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Do The Drinkers of New York Care About Brooklyn Brewery?

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Photography by Andrew Rogers

Everyone in New York is from somewhere else, or so it seems.

Ironically, everywhere else—from Geneva to Japan—is touting Brooklyn Brewery’s famous lager and lineup of other beers. But what do the people of New York feel about their local microbrewery going big?

Brooklyn Brewery was concocted in 1988 from the ideas and at-home brews of former Associated Press correspondent Steve Hindy. In 1996, Mayor Rudy Giuliani cut the ribbon at the Brooklyn Brewery brewhouse in Williamsburg, introducing one of the area’s finest craft brew destinations to the masses.

Be it Hindy’s background covering stories in the Middle East or simply a great business plan, the lagers and stouts of Brooklyn are trickling through the international beer world untapped by moves like Kirin’s 24.5% percent purchase of shareholdings in the company. A three-way partnership between the brewery, Funkwerks of Fort Collins, Colorado and San Leandro, California’s 21st Amendment Brewery launched in January of this year with promises of expanded national sales and distribution through their cooperation.

We asked the drinkers of New York how they felt about what it means to be in their city and what they think of their beer getting bigger.

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Micaela Rodriguez, 26, is researching cosmetology schools in Manhattan. She’s relocating to Bushwick in the spring, working in the New York area. But she’s really here for the beer and baseball.

“The first time I went to the stadium in New York was a year before I relocated here for work. It was Derek Jeter’s last game, September 28th. It was electric there. I went with my best friend Jennifer. And we had Stella

I’ve been in the New York area for three years. I’ve never actually had Brooklyn Lager or their products before now. When I go to a Yankees game, I haven’t noticed Brooklyn Lager there. In the Met’s stadium, it’s all big brand names.

New York is special because everyone feels at home here. There’s an energy here. I think I’ve always had aspirations of living out here. When I first moved here, I only saw the Yankees playing in Arizona or California. I always had Shock Top or Stella at games. At most games, it’s the sponsored thing. I’ve probably seen it in a bar or something. I’m drinking the seasonal orange one, Brooklyn Naranjito.

This one is like the equivalent of drinking Stella.

I don’t drink dollar beers. I’ll splurge because I’m not 21 anymore. When I do go out, I don’t mind spending money. It’s nice to have a drink that is universal. If you find a Bud or a Coors, it’s definitely going to be the same no matter what.

I think Brooklyn Brewery should up their game and be in every bar! It’s a comforting aspect to have a go-to drink no matter where you are.

New York. It’s beer and baseball and Nathan’s hot dogs.”

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Originally from Texas, Keith, 23, is living in Harlem. But for today, he’s hanging around in the heart of Manhattan.

“New York is the epitome of American culture. You get to be who you are and no one gives a shit. You become a New Yorker when you obtain the ability to fight for yourself. A lot of people can’t stand up for themselves and here you have to fight for your life.

I first tried Brooklyn Lager in a WeWork building. They have beers on tap or whatever. I also had it at a bar in the Lower East side called Maiden Lane. They have really good fries there. This winter has been rough, so it’s a whiskey straight season for me.

I’ll never be a New Yorker because I’m far too nice. New Yorkers are so nice, but they just tell you what’s up. In Texas, they’re all about formalities and beating around the bush. That’s totally fine. More power to them. In the South, we have Shiner Bock. A couple years ago, it was just an import but now you see it everywhere.

Brooklyn Brewery is doing kind of the same thing. You still maintain a level of pride about your product (even if you widely distribute it). I’m all for it.”

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Henrique, 26, who came from Sao Paolo to Canada, is studying Project Management. On his second trip to New York City, he found a patch of sun in Washington Square Park while waiting for friends to scroll through his Untapped App.

“I got here yesterday and I’m staying until Monday. I had Brooklyn Brewery products for the first time January 1st of last year in Paris. I know of the brewery itself but hadn’t tried anything until then. I tried the lager, the East IPA, and the Sorachi Ace. I got it in my hometown. Sorachi Ace is made with Japanese hops. They’ve made it here but imported it. They have a little liquor store in my hometown with imports.

It’s my second time here in New York. I’ve got a friend living here so I’m staying in his apartment. I’ve never met a “New Yorker”. You can find people from everywhere here. You can walk a few blocks in Chinatown and you’re in Little Italy. I could drive here, but I would rather walk.

The whole city has a great vibe. It feels less crowded than Sao Paolo. I like it better. In Brazil, you can’t just sit and chill in the park like I’m doing now. We do drink the Brazilian equivalent of Bud called Brahma.

For craft beer, what happens is when you produce on a large scale to export it, you have to do whatever you can to keep a close eye on the quality. I like Brooklyn Brewery stuff as a whole because in Brazil, it’s not as fresh as it is here, but it seems just as good.”

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Based in the New York area for the past 22 years, flight attendant Robert Hamer, 47, still chooses to call New Jersey home over New York.

“I go into the city for the restaurants, the night life. It’s like an adult playground where you can go and enjoy and then go back to the serenity of NJ. When you’re young, New York is the spot. When you’re older and have kids, you move out and into the suburbs. As you get older, recovery isn’t as quick.

The difference between NYC and Jersey is that Jersey knows how to sleep. New York never sleeps. New Jersey knows how to cut the lights and go to bed.

New York is a vibrant city. The hustle and bustle, the textures fo the people. It’s a city that makes everyone in awe. It’s almost overwhelming. I can spend my whole life in New Jersey and never see all of NYC. It’s an attitude that makes someone a New Yorker, a self confidence in New Yorkers. The pride. They have that “I’m from New York” attitude, you know. If you live any place, you want to live in NYC. Especially if you’re from a small town.

A dirty martini is my go-to drink. A drink that represents New York? You really can’t sum it up in one drink. Someone cosmopolitan is going to do a dirty martini; other people are into their craft beers.

Look at Sam Adams. It started as a local homegrown beer, but went mainstream. You can lose that authenticity. You can keep it local but still go mainstream as long as you keep a base back at home. Keep that location so people want to visit it as a destination.

Keep that Brooklyn Brewery brewhouse that people want to come visit.”

Photography: Andrew Rogers.  View his work on Instagram.

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