Brooklyn Brewery, The

Brooklyn Brewery logo
Address

79 N 11th St. Brooklyn,
New York  11249

Phone

(718) 486-7422

First Visited

August 31, 2018

Brooklyn Brewery was opened in October 1987 by Steve Hindy, a former English teacher and international journalist and Tom Potter, an investment banker at New York’s Chemical Bank.

Hindy, a journalist for 15 years, learned to brew beer during an almost six-year stay between 1979 to 1984, in various Middle Eastern nations such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait while covering things like the civil war in Lebanon and the Iran-Iraq war. Since these nations were dry he had to learn to brew. Armed with pamphlets issued by ARAMCO to its employees with instructions on making wine, beer, liquor, he learned home-brewing with some American diplomats on Middle East stations.

Hindy returned to the US, and to New York, where he met his downstairs neighbor from Park Slope, Tom Potter and tried to sell him the idea of opening a brewery. Attending the annual microbrewing conference in 1986 they met several businessmen who convinced that they had a good business idea. Subsequently they quit their jobs and founded the brewery in October 1987.

Initially the duo hired the famous graphic designer Milton Glasier, best known as the creator of the logo for the I Love New York campaign, to create the company logo and identity in exchange for a piece of the company. The logo the itself was designed to produce a throwback to the old Brooklyn Dodgers emblem, before they left for Los Angeles.

It helped that they had Bill Moeller formulating beers for them, a retired brewmaster with decades of experience and two generations of brewmasters’ notebooks in his family records. Bill brewed two beers for them: Brooklyn Lager, a hoppy amber lager, and Brooklyn Brown Ale, a shockingly hoppy brown ale.

Originally they pair contacted F. X. Matt, and had all their beers contract brewed Matt Brewing Company in the upstate New York city of Utica. The pair then began their own distribution company and personally transported and marketed their beer to bars and retailers around New York City. In 1996, they acquired a former matzo factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and converted it into a functional brewery.

Enter Garrett Oliver. Oliver started brewing at a brewpub, Manhattan Brewing Company, where he began brewing professionally as an apprentice in 1989. One day in 1994 when the Manhattan brewery was empty, he brewed up a batch of big imperial stout which he took to Hindy and Potter, Impressed, they hired him and sent him up to Utica to brew the stout, which would be labeled as Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. Garrett rigged in the big 25-barrel Newlands system and three fermenters and went to work. At first they brewed a Brooklyner Weiss, then came the East India Pale Ale, then the rest followed.

A cooperation between Carlsberg and Brooklyn Brewery began in 2004 when Carlsberg took over distribution of Brooklyn beers in Scandinavia, thus boosting sales of the US craft brewer. 

The company sought to expand its facilities in Brooklyn, but had difficulty finding a suitable site within the borough. However, an economic recession allowed them to remain in Williamsburg and undertake a $6.5 million expansion of the brewery in 2009.

In 2012  Carlsberg and Brooklyn further deepened their cooperation by opening the New Carnegie Brewery as a joint venture in Stockholm/Sweden.

In 2014, Brooklyn started brewing locally in Japan so that their beer would no longer have to journey via container down the East Coast, through the Panama Canal, and up and across the Pacific. October 12, 2016, Brooklyn Brewery, sold off a minority stake of 24.5% to the Japan conglomerate Kirin Holdings in a deal for the production and sale of Brooklyn beer in Japan and Brazil. Much of that distribution is through a distribution partnership with Big Beer producer Carlsberg in Europe. However, less than one year later, Kirin sold its whole business in Brazil to Dutch brewer Heineken.

In 2016, Carlsberg and Brooklyn Brewery launched together the EC Dahls Brewery in Trondheim/Norway. One year later both partners signed several deals. First, they agreed on a new partnership exclusive to Carlsberg’s Hong Kong division started a collaboration beer that they crafted with Brooklyn Brewery. The collaboration, named HK Yau and uses the character yau “” meaning friendship, and is actually a series of three different beers that Carlsberg brewed with Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver.  HK Yau New Kong Wheat (we love that name) is a Belgian-style Wheat Ale, brewed with coriander and chénpí (dried orange and tangerine peel. HK Yau Times Square Lager is a citrusy lager that supposedly pairs well with Asian cuisine (one would hope). And HK Yau Underground is the always necessary Pale Ale. And HK Yau Underground is the always necessary Pale Ale.

2017 saw Brooklynn and Carlsberg UK, (a division of the Belgium-based brewing giant), purchased the 6 year-old London Fields Brewery the first commercial brewery to open in Hackney (a borough of London and close to my place of birth) since the 19th century. London Fields operated independently as part of a joint venture between Carlsberg and Brooklyn Brewery (whose beers Carlsberg has been distributing in the UK since October 2016).

Only a few days later both companies invested EUR 5 million in a new company in Lithuania that took over part of the current business of Svyturio-Utenos Alus, a company owned by Carlsberg that produces Lithuania’s two most popular beers.

In June 2020, Carlsberg has bought brand rights for Brooklyn Beer in Europe and parts of Asia for USD130 million. 

Later in 2020, in December, after 36 years with Brooklyn Brewery, Steve Hindy officially retired.

Our James Beard Award-winning Brewmaster Garrett Oliver and his team brew everything from classic styles to bold experiments and collaborate with brewers, innovators and artists from around the globe. We’ve met wonderful people in remarkable places, and we can’t wait to show everyone what’s next.

Beers Tried

Photo Gallery

Add a comment

*Please complete all fields correctly