Tag Archives: Brooklyn

Introducing Brooklyn’s Threes Brewing

Threes Brewing’s head brewer, Greg Doroski

Threes Brewing’s head brewer, Greg Doroski

As recently as last year, you could count Brooklyn’s professional breweries with three fingers. There was Brooklyn Brewery, Sixpoint and KelSo—and there was nothing else. As the rest of America, from Alaska to Alabama, cultivated homegrown brewing scenes, Brooklyn built restaurants with affinities for exposed brick and heirloom potatoes, as well as bars serving drinks in mason jars.

Breweries required space, and space was a valuable Brooklyn commodity snapped up by condo developers. But where some saw daunting odds, others saw a return to normalcy. As recently as 1962, Brooklyn was cranking out 10 percent—10 percent!—of American beer. We made Rheingold, we made Schaefer, we made the country good and drunk. Now, breweries are slowly repopulating Kings County. In Greenpoint, there’s Dirck the Norseman and Keg & Lantern, while Carroll Gardens’ Other Half is hammering out hop bombs lickety-split.

Brooklyn’s breweries now have company, and the newest entrant—slated to open mid-October—is a brewpub named Threes. Like baklava, the name is multilayered. The first one is most obvious: the address is 333 Douglass Street, right off Fourth Avenue in the Gowanus. The second layer is the founding trio: Sycamore co-owner Justin Israelson, tech entrepreneur Josh Stylman and lawyer and playwright Andrew Unterberg. Lastly, there’s Threes’ mission. It’s by turns a brewpub and a coffee shop, but it’s also an event space, a future home to trees and hop trellises, bands, stroller-pushing parents (like me!), homebrewers and any ol’ Brooklynite who likes beer. Or cocktails. Or music. Yes, that’s more than three. But it’s tough to put a number on what the threesome aim to accomplish. Continue reading

The New York City Homebrew Tour on Chop & Brew

With only 30 or so spots on my homebrew tours, it’s tough to accommodate everyone that would like to attend. And that is where Chip Walton comes in play. Walton, who runs the excellent online show Chop & Brew (homebrew lovers, check it out), was on hand to chronicle a Brooklyn tour that took place in September. Settle in with a good beer and check it out.

Introducing Braven Brewing

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Braven Brewing’s Marshall Thompson (left) and Eric Feldman. 

The path to professional brewing often starts on the kitchen stove. As the batches stack up, skills are refined. Recipes are perfected. Friends clamor for another pint of bitter IPA, or maybe it’s a coffee stout. Accolades stack up like poker chips. “You should start a brewery,” someone suggests, planting a seed inside that grows into an all-consuming desire to turn a hobby into a career.

Over the last four years of running my homebrew tour, I’ve watched this journey play out like an endlessly looping film reel. Rich Buceta went on to launch SingleCut. Jonathan Moxey now works for Perennial Artisan Ales. Kevin Stafford and Basil Lee are opening Finback. To the list of homebrew-tour gone pro I will soon add Marshall Thompson and Eric Feldman, a duo formerly known as the East Village Brewing Company.

Back in 2010, I crammed 30 strangers into Feldman’s Manhattan apartment to sample the Avenue A-le and Stuy Town Nut Brown. The beers were delightful. The crowd was impressed. Perhaps these guys have a bright future, I thought, making a mental note to follow their online exploits. But months later, their website went dark. Posts fell off a cliff. Was this another case of a hobby fizzling out?

Hardly. Three years later, the East Village Brewing Company has been reborn as Brooklyn’s Braven. “We want to tap into Bushwick’s brewing tradition,” Feldman says of the brewery, which takes its name from a chimera-like combination of a buck and a raven. Once upon a time, you see, Bushwick got America good and drunk. By 1962, 10 percent of America drank Brooklyn beer, and a dozen-plus brewers dotted the blocks. But by the 20th century’s close, breweries like Rheingold and Schaefer were historical footnotes. Today, there’s nary a brewery in Bushwick.

That’s a void that Braven aims to fill. “We’re hoping to be a destination brewery,” says Feldman, a lawyer who envisions a laid-back taproom where friends, families and their dogs can mingle together. Currently, the twosome are searching for a space, preferably around the Jefferson Avenue stop, and are perfecting their launch brands. Driven by the notion of being bold and crafty (the bold buck + the crafty raven = Braven), the friends are working on a lineup of balanced, approachable beers that are full of flavor, not booze.

“I love IPAs, but many of them hit you with 7 percent ABV,” says Feldman, who will be handling the brewing while Thompson focuses on sales and marketing. “That’s a lot of alcohol. I like having a few beers throughout the evening.”

The crisp, quaffable debut brews will be a white IPA heavy on citrusy, floral hops such as Cascade and Centennial, as well as a black IPA likely dosed with piney, woody Simcoe. While the allure of hoppy beers is undeniable, Braven will also look toward classic styles such as the altbier and pilsner, as well as brews that tie into Bushwick’s Hispanic and Mexican population—hello, Day of the Dead–themed orange habañero chocolate stout. “We’re trying to make a beer that captures the spirit of the neighborhood,” Feldman says.

As for timing to buy these beers, don’t hold your breath. Right now, Braven is running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a pilot brewery. Furthermore, the friends are seeking out a regional brewery where they might be able to contract-brew, or perhaps they’ll set up a smaller brewing system inside an existing restaurant or bar. (Realistically speaking, Braven is still at least 12 to 18 months away from opening, which means the end of 2014 or spring 2015.)

“One of the big problems is trying to find a space,” laments Feldman, who is still cranking out five-gallon batches in his East Village apartment. Though Braven can’t legally sell the beer, Feldman and Thompson are doling out samples at parties and events around Brooklyn. “The first couple times I handed out beer to people and waited for feedback, it was terrifying,” Feldman says. “Alternately, this project will be super-exciting and super-scary, but nothing makes us any happier.”

This post originally appeared on Craft Beer New York. Check it out!

Say Hello to Brooklyn’s Grimm Artisanal Ales

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One fortuitous day in Providence, Rhode Island, artists Lauren Carter Grimm and Joe Grimm decided to attend a talk by fermentation evangelist Sandor Katz, the author of Wild Fermentation. Though the DIY duo had never given much thought to the culture of fermentation, they were so inspired by Katz’s talk that, soon after leaving, “we started fermenting everything,” says Joe, a musician who has performed with the Dirty Projectors, 33.3 and solo as The Wind-Up Bird. “It was like, ‘We can pickle that!'”

Soon, the twosome were dabbling in mead (“It was really bad,” Lauren recalls), kvass, kombucha and hard cider, before gravitating toward beer. At first, the extract-based brews were pretty sad, the sort of beer you’d drink only if the fridge were empty. And perhaps the experiments would’ve ended there, the brew kettles put into a closet to gather dust if it were not for another serendipitous turn of events. While on tour in Brussels, Belgium, Grimm was introduced to dubbels, tripels, saisons, lambics. “People were feeding us all these wonderful Belgian beers,” recalls Joe, who returned home with a renewed commitment to brewing.

The couple moved to Chicago, where they both attended the Art Institute of Chicago and refined their approach to fashioning saisons and Belgian ales flavored with herbs, spices and flowers. Seeking an outlet for their beer, they started a beer CSA. It failed. “No one wanted to pick up their beer,” Lauren says. Unbowed, they started selling beer at art-gallery shows and continued refining their recipes. After Joe (2009) and Lauren (2010) graduated, the couple, who later married, watched as their friends flew the Windy City coop to New York City. They followed suit, landing in Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood with a plan to start a brewery called Grimm Artisanal Ales.

They met with lenders for funding, but quickly ran into a small problem. They had no sales record, much less experience working at a brewery. But Joe did toil at Double Windsor, and he and Lauren mined their local contacts and began making the rounds of New York bars to gin up interest. “People were like, ‘That’s really cute. Sure, we’ll put the beer on.'” But first they needed to brew the beer. Without the funds to build their own facility, they decided to go the nomadic route, tenant brewers in the vein of fellow husband-wife brewers Pretty Things. They began calling breweries around the region. The no’s stacked up like chips at a poker table.

At last, Holyoke, Massachusetts’ Paper City Brewing Company said yes. Last month, Team Grimm traveled to the brewery and crafted From the Hip, a Belgian-style blonde ale (7 percent ABV)  flavored with plenty of rose hips. It’s floral and spicy, with a smooth mouthfeel and billowy head thanks to a healthy measure of wheat. Starting later this month, the beer will be available around town on draft and in 22-ounce bottles adorned with a delicate, gallery-worthy drawing depicting ladies with roses blooming from their bodies. “They’re the sort of graphics you’d find on an ancient Greek vase,” says Lauren, who notes that they’re trying to combat the notion that beer should just be marketed to men.

While it is the inaugural release, From the Hip is not a flagship. In fact, Grimm’s plan is to not to toss all their hops into one brew kettle. Instead, they’re focusing on releasing limited-edition, seasonally focused beers with a Belgian bent. (Up next is a Trappist-style tripel made with honey called Bees in the Trappe.) Blink and you’ll miss the chance to drink them. “We wanted to make very specific beers that we enjoy and grow the definition of craft beer,” Joe says. “The world doesn’t need us to make another IPA.”

On July 18 at 5 p.m., From the Hip will debut at Jimmy’s No. 43. On July 19 at 7 p.m., From the Hip will appear on tap The Double Windsor.

A New Homebrew Festival Grows in Brooklyn

156340_582641035082597_1455230532_nOver the last four years of running my homebrew tours, I’ve watched Brooklyn’s DIY beer scene boom. Where once aspring apartment brewers were forced to order grains and hops online or drive into Long Island, now there’s a bounty of brew shops such as Bitters & Esters, Brooklyn Homebrew and Brooklyn Kitchen, all of which stocks ingredients and offer classes.

This has led to a swell of brewers in Brooklyn and across the city, with kegerators crammed into every nook and cranny. Now, the best thing about homebrewing is sharing it with your friends. But if you’re brewing two or three times a month, that’s a fair amount of five-gallon batches of beer taking up space in too-tiny apartments. And even if your friends are lushes, there’s a limit to everyone’s beer intake. The solution, then, is a homebrew festival.

The latest one to arrive is Pride of Brooklyn, which will debut this Saturday, April 27, at Gowanus’ Littlefield. The festival will feature 25 New York–based homebrewers, as well as pro offerings from Lagunitas, SingleCut and the brand-new Yonkers Brewing Company.

The mastermind behind the homebrew madness is Casey Soloff, an advertising copywriter who has been brewing beer for about a year. “I know a lot of good people in the homebrewing community,” says Soloff, a Brooklyn resident. “I put out a call a call for entries and people responded almost immediately.”

The homebrewers will pour a variety of ales and lagers, including the likes of a pilsner, rye black IPA, spiced milk stout and cherrywood-smoked porter—in other words, you won’t go home thirsty or bored. Additionally, there will be food for purchase from Fletcher’s and Mexicue, and attendees get $2 off drafts at Mission Dolores until 8 p.m.

Come get a taste of the next generation of New York City brewers.

Pride of Brooklyn Homebrew Festival
Saturday, April 27, 1 to 5 p.m.
Littlefield (622 Degraw Street, Gowanus, 718-855-3388)
Tickets: $25 (buy them here)

This post originally appeared on my app, Craft Beer New York.

What Is Beachwood Brewing Doing in Brooklyn?

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Beachwood Brewing’s high-tech Flux Capacitor, which might just be the future of draft beer.

At last October’s Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado, I drank enough beer to swell my liver to the size of a cantaloupe.

This is as pleasurable as it is painful. I do not recover from hangovers quite as quickly as I used to, forcing me to wear sunglasses indoors and swallow Ibuprofen by the fistful. But my desire to overindulge is an important one, dear readers: to inform you about the best new breweries I wish we had in New York.

One of my top discoveries in 2012 was Long Beach, California’s Beachwood Brewing. On a tiny 10-barrel system (a bit more than 300 gallons at a time), the BBQ restaurant (it also has a location in Seal Beach) cranks out a dizzying array of top-of-their class IPAs such as the tropical, resinous Amalgamator; citrusy and melony Citraholic; and the Hop Ninja, which is dry-hopped four times with Simcoe, Amarillo and Columbus hops. The bitter gems are complemented by globe-hopping beers including the toffee-touched Full Malted Jacket Scotch ale, nitrogen-dispensed Bulldog dry Irish stout and Mocha Machine, an imperial-strength coffee and chocolate porter. Sounds tasty, right?

Darn skippy. Too bad most of Beachwood’s beers are reserved for its two BBQ restaurants and a handful of accounts in Southern California. To get another taste of these terrific nectars, I’d need to book a flight to the West Coast. At least was the case until March, when a plane ride was exchanged for a train ride. Continue reading

Tickets on Sale: Homebrew Hullabaloo


Three years ago, the folks at NYC Craft Beer Week asked me to lead a tour. I called a few homebrewer friends, set an itinerary and the Homebrew Tour was born. I thought it would be fun to give people a peek into their world, to let tour takers try these beers and learn what makes the brewers tick and decide to brew in these tiny, tiny apartments.

The tour was supposed to be a one-off. But after the first one, attendees asked, “When’s the next tour?” So I did a second tour, then a third tour, then dozens more. Which brings me to today.

For Homebrew Hullabaloo, it’s time to celebrate the tour’s third anniversary. On Saturday, September 22, from 2pm to 6pm, We’re taking over the backyard at Goodbye Blue Monday, my favorite Bushwick gallery/music venue/bar/offbeat community space. I’ve enlisted 12 of my favorite homebrewers to make special batches especially for the event. In addition to boatloads of beer, you’ll be well fed too. Each attendee will receive one of the following: Burger and fries, Portobello burger and fries, Deluxe grilled cheese and fries, Veggie chili.

There will also be music. And surprises! So many surprises. Can’t wait to share a beer with everyone.

Tickets are $30 and available here.