2. Brooklyn Brewery, Williamsburg, New York
I began to see something called “Brooklyn Brewery” but wrongly assumed it to be a member of the Evil Empire and had its base on a far corner of the Death Star. (Oh, how wrong I would turn out to be…) A few years later, I found myself in the lucky position of having dinner with Tom Potter (founder of Brooklyn Brewery), and his wife in downtown DC. Hearing his story of the rise of his business, from nothing but a mere carboy and a dream, was inspiring and riveting; how could I have assumed he was one of them? This guy was one of only a select few who were brewing in NYC. Wow. I was dumbstruck.
I received his and Steve Hindy’s book, Beer School, for Christmas two years ago and was riveted. Seriously frickin not able to pull away, riveted. Their story of struggle in the challenging landscape of Brooklyn, a borough with a rich, rich history of brewing that near vanished by the end of Prohibition, will make any home brewer stop for a moment and think about his or her dream to open a brewery. It’s a whole new ballgame, kid. And these guys are super stars; they showed determination and courage in the face of multi-million dollar marketing strategies that were unleashed to beat them out at every step of the way, gangsters yielding guns and complicated distribution channels.
I dove back into their beers with a vengeance, and came to see them as a beacon, a shining light in a city owned by the big boys. Their beers are adventurous, risky, and always surprising. And with Garrett Oliver at the helm, they continue to put out an ever-growing selection of solid brews. He is known for his smooth demeanor and classy approach on the outside, and it is clear that underneath lies a thoughtful, driven craftsman with high standards and the enthusiasm to back them up. For turning my beliefs about New York beers into such an aggressive 180 and igniting my own brewing at home, Brooklyn Brewery is my number two pick.
Favorite brews: Local 1, (and soon to be Local 2!), East India Pale Ale, Lager, Pennant Ale