caryn: No actually he’s on Long Island and he’s doing a lot of sleeping now. I see that as one of the last stages.
Lori: But a lot of good innings though.
Caryn: Yes, lots of good innings. But I need a moment here to just chill, relax, and enjoy some wonderful things here. This show is for me. Anyway, we have Gabriel. I lived in the South of France for 4 years and so occasionally I put like a French accent on some of the names. I always want to say Gabriel but it’s Gabriel and you are the Smart Beer founder.
Gabriel: That’s right.
Caryn: Yes. So tell me, the first thing I want to know is what makes your beer smart?
Gabriel: So, Smart Beer and as you said I’m the founder of Smart Beer. Smart Beer is New York’s first and only certified organic beer. It’s all certified organic, non-GMO, no pesticides, no chemicals, and to me that’s smart and that’s the smart choice. It also means all certified organic from the farms to the brewing process. Which again, I’ll go down the list- the short list, there’s a longer list but- the short memorable list: non-GMO, no pesticides, no chemicals, from the farming through the brewing process. So there’s also lots of brewing chemicals so it’s interesting. Just to give you a little bit of background, when I got into this I was a touring musician. But then, I’m from New York, we landed in Los Angeles and that’s when I got introduced to a healthier, more organic lifestyle, health-conscious, active lifestyle. I got introduced to yoga, meditation, and eating right. So I started shopping at Whole Foods, paying attention to the food I was putting in my body, the ingredients, and even more than that- the values behind it. But, I was also and am also young and still like to go out and have a good time. I went fully into like the health-conscious, spirituality everything like that, exploring that. When I started connecting with my music friends and going out with them and drinking the beer, I was like, “Man, there’s no beer that represents my health-conscious, active lifestyle.” And I was like, “I want to create that beer that connects that so that we’re living this health-conscious lifestyle going out at night, it didn’t make sense to compromise the values or anything like that.” So I was like, “Man, I want to create that.” So that’s what Smart Beer really represents to me and a lot of our customers is that connection that enables them to continue their active, health-conscious lifestyle into the night. And through that process, I came to really believe that celebration and social life is a really big part of a happy, healthy life. And so it started really becoming that for me. So what Smart Beer has become from that first inception of that thought of, “I want to create that.” It’s grown to represent balance. The balance between health-conscious active lifestyle and nightlife, the balance between the New York City lifestyle and upstate, outdoors lifestyle.
Lori: Where are you upstate in the Hudson Valley?
Gabriel: Yes, we have a headquarter office in New Paltz and we brew in Saratoga Springs.
Lori: Alright, OK.
Gabriel: Then the other things that Smart Beer really has grown to mean for me is also to represent celebration and then also bringing people together. When that piece hit me about Smart Beer. Beer in our culture brings a lot of people together. People meet for the first time, “Oh let’s go grab a beer.” Or meeting for business about new ideas. I was like, “Man if we can bring people together and it’s over an organic, delicious, organic beer what could be better than that?”
Lori: We can taste some, that could be better!
Gabriel: I was in the middle of opening them.
Lori: I know, that was awesome.
Caryn: So, when you’re on a really healthy diet- a whole foods plant diet, your body becomes very vital. If you put something in it that really isn’t good for you, I find that my body reacts instantly and says, “This is not going down.”
Caryn: Or, I might feel it the next day.
Lori: That’s age.
Caryn: Well, yeah. But I’ve noticed it especially with wine and I had the opportunity to be at a Querciabella event. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Querciabella, but it is a wine grown in Tuscany. It’s vegan, bio-dynamic and we just drank wine all night. And I thought, “Oh my God tomorrow is going to be a disaster.” And I woke up and I was fine. I was fine.
Lori: I think that also all grapes create sulfite. You can’t help that. But I think that if it’s good soil and good. It makes a very big difference.
Caryn: So what do I have here?
Gabriel: So this is our flagship beer. It’s our premium, organic Golden Ale.
Lori: That’s what I made that with.
Gabriel: Yeah. The organic Golden Ale. We also have an organic IPA which we can try next. The organic Golden Ale is a nice, pure, clean, crisp, refreshing and customers say that to us a lot too. They drink our beer and they get the nice buzz from the alcohol, but they feel good the next day, they feel good while they’re drinking it. It tastes pure, it tastes clean. That’s huge for me. I love hearing that response from customers.
Caryn: When I drink a bad beer, a cheap beer, it tastes like a fraternity to me.
Gabriel: Right, right.
Caryn: That rotting, stale kind of.
Lori: Yeah like old beer barrels.
Lori: Or you know cleaning up behind the bar.
Gabriel: Brings you right back to college.
Caryn: OK, this does not have that flavor at all. It is light and lovely.
Gabriel: To me this has a nice premium taste. Our customers always talk about how clean it tastes so.
Lori: So do you actually, do you co-pack this? Does somebody make this for you?
Gabriel: We work with a partner facility that we brew at. It’s enabled us to supply the demand.
Lori: And that’s in Saratoga Springs?
Gabriel: Yeah. It’s enabled us to supply the demand right out of the gate. Being New York’s first organic beer there was a lot of buzz, a lot of press attention from the beginning and it enabled us to right out of the gate, accounts for us- Citi Field, Madison Square Garden, some of the major hotels, Whole Foods, Trader Joes. So, yeah, it’s been really great.
Caryn: And it’s a vegan beer.
Gabriel: Yes. I’m vegan and organic and everything.
Caryn: Gabriel’s vegan! YAY! Lori’s vegan, yay! Caryn’s vegan!
Gabriel: To me, this beer is an extension of my lifestyle. So it’s keeping with that.
Caryn: So what would not make a beer vegan?
Gabriel: There’s a lot of hidden ingredients in beer. I always tell people what sort of got me thinking about this was I looked up online harmful ingredients in beer or hidden ingredients in beer. It’s a great Google search to look at. But, as far as the non-vegan things, the clarifying agents, the gelatins, Isinglass, which translates to fish bladder or whatever else they make those chemicals with which are really unnecessary. So when I looked up harmful ingredients in beer, that was some of them. Then, also all the other chemicals and everything like that that go along with it to speed up, slow down, get the color right, all this stuff. The interesting thing when I looked into the industry when I came up with the idea for the brand too was it’s a heavily lobbied industry. So they don’t have to list ingredients or processes on the label. So that, mixed with what is actually going on behind the scenes, I was just like, “Man, one- if people knew and second of all, I just wanted to create that, something clean.”
Caryn: Isn’t cheese like that too? You don’t know what’s in them?
Gabriel: Oh really? Wow.
Lori: Well, no you do…
Caryn: Some of the processed cheese like Velveeta you know what’s in it but if you get a swiss cheese do you know what’s in it?
Lori: It really does. There’s only like I said if it’s less than 1%
Lori: But it’s also about lobbying. How much money they actually have to fight against. We’re not putting that on the label. It’ll say, “flavorings” or whatever and you’re like, “Oh natural flavoring?” I mean, Isinglass, is great if you’re gilding gold leaf on glass, great use for it. But yeah, you wouldn’t want to be…
Lori: No I don’t think so.
Caryn: OK this is really fun. One thing I like to tell people, especially my listeners the ones who are considering transitioning to eating all plants and going vegan…
Lori: Is that there’s so much available.
Caryn: This lifestyle is not about deprivation everybody. No. When you eliminate certain things from your diet you will discover as I have repeatedly, your world expands. So I gave up flesh, and all the sudden I discovered all of these amazing plant foods out on the planet.
Gabriel: And it’s getting better and better and better
Caryn: When I gave up dairy the world opened up even more. When I started looking into alternatives to wheat for example when my niece was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I jumped into gluten-free baking, I discovered all of these wonderful flours made from beans and grains and they all are different and lovely.
Gabriel: I agree 100%.
Caryn: So your world will expand I promise you.
Lori: It’s always the question isn’t it? When you say you’re vegan, people look at you and ask, “What do you eat?” And I’m like…
Caryn: This is why, and I have to promote this, this is why I started my blog which is now over 1,000 days. It’s called What Vegans Eat. I post every day what we eat. They’re not fancy photos. They are real. It’s real food. And sometimes we link to recipes. But you have over 1,000 examples of what two vegans eat all around the country and sometimes in other countries and it’s real.
Gabriel: And we also have our organic IPA. Do you want to try this?
Caryn: Yes, please. I’m glad I brought cups.
Gabriel: This one is a little bit of a darker color, fuller flavor.
Caryn: Yeah, I like the darker ones, personally. Thank you. I’m having a good time everybody!
Gabriel: Always a good time.
Lori: The IPA’s have that kind of grapefruity taste to them. Very citrusy. I prefer the lager; would you call it a lager?
Gabriel: Yeah. It’s a Golden Ale.
Caryn: The Golden Ale was sweeter and this is more bitter. And I really love the bitter notes myself. I love bitter greens.
Gabriel: That’s what I love about our line-up is that we have something for everybody even just with the 2 core beers.
Lori: Do you have any stouts?
Gabriel: Nope, just the 2 right now. We’re going to grow the line. I love that our line right now, we have something for everybody. The lighter, clean, subtly sweet organic Golden Ale and then the organic IPA which is more on the classic IPA bitter side. It’s nice to have 2 beers that really reach a lot of different types of people.
Caryn: I spoke about gluten just a moment ago. What about gluten?
Gabriel: These are regular beers. So made with organic barley.
Caryn: They’re not gluten-free beer?
Gabriel: Not gluten-free.
Lori: You know? The thing is unless you have Celiac, it’s not the gluten that’s hurting people it’s the improvers, correct. It’s the process. Absolutely.
Gabriel: The chemicals.
Caryn: The highly processed white flour.
Gabriel: That’s what I heard. As I was creating the beer too, I read an article about that. I don’t know other than this one article but some people that were sensitive to the gluten and the wheat and the grains in this country, when they traveled to Italy and the processes are much more either regulated, or they don’t use the chemicals and stuff, they didn’t feel the effects.
Lori: Yes, I have friends from Germany who bring bread with them.
Gabriel: So I think the organic aspect is really important. Of course, there are people who have Celiac.
Lori: Well they don’t have to necessarily be organic, literally now you go to places that say, “We bake our bread here” but in fact, they don’t. They get frozen bread and then they put it in their ovens. So those bread are highly processed and they have improvers. They have things that keep them so that they can actually go through those processes and those are the things that are upsetting people physically, not emotionally but physically.
Gabriel: Yeah. We will potentially have a gluten free option down the road, but right now we stick or organic is our main thing. New York organic.
Caryn: Well that’s smart.
Gabriel: Yeah. I think so. It’s been a lot of fun, that’s for sure. Launching a beer company from the beginning, from an idea. And like I said, the whole goal has been to match this health-conscious, active lifestyle.
Lori: How long ago did you start?
Gabriel: So the story I told before about the idea when I was standing in the bar, that was probably like 6 or 7 years ago.
Gabriel: Took me about 4 or 5 years to develop everything from scratch. I sort of jumped in and learned everything about it and built the team. We launched in market about 2 years ago. So we’ve been out 2 years, our birthday was just a couple weeks ago.
Lori: Happy Birthday! It’s really nice.
Caryn: Happy Birthday dear Smart Beer, Happy Birthday to you!
Gabriel: It was really great. We got to celebrate with some beer. But yeah, it’s been a blast to see customers bring it into their lifestyle and how it resonates with their lifestyle and everything from the high-end premium hotels, Public Hotel in New York City, Bowery Hotel out in L.A., Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills, the Gracias Madre out there, a great vegan restaurant, which we love out there. Just to see people bring it into their lives and see it resonate with their lifestyles and become part of our community. It’s been awesome.
Caryn: I want to say something about vegans and parties, OK? I think vegans are the biggest partiers around. Vegans love to party and we have amazing food and we also imbibe occasionally.
Gabriel: I think that’s a big part of a healthy lifestyle.
Caryn: Having fun, yes, I love that.
Gabriel: And celebrating together and sharing ideas. I always call it celebration, rather than partying. I always talk to people about that’s what our beer represents, celebration. To me, there’s a big distinction there. There’s a responsibility. But also fun. I’m big on fun.
Lori: You must be. Because people think vegans are like sticks in the mud.
Caryn: And we’re not everybody!!!
Lori: I bet you don’t have sex either, what else don’t vegans do?
Caryn: We can talk about that on another program. Well it actually, vegans have better sex for a number of reasons. Number one, men for example, a large percentage of men are impotent over 40 because it’s the same reason why they have heart disease. Their arteries have plaque and they’re not getting enough blood where the blood needs to go to make things work and hard and many men find that when they transition to a plant-based diet…
Lori: They can throw their Viagra away!
Lori: I’m vegan I don’t need Viagra anymore!
Caryn: And another thing I have not done, I don’t want to say if I’ve personally experienced this, I’m not going to say whether I have or not, but vegans taste better. I remember a very vulgar program on Howard Stern where he did some taste testing I believe and he verified it.
Lori: Yes, it’s true.
Caryn: Alright. Smart Beer, where will we find it? You just mentioned a bunch of places but you have a website, right?
Gabriel: We do. Smartbeercompany.com. I always point people to the easiest places. It’s throughout the Hudson Valley, Westchester, New York City, Long Island, and Los Angeles. In New York, the easiest place to find us is Whole Foods, Trader Joes and then some of the premium hotels I was mentioning.
Caryn: I’m glad I brought you two together. I think you guys need to have a party together. Like some big beer and cheese tasting event.
Gabriel: We already met at a party you said.
Lori: Yes, of sorts.
Caryn: I met you at P.S. Kitchen
Gabriel: Yes, love P.S. Kitchen. I’m going there tomorrow
Caryn: And you were just a groovy guy hanging out at the bar.
Gabriel: No, Thursday. I’m going there Thursday. Taking out Smart Beer team over there for a nice vegan meal.
Caryn: Yes. We had Craig Cochran on the show not too long ago.
Gabriel: He’s great.
Caryn: Just true blue genuine sincere…
Lori: I just don’t get, I’m up in Catskill Parks.
Gabriel: So you haven’t been to P.S. Kitchen yet?
Lori: I haven’t been, very few places. I’ve been to Modern Love. And Orchard Grocer carries us. They’re wonderful.
Gabriel: There’s a new spot, Bar Verde, vegan Mexican. Yeah really good. Matthew Kennedy. So some really great options in the city right now.
Caryn: I just want to know, how’s your music doing?
Gabriel: I don’t play right now. I’m getting the itch to play again. I was a drummer, songwriter, lyricist. My main thing was drumming. I loved it.
Caryn: Do you have a group that you play with or not now?
Gabriel: No. I was sort of…
Caryn: I’m telling you this because my brother is a bass player. He lives in Carmel and he’s always wanted to put a vegan band together.
Lori: You can move to California.
Gabriel: Dust off my drums. But really when I got into the beer, focused all my attention on it but lately I have been feeling like someday I’ll get a kit again and play and play again. Right now I’m 100% focused on this and yoga is a big part of my life. I love that. And staying healthy. Selling the beer is my focus right now. When music was my life, that was my 100% focus and right now.
Lori: See that’s what us entrepreneurs are like, we become obsessed. It’s like there’s no stone that can go unturned. Every leaf has to be uncovered. You really have to have that focus. And then they’ll be a next because there’s always a next.
Gabriel: It would be fun to diversify and work on some other things at some point but I’m big on focusing on this right now. It’s been a lot of fun. The places it’s taken us has been a lot and it’s been fantastic.
Lori: And as you do more developing and build your product line it gets to be exciting like the first time again.
Gabriel: Oh yeah, well that’s my favorite thing. Right now we’re in pushing the styles and the brands we have. But I love creating the new. I do think I’m sort of a disciplined entrepreneur. I know when to keep an idea but keep it in the back of my mind but also stay focused on the present products. There’s nothing like a rush of creating a new product. Even if it’s just a new style, a new line with new packaging. All that stuff that goes into it, I love it. Also what I love about it is, it is- you can duplicate the process of being through it with this. That was my main goal with this after my music career when I got into creating products and Smart Beer, was I wanted to learn everything about it from the ground up. Every aspect of it. From the financials, everything, so that I could do it again. Maybe not have to do it all myself next time but that I knew every single aspect of it because I feel like creating a product is like creating a song. You can duplicate the process. Every product has its own challenges and things like that but that was a big part of this for me was learning everything so I can do it again in other forms. Other organic vegan products.
Caryn: OK your beer is smart because you are obviously smart.
Lori: Doesn’t she say the nicest things?
Caryn: Your child is smart because your beer’s parent is smart. Can I have a little more of the IPA, please?
Lori: Did you like the mozzarella?
Gabriel: I did. I love them all
Caryn: Ah the mozzarella, I want to remember that.
Lori: I put them back in the box
Caryn: That’s OK I’m getting them
Gabriel: So is your show always a party?
Caryn: Is my show always a party? Well, I guess in some ways. But this is probably the best party I’ve ever had so cheers to that. I like to keep things light and happy. We do talk about some dark subjects on this show because kind of the foundation behind the vegan lifestyle is the contract of what is going on in the world and that’s really dark. We do talk about that but I want..my thing has always been bring people to the light. We can talk about all the dark stuff we want all day long but I want to bring them to all the wonderful stuff that’s out there that’s available if they would come and join me in this beautiful space.
Lori: You know I think if all those dark people came here and became vegan there would be a lot more light. I’m quite certain of that.
Caryn: Yeah. So here’s to that light.
Gabriel: I heard some great statistics. I don’t know them off the top of my head of just percentages of people turning vegetarian, turning vegan.
Lori: It’s the future. It’s huge between 15 years and 30 years old it’s absolutely massive.
Caryn: Especially in this time where we’re really frustrated with the politics. We feel like no one is listening and no one is doing anything. This is something huge that we can all do right now.
Lori: We can choose.
Gabriel: I always tell people that. People ask me why I’m vegan and I always tell them with all that’s going on in the world, sometimes it’s easy to feel powerless and like I can’t make a difference. I know no matter what I do that day, 3 times a day when I sit down to eat or snacks in between as well, that I’m making a huge ripple effect difference in the world just by simply the choice of what I chose to eat.
Gabriel: And it’s been hugely empowering where it starts that chain reaction like I can do so much more, I can make more of a difference. But I know at the base level, I can make a huge difference in the world just by the food that I’m choosing to eat. That’s been a huge thing for me.
Lori: It’s funny you know because every generation thinks they created the wheel. In the 70’s, I was mixing nuts and dried fruit and making Cliff Bars before there was such a thing as Cliff Bars. There was a big vegetarian, even though I hate that word because there’s no such thing as vegetarian, movement. It was large there. I remember I bought a book, it was 75 cents. It was Arnold Ehret and the Mucusless Diet. It was basically vegan other than he had eggs in it. But I never liked eggs so it was like I didn’t eat the eggs. It really was more or less on the lines of pure juicing vegan type diet or a plant-based diet.
Caryn: Yes. The knowledge has been there for a long time. Well, I just want to express…
Gabriel: It’s like a wave. It’s swelling, it happening.
Caryn: I like to express my gratitude from time to time on this program and remind people to do the same especially when you’re feeling down and out to focus on the good things that you have and express them out loud or on paper. It helps you feel better. I came into this program feeling a little, well I got stuff in my life and I’m dealing with it and I’m feeling a lot better right now because I had some great beer and some wonderful cheese and I love you guys.
Lori: She’s lovely, isn’t she?
Caryn: You’ve made me feel great and I hope everybody listening felt great and enjoyed it. I hope you try these products because they’re wonderful and there’s no guilt because you’re not harming anything with these products. I always like to say we’re tuning in love on this show and that’s what we just did. We all tuned in a lot of love here. Thank you, Gabriel and Lori for joining me.
Lori: Oh and thank you-you’re really kind. You’re lovely!
Caryn: Well it’s real.
Lori: Gabriel, awesome.
Caryn: OK I’m Caryn Hartglass you’ve been listening to It’s All About Food, thanks for joining me and have a delicious week, bye!
Transcribed by Adella Finnan 1/7/2018