Monday, September 5, 2011
I actually paid two visits to Brooklyn Brewery and I’m going to put both in to this one post. My first visit was for their standard tour and tasting. I had spent the majority of my day at Ground Zero which is a very sobering experience. Luckily the tour at Brooklyn is the perfect pick-you-up. I arrived early and hung around the front area not knowing what to do exactly. I saw a sign to buy tokens for the tasting so I went ahead and bought several as it’s NYC and I can use the subway and no worries about driving. I went and got an Irish Stout as that’s one I’d never tried before. To my great glee, you pretty much get a full cup of beer with your token, not just a taster as I expected. And with the quality of their beer, that’s a good thing.
Eventually they made an announcement that the tour was going to start and congregate up front. Our tour guide led us back to what is the new brewery. He gave a short overview on the history of the brewery and the neighborhood. You can’t spend time in Brooklyn and not notice the extraordinary number of hipsters and he mentioned this. He said when the brewery opened there was a lot more crack and meth and a lot fewer bikes and ironic mustaches. It then became the best brewery tour ever. If you’ve been on one tour, honestly, you’ve been on them all. This is where we store the malt, this is the mashtun, here are our fermenters, et cetera. However on this one he simply said, “This is the brewery, here’s a poster with the process, look around and take all the pics you want, or just go back and drink more beer.”
I took a couple quick pics and then went back to the tasting room. In the 15 minutes I’d been away the room had filled up quite a bit more. People had ordered pizza and were hanging out playing cards, and just enjoying the brews. It’s a great way to do tours and tastings in my opinion and makes it more a part of the community. I hung out for a couple hours using up the tokens I’d purchased. Because Brooklyn’s brews aren’t available in Kansas (shocking, I know), I got to try several that I hadn’t been able to obtain via trade. I bought a bottle of the Local 2 and a hoodie on the way out. I came to NYC via India and thought late March/Early April would be warmer for some reason and didn’t bring any warm clothes. It said “BROOKLYN” across the front and assumed I’d be an even bigger typical tourist. I can’t tell you how many times people asked me where in Brooklyn I came from. The funniest was when a homeless man asked me for money, and I said I didn’t have any money and got a “F*ck you, Brooklyn! You people are a**holes!”
Anyway, I digress. The next day, the Brewery was holding a benefit for Kiuchi Brewery in Japan as I was there just a couple weeks after the devastating earthquake and tsunami. The Brewers for Brewers event was held at the brewery and featured breweries from all around the NY area along with locally owned restaurants. There was a silent auction up front that had so many things I wanted to bid on, but most involved bottles or growlers of beer that are difficult to get on a plane, to say the least. The food was fantastic (SlantShack Jerky earned a new fan), but the beers were even better. Schmaltz Brewing had their Freak series available along with their Jewbelation which is one of my favorite beers. I also got to sample Sixpoint, Heartland, Empire, and Kelso brews which was perfect because I was either unable to fit them into the schedule or couldn’t get a tour. Of course, all of the Brooklyn beers were on tap as well.
I felt like such a fan-boy when I saw Garrett Oliver walking around. Of all the Beer Trip guys, I’m the most socially-inept. Generally chatting up people I leave to Dan, Andy, or Kelly and I just enjoy the beers and the experience. I attempted to talk to him, but I stumbled on my words and his chuckles weren’t from my attempts at humor but to ease the tension. But he couldn’t have been a nicer guy. He could have just blown me off, but he humored me until I said I’d let him go. Later on in the evening he gave a great speech on the reason for the benefit and the relationship they had with Kiuchi.
I continued to enjoy my beer samples and jerky for a while before heading back up to my hotel in Queens. My two experiences with Brooklyn were fantastic, and I loved the format of the tours that really made the brewery part of the community and not just a business. I look very forward to returning someday soon.