My phone flashed up the other day letting me know it was under some major duress - 10% storage capacity left it said; my, if I wasn't such a calm and collected person, I'd be unsure on how to cope with such a first-world problem. I did what many of us (I imagine) would do in this situation - put it back in my pocket and got back to the beer I was nursing.
My local boozer (which also happens to be a cinema) has a nice little selection of bottled beers behind the bar, and it is always a Sunday night (chefs night off) treat to go and have a few bottles with my housemates. Favourites include, Big Hug Brewing (formerly Bear Hug, Peckham-based), Brixton Brewery and the ever-mighty Brooklyn Brewery.
There it was again my mindless electronic device telling me it was heaving under the strain of the electronic data it was carrying...
When I got in on that Sunday night, I decided to sort it out once and for all. Perhaps some of you would curse the modern age we live in, throw your phone out the window, and be done with it; but oh no - this problem wasn't going to defeat me. I had to be ruthless and cutthroat in this situation and wade through the years of pictures stored on my phone to delete some of the frankly shitty pictures I had taken since owning the thing. Now if you're a sentimentalist, this can be a hard thing to do - you may have to spend an inordinate amount of time backing up all those pictures onto another device, for god only knows when you might need that picture of those amazing tacos you had on holiday, or that one time you saw a squirrel in a park and had the chance to snap the crap out of it. Anyway, my convoluted point is this: some memories are too awesome to delete from your handheld electronic brainsphere, and one such memory I stumbled across while saving my phone from the brink of imploding, was an inside, top secret tour of Brooklyn Brewery that I had the good fortune of booking myself into this August (see the link at the bottom for access to tour bookings).
Okay onto the fun stuff (if you like good beer), the brewery is located on the northside of Brooklyn, close to Williamsburg and the increasingly trendy Smorgasburg market. Upon exiting the subway (tube to you and I) at Bedford Avenue, there is a feel of a distinct lack of distinctiveness, which I know is a trademark of America but it was apparent here more so than bustling Manhattan where I had gotten on the subway mere tens of minutes before.
I stumbled into a hipstered up version of Urban Outfitters, in which it became apparent I wasn't hip enough to reach the menswear floor, and walking up the stairs into a bar-cum-office space was immediately told the menswear floor was also on this floor (and visible through some glass panelling and curtains) but only accessible through a different set of stairs further inside the shop. Having bought some very nice but all-too-lightweight-to-ever-wear-in-the-UK 'pants' for dinner at Atera (read about my wonderful experience of that meal here) that evening, I headed straight to the brewery.
Brooklyn Brewery, is as you might imagine, is an actual fully-functioning brewery. It is situated opposite the Vice offices in what seemed to me like an area undergoing extensive re-development yet maintaining a quiet industrial hum. I am glad of this because when I think about tours of anywhere, it is usually in custom built facilities so the public can see what they want to see. I wasn't up for any cotton wool bland tours. The tour began promptly fifteen or so minutes fashionably late, apparently bang on beer o' clock however!
Our tour guide for the evening was such a great dude, and I have to be nice because having gotten so sloshed I cannot for the life of me remember his name, it did not fit his large vikingish-metal-scandi-beer-swilling appearance though, I remember that much. He started by telling us the whole history of Brooklyn Brewery and it was great to find out how it was founded in the 80's by a conflict journalist and a Manhattan banker who were both keen homebrewers.
Brooklyn Brewery has essentially gone on to a be a flagship of success for the craft and batch beer movement that can be seen globally in the present day. Beer tastings flowed throughout the tour, including a couple of seasonal and ever-changing 'Brewmaster Reserves', these beers are essentially a chance for the brewers to exercise their creative prowess and brew a small batch of interesting one-off beers. This was then followed by a tour to the brewery proper and to see bottling equipment, including Brooklyn Brewery's first hand-worked brewing set-up (where they brew all their small-batch beers still) right up to their modern computer-controlled brewing and bottling plants. Their set-up includes a custom bottling and packing machine (that the tour guide delighted in telling us is essentially a prototype) that can handle something crazy like 7,000 bottles per hour (see above photo).
I won't bore with too much history, most of that can be found on the Brooklyn Brewery website below, however I will say that if you get the chance to meet the guys that are making some of the best beer and shipping it all over the world (apparently Scandinavia is their biggest market after the U.S. and Canada, we in the UK are third) then I suggest you book yourself in for the tour. If not just for fact it is a cool spot and a great tour to check out, especially as there are big red 'Do Not Press' buttons and lots of shiny, shiny steel; go there to at least sample some of the ridiculous and delicious beers they have on tap there that aren't available anywhere else. A.
Tours and History and opening hours available through the Brooklyn Brewery website here.