When we started The Brooklyn Brewery, in the late 80s, we had a couple of simple goals to guide our way. We wanted to brew the best beer possible no matter the cost, and we strove to bring brewing back to Brooklyn, once one of the great brewing capitals of the world. Thirty years later we are the #1 craft beer brand in New York City, and the #1 draft beer in Brooklyn. We’re proud to have accomplished these goals and many more that we could never have imagined when we started.
One of those unforeseen goals was tapping into the international demand for great American craft beer. As it turned out, from the earliest days of The Brooklyn Brewery we were exporting beer around the world. In the 1980s, it was a fun sideline of our main business, which was establishing Brooklyn Lager in NYC. Now exports have grown to be half our annual brewing of almost 300,000 barrels of beer, and we send beer all across the globe as far as Australia, Asia, South America, and Europe. We also have a team of 15 great Brand Ambassadors who support our beers in many of these locations.
The continuing growth in global demand for Brooklyn Brewery beers never fails to amaze us, and we’re grateful for that support. However, the logistics of getting beer in as good condition as possible to our customers in so many places is daunting. We’ve also become a lot more conscious of our growing global carbon footprint in the process.
Starting in 2014 we began producing beer in Japan with our good friends at the Kiuchi Brewery. The owner was the first to really push us to consider producing locally. He convinced us that if we really wanted to have Brooklyn Lager tasting as fresh as possible we needed to brew locally. The experiment worked, and soon our beer started showing up on draft in great bars and restaurants around Tokyo. Instead of travelling via container down the East Coast, through the Panama Canal, and up and across the Pacific making numerous stops in ports along on the way, now our beer traveled the short distance from Kiuchi’s brewery to Tokyo, and it tasted fresh.
In 2016, we similarly began producing Brooklyn Lager draft in Australia with the Coopers Brewery. Several customers initially complained that the beer tasted different. That’s because it finally tasted like it was supposed to! It hadn’t traveled the 12,000+ miles over six weeks through tropical climates that a container trip to Australia normally takes.
In 2017, we also began producing Brooklyn Lager draft in Sweden together with our good partners at Carlsberg to supply many of our Northern European markets. We also produced our west coast style IPA, Defender IPA, at our sister brewery in Trondheim, Norway, EC Dahl’s Brewery. In Japan, we also transitioned from Kiuchi to our new partners at Kirin, and expanded our production of Brooklyn Lager to include bottles and cans in addition to draft.
The overall results of producing our beer locally in Japan, Australia, and Europe have been very encouraging. Consumers have responded well to fresher tasting beer, and have told us they appreciate the dramatic reduction in carbon footprint. In 2018, we plan to further expand our Swedish production of draft beer for all of Europe, add a second brand, Brooklyn East IPA, and also produce for the first time bottles and cans for the Nordic markets. Later this year we will also begin producing Brooklyn Lager in draft and bottles in Brazil. Collectively, this means our beer will travel 3.5 million miles less this year.
In the meantime, our team of 25 brewers in Brooklyn works in shifts around the clock to produce everything from Brooklyn Lager, Defender IPA, and Bel Air Sour, to specialty beers like the bottle-conditioned Local 1 and dozens of barrel-aged limited releases. We continue to invest in our capabilities in Brooklyn in an effort to expand the range of products we can produce. We will also still continue to export these smaller batches of specialty brews from Brooklyn and Utica, using refrigerated containers where possible.
All of these new initiatives are being overseen by our brewing team- Brewmaster, Garrett Oliver, Technical Director, Mary Wiles, Director of Quality, Andrew Bombard, Director of Brewing, Rob Capitelli, and Brewing Project Director, Kyle Wilson. We are committed to brewing and selling the freshest, brightest and most flavorful beer for all our US and international customers. We believe these new plans will ensure that quality commitment and reduce our carbon footprint at the same time. They will also free up brewing capacity in Upstate New York (Utica) and Brooklyn, allowing us to bring you more exciting and tasty new beers in the future.
– Eric Ottaway, CEOBack to all blog posts