Having Other Half on tap is a promising sign at any New York City bar. Make that bar OR restaurant; as Sam and Matt’s complex, constantly rotating roster of brews (crafted from a mix-and-match hop set list, such as Mosaic, Galaxy, Amarillo, Centennial, Simcoe and Wai-Iti) have what it takes to pair with anything from a plastic basket of chicken wings, to a high-end tasting progression.
Matt Monahan
How did you become involved in your line of work?
I was a line cook for years and worked with a few chefs who were avid home brewers. I ended up getting very into making my own beers at home to the point that I wanted a career change. With my first kid on the way, the hours also seemed more appealing and I couldn’t make any LESS money than I was already making, so I decided to go for it. Kelly Taylor at Greenpoint Beerworks gave me my first job as a brewer. That’s where met my partner, Sam.
Tell us a little bit about your present work, the Cliffs Notes version of your day to day and what is at stake.
Other Half has grown tremendously in three years. It went from Sam and I doing everything, from brewing, deliveries and sales, to 26 full time employees. My main responsibility now is keeping the back end of the business running smoothly. I spend my days making sure we make payroll and continue to expand, while also working with Sam and our third partner, Andrew, on developing concepts that keep the brand moving forward and staying innovative. We are doing our best to put Brooklyn on the national map as a serious beer destination. The future of beer is community-driven, and we intend to stay focused on New York City and Brooklyn specifically, as there is no better community for us to call home.
What do you find most fulfilling about your work?
Being part of a business and having a crew that truly cares about the success of the brand is pretty amazing. We have a full staff of people that work their ass off every day to give us their best. Being able to make beer for a living while providing well paying jobs for our community feels great.
What is your proudest achievement with this work and what is your greatest challenge?
We started this business with next to nothing. We almost went out of business twice before we even got the doors open. I never imagined even a fraction of the success we’ve had with this brand. But along with that comes the challenges of maintaining top notch standards and quality control, and staying relevant while growing in an industry that is being flooded with competition. We are never satisfied with where we are at, and are always pushing.
What do you hope changes or improves (or continues!) in your field in the future?
We hope New York City changes its feelings on production breweries and manufacturing in the city. Breweries are huge job creators and generate a lot of sales tax revenue. We are constantly being held up by the DOB on projects meant to grow the business, and we would just like to see the support that Governor Cuomo has voiced for the brewing industry in New York State passed down to the various agencies that are directly related to our future growth.
Who would you nominate for this list?
Matt Ross and Eric Finkelstein of Court Street Grocers. These guys took the sandwich game and local grocery experience to the next level, and pushed everyone to do better. We all eat better lunches because of them. I’m a huge fan of their shop and they are longtime friends that have been there for me whenever I needed help.
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Samuel Richardson
How did you become involved in your line of work?
I went to Oregon State University and got a degree in food science with a focus on fermentation science. I’ve worked in breweries ever since, about 15 years now.
Tell us a little bit about your present work, the Cliffs Notes version of your day to day and what is at stake.
Day to day I manage the brewing operations. We have a head brewer that manages the nuts and bolts, so now I mostly work on recipe development, oversee the development of new labels, and work on hop contracts. A big part of my job is promotion, too. Going to events, festivals, and working on collaboration brews with other breweries.
What do you find most fulfilling about your work?
We have an amazing community of colleagues. I love working on projects with other breweries; it’s personally fulfilling and I think it’s great for the industry as a whole to collaborate.
What is your proudest achievement with this work and what is your greatest challenge?
Opening a brewery of my own is my proudest achievement. I had no resources other than my experience in the industry, so I used that to find people that believed in us and we were able to pull this together. Matt and I worked very hard to open this brewery. We did a large portion of the build-out ourselves. I think we are both proud that we did it the hard way, and have been able to make it work.
What do you hope changes or improves (or continues!) in your field in the future?
I hope collaboration and innovation continue. More and more people buy their beer direct from breweries now than ever before, and it’s the best thing that has ever happened in our industry. Buying fresh and direct from your local brewery is always best!
Who would you nominate for this list?
WRK design. We worked with them for interior design of our spaces. But they have done a lot of awesome work all around New York City and Brooklyn.

Learn more about this year’s 100 Influencers in Brooklyn Culture.

Photo by Jane Bruce. 

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