79 N 11th St | Brooklyn, NY 11249
Back in August 2014, I first visited Brooklyn Brewery. I recently got the chance to stop by again, and this time I enjoyed the free brewery tour.
First, let’s recap the history of this great brewery…
A century ago, there were at least 48 breweries in Brooklyn, New York. Taverns were the center of everyday life, and brewers were civic and social leaders. The last of the great brewing families, however, closed their Brooklyn breweries in 1976. The big breweries in the Midwest were producing more beer for less.
In 1984, Associated Press correspondent Steve Hindy returned to Brooklyn after six years in the Middle East. After becoming a homebrewer, Hindy quit his job, then founded Brooklyn Brewery with his neighbor Tom Potter. Their goal was to bring good beer back to NYC. They hired German American brewmaster, William M. Moeller to develop recipes, and their first beer, Brooklyn Lager, was contract brewed in Utica, New York. The design work was done by designer Milton Glaser, best known for creating the “I Love NY” logo.
In 1994, Garrett Oliver was brought in as brewmaster. He planned the Brooklyn plant, which opened on May 28, 1996. Mayor Giuliani poured the first glasses of beer, filled with Brooklyner Weisse. Oliver developed several new Brooklyn beers like Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, Brooklyn East India Pale Ale, Brooklyn Pennant Ale ’55 and many others.
Oliver has won many national and international awards and is well known for his book, The Brewmaster’s Table. He has served as a judge for the Great American Beer Festival for twenty years, and has been a perennial judge for the Great British Beer Festival competition and The Brewing Industry International Awards. He has hosted tastings and talks for many cultural institutions, has hosted beer dinners around the world, and has made numerous radio and television appearances. Oliver received the 1998 Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation and Excellence in Brewing from the Institute for Brewing Studies, which is the highest award given within the United States brewing profession.
Now for an update…
In 2014, Brooklyn Brewery and Carlsberg (the fourth largest brewery in the world) celebrated the opening of a joint venture brewery Nya Carnegie in Stockholm, Sweden. This marked the first time an American craft brewery has established a facility overseas.
Brooklyn Brewery and Carlsberg announced a second joint venture brewery, opening in the historic E.C. Dahls Brewery in Trondheim, Norway. This project will preserve the history of E.C. Dahls and its famous pilsner, while incorporating new recipes. The E.C Dahls Brewery is expected to be open in the summer of 2016.
Later in 2014, Brooklyn Brewery donated a microbrewery to the Culinary Institute of America in the Hudson Valley north of New York City where a robust beer education program is being offered.
The brewery is currently planning an expansion site to increase production and expand distribution.
Brooklyn Brewery is open 7 days a week. From Monday to Thursday there is a Small Batch Tour at 5 PM. Reservations can be made up to a month in advance, and each tour is limited to 30 people. The $15 cost includes a guided tasting of four Brooklyn beers and an in-depth Brewery history lesson and tour.
On Fridays, the brewery tasting room is open from 6 PM to 11 PM. Beer tokens are 5 for $20 or $5 each. On Saturdays, the tasting room is open from noon to 8 PM with free tours every half hour from 1 PM to 5 PM. On Sundays, the tasting room is open from noon to 6PM with free tours throughout the day. Click here for more details if you’re interested in visiting Brooklyn Brewery.
We visited Brooklyn Brewery on a Sunday around 2:45 PM. There was free street parking, and we snagged a spot right across the street from the brewery entrance. We secured tickets for the 3:00 brewery tour and got in line at the Company Store to purchase beer tokens. There were 14 beers on tap.
- ½ Ale – 3.4% ABV Light Saison
- Oktoberfest – 5.5% ABV Märzen Oktoberfest Lager
- Defender – 6.7% ABV Bright Juicy West Coast-Style IPA (Official Beer of New York Comic Con)
- Pumpkin Ale – 6.4% ABV Colonial Style Pumpkin Ale
- Pilsner – 5.1% ABV Redemption for the American Pilsner
- Lager – 5.2% ABV Pre-Prohibition Vienna Lager
- Brown Ale – 5.6% ABV Roasty American Brown Ale
- Insulated Dark Lager – 5.6% ABV Smooth and Toasty Schwarzbier
- Sorachi Ace – 7.2% ABV Farmhouse Saison
- Lord Sorachi – 9.5% ABV Sorachi Ace-Powered Imperial Saison Packed with Lemongrass and Verbena Aromas
- Greenmarket Wheat – 5.0% ABV Wheat Beer with NY State Ingredients
- East IPA – 6.9% ABV British Style IPA with American Flair
- Mal Du Pays – 5.5% ABV Full-Bodied Sour Kentucky Common
- Blast! – 8.4% ABV Double IPA
Visitors could also partake in the Souvenir Glass Special for 3 tokens, which included a glass and one pour of a choice of Local 1, Local 2, or Sorachi Ace.
My favorite was the Mal Du Pays. This beer is part XIII of The Worshipful Company of Brewers. According to Brooklyn Brewery’s website, “the charter of this sanctified league dictates that each member of the Brooklyn Brewery brewing team will design and create a batch of his or her own draft-only beer, to be served exclusively at the Brewery Tasting Room until the last drop has been squeezed from the taps.”
Mal Du Pays is a Kentucky Common base, which was a popular style from the settlement days of Kentucky. Cellarman Eric Brown, who has worked at the brewery since February 2014, put his own spin in on the style created a dark, full-bodied beer with a punch of tart acidity from the sour mash.
The name Mal Du Pays comes from the French term describing homesickness for a particular region, in this case his home state of Kentucky. This recipe was based on his own homebrew recipe he developed while Brown was president of the Homebrewing Club at the Culinary Institute of America.
After enjoying a beer, we headed on our tour. The tour was led by one of the brewery’s cellarmen and began in the brewhouse where he talked about the steps in the brewing process. Pay attention because you can receive free beer tokens for answering questions correctly!
After that, we headed into the cellar where we learned about fermentation and packaging, then listened to some interesting stories about Brooklyn Brewery’s founder Steve Hindy – including how he stood up to the mafia when the brewery first opened!
I’m glad we had a chance to visit Brooklyn Brewery again and take advantage of the fun, free tour. Perhaps next time we’ll try the Small Batch Tour!
If my last article on Brooklyn Brewery didn’t convince you to visit the brewery, what are you waiting for? Don’t miss out!
And while you’re in the area, be sure to check out Tørst, which is only a half mile walk through McCarren Park. This popular beer bar has an impressive tap list and a comfortable vibe.