We’ve been wanting to go on this tour for a good while- if I knew how close Brooklyn Brewery was to the L train and the Brooklyn Ale House, we would have gone a lot earlier. Nestled in the warehouse district in Williamsburg, in an unassuming barn-like structure surrounded by the horrific signs of hipster invasion- overpriced “thrift” shops full of ironic vintage wear- overlook the trust fund kids lingering about, and get your hand stamped at the door.
The operation is much bigger than the more familiar High Point Brewing Company location, and this is just where they make the draft of their specialty brews, like Brooklyner Weisse and Post Road Pumpkin Ale. All the bottling and their famous Brooklyn Lager is made upstate, at their original location. On Saturdays they give tours every hour from noon til 5pm, and afterward you can buy pints and taste samples at their bar in back. They also let you order food from local restaurants to have delivered. The back room is filled with wooden picnic tables for imbibing and camaraderie.
The tour lets you in among their mash tuns and brew kettles, and explains the process of cracking the grain, extracting the sugars, fermenting them with yeast, and so on. They also sell their used grain to a pig farm. It also gives you the colorful history of the brewery- began by a banker and a foreign correspondent who met in the Middle East and began brewing in their hotel rooms, because the “dry” countries under Muslim law forbade the sale of God’s greatest gift to mankind, beer. They began selling in 1989 and are now one of the 40 biggest breweries in the nation, and in my book they narrowly edge out Samuel Adams for the best of the big boys; they have a larger variety of specialty beers available, and some of them are truly fantastic. Their Black Chocolate Stout is one of the tastiest, and their Post Road Pumpkin Ale is the second best pumpkin I’ve had (the best being Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale).
The brewery of course had many of their specialties available as well as their flagship Brooklyn Lager. I tried the Flemish Gold, a tasty Belgian style farmhouse ale, a hoppy flavorful brew with a spicy, fruity finish. I tried their delicious Post Road Pumpkin Ale, which has a definite spicy pumpkin pie flavor and a bitter hoppy finish, and took home a six pack. My fave was the Brooklyn Brown Ale, which is nearly as dark as their stout, and smooth with a full toasty flavor. One of the best bargains is a $15 combo of their Local One Belgian bottle-fermented special, similar to Chimay Reserve, and two gold-rimmed, stemmed flutes. I picked up that for later, and some other goodies like a t-shirt and a handy bottle opener keychain.
The website mentions a Happy Hour from 6pm to 11, but can’t find any details about it- we would have gone back after dinner! It’s a good bargain for the area, because you buy chips for your beers- $6 each or 6 for $24, and just try to find a beer this good for $4 in the city. If you’re a beer lover, the tour is educational and enjoyable, and if you haven’t had a chance to sample their great variety of beers, this is a great way to do it. The brewery is a short walk from the Bedford Ave. stop of the L train, and if you’re looking for ironic items to decorate your apartment with, you can duel with the hipsters and scavenge in the local thrift shops.
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