It should be no secret by now that I love beer, especially craft beer (going to college in the same town where Sierra Nevada was founded gave me a healthy respect for the craft beer industry). I like a nice glass of white wine and some nights call for a vodka cocktail, but more often than not, my drink of choice is a pint of a crisp IPA.
One of my favorite activities in a new city is to go on a brewery tour (although I learned my lesson the hard way about combining space cakes and brewery tours in Amsterdam). I’ve tasted and toured at several microbreweries in Victoria, Cascade Brewery in Hobart (the oldest brewery in Australia!), Little Creatures in Fremantle and several others around Europe. It took me an entire year to check out Brooklyn Brewery–although I’ve enjoyed plenty of their beer since moving to New York!–but I’m certainly glad that I did.
I took the tour with my friend (and WDS roomie) Monica and a few other bloggers (thanks, Izea!), and I was pleasantly surprised at how informative it was. Dan, our guide, was hilarious and so knowledgeable about not only Brooklyn Brewery itself but also beer brewing and beer drinking.
It should come as no surprise that the best part of the tour is tasting the beers. I’m partial to Brooklyn’s Summer Ale–while Brooklyn Lager is certainly the brewery’s bread and butter, I’m not a huge lager fan. However, one of the coolest parts of visiting Brooklyn Brewery is being able to taste beers that are available only on the premises or only in the borough. My favorites were I Wanna Rye It! (rye beer might just be my new favorite, period) and the Sorachi Ale (pictured above): both were insanely delicious and different than anything I’ve tried before.
Brooklyn Brewery is located in the heart of Williamsburg, a super up-and-coming neighborhood in Brooklyn–probably one of the coolest places to stay in New York. As our guide and bartender Dan put it: “We moved to Williamsburg in 1997. Back then, it was a lot less plaid and bicycles and a lot more guns and heroin. The founders have some very real stories of dealing with the local mob. We wish we could say we had our finger on the pulse, but really, it was dirt cheap.” I wouldn’t hesitate in saying it was awesome companies like Brooklyn Brewery choosing to set up shop in Williamsburg that really ushered in its current era of coolness.
A few of my favorite fun facts from the tour:
- The Brooklyn Brewery logo was designed by the Milton Glaser, the same man who created the I Love NY logo. For payment, he received a percentage of the company and a lifetime supply of beer.
- The founders originally wanted to call it Brooklyn Eagle Brewery, after the defunct local newspaper “The Brooklyn Eagle” but Milton talked them out of it.
- One hundred years ago, there were more than 45 breweries in Brooklyn, but by 1976, all of them had closed. When Brooklyn Brewery opened in 1988, it was the only one around.
- As with many microbreweries, Brooklyn Brewery practiced contract brewing: renting out facilities in already established breweries instead of building custom facilities. They still use a facility in upstate New York.
- Because of the difficulty of distributing craft beer, particularly when they launched in 1988, the owners also established a distribution company to distribute both Brooklyn Brewery beers and other craft beers.
For more, read the history of Brooklyn Brewery (or take the tour!).
And if you’re hungry after all those pints: you can’t go wrong with a hot dog! We stopped by Crif Dogs in Williamsburg: while it was much less scene-y than the front to secret bar PDT in East Village, it was just as delicious. We had a BLT and a Spicy Red Neck: perfect after a few too many beers.
Want to take a tour of Brooklyn Brewery? Here are all of the details.
Special thanks to Izea for inviting me on the tour!