“You are going to be sick of us.” So said Steve Hindy, founder of Brooklyn Brewery minutes into my interview with him and brewmaster Garrett Oliver. The iconic logo’d brewery is now on shelves in California just a few years after their first beers were released back in 1988 in what was a not so hip at the time Williamsburg.
2019 might seem and odd time to finally head west but Hindy summed up the thought process behind it by first explaining that “California is an intimidating place to bring beer” and that you can’t just send one pallet of beer and hope for the best. Brooklyn will have 11 people in California to work the brand and to bring awareness to a roster that is distinct in both flavors and attitudes. It doesn’t hurt that they have an arrangement with 21st Amendment in the Bay Area and practice with having their beers produced at other breweries.
They do produce IPAs. Defender IPA and Stonewall IPA have landed on draft, but depth is their strength. Brooklyn Brewery follows the seasons with their Summer Ale and Oktoberfest beers. In their taproom you will find the 2.2% ABV Irish Stout and specialty barrel-aged beers. Bel Air Sour is another big hitter for them and they also have a new-ish unfiltered keller pilsner. This is no affect. It is well known that Oliver follows a different muse when it comes to beer recipes. All you need to know is that he designs his own hats. A person who has that mindset will not easily follow the latest trend.
I tasted three of Brooklyn beers on launch day. Their flagship lager is an amber, maltier version than what one would expect. I consider it a great autumnal beer. They are one of the rare breweries that use the Sorachi Ace hop. The Saison was funky and weird with a touch of dill. The aforementioned Stonewall IPA was a wonderful low ABV sessionable hop hit.
Neither man is strictly dogmatic about beer. Oliver said he appreciates a good beer no matter the style, though he does draw the line at some of the latest IPA trends being called IPAs. The Back East duo have an easy rapport together both in my time with them and in their presentation later in the evening. They are able to chide each other about the particulars of their first meeting as well as about how possible new beers are developed.
Speaking of new beers, they are also on the forefront of a trend-let that is starting to gain attention. Non-Alcoholic beer. They have been working on their version and have released it in Europe. The beer will go by the name of Special Effects which should make it a hit within our movie world.
In the end, they both hope that Brooklyn Brewery can “Find a place in the wonderful melange of California beers.”
The Non-IPA of the Week is a strong one. Belgian Strong ales are a lovely and rare style out in the wild. Stay Gold, the Bluebird Brasserie version from the newly re-named New Original Breweries, is a fine example. Pouring a dark golden color, this version has a touch of hop mingled with spice and after a sip or three the 7.3% ABV starts to kick in as does the enjoyment.
Put the next four days on your calendar because you will need to make room for some ice cream. Humphry Slocombe is bringing a bit of San Fransisco to their Venice location with their SF Beer Week special creations:
- Drake’s Brut Rosé (Drake’s Brewing, featuring Rosé Beer Ice Cream with Lemon Zest)
- Oolong Saison (Barebottle Brewing, featuring Oolong Saison and Pear Ice Cream)
- Animal IPA Ice Cream (Fort Point Brewing, featuring Animal Ice Cream with Hop Caramel and flavored with Mango, Orange, and Passionfruit)
- Coffee & Cigarettes (Cellarmaker, featuring Smoked Hops, Coffee Ice Cream, and Chipped Chocolate)
- Fish & Chips (Hen House Brewing, featuring Red Rye Ice Cream with Goldfish Crackers and Chocolate Covered Potato Chips)
- Anchor Porter with Fluff and Cookies (Anchor Brewing, featuring Anchor Porter Ice Cream with Chocolate Wafer Cookies and Marshmallow Fluff)
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.