Category Archives: From the President

Raise a glass to the newly elected mayor

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(Photo courstesy of Jon Reznick/Gothamist)

The Brooklyn Brewery would like to send a frothy congratulations to our new Mayor-elect Bill De Blasio. And though they did pen the beer drinker’s to one side of the room, we’re excited to see a new chapter of New York City start with a Brooklyn man in charge. Now, we’ve had a great history with New York City mayors:

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Rudy Giuliani was there to cut the ribbon on our brewhouse back in 1996. It was his birthday and we celebrated in fashion. By fashion I’m referring to the amazing tie on the left.

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On Mayor Bloomberg’s birthday (which he shares with Marty!) we opened our expansion with a little bit of oversharing.

So Bill, can we call you Bill? Whenever your settled in and ready, you come on in and have one on us. Or we can wait for your birthday or until we have another ribbon cutting, whichever comes first.

WATCH THIS: Steve Hindy on The Exchange

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Steve Hindy in an adept and efficient interview that hits all the high points talks to Anthony Currie of Reuters’ “The Exchange.” It would seem our neighbors across the pond don’t have too high an opinion of Lagers. We hope that Brooklyn Lager in England is proof that a good flavorful Lager should be dark, very dark, indeed.

Watch the interview here.

War Correspondents At the Brooklyn Brewery

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We sat down with Steve to talk about just how interesting and cool the War Correspondent series has been. In his words,

We are filling the room at each of the War Correspondents events. The attendees seem to include aspiring journalists and people who are interested in foreign affairs. I could not be happier. These courageous reporters and photographers deserve a forum to talk about their experiences and their craft.

An excellent recap of Wednesday’s War Correspondents at the Brooklyn Brewery series can be found on the Columbia Journalism Review website. Abraham Moussak took some deep thoughts from our guest, Micheal Kamber, and bullet pointed them for your “review”. Find the insight here.

Vice posted the entire interview with Sebastion Junger, including a wonderful introduction by our very own Lily Hindy. Watch the whole thing here.

For the next interview on September 11th we’ll be talking with Chris (CJ) Chivers, of The New York Times, with photos by Fabio Bucciarelli, the 2013 Robert Capa Gold Medalist and World Press Photo award winner. Join us for the next part in this intense and enlightening look into life during wartime.

From the President: Sandy Aftermath

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Hurricane Sandy will definitely affect Brooklyn Brewery’s distribution in New York City, New Jersey and the rest of the metro area. But the big storm did not physically damage the brewery or our Brooklyn warehouse. The East River rose about 14 feet above normal, but that left it about a block from the brewery and warehouse.

Our distributor, Phoenix/Beehive, was not so lucky.  Their operations are on the piers in Red Hook, Brooklyn, a low lying area south of the brewery.

First reports indicated there was five feet of water in the Phoenix/Beehive warehouse, but owner Rod Brayman said Monday the water was only a foot and a half deep. The main damage was caused by the wind, he said.

They will be repacking a lot of cases that were destroyed by the storm waters.

Many of our customers were not so lucky either. Power was out in much of lower Manhattan. Many areas near the Hudson and East rivers were under water. That means the cellars of many restaurants and bars were flooded.

All the East River train, car, truck and bus tunnels flooded. Subway service across the city was canceled. Many subway tunnels filled with salt water, an enemy of the electrical equipment that powers the trains. This means the commuter traffic on Wednesday was horrendous. Mayor Bloomberg later declared that only cars carrying three passengers could use the East River bridges.

Some of our employees were not so lucky either. Chris Rom was without electricity in North Jersey; John Boegel lost two trees in his backyard in Jersey. Karl Knoop’s bungalow on Breezy Point on the seashore in south Brooklyn escaped the inferno that destroyed 80 homes during the story. But Karl was not sure how the storm surge affected his property.

I rode my bicycle to work today. It looks like that may be my main mode of transportation for a few more days.

– Steve Hindy, President & Co-founder

From the President: Music in the Park

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[photo by Nadia Chaudhury via L Magazine]

I attended the David Byrne & St Vincent concert last Saturday at Williamsburg Park, just down the street from the brewery. It was a fantastic marriage of two generations of music. David Byrne, 60, and Annie Clark, 30, came together with songs from their new album, Love This Giant, and some Talking Heads favorites, like “Burning Down the House” and “Road to Nowhere.” Clark told the audience that she first remembers hearing Byrne when she was four years old, and she could not believe she now was on a stage with him. The lovely Clark was stunning in electric black hair, blue skirt, halter top and yellow guitar. Byrne was handsome with his trademark white hair, white shirt and slacks, navy blazer and red guitar. The crowd of 5,000 was spellbound by the two performers and their brass section back-up. The lead singers’ and back-up musicians’ movements were carefully choreographed. The audience knew the words to the current songs and the Talking Heads revivals. The Williamsburg Park concerts are a continuation of a seven-year Williamsburg tradition that began at McCarren Park Pool, moved to New York State Park on the East River and finally to Williamsburg Park, the first phase of a city plan to develop waterfront parkland from North 5th Street to North 16th Street. The concerts raise funds for the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn, an organization that I serve as founding Chairman. OSA is dedicated to creating new parks and improving existing parks in all of North Brooklyn—the area defined by Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

– Steve Hindy, President & Co-founder

From the President: Teddy’s Turns Twenty Five

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Teddy’s Bar & Grill was one of five customers we delivered to on our first day in business, March 30, 1988. For a long time, Teddy’s was our only customer in Williamsburg. There was no sign on Teddy’s. I think it was named for the Polish owner who preceded the three people who bought it in 1987-Felice and Glenn Kirby and Lee Ornati. The bartender was Eddie Doyle, an old timer who recalled the days when local breweries like Schaefer and Rheingold owned the beer business in New York. Before Prohibition, Teddy’s had been owned by one of those old Brooklyn breweries, Peter Dolger. Eddie pushed Brooklyn Lager on Teddy’s daytime regulars and the eclectic nighttime mix of artists, musicians, construction workers, firemen and cops. I remember when Glenn, astounded, told me Brooklyn was selling as well as Bud. And then I remember Felice giving us a second tap when we opened our brewery on North 11th Street. We are grateful for Teddy’s business. We are happy to help them celebrate their 25th anniversary and wish them another 25.

– Steve Hindy, President & Co-founder

From The President: On The Road

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If there ever was any doubt that Brooklyn can travel, it was dispelled by the BROOKLYN, SWEDEN music festival. I was in Stockholm for the two-day festival at top Swedish music club Debaser. The festival also played Debaser’s club in the artsy southern city of Malmo. Sixteen Brooklyn-based bands headlined by “Blonde Redhead” and “The Hold Steady” played to avid sell-out crowds. Debaser CEO Annalie Telford told me that Debaser got more press and social media action with this festival than with any show they have ever produced. The bands were treated to beer dinners featuring a broad range of Brooklyn beers, and the beers were on sale at each venue. Annalie said the beers got as much press as the music — a reflection of the excitement that Brooklyn Brewery has been able to create in Sweden. We’re brainstorming with our international partners about how to bring even more Brooklyn on the road.

– Steve Hindy, President & Co-founder

From The President: A Spike Lee Joint

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There were some wonderful surprises when we launched Brooklyn Lager in the late 1980s. To our amazement, Spike Lee, the Brooklyn filmmaker who startled the film world with Do The Right Thing in 1989, used Brooklyn Lager in an important scene in the movie.

Actor Ossie Davis, who plays a life-long resident of Bedford-Stuyvesant, finds only two beers in the cold box of his corner deli—Miller Lite and Brooklyn Lager. He asks the Korean deli owner for Miller High Life. The puzzled deli owner, who knows nothing about beer, refers him to the cooler.

“Where is the Miller High Life?” rages Davis.

Thus Brooklyn Lager is used to demonstrate the gentrification of Brooklyn. Not only is Bed-Stuy being invaded by educated interlopers, Miller High Life has been replaced by Brooklyn Lager.

OK, not the most flattering portrayal of Brooklyn Lager’s contribution to Brooklyn history, but an accurate one. We ended up meeting Spike Lee and pouring Brooklyn Lager at some of his legendary release parties.

And I am happy to report we will be pouring Brooklyn Lager again this summer when his latest movie, Red Hook Summer, is released.

– Steve Hindy, President & Co-founder

UPDATE // AUG 7 The release party for Red Hook Summer was a hit, with party-goers including Mike Tyson, Laila Ali (pictured below), Cassidy, and cast members from The Wire. And a handsome Brooklynafied step-and-repeat. Check out more pics here.

From The President: Keeping NY Brewing Industry Growing

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Small brewers in New York State are facing their biggest legislative challenge ever. On March 28, the state tax department struck down the small brewers’ excise tax exemption in response to an importer’s claim it violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution because it favored NYS brewers over out of state brewers. The exemption was for New York brewers under 200,000 barrels.

The Legislature had approved the exemption in 1989 to encourage the small brewing industry in the state. And it worked. There are more than 90 breweries in the state today. This additional tax will cost the Brooklyn Brewery $600,000 this year alone. What an unwelcome surprise. It could force us to raise prices to cover the tax.

Our legislators and the governor reacted quickly with a plan to enact a production tax credit for beer brewed in New York. It is believed that would pass muster with the Constitution. We sure hope so. New York is one of the most expensive places in the world to brew beer.

Small brewers employ more than 3,000 people in New York, and our breweries are a big attraction for the state’s booming tourism industry. We hope our legislature moves quickly. There are only two weeks left in the current session. Meanwhile, Brooklyn Brewery paid about $50,000 in unexpected taxes in April, and the May bill is on the way.

– Steve Hindy, President & Co-founder