Brooklyn Brewery has become a fixture in our supermarkets and behind the bars of chain pubs up and down the country’s high streets; so much so that the more out-and-out hipster establishments started to phase it out some years ago.
But the real story behind this craft beer behemoth is a punk fairy-tale. It was founded by a swashbuckling adventurer journalist who in turn faced kidnapping, threats and witnessed the assassination of a dictator, who returned to his hometown with a fondness for hoppy, rich mid-European beer making, at odds with the cold, fizzy ‘light’ beers ubiquitous Stateside at the time.
He, being notoriously ‘either really smart, or really stupid’ set up shop in one of New York’s notorious no-go zones, facing down the doomsayers and the mob, yes the actual mob, knocking on the door to demand their cut, to build a global brand — one recognised for its iconic B logo. Which, as we were informed at this perilously well-stocked event, just so happened to be designed by the same man who created that ubiquitous “I Heart New York” logo – for those added notes of Big Apple charm.
Even the brand ambassador who waxed lyrical on this theme, at an event hosted in New York colony Brooklyn Bar on Call Lane, admitted he thought it was made-up marketing copy when he was first told the story.
It’s all true, but even if it weren’t, the beers we had the privilege of sampling are a fairy-tale all their own.
Naranjito – literally ‘little orange’ – is a pithy burst of summer, an American Pale overflowing with a kind of bitter freshness that leaves a unique spiciness behind as it washes away. Drink it with spicy fish tacos, ideally on a Californian beach – though I’m sure Scarborough would do the trick. Available in bottles at Brooklyn Bar now – which, as a notorious yankophile, I’m planning to make my new go-to.
After this fresh appetiser of an APA, we stormed our way through some beautiful beers so limited you literally won’t be able to buy them – and for that matter we won’t ever be able to try them again. Why? Alas, this is the nature of the Brooklyn Quarterly Experiment – a peek into Brooklyn’s stash of experimental bottle-conditioned beers that pop up every few months for the lucky few to sample. I won’t tease you with the stunning detail of the editions we tried – lusciously sour The Discreet Charm of the Framboisie and earthy, warm Cloaking Device – but if you see a BQE, buy it immediately. Savour it now or stash it away, but just buy it – you won’t be sorry.
If this evening did anything, other than getting me unquestionably tipsy, it’s kicked my creeping craft beer snobbery to the curb – just because Brooklyn have cracked the mainstream doesn’t change their heart, their talent, or their passion.
Rosie writes for Leeds Living on food and drink, health, beauty, culture and retail.