One of the most surprising developments in the story of Brooklyn Brewery is the number of international opportunities that have presented themselves in the last five years. It’s funny to reflect that many people questioned naming the company Brooklyn when we started 26 years ago. Some people saw Brooklyn as a symbol of urban decay. Most people saw Brooklyn as a place that immigrants first came when moving to the US, only to eventually make their way into the greater country when they had the means. (One in seven Americans have roots that trace back to Brooklyn.) Few people understood that in the 1970s and 1980s, there were thousands of artists and creative young people flocking to Brooklyn simply because Manhattan had become prohibitively expensive. They bought up brownstones in Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope and then expanded into surrounding neighborhoods, Fort Greene, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bay Ridge, DUMBO. More recently, the expansion has engulfed once-foresaken Bushwick and Queens’ Ridgewood. Mayor Bloomberg has credited Brooklyn Brewery with playing an important role in the Brooklyn renaissance, with helping “make Brooklyn cool.”
“Brooklyn” has indeed become a brand. “Brooklyn” is a great calling card for us, around the United States and the world, opening doors for our beer to enter. Of course just because the door is open, doesn’t mean that one will be invited back. Our Brewmaster, Garrett Oliver, who recently won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional, and his team have consistently put out flavorful and rewarding beers that ensure a long lasting appreciation for our definition of “Brooklyn”. This has enabled us to become one of the biggest exporters of American craft beer, with sales in more than 20 countries. That in turn led to relationships and endeavors with far-flung partners who are now as enthusiastic about craft beer as we are.
It seems that the taste of our American craft beer is starting to inspire more than just a wider appreciation for flavor and experimentation in beer. We’ve already engaged in some unexpectedly successful projects such as a collaborative line of beers with the Amarcord brewery in Italy called Ama and a “pop-up” bar in a rundown industrial district of the English city of Leeds, an area not unlike the Brooklyn of three decades ago. The recent opening of Nya Carnegiebryggeriet in Stockholm is a great example of the sort of endeavors we’re pursuing with international partners. We are looking at similar projects in other European capitals, South America and Asia. Some will likely be joint ventures on new craft beers for those communities; all will be guided by Brooklyn Brewmaster Garrett Oliver and his brewing team. All will be focused on educating people about craft beer and about pairing beer with fine food. We expect that, like our brewery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, all will act as convivial centers of their communities.
We group these ventures under the heading “Brooklyn Brewery Projects”.
Not all these projects are international. We recently announced a new endeavor with the celebrated Culinary Institute of America, just north of New York City. By 2015, we’ll have inaugurated a new brewing course within the CIA, centered on a new pilot brewery and teaching a beer-focused curriculum that we develop together. Collaborating with one of the world’s top culinary schools accomplishes the same goals of education and community. Indeed, many institutions are beginning to appreciate and align themselves with the values of craft breweries and craft beer. We are gratified that Brooklyn is part of this exciting world-wide movement. Stay tuned for news on our next Project.
-Steve Hindy, co-founder and president