Craft Beer Guide

Rare Form Brewing Company Mixes Beer and Art

A husband-and-wife duo combine their passions to launch a creative collaboration in Troy

Beer connoisseurs will appreciate Rare Form Brewing’s experimental offerings like the Black IPA

Kevin Mullen makes beer. His wife, Jenny Kemp, makes art. Together, they have made Rare Form Brewing Company, which combines their passions in tasty and tasteful ways. The couple opened the Troy brewery in May 2014 after a peripatetic lifestyle that took them from their native Colorado and Wisconsin, respectively, to Seattle and then Albany, where Kemp, 36, earned her MFA in painting at SUNY Albany. Mullen, 38, was a dedicated home brewer, and they decided to hang their decorative shingle in Troy. “It’s a walkable town with a big artistic community, so all the pieces came together,” Mullen says.

They chose the word “rare” to connote his small-batch, uniquely flavored recipes, and “form” to connote her artwork, which explores line and form. “We both love art and think beer, in a way, is a form of art as well,” he says. Indeed, Kemp designs many of the labels and posters that decorate their taproom, and she invites some of her artistic friends to contribute as well; their posters are available for purchase on their website.

rare form brewing coconut ale

Mullen’s five-barrel system keeps five main beers in regular rotation: Sabbatical Session Ale, Cascadia Double IPA, Wee Plaid Scottish Ale, Karass Robust Porter, and Satan’s Gut Oak-Aged Imperial Stout — named after a Colorado River rapid that he rode during his days as a whitewater rafting guide. He supplements these with seasonal options that suit his whim and sense of experimentation. Mullen features local ingredients as much as possible, and likes to experiment with unusual flavorings and ingredients, like the wild Brettanomyces yeast he uses in his Black IPA. “Everything is open for us to play around with,” he says, “and we brew what we think will be great beer.”

And in a nod to his roots as a home brewer, he started the Scale Up project in which he and his team sample homemade beers and choose one that they allow the neophyte to brew on their system and serve in their room. “It’s fun to have your beer on tap and enjoy it with people besides just your friends,” he says.

Don’t miss: Royal Toasted Coconut Cream Ale, aged with real toasted coconut

Fun fact: the Karass Robust Porter is named for author Kurt Vonnegut, who wrote his novel Cat’s Cradle while living in Troy and coined the term karass to mean a group of cosmically linked but otherwise unfamiliar people — like beer connoisseurs.

If you go...

Rare Form Brewing Company
90 Congress St., Troy

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The local brew-lover's guide to all things hoppy, malty, and chug-worthy

About This Blog

Welcome to The First Draft — a column devoted exclusively to all things beer. Yes, that’s right, from taste-tests to profiles of brewers (and homebrewers) to expert advice (hello, Craft Beer 101), we’re going county to county, city to small town to uncover all the sudsy stuff you need to know. Heck, we’ll even let you know which brewery has the coolest looking T-shirt in town. You can expect reviews, food and beer pairings, roundups, trends, expert advice, homebrewing, profiles, big beer events, best nights out.

To make sure we don’t miss a thing, we’ll also have updated information, breaking news, fabulous photos, and special guest bloggers. Cheers!

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit Module