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What drives the beer world’s most important ambassadors? Hoptical met with Steve Hindy, president of Brooklyn Brewery, one of the best and most influential breweries in the world

 

Why did the time feel right to start Brooklyn Brewery back in 1988?

I had just come back from six years in the Middle East working for Associated Press and I didn’t really want to leave that world, but my wife got fed up with being the wife of someone covering wars and revolutions. And I always had this conceit that I could succeed in business, even though I had no business background whatever except winning contests selling things when I was a kid. I was home-brewing and watching what was happening with these small breweries out west such as Sierra Nevada and Red Hook. There was

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What drives the beer world’s most important ambassadors? Hoptical met with Steve Hindy, president of Brooklyn Brewery, one of the best and most influential breweries in the world

 

Why did the time feel right to start Brooklyn Brewery back in 1988?

I had just come back from six years in the Middle East working for Associated Press and I didn’t really want to leave that world, but my wife got fed up with being the wife of someone covering wars and revolutions. And I always had this conceit that I could succeed in business, even though I had no business background whatever except winning contests selling things when I was a kid. I was home-brewing and watching what was happening with these small breweries out west such as Sierra Nevada and Red Hook. There wasn’t much going on in the east and I knew that Brooklyn had a pretty amazing history of brewing. In 1898 there were 48 breweries, and the last two breweries closed in 1976, so the idea of bringing brewing back to Brooklyn seemed to be a worthy theme for the whole thing. And so with my downstairs neighbour Tom Potter, who was a banker with an MBA, eventually I persuaded him to quit his job and start a brewery. From the first moment, there was the feeling that somebody’s going to get this right in New York City and its going to be big.

 

Did you start Brooklyn Brewery with a particular ethos?

We wanted to tie into that history of brewing in Brooklyn. We met a guy, Bill Moeller, who had been a head brewer at the Schmitt Brewery in Philadelphia. He’s a 4th generation German American brewer and his grandfather had brewed in Brooklyn. We worked with him to develop a beer based on his grandfather’s notebooks, so we were rooted in that lager-brewing tradition of Brooklyn, NYC. The lager beers in the early 20th century were much more flavoursome than the lager beers like Bud, Coors and Miller. They were much darker and many of them were all malt - they had no rice or corn in them - and they were much hoppier. Brooklyn Lager was our first beer.

How do you see craft beer developing in the US?

Craft beer is 11 per cent of the US market, if you count in the faux craft beers that the big guys are making. Imports are growing too, so the whole market has moved toward the higher-end beers. The big guys are losing a breathtaking volume of beer.

 

Is there room for more breweries in the UK?

We started selling beer here in the 1990s and I was struck by how few free houses there were, and that’s changed tremendously. The UK is not that far removed from the time when every town of any size had its own brewery, so I can see that coming back strongly. I feel like you had that movement in the 1980s and 1990s where  the giant brewing concerns were kinda gobbling up the regional companies. I remember subscribing to CAMRA’s newspaper and every edition had screamer headlines - ‘such and such a brewery falls to giant conglomerate’ - it’s kind of a sad story, but now the independent brewers are coming back. It’s really exciting what’s happening in the UK.

5 ESSENTIAL BEERS

Brooklyn Lager / 5.2%

Full of flavours and aromas, thanks to a heavy hand with hops and a long maturation process.

Brown Ale / 5.6%

A brown ale combining aspects of an English brown ale with a firm American hop character.

Oktoberfest / 5.5%

This beer remains true to the style - a full-bodied malty Marzen lager, with a brisk hop bitterness.

Black Chocolate Stout / 10%

A modern classic, this imperial stout uses six malts and has been aged for months. One to keep.

Sorachi Ace / 7.6%

Brooklyn Sorachi Ace is a classic saison, a cracklingly dry, hoppy, unfiltered golden farmhouse ale, featuring rare Sorachi Ace hops. It tastes like sunshine in a glass, and that suits us just fine. Great with seafood dishes.