79 N 11th St | Brooklyn, NY 11249
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.
Brooklyn Brewery is currently finishing a major expansion that will double the overall production and allow for experimental and special creations, the first of which was Brooklyn Radius (brewed only for the borough of Brooklyn), a 4.8% ABV saison. Currently, Brooklyn beers are available in 25 states and 20 countries.
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 $10 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 over the summer. A line had already formed down the block prior to the doors opening. There was free street parking. After being carded, you are welcomed by four large, shiny fermenters and a guy offering free tickets for the first two tours. Most people got in line at the Company Store to purchase beer tokens. There were ten beers on tap plus a cask selection.
- Buster Beer (Ales for ALS) – a 6.9% ABV hoppy, dark IPA with proceeds donated to ALS research.
- Blast! – 8.5% ABV “BIG” IPA (this offering was 2 tokens).
- ½ Ale – 3.4% ABV “better half” of a Belgian Saison.
- Ridgy-Didge – an 8.4% ABV spiced Saison with Australian hops (2 tokens).
- Summer Ale – a 5.0% ABV sunny Pale Ale.
- East India Pale Ale – a 6.9% ABV British style IPA with American hops.
- Weisse – a 5.1% ABV Bavarian-style wheat.
- Fire & Ice – a 7.2% ABV oatmeal smoked porter.
- Sorachi Ace – a 7.2% ABV single hop Belgian Saison.
- Lager – a 5.2% ABV amber lager.
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, Silver Anniversary Lager, Greenmarket Wheat, or Sorachi Ace.
If you can’t make it to Brooklyn, you may still have a chance to enjoy Brooklyn Brewery vibe. The Brooklyn Brewery Mash is a food and arts festival offering a week of parties, comedy, concerts, pop-up supper clubs and readings. The beer-centered festival covers 12 American and European cities, raising money for the non-profit Slow Food U.S.A. The Brooklyn Brewery Mash will stop by Philadelphia from September 28 to October 4, 2014. Click here to learn about the events planned for the week, including Dinner on the Farm with Brooklyn Brewery Chef Andrew Gerson and Brooklyn Ha Ha: NYC Stand-Up with John Gondelman and Jeff Maurer.