Patricia Park piqued Brett Taylor's interest with a Match.com profile that cited a love of West Coast India pale ales.
When Patricia Park celebrated the publishing of her first novel at a Brooklyn bookstore in 2015, Brett Taylor's gift to her did not come in a card or in a vase or in a gift-wrapped box.
It came in a keg, filled with her favourite beer.
"He brewed me a batch of India pale ale, which was very, very meaningful," Park said. "With no disrespect to flowers, it took Brett about three weeks to make that particular beer for my event."
Park, 38, a tenure-track professor of creative writing in the master of fine arts programme at American University in Washington, had been dating Taylor for almost a year when he decided to pour his heart out in the most creative and loving way he knew — through a tap.
"I started home brewing in 2009, and by the following year I began thinking, 'I really enjoy this and I don't ever want to stop doing it,'" said Taylor, 44. "That's when I began to dream about the possibility of opening my own brewery."
Taylor and Park met in January 2014 on Match.com, the algorithm gods determining that they were a 100 per cent mutual match.
She piqued his interest with a profile that cited a love of spreadsheets and West Coast India pale ales, and he loved the fact that as a native New Yorker, she had been to North Korea but never to the top of the Empire State Building.
They met a few days later for a first date at a bar in Brooklyn, the borough where they both lived, she in Brooklyn Heights and he in Park Slope.
"Her profile photo didn't lie, she was absolutely beautiful," Taylor said. "But what I didn't get from that photo was just how intelligent and talented she was, and that she had this incredibly vibrant personality."
Park had been going through a difficult dating stretch at that time, which she later wrote about in a Modern Love column published by The New York Times in June 2015. She felt she had found a kindred spirit in Taylor, who was divorced and just beginning to contemplate a major career change: leaving his job as a graphics editor and cartographer at The Wall Street Journal for an entry level position in a local brewery to learn about the business of beer, from the dregs to the brim.
"He was handsome, friendly, easy to talk to and very kind," Park said. "What really struck me about that first date was how eager he was to engage in conversation, and how we sat there for two hours talking comfortably about our goals and future dreams, it was a stimulating and intellectual experience."
Park, who had just sold her first novel, Re Jane (Viking Press), graduated from Swarthmore College and received a Master of Fine Arts from Boston University. She arranged a trip to North Korea in the summer of 2010 shortly after studying in South Korea as a Fulbright scholar.
Taylor was surprised to hear that her parents, Sun ok Park and Peter Park, owned the Key Food Supermarket in the Carroll Gardens area of Brooklyn, where he often shopped.
"I told Patty that I was sure her parents knew me," Taylor said with a grin. "After all, I bought a lot of beer from them."
They went a few more rounds discussing beer, with Park encouraging Taylor to "believe in yourself, and go after your dreams."
"Brett was as well-versed in literature and short-story writing as he was about all things beer," she said about Taylor, who grew up in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and received a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh. "It just seemed like the natural, next step for him to take."
But it was a concern of Taylor's parents, Diane Deal, a retired real estate agent who lives in Ford City, Pennsylvania, and Wilbur Taylor, who owns an electronics business in Sarasota, Florida.
"I was initially worried about Brett making such a risky career move and how he would continue to pay his bills by starting out at the bottom of a different industry," Wilbur Taylor said. "But he was confident and seemed to know what he was doing, so rather than throw cold water on his dream, I got behind him, 100 per cent."
Park was eager to continue that particular conversation and many others with Taylor on what she thought for certain would be a second date, but a week had passed since their first date and she had not heard from him.
"I didn't think much of it at first and even went on a few more Match dates," Park said. "But my every thought kept coming back to Brett, so I decided to reach out to him."
She sent him a text, and the same man with whom she had shared beers and dreams with less than a week earlier, returned a text that was not exactly toast-worthy.
"He said that while he enjoyed our first date, he was going on a fourth date with another woman and didn't feel right about pursuing things further with me," Park said.
"I was hurt because I really liked him," she said. "I did appreciate the fact that rather than tell me a bunch of lies, he chose to be honest with me about the situation."
They moved on with their lives, but not exactly out of each other's way. The following month, Park and Taylor, each of them on a date, ran into each other at a bar in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.
"I went over to say hello," Taylor said, "but it was a pretty awkward situation."
They parted ways yet again, but two months later, on a morning in May 2014 after Park had completed the Brooklyn Half Marathon and Taylor had finished brewing a batch of saison, his favorite beer style, they each decided to meet friends at the same bar in Park Slope.
This time, however, neither had a significant other, so there were no awkward moments, just a special one, when they shared a hug, ordered a few more beers and sat down to continue a conversation that had begun five months earlier.
"I just felt this rush of excitement running through me," Park said. "It was very serendipitous."
Taylor was feeling much the same.
"I had this major butterfly thing going on inside me," he said. "I honestly felt at that very moment that we had circled back to each other at precisely the right time in our lives."
They became inseparable, and within a month, each had tossed the L-word at the other.
"I had been looking for a woman with a good heart, someone who was intelligent and kind and fun to be around," Taylor said. "The whole time, it had been Patty, who was standing right in front of me, I was just too blind to see it."
By summer, their relationship was white-hot.
"At that point, I just wanted the rest of the world to stop so that Patty and I could just enjoy each other's company, uninterrupted," Taylor said.
But she would soon be on her way to Middlebury College in Vermont, where she would take a week long refresher course in Spanish needed to do research in Argentina for her second novel, "El Chino: A Novel in Four Movements," which Park has completed and is now shopping to publishers.
Her trip to Argentina, which would begin in October, would last two months.
"I got the feeling at that point that Patty was waiting for me to say we should go back to seeing other people," Taylor said. "But I told her that I had already found the woman I was looking for, and that I would wait for her to come home."
As it turned out, Taylor joined Park during her last two weeks in Buenos Aires, and wound up doing some research of his own.
"On our last day there, we met some Argentine home brewers and commercial brewers at a beer bar who invited us back to a local beer festival," Taylor said.
It is the kind of experience, he said, that he put to good use when he left The Wall Street Journal in November 2016 and began working at several small breweries around Brooklyn before landing a job last year as a brewer at Fifth Hammer Brewing in Long Island City, Queens.
During that time, Taylor also took a course in brewing that was offered, coincidentally, at Middlebury College.
Taylor, who said he paid $7,500 for the course, eventually earned a certificate in intensive brewing science and engineering from the American Brewers Guild.
"It was a lot of money and hard work," he said. "But Patty and I felt all along that my dream was worth the investment."
Taylor, who has two business partners, aims to see that investment pay handsome dividends this fall, when he opens the door to the Wild East Brewing Co. The 7,000-square-foot brewery and taproom will specialise in barrel-aged sour beers in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn.
"First, I was lucky enough to get Patty back, and now I have my very own brewery," Taylor said. "In a single lifetime, my two wildest dreams have come true."
They were married May 25 at Battery Gardens in Lower Manhattan, where Brian Kim, a cousin of the bride who became a Universal Life minister for the occasion, conducted two outdoor ceremonies to a soundtrack of horn-blowing ferries and whirling helicopter blades in New York Harbor, where the Statue of Liberty, bathed in bright sunshine, was part of a postcard-like backdrop for photo and video takers alike, as well as perfect strangers who gawked at the roped-off event as if it were a tourist attraction.
"These are the hands that will comfort you when grief or fear fills your mind, that even when wrinkly and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch," Kim said to the couple during a portion of the Celtic handfasting ritual, which was followed by a Korean tea ceremony, during which the bride and groom bowed to their parents.
"A beautiful day for such a beautiful couple," Sun ok Park, the bride's mother, said just after the ceremony as she turned and walked into Battery Gardens Restaurant, where both the cocktail hour and dinner reception was held.
Katherine Park-Fawcett, the bride's sister and matron of honor, watched in delight as the newlyweds chatted with family and friends — the bride in a white and bright red Korean hanbok, and the groom in a charcoal suit by Hugo Boss.
"They make the perfect couple," Park-Fawcett said. "Patty has always been a very thoughtful, passionate person with deep feelings, and Brett is a very calm and patient person who knows what Patty needs even when Patty doesn't know she needs it."
The bride does know that good cold beer and warm conversation will continue to flow from two taps, one atop a keg of the groom's IPA that was made for pouring, and another on his shoulder, which was made for leaning.
On this day
May 25, 2019
Where: Battery Gardens Restaurant, New York
Marry music: The couple, who often play guitars and sing at home — Taylor can play four instruments — performed the song You and I, by Ingrid Michaelson at their wedding. The bride spent two weeks learning how to play the ukulele just to be a part of the performance.
This just in: Jim Iovino, a high school friend of the groom who served as the couple's master of ceremonies at the reception, is a deputy managing editor at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Coverage concerning shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue.
Based on a novel: Park's first novel, Re Jane, is in development to be a television series with Paramount Studios and 3AD, the production company of the actor Daniel Dae Kim.
World flavour: The reception featured a Pittsburgh cookie table, a nod to the groom's hometown. Cookies included New York classics, such as black and whites and Italian rainbow cookies, and Korean rice cakes and alfajores (dulce de leche sandwich cookies), reflecting the bride's family roots from Korea and Argentina.
Written by: Vincent M. Mallozzi
Photographs by: Christopher Lee
© 2019 THE NEW YORK TIMES