Brewed in New York – New York City Full Episode

Brewed in New York – New York City Full Episode


– [Matt Archambault] On this
episode of Brewed in New York: The New York City boroughs
of Brooklyn and Queens were once at the heart of
America’s brewing industry. So we’re visiting
a trio of breweries that are putting them
front and center again. Stay right here. Discover even more local
foods and beverages at Taste New York locations
throughout the state. Whether you’re at a
state park, sporting event, or stopping at one of our
New York welcome centers, it’s never been easier
to choose local and buy New York. Unalam, a family owned business
in upstate New York serving the building industry
for over a century. You can spot Unalam’s finely
crafted timber products in breweries throughout New York
State and beyond. Learn more at unalam.com 1886 Malt House proudly partnering with
New York’s finest grain growers to produce locally sourced,
high quality malt. for farm and craft breweries. The Northeast Hop Alliance Farmers, brewers,
and educators working together to
provide high quality, locally grown hops
to craft beer consumers in New York and
the Northeast. (upbeat rock music) – Old New York has been
a city in love with beer since it was called
New Amsterdam. – The Dutch brought beer
to the city centuries ago, and pub life went hand in hand with business,
politics, and family. – German immigrants
brought the gift of lagering to the Big Apple. At the turn of the 20th century, New York City was one
of the largest centers of beer production
in the country. There were over 45 breweries in the borough of
Brooklyn alone, with 11 in just one 12-block
stretch of Williamsburg. – The city never really got
on board with prohibition. The mayor at the
time, Alfred E. Smith, believed it was an
unenforceable law, and he was proved right as New
York City became an epicenter for speakeasies,
gangsterism and violence. Smith ran against
the 18th Amendment when he became the Democratic
nominee for president in 1928 and famously drank
a beer on the day the amendment was repealed. – Beer production never reached
its pre-prohibition levels after repeal, and nearly
went flat altogether. In the ’70s, New York
was facing bankruptcy, and many parts of
the city were locked in the grip of urban decay. – But that began to
change in the ’80s as community organizers and
some plucky business owners began to reinvest in
their neighborhoods. As it turns out, some of
them happened to be brewers. Today, Brooklyn is back,
and in this episode we’re visiting three
breweries in the area that are helping strengthen
its culture and economy. First up, Threes Brewing. (upbeat funk music) – Depending on who you
ask, Threes means a lot of different things to a
lot of different people. For some, we’re a brewery,
and you can come get really tasty, fresh craft beer. We’ve got a coffee shop that
opens at 7:00 a.m. every day, so some people just park
there with their laptops, doing work all day. We’ve got a food partner
called the Meat Hook, who’s a renowned butcher
that’s headquartered in Williamsburg,
Brooklyn, that opens up his restaurant here, so
there are some people who just come in for the food. We do live performances here
five, six nights a week, with music, comedy, you name it. There’s always something
going on at Threes. At our best it’s a little
bit of chaos theory here, and it’s this beautiful
cacophony of stuff, and it all kinda clicks. We opened the company
in Brooklyn because
Brooklyn’s home. I’ve always wanted to
have a community space in the neighborhood I lived in, in a place that my
kids would grow up in. This particular
neighborhood in Gowanus is zoned for manufacturing,
which is something that’s really important
in our business. We hear politicians
and communities talk about bringing
manufacturing jobs
back to the city, and in many ways we’re
the poster child for that. We’re a little over
three years old. In year one we did just
shy of a thousand barrels. We passed about 90% of that
over at the brewpub here. Year two we did just
shy of 2,000 barrels, and then year three
we just finished up at about 2,700 barrels. So there’s been pretty
good linear growth, and we expect to continue that
in the foreseeable future. The brew team is
empowered to make whatever they want to make. The guys are always
trying to find that line between simplicity
and complexity. So if you’re the kind of person who wants to stick
your nose in your beer and find all the
different flavor profiles, we believe our beer lends
itself very well to that. If you just want
to crush some beers on the beach with your friends, our beer lends itself
well to that too. And so it’s really what you’re
looking to get out of it. We think beer is very
context dependent, so that’s why we make so many. – It’s great to be a part of
the vibrant Brooklyn scene. I like that the
beer community here is excited about our beer. I don’t feel any
need to satisfy any cult of the new thing,
but it’s energizing. It forces me to push the
boundaries of what we do. I’m inspired by
balance and creating a product that can
bring people together. And I think beer is just a
conduit to good conversation. Our flagship is
our pilsner Vliet, which I am drinking right now. It is my favorite
beer that we make. It’s a classic
German-style pilsner. Definitely a little
heavier hops. It uses some really
nice Czech varieties and German varieties
with German malt, traditional ingredients,
traditional yeast. To me, I could bring anybody
into our space, I think, and give them a Vliet
and they’ll enjoy it. I bank a lot our pilsner. And there is a pilsner
revolution happening right now, so it’s not a crazy concept. To me, with pils it’s about
trying to convince people of the utility of subtlety. You have to have the
right grain in there. You have to have the right
yeast, right fermentation. The water is really important. It’s also expensive to brew. Pilsner, it’s about four weeks
to make, four to six weeks. An IPA is about two weeks. So we’re holding those
things in tanks for longer, but for me it’s worth it. We still have IPAs on, we’re
always gonna make those, but we want to have a
well-balanced portfolio. With our beer list, we’ve
put friend’s beers on tap, and those beers inspire us. And I like drinking those beers. It allows us to focus on
what we like to focus on and then give people options
when they come to our space. We didn’t want to fall in
the tradition brewpub trap of having to make an amber ale, a blonde ale, and a brown ale. And really, the
guys are gonna make what they’re inspired to make. And as such, we can
round out the portfolio with other beer that we kind
of internally think about as being made by friends
and heroes, so a lot of them are local breweries that
we’ve become friends with that are making some
incredible beer. – We have wine, we have cider. We also have cocktails
and a full bar. We want people to come here and
experience just a community. Our space is really about
more than just the brewery. The brewery is just a
creative, energizing force to the rest of the space. – Threes is almost a case study in collaboration
in many respects. So if we’ve got a
coffee partner, they’re
their own business but it’s seamless
to the customer. We’ve got a food
partner; that’s seamless to the end customer
but we work together on the floor every
day, day in, day out. The grain that is the
byproduct of making beer is a food product,
and the Meat Hook turns it into their veggie
burger, which is pretty cool. We’ve also done a
bunch of collaborations around different causes. We believe that it
is incumbent upon us as members of our
community to take part and have a voice in
things we believe in. We did a beer last year
called Gender Neutral. That was beer that we partnered with the human rights campaign. More recently, we did a
beer called Courage, My Love and donated 10% of the proceeds to the American Civil
Liberties Union. We also typically do an
event here at the brewery and try to really just
get some awareness out for the cause itself. – Right now the
market in Brooklyn is definitely competitive. We’re just gonna continue
to do things our own way, and I feel very confident
in that working. – Right now we’re really
pleased with where Threes is at. We are an important part
of a lot of people’s lives, both from the
people who work here as well as our patrons. We definitely have what is
a really emerging fan base, and beer is one of those things that people do get
fanatical about, much like they do about
their local sports teams. In the next few years
we’d like to continue to just find our
voice creatively, continuing to put
out great beer, as well as really
participate in events in the world around us, both in our community
and more broadly. We don’t aspire to
be a huge company, which I know may
be pretty unusual in today’s day and age
of grow, grow, grow. We want to be big enough that
we can support our families and make sure that
we still have fun and don’t sell our
souls in the process. One of my favorite
nights at Threes was when there was a
woman in the neighborhood who wrote a book and she
did here book release here. That was in the upstairs area. In the main bar, we
had a beer release, and there was a Grateful Dead DJ and a whole bunch of people
here to see that person. And then there was a whole
crew with a private party that was here for
the Meat Hook food. And these are these
disparate groups, and they all kind of wound up
in the common area together, and I saw people
just started talking, and, “What are you here for?” “What are you here for?” And for us, that was really
what the project was about, was about this
sense of community and creating kind of a
clubhouse in our neighborhood. – [Megaphone] Craft 101! – Yeast! It’s alive! – Not knowing how
yeast works its magic didn’t stop human
from figuring out how to make alcohol
a long time ago. In fact, analysis of ancient
pottery discovered in China has revealed that
people were enjoying an alcoholic beverage made
with rice, honey and fruit as early as 7000 BC. A few thousand years ago
our ancestors figured out that if they soaked
some grain in hot water, let it cool and
then left it to age in a mostly closed
container, they got beer. They didn’t know how. Some attributed it to
divine intervention. But whatever was responsible,
they were thankful. It wasn’t until the 17th century that chemists started
using magnifying lenses to observe fermentation
and became aware of the role of yeast
in the brewing process. And in the mid-1800s,
it was Louis Pasteur who finally realized that
yeast was alive, and hungry. So what’s going on here? Yeast is a single-cell organism found almost
everywhere in nature. It’s in the air and on
most solid surfaces, even on our skin. There are over 1,500
unique strains of yeast with all sorts of funky,
hard-to-pronounce names. But every strain has
one focus: multiply. They need energy to do
this, so they eat sugar. And when living organisms eat, they all create
some sort of waste. Fortunately for
us, in yeast’s case this waste comes in the
form of alcohol and CO2. In the beginning, brewers
would expose their beer into the open air, where
it would come in contact with natural yeast. Because these wild yeast
strains vary by region, many beers developed
their own unique flavor based on where they were brewed. This contributes
to what you’ll hear referred to as terroir. When beer production
was industrialized in the 18th and 19th
century, brewers learned how to cultivate
specific yeast strains and introduced them in
a closed environment in order to create more
consistency in their recipes. However, with the newfound
popularity of craft beer, some breweries have once
again started experimenting with open fermentation
to resurrect wild beers, sours, and lambics. Everything old is new again. (upbeat country music) – I’m standing here in Long
Island City in West Queens, just north of Brooklyn, over
the East River from Manhattan. It’s an up-and-coming
neighborhood with a diverse
artistic community, and it’s chock-full of
museums, waterfront parks, and probably the best and
most exciting beer scene in the entire city. It’s also the home
of my favorite place to spend a Saturday,
LIC Beer Project. LIC calls itself a
collaborative journey and is the brain child of
two home brewers turned pro, Dan Acosta and Damon Oscarson. – I met Dan about
three years ago. We were hanging out actually
at a home brew meeting. We both wanted to open a brewery and get into the beer industry. We got to talking about what
beers were offered in New York. And we realized that we
had the same interest in Belgian-inspired
beers, wild ales, and we wanted to bring something
like that to New York City because it really
wasn’t offered here. We have a 20-barrel brewhouse. We brew about 3,000
barrels a year. We sell in all five
boroughs in New York City, and we also send beer all
the way up the Hudson Valley to Albany and also
throughout Long Island. – Long before opening
the doors at LIC, partner Dan Acosta
first took an interest in Belgian-style
beers on a European backpacking trip in 2004. How did you get from being
a home brewer to here? – I knew that home
brewing was only gonna get me to a certain
point, so I enrolled at the Siebel Institute
of Technology in Chicago. – Brewing school. – Correct. I returned back to Europe, where I continued my
education in brewing science. And that really catapulted
my brewing knowledge and allowed me to really
get deep into these styles. – The sours and saisons I’ve
had that you’ve brewed here have been phenomenal. Some of them are right on style and there’s stuff I
recognize from Belgium, and then there’s kind of
different takes on them too. – So, we wanted to
really pay homage to some of the traditional-style
Belgian farmhouse beers, but at the same time we
wanted to stray a little bit from that and take our own
interpretation on the beers. – For people who are not
familiar with a farmhouse ale, what makes a farmhouse ale? – Traditionally, in
Belgium and France, farmhouse ales were
brewed for farm workers. Very simple beers that were
brewed with the ingredients that was indigenous
to the property that the farmers worked on. Typically they’re a
mixed fermentation, so Brettanomyces bacteria
were used to brew the beers. – So that means it’s
not just brewer’s yeast. There’s just stuff coming
from the air into the beer. – Correct. They would just allow
the natural microbes that were in the air
to ferment the beer. – One of the things I’m
really excited about with LIC Beer Project is the
cool ship that you have here. I think probably a lot of people don’t know what a cool ship is. Tell me a little bit about that. – Sure, so our cool
ship is a traditional open fermentation
vessel that allows all the natural
yeast and bacteria that naturally occurs in the air to spontaneously ferment the
beer, to inoculate the beer. – That’s unusual, right? – It is, it’s quite unusual. We’re the first brewery
in New York City to be doing this
style of fermentation. – Yeah, I mean very
few even breweries in the whole country
probably do this. – There are a handful of
breweries in the country, yeah. – What yeast makes
it into this beer? – There are several yeasts. There’s over 25 different
yeast strands in this beer, from wild Saccharomyces
yeast, to Brettanomyces, to Lactobacillus,
which is a bacteria, Pediococcus, which
is also a bacteria. – That’s a lot of bacteria. How do you know
it’s safe to drink? – So, a lot of these
yeasts and bacteria that we use in this
beer naturally occur on fruits, specifically figs. So we found during
the R&D period before we actually started
brewing the cool ship beers that there was a large
population of fig
trees in this area. – So this is specifically
a Long Island City beer. We’re not catching any of
that New York City smog. (chuckling)
– Correct. – That’s good. Could you talk me
through this a little? I’d love to taste it. – So this is the first beer
in our spontaneous program. So this specific beer was
fermented in chardonnay barrels. – [Matt] Wow. – So in this beer you’ll
get a nice oak quality, a little grape character. – Yeah, that chardonnay is
coming through in the nose. It’s so pleasantly sour. And it’s balanced out. It’s not sweetness in there, but there’s something
balancing out the sour. – So, the oak gives a
perceived sweetness, and it really helps carry
the beer into the finish. The beer drinks very long. – I mean, wine drinker
would love this too, especially someone who
likes natural wines. – Correct. – What advice do you
have for home brewers who want to open
their own brewery? I mean, it took you eight years to go from home
brew to a brewery. – Making beer is fun,
and it’s one thing, but running a business is a
completely different animal. I went back to
school for two years to get a degree in
business administration so I can understand
how to run a business. We have employees, we have
people that rely on us for their family, so it’s
important to make sure you have a really well-developed
structure within the business. – The first time you got a beer in your hometown bar of choice, was like hearing your song on
the radio for the first time? – It was quite surreal. – Was it? – To see your tap handle
there and see it become real. Your vision and dream
to actually become real and to share it with
friends and family and the people that are close
to you is super important. – Well I’m a big
fan of your beer, and I love coming to
the taproom here in LIC. And I really appreciate the time you spent here today with me. – Cheers, I’m humbled. It’s been a pleasure. – Yeah, cheers. – We could hardly do a
series about craft beer without including
Brooklyn Brewery. Now over 30 years old,
it’s one of the oldest craft breweries
in New York State. Founded in 1988 by
war correspondent
turned home brewer, Steve Hindy, Brooklyn
has been a leader in raising the profile of
American beers worldwide. And it’s been credited
as a key player in attracting and supporting
the creative newcomers that call Brooklyn home. We could talk about
a lot of things when it comes to
Brooklyn Brewery. But I opted to sit down for
a one-on-one conversation with brewmaster Garrett Oliver. Oliver has been Brooklyn’s
brewmaster since 1994. And his personal taste has
been one of the driving forces behind the success of the brand. His 2003 book The
Brewmaster’s Table is considered a standard
for beer lovers. And he was one of the editors of the Oxford Companion to Beer. So it’s safe to say he’s
got some street cred in the industry. (upbeat funk music) I’m gonna paraphrase you here. You said being a craft
brewer is a life diverted. What does that mean? – That means that I was
supposed to be doing what you’re doing.
(laughter) I went to film school. I graduated with
a degree in film, but I was also falling in love
with beer at the same time. In college I had
nothing but mass market, yellow, fizzy beer
with no flavor. But then I moved to England and I got this stuff that
they put in this big jar and gave to me, and
it was kind of warm and kind of flat,
and I was like, “Hm, I’m not sure I like this. “Better have another
one to find out.” And really fell
in love with that. When I got back I
started making my own. Almost none of us went
to school and said, “You know what I’m
gonna be in the future? “I’m gonna be a craft brewer.” These days that’s
starting to happen, but back in the day
that was not the case. You said you wanted
to become a brewer, people just thought there
was something wrong with you. And there probably
was. (laughing) – Well, you’ve taken
it to an extreme, because you are actually
this legendary brewmaster. You’ve written books on beer. These are very popular books. – Well, legendary I think I’m
starting to realize means old. (laughter) But I’m totally cool with that. I’ve been traveling
around the world for more than 20 years
as an American brewer. And it used to be
that you would show up and you’d say, “Hi, I’m a
brewer from the United States.” And they would say, “Oh,
yes, we have heard of your “American beer. “So sorry.” They showed no
respect whatsoever. These days it’s
completely the opposite. What’s going on in the
United States with craft beer is pretty much the
light of the world when it comes to creativity,
expression and growth. Anywhere you go you’re
gonna see American IPA, or American-style this,
or American-style that. And it kind of shows you
a little bit of the power and pushiness, in a way, of
being an American in the world. So we try to be good
ambassadors in that way. Our overseas business has
grown really organically. We’ve really only gone to
places that we want to go and done business with
people that we like. And that’s worked
out really well. People don’t know this,
but the number two market for Brooklyn Brewery is Sweden. We have a partner
brewery in Stockholm. When I go into local
shops, people say, “Hey, how’s it going,
how’s the brewery doing?” We don’t put beer on a boat
and send it to strangers. Everybody who’s at the
other end, they know us. And for me that’s really cool. – [Maya] You’ve lived
in Brooklyn for a while. I’m sure you’ve seen it change. Has that change influenced
your beer or vice versa? – It’s been fascinating. I think that Brooklyn
was always cool. But people didn’t
always know it. When I moved here
to actually work for Brooklyn Brewery in ’94, it was a bit tough around here. I mean, when you
walked to the subway, it was a five-minute
walk to the subway, and if you saw
anybody on the street during that five minutes,
you would cross the street to the other side, ’cause
there was nobody outside looking to do you
any good after dark. It’s so completely
different these days. I think that we’re
really influenced by all the stuff going on around
us, all the creativity, all the people making
clothes and great food and music and all
sorts of things. And so we want our
beer to reflect where we’re from and this place, which is a creative place
that doesn’t sit still. Brooklyn Brewery is
a creative brewery that doesn’t sit still. – When tourists come in,
and if you were to give them a flight of beer from
Brooklyn Brewery, what would you have in
the flight for them? – Oh, well there’s about 14
beers up at the bar right now. We’d probably start right
now with Summer Ale, which is kind of
lighter, brighter but still full of flavor. Brooklyn Lager, especially
if they haven’t had it. It’s our flagship beer. It’s still about half
of what we make overall. And then we range all the way up into things that have barrel
aging, fruit infusions, IPAs of various types,
starting at a really light end at 4.5% all the way up to 8.2%
with big hop characteristics. We have darker beers
which become more popular in the cooler months. Brooklyn Brown Ale, which
is popular year-round. – How has your personal palate
influenced the beer here? – Well my personal palate
basically is the beer here. So, what craft beer is
to me is very simple. Craft beer is beer
that is a product of an individual vision;
not from a focus group, not from some sort
of corporate body saying we need to
have X, but a person. And here that person is me. So I’m thinking about
what do I want to taste. What have we not done? What situation would
we like our beer to be able to be in that it
can’t be in that well right now? So if I said we
didn’t have a beer that’s really great with a
salad, or great at the beach, or great on the roof, or great
at a high-end restaurant, then that kinda goes into what we’re going to end up doing. But I think that
the important thing is the fact that we
are so much more craft than we’ve ever been before. We do so much more handwork. We have 2,000 oak
barrels that are full, every single one of
those filled, emptied,
handled by hand. Refermentation in the
bottle like champagne. We’re working with
local wine makers. We’re using their
natural yeast strains that are at the bottoms
of their fermentations to spur further fermentations and make interesting,
funky beers. What really interests
me, brewing wise, is stuff that becomes
more and more localized. Our guys go out into the
farmers market every week. We talk to producers, we
see what’s in the market, we see what berries and fruits and whatever else are out there, and we’ll buy it same
day, bring it back here, and it will end up in a barrel
and later become a beer. – Well I will tell
you that many people, hundreds of thousands
if not millions, are very happy that
your life was diverted into brewing beer. – I would have been
a great film maker. I would have been Scorsese!
(laughter) – Well we’re thankful
that you chose beer. And thank you for
inviting us in. – Oh, well thanks very much. It’s great. I’m loving it. Can you tell? (laughter) – If you’re planning on trying
out beers tourism in New York there are plenty of great
public transportation options for your next brewery tour. Investigate and plan ahead,
so you can enjoy responsibly. Please remember, you should
never drink and drive. – That’s all the time we have for this episode of
Brewed in New York. Just a reminder, there
are over 400 breweries across New York
State to explore. – Check out our website
at brewedinnewyorkshow.com to learn more. The possibilities
are almost limitless. – Until next time,
thanks for watching. (upbeat rock music)

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