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And so Eric Ottaway is now CEO of Brooklyn Brewery and his brother Robin is President.  This is the first changing of the guard at the brewery since it was started by me and my downstairs Brooklyn neighbor, Tom Potter, in 1987.  Tom was the first CEO and I was the first President.

Tom sold his voting stock to the Ottaway family in 2003 and went on to found the New York Distilling Co., makers of several fine gins and, soon, some great rye whiskey.  I sold my voting stock a couple of years ago.  I remain as the full-time Chairman of the Board.

Many of the brewery founders of my generation have moved on.  Some have sold their companies to the large brewers; some have sold to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan and some have sold to private equity companies.  Some have taken their company public.  So far as I know, Brooklyn is unique in passing control from the founders to a new private ownership group, in this case the Ottaway family.

This sort of transaction requires a good deal of trust.  I still have a significant common stock holding in the brewery, so the future success of the company is very important to me.  I made the decision a few years ago that the Ottaways’ control of the brewery would ultimately mean my stock would be more valuable than if I shared control with them.

It is not just about money.  One of the objectives that Tom and I established when we started the company was we wanted to be a good corporate citizen of Brooklyn and New York City.  Instead of spending money on advertising, we donated beer, and in some cases money, to charitable organizations, arts organizations and causes we believed in.  I am confident that the Ottaway family is committed to this course.

Serendipitously, the Ottaway family has very deep roots in Brooklyn.  Robin and Eric’s great-great uncle, John B. Woodward, a Civil War general, ran for mayor of Brooklyn in 1885 when Brooklyn was an independent city.  He also was chairman of the Brooklyn Institute of Art and Science, which managed the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.  David’s grandmother was a graduate of Brooklyn’s Packer Collegiate Institute.  She also was a significant contributor to the school and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.  Robin’s two children, Avery and Reese, both attend Packer.  Robin now serves on the Board of Directors of the Brooklyn Historical Society.

So far, the Ottaway family stewardship of the brewery has been exemplary.  For many years, we distributed our own beer and other craft beers in New York and Massachusetts.  We sold those distribution companies in 2003 and focused exclusively on growing the Brooklyn brand.  In the five years ending in 2013, the brewery nearly tripled in size, from 75,000 barrels in annual production to 217,000 barrels.  Under Robin’s sales and marketing leadership, the brewery has enjoyed steady growth domestically, with a conservative approach to expansion.  Brooklyn beers now are available in 25 states and the District of Columbia.  The marketing department, which for many years was staffed by me and our great designer, Milton Glaser, now has a dozen people who have greatly enhanced our digital and social media capabilities.

Eight years ago, our fine brewmaster, Garrett Oliver, was invited to Copenhagen to receive the prestigious “Semper Ardens” award from the Carlsberg Brewery.  Garrett joined the Brooklyn Brewery in 1994 and in addition to developing Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and Brooklyn East India Pale Ale and many other beers, wrote “The Brewmasters Table,” widely considered the definitive book on beer and food pairing.  The award recognized his contributions to the world’s beer industry and culture.  Garrett has been further awarded over the years with numerous accolades including, most recently, a James Beard Award.

At the same time, Carlsberg expressed interest in importing Brooklyn beers to Scandinavia.  We were already selling beer in those countries with small importers.  Since Carlsberg took over, our exports to Scandinavia have exploded.  Sweden is our second biggest market after New York.  That relationship has largely been developed by Eric and the champion of craft beer at Carlsberg, Joakim Losin.  Eric and Joakim together hatched the plan for the Brooklyn-Carlsberg joint venture that led to the creation of the Nya Carnegiebryggeriet in Stockholm.  There may be more such projects in the future.  Eric also developed our exports to the United Kingdom through a great partner, James Clay & Sons.

Robin has overseen our exports to the other half of the world, Asia.  Exports have become a significant part of our sales, about 34% this year, and growing rapidly.  We are working on a plan to build a million barrel brewery in New York City to meet the growing demand for our domestic and import markets.

In retrospect, this international orientation is not surprising.  I met Robin and Eric in 1981 in Cairo, Egypt.  At the time, I was a Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press and their father, David, was the Washington Post correspondent.  Not long after we arrived in Egypt in August 1981, David and I were sitting next to each other at the parade where Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated on October 6.  We became close friends of the Ottaways.  We used to do Thanksgiving and a New Year’s Day brunch party together at our apartment in Cairo.

Eric was 12 when I met him, and Robin was 8.  Eric went off to Lawrenceville, New Jersey, to prep school in 1982.  Robin stayed with his parents in Cairo.  He used to help my wife, Ellen Foote, take care of our two children, Sam, who was born in Beirut in 1980, and Lily, born in Cairo in 1983.  Somewhere, we have a photo of Robin holding Lily in his lap.

I returned to New York and settled in Brooklyn in 1984.  Ellen had enough of Third World living and contending with the crazy schedule of a war reporter.  I had become interested in homebrewing while in Cairo.  I met a group of diplomats who had worked in Saudi Arabia where alcoholic beverages were banned.  They brewed their own at home.  When Tom Potter and I decided to start Brooklyn Brewery, I reached out to everyone I knew to see if they were interested in investing.  To my surprise, David Ottaway invested $10,000, mainly on the basis of our friendship.  (Our big angel investor was an entrepreneur named Jay Hall Jr. from my tiny town in southeastern Ohio, Middleport.  But that is another story.)

Eric was just starting his undergraduate study at Yale when he became interested in the brewery.  David asked that the reports that Tom and I regularly circulated to our investors be sent to Eric.  We also arranged to get Eric beer for his college parties.  Then in the mid-1990s, Robin graduated from Colby College in Maine and went to work for a start-up internet company.  He called and asked me if we had thought of developing a website for the brewery.  A what?

The mid-‘90s were the Dot-Com years.  Some craft breweries, like Boston Beer, Red Hook and Mendocino were going public.  Brooklyn Brewery also was courted by several investment banks.  We went to our investors with a plan to look for public money to grow the company.  Eventually, the Ottaways agreed to buy into the company on terms similar to what we would have gotten had we gone public.

I am pleased to report that the Brooklyn Brewery has done much better with the Ottaway investment than most of those craft breweries did with public money.  Only Boston Beer has flourished as a public company.

When David invested, Robin and Eric agreed to run our distributorship in Massachusetts, the Craft Brewers Guild.  They learned the beer business the way Tom and I did: by making, selling and delivering beer, driving trucks and collecting money.  We eventually sold that company to the Sheehan family which owns Anheuser-Busch distributors in several states and now owns Craft Brewers Guild operations in 14 states.

Robin and Eric came to New York and eventually purchased Tom’s voting stock and then mine.

It was a big deal for me, and I think for Robin and Eric, when they assumed those titles last week.  But it was a transition that was made possible by a trust and respect that has developed over the last 33 years since we met in Egypt.  I was 39 when I started the brewery.  I did a double-take when I wrote the news release about the Ottaways’ new titles last week.  Is Robin really 41?  Is Eric really 45?  Am I 65?  Has it really been 27 years?  The answer to all those questions is yes, and I am as excited about the future of Brooklyn Brewery as I was in 1987.

Dinner Party Prep: Sustainable Seafood 101 with Sea 2 Table & Island Creek Oysters


Brooklyn Brewery’s Dinner Party is a collaborative dinner series dedicated to spotlighting local producers and rare beer pairings held at Humboldt & Jackson. This month, we celebrate sustainable seafood with Island Creek Oysters and Sea2Table. Don’t forget to buy tickets.

If you haven’t been eating fish from local waters dogfish, tilefish, and squid, you’ve been missing out. Lucky for you, the seafood experts from Sea2Table & Island Creek Oysters are bringing an embarrassment of local-seafood riches to Humboldt & Jackson for Dinner Party No. 4. Andrew Gerson (Brooklyn Brewery), Hannah Grady (Island Creek Oysters), Daniel Del Coro & Sean Dimins (Sea2Table) discuss below what you might see on the menu, and why you should care where your seafood comes from.

Caitlin: Andrew, what can we expect from the menu?

Andrew Gerson: We want the menu as soon as possible, but it’s subject to change with what the fishermen are bringing in. I hate that idea that there is a set menu and we’re sticking to it – there are fishermen going out every day and they’re catching what they catch.. I’m happy to work with whatever’s coming in and is awesome. We’re flexible enough to highlight that.

C: Hah, okay. So, Sean, how did Sea 2 Table get started?

Sean Dimins: We were on a family vacation, I think in like 1996 or so. I’m one of five kids, and my parents would take us on what we thought were really whack vacations. We weren’t going to Club Med – they would just get frequent flyer miles and go to very strange places.

C: Like where?

S: Like Mayan ruins in Central America that I did not climb up as a kid. We ended up in a really amazing fishing village called Charlotteville in Tobago. It had something that was uncommon in the Caribbean which was a really vibrant fishing community. Most of the Caribbean is fished out, but these guys all fish in open wooden pirogues with bamboo outriggers and everything they caught was hand-lined, hand over hand.

So we went out fishing – I had the best day fishing of my life.We caught maybe 400 pounds of fish in a 22ft boat out on the open seas with no electronics or gear or anything.  I was psyched, but the dude I went out fishing with – Ratface – was pissed.  Because all the other fishermen did really well, there was no market for his catch. That day my dad had the idea that if we could get the fish off of Tobago to our home town of New York City, chefs would absolutely love this hand-lined fish, the fishermen could get a better market, and we could start a family business.

I left and took the concept to Alaska, for a business called Alaska Wild, where we figured out how to ship with FedEx and expanded out from New York to around the country. We’ve been rolling since. Now we work with 38 different fishing communities round the country. We’ve figured out through packaging, logistics, and information flow how to turnkey these docks to give them better markets. Where they would usually drop it onto a dock to ship it to a wholesale market, we’ve figured out how to do direct sales to chefs.

C: What’s the positive impact that comes from that?

S: The easy one is that we pay more. That’s why people work with us. We provide better value than what they’d get selling in their local markets or to sell to decentralized markets like the Fulton fish market. Maybe one you can’t measure is that they now have a connection. The same way a chef wants to know where his food comes from, fisherman seeing where his fish actually goes to. Seeing the chef’s name on every box of fish and getting pictures back to him of what’s being done with his catch, there’s this intangible pride that is really an incentive there. For how long did they just blindly sell into markets and were dictated pricing? Now they actually get to name their price and know where the fish goes. We get the guys who care, and the best fish, because those are the guys that handle their fish better than anyone. They know where it’s going,

C: Is there a similar germination story for Island Creek?

Hannah Grady: Skip [Bennett, founder]’s father was a lobsterman in Duxbury Bay, and then Skip decided to try his hand at oysters. The first few years, he was delivering and doing all of it. He was dropping the first bags off with chefs at the back doors of restaurants in Cambridge. Over time, chefs would visit the farm and we started creating relationships with them.

Obviously a lot changed in New York when he and Thomas Keller met, but we really try to collapse the distance between the farmer, the chef, and the table and make it as short a distance as possible and one that’s established with a lot of care. Every time we give a new oyster to a new person they get a one sheet that talks about who the specific farmers are and their family and their story and their efforts for grow and all those different details.

It’s funny – we have a farmer who’s a lawyer in New York and he grows these oysters called Nausets from the Cape that are awesome. His name is Stuart Miller. And whenever he takes a client out to dinner he’ll call me and go “Where did my Nausets go this week?” and it’s really nice to be like “They’re at the Breslin, they’re here, they’re there” and know that he can call me any time on my cellphone and I can tell him where they are so he can so see what his oysters look like on the plate somewhere.

C: Does it alter your cooking when you feel this close to products & producers like that?

A: Definitely. To know the difference between good quality is great, but there’s also a sense of terroir. The scallops coming from this bay because of these tides or the tilefish from this region versus that region – that has an effect. To me, it’s about flavors, but it’s also about honoring a place. There’s such a lack of value in our food system right now that to remind people that this specificity exists is important. And it makes me want to cook more and explore more of these local producers.

C: I think that idea of “lack of value” can really resonate with people in the beer industry, because for so long beer was just a sixpack of whatever from wherever. People are starting to get the idea that you should care where your beer comes from and how it’s made, for a variety of reasons. Is there a similar shift happening in seafood? And why should people care more?

H: Yeah, definitely. The nomenclature for different oysters is a very complicated and troubling subject. There’s no real baseline or ownership of nomenclature. It’s not regulated right now, and it’s an issue that a lot of oyster farmers and restaurants are encountering and trying to navigate. So for us to be able to go one step further than just saying “This is a Peter’s Point,” we can say “This is Farmer X’s Peter’s Points. These are his oysters.” It’s really important to us to connect people as much as we can and to bring chefs up to the point. There’s a lot of added value in making it not just an exchange but a relationship that’s reciprocal and is fostered as much as we can.

S: All of us make choices every day on where we decide to spend our money. We all obviously care about food – we spend more money, as a generation, on food than anyone ever has. So why don’t we direct it to places where it can have the most positive effect? If you just buy blindly from commoditized markets or even through decentralized wholesale markets, you don’t know where your money is going to go – probably not to the intended pockets. If you know where your fish is coming from and you can collapse the distance between them, chances are you’re going to have a greater effect. And that’s a really reassuring thing to me.

C: What are some local fish or oysters that we should be eating but aren’t?

S: I’ll take them all. NY, NJ, and LI right now , do excellent shellfish. They’re good for the water, they’re good for you. But a new-found favorite of mine from here to Cape Cod about twice a year is squid. It’s almost like eating insects. We don’t do it much, but we should. My favorite is grilled. You know when you get one dish and you bring it out to every party you can with different people because you know you really nailed it? I get really good local squid – it can be fresh or frozen, it freezes really well – with just some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill them up, get a nice char on them throw them in a salad with some cannellini beans with pepperoncini, salt, pepper and good olive oil. It’s – It’s –

A: What season are you getting them in?

H: You just sold me there.

S: That’s a good salad and it’s really easy to make and everyone is very impressed. Plus, it’s cheap. Squid isn’t $20/lb, or $10/lb. It’s like $4-6.

H: I’m a big razor clam girl. We work with 5 different harvesters so those 5 are the only ones who pull them for us. You can’t bring an extra pair of hands. We had them this week because we had the full moon & negative drainer tides, so we’ve been pulling them up all week. I think they’re an amazing creature to begin with – I love how temperamental they are according to the tides and the weather and if there’s too much rain – they’re sensitive to all that which, for me, makes the experience of eating them so much sweeter. I know that one man went out at dawn and wrestled those bad boys out with their hands. If you flash grill them for a second with lemon juice and chili pepper – they have an amazing texture, and I love the battle. They’re these clams that everyone was like “nah” on for so long.

A: For me, these days, I’ve been getting in to East Coast urchin. I didn’t realize for such a long time that there was so much urchin around here – Maine and a little further south. Different coloration than the pacific but really good flavor. Urchin for me – my new jam.

Daniel Del Coro: I would say bluefish – it’s another one of those emotional connections. I grew up going on these party boats with my dad and my brother, and we would just get in these schools of bluefish and bag ‘em for hours and hours, then go home and stock the freezer. That’s one of my first taste memories of seafood. Now, from a more intellectual side, I like it because it’s not a very forgiving fish and it takes some nuance to work with it. But I think that’s important because good food isn’t always easy. You have to know what it is to be able to pay respect to it and have it taste really good.

Oktoberfest Returns


Autumn is a welcome sight here in Brooklyn after another scorching summer. Changing leaves, breaking out your favorite jacket, not sweating (as much) on the subway… there’s some magic in the changing seasons. With the fall comes Brooklyn Oktoberfest, an old favorite that returns to chase away the humid days and hot nights in favor of light frosts and cool breezes.

Traditional Oktoberfest beers emerged in the early 1800′s, after the first Oktoberfest was thrown in 1810 by Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria. We’re a little too far away from Germany to join them under the tents, but that doesn’t stop us from packing Brooklyn Oktoberfest along for our own fall festivities. You’ll see it poking out of coolers and lunch bags in Prospect Park as we skip the leaf peeper shuffle to soak in the last of the autumn sunlight. It’ll fill pitchers across the city during game days, and warm you up after browsing Atlantic Antic and the McCarren Park Greenmarket. Even if there’s no celebrations on hand you can think of, Brooklyn Oktoberfest will help you come up with one to fill the time.

Brooklyn Oktoberfest is a solid companion for rich, cool-weather foods. Put it to work alongside pork dishes, succulent roast chicken, thick cold-cut sandwiches, hefty burgers, or Swiss and Gruyère cheeses. Just like the fall weather, Oktoberfest won’t be around for long so stock up before it disappears.

What’s Inside:
Style: Märzen/Oktoberfest
Malts: Bavarian Heirloom Munich Malt, Pilsner Malt specially malted for Brooklyn Brewery in Bamberg
Hops: Hallertauer Perle, Hallertauer Mittelfrueh
Yeast: Lager yeast
OG: 13.7° Plato
ABV: 5.5%
Availability: August-October

Garrett Oliver Takes His Place At The Table(s)

Brett Casper Garrett 1 Low Res

Our Brewmaster Garrett Oliver has had a busy year, from winning the James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional, to training the brewers at our new sister brewery Nya Carnegie in Stockholm, to designing new brewing courses at the Culinary Institute of America. For the first time this year, you’ve got two chances to catch Garrett in his element at dinner in New York City. Grab your tickets today and get a chance to see the Brewmaster, hear about the new beers and projects he’s working on, and admire his hats.

-Nya Carnegie Beer Dinner with Chefs Billy White and Andrew Gerson @ NORTH Festival: On September 18th at the NORTH Festival Pop-Up, Garrett will join the diners at our Nya Carnegie Beer Dinner. Chef Billy White from Nya Carnegie and Brooklyn Brewery Chef Andrew Gerson will be teaming up to re-create the pairing menu Chef White has created at our sister brewery in Stockholm. This is the first, and maybe the last, time beers from Nya Carnegie will be available in the US, so Garrett will step up as the man behind the recipes and brewer training to discuss the beers, the pairings and perhaps some of his adventures in Stockholm.

-Dinner Party No. 3 With Garrett Oliver: Garrett will collaborate with Brooklyn Brewery Chef Andrew Gerson on September 24th for our third Dinner Party to create a menu celebrating his 20 years with the brewery and his ever-expanding roster of experimental beers. A number of new Ghost Bottlesbeers so rare they almost never see the light of daywill be on hand to illustrate some of Garrett’s most exciting new work and pair up with some of Garrett and Chef Andrew’s favorite foods to make. Brand new beers and the man who dreamed them up make this a can’t-miss evening for all fans of Brooklyn Brewery.



[Text by Andrew McFarland]

[Photos by Casey Kelbaugh]

The nation’s capital has long been home to one of our most active teams, but the people behind SLIDELUCK DC IX raised the bar once again! Falling on the first day of summer, this show was fittingly themed for the Solstice. Attendees celebrated the longest day of the year with an Aquarian vibe. Ladies donned floral wreaths and everyone partook in some child-at-heart play – blowing bubbles and dancing their way into the summer night. By midnight, the scene almost resembled the Woodstock-esque banner supplied by Lance Rosenfield and Ashley Morton.

Members of the Global team brought some Brooklyn love to Brookland, the Northeast neighborhood where DC IX took place. Lance, our longtime Austin director and recent Washingtonian, did a tremendous job leading his fist Slideluck in DC alongside Ashley Morton, Erika Nortemann, Nadia Hughes, Meghan Dhaliwal, Allison Shelley, Gina Martin, and Stacy Gold.

The solstice theme carried well into the slideshow. Dominic Bracco II’s series on Mexican fishermen, and Robin Moore’s micro-documentary on conserving crocodile habitats along Jamaican beaches definitely supplied some summer vibes. Other photographers such as Gabriella Demczuk and Ron Toole addressed the idea of light and darkness in their work. The potluck also represented some fine summer essentials – blueberry pie and a kale, coconut salad.

Be sure to check out all of the slideshows here on our website and some of the portraits taken by Meghan Dhaliwal on the Slideluck DC Instagram. As always, thank you to our global sponsors – Brooklyn Brewery, Sandbox Studio, and Viewbook! Thanks also to our local sponsors, Monroe Street Market and National Geographic Creative, and to Edgewood Arts Building for hosting us!


This Week in Beer: The News You Can Booze


This Week in Beer will be an aggregator of stories we thought were important or fun in our world of potables. If you saw something we missed or hate something we listed, let us know in the comments. And stop trying to correct everyone all the time, it’s unnerving.

Blue moon of Kentucky keep on shining, Garrett is coming back to talk on everything Brooklyn Brewery and beer writing.

Did everyone watch the Wild Streak video? What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?

We consider this one of the greatest honors we’ve ever been bestowed. Brooklyn Sorachi Ace paired with Girl Scout’s Lemonades.

I probably will never want a jellybean flavored beer, so I’m glad Jelly Belly went this way with it.

With the Winter Olympics starting among complaints and sudsy protest it’s important to remember that the Russian craft beer scene is alive and well.


Brooklyn Brewery BrooklynBrewery Brooklyn Lager Brooklyn Brewery Mash Garrett Oliver Steve Hindy Brooklyn Lager BrooklynLager Sorachi #GoldDots

This Week in Beer: The News You Can Booze


This Week in Beer will be an aggregator of stories we thought were important or fun in our world of potables. If you saw something we missed or hate something we listed, let us know in the comments. And stop trying to correct everyone all the time, it’s unnerving.

NYC Opening Night Bash tickets went on sale. The fanciest place you’ll ever drink a Brooklyn, probably. Maybe not. I don’t know your life.

Minnesota gets organized for one more day of beer sales!

A robot tongue can taste beer and identify it by style and brand. Ciccerone Level 3?

Ice Fishermen need beer too, you guys. For shame, FAA.

The Superbowl commercials are coming folks. And though we don’t have the budget the big guys do, we want to know what your favorite beer commercials are. My vote is for all of these.


Brooklyn Brewery BrooklynBrewery Brooklyn Lager Brooklyn Brewery Mash Garrett Oliver Steve Hindy Brooklyn Lager BrooklynLager Sorachi #GoldDots

This Week in Beer: The News You Can Booze


This Week in Beer will be an aggregator of stories we thought were important or fun in our world of potables. If you saw something we missed or hate something we listed, let us know in the comments. And stop trying to correct everyone all the time, it’s unnerving.

This week we introduced our new line of limited release bottle series. Happy New Beers Eve everybody!

BBC spends sometime examining the Brooklyn Sweden lovefest. <3 you, Hammarby.

Draft Mag gives New York 10 bars, 5 in Brooklyn, on their best American beer bars 2014 list.

The new beer hall, Berg’n, by the people behind Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Flea will have a Garrett curated beer list.


Brooklyn Brewery BrooklynBrewery Brooklyn Lager Brooklyn Brewery Mash Garrett Oliver Steve Hindy Brooklyn Lager BrooklynLager Sorachi #GoldDots

This Week in Beer: The News You Can Booze


This Week in Beer will be an aggregator of stories we thought were important or fun in our world of potables. If you saw something we missed or hate something we listed, let us know in the comments. And stop trying to correct everyone all the time, it’s unnerving.

We’re going to take a holiday breather from our usual news round up to help out all those lost Scrooge’s with a final holiday gift. If you don’t know what to get the already beer obsessed, we’ve scoured the interwebs for what we consider to be the rarest and most interesting holiday gifts this season.

I don’t know if this is real or not, but The Home Bruery is well worth the trip if you have the clams for it.

Something on the more affordable side, I thought this would be a nice addition for any man cave. Get more art in your life, man cave!

This was a great listing by CBB, arcade games and beer mix so much better than real fighting and beer.

And my personal favorite, for those nights when you just don’t trust yourself, or those Saturday afternoons at home where you want to see just how far you can go, The Breathalyzer Watch.


Brooklyn Brewery BrooklynBrewery Brooklyn Lager Brooklyn Brewery Mash Garrett Oliver Steve Hindy Brooklyn Lager BrooklynLager Sorachi #GoldDots