Touring and Tasting Brooklyn Brewery

One of the things I wanted to do most when visiting NYC was end up doing a brewery tour.  I wasn’t really all that imaginative when picking a brewery to go visit.  I just decided to head on over to Brooklyn Brewery to see what was going on over there.  We started the morning by heading down to Chinatown.  My wife loves it there.  She’s asian, of course I’m not saying there’s any connotation there, but she does love being there.  We walked around a little bit and found where we would eventually get lunch on Sunday.  We walked from there over to the World Trade Center area to see how things were developing.  I used to go down there a lot when I was in high school before 9/11, so it’s always really interesting to see.  Since we were quickly approach 12, we decided to hop back on the subway and get over to Brooklyn.

The brewery is just one stop from Manhattan over the Manhattan bridge at the Bedford stop.  It’s a really easy 4 block walk from there.  We managed to get there a little early, so we did a little exploring of the neighborhood.  We quickly realized that we would love to live in that area of NYC.  We clearly are not hipster enough at all to fit into that neighborhood, but we really liked what we saw there, and my wife would have loved to be one stop away rom Manhattan.  Interestingly every single store we went in was either a second-hand or vintage store.  Like I said, it is clearly in a hipster neighborhood.  We eventually ended up in the short little line to get into the brewery for the tasting and tour.

The Tasting Room:  You enter into the brewery to see their gigantic brew tanks with a big logo in front of them.  You’re quickly directed over to their little store where you buy your tokens for tasting.  I’m used to going to DC Brau where the tasting is free, but I’m not too surprised that you have to purchase some tickets to get some beer. They are 5 tokens for $20. Anyway, I stood in the line that moved rather quickly and headed into the tasting room.  It’s a pretty big room with a lot of picnic tables.  The beer samples are given out at the end of this room.  There is a fairly large bar with 4-5 employees working behind the bar to quickly get you your sample.  I was a little worried I’d end up with a dixie cup of alcohol, but you get something around 8-10 oz.  Each beer is a single token except their Blast, which I of course had to try.

The Beers: I didn’t really do a break down of all the flavors that took place in each and every beer, but I’ll let you know what I had and what I thought about it.  Even though I picked Brooklyn to visit, I can say I never really have been blown away by much of what Brooklyn has done.  I think they are a good consistent brewery, but I have never sought them out.  Anyway, I had consumed a lot of the brews on their board before.  They had their summer ale, pennant, and weisse.  There were however a few different beers I had never had.  I started with their Radius.  I saw it on the board and didn’t even ask what it was.  Getting back to my table, I decided to look it up and see what it was on my phone.  It’s their saison brew, and I did like it a lot.  I personally really like mine a little more, but I think I’m a little biased.  Next I decided to get their Sorachi Ace brew.  I’ve had the Sorachi and reviewed it on this site before, but I wanted to see how the hops panned out after using them in my own brew.  It was a really good brew, and I honestly liked it more than I did the last time.  The hops clearly come out a lot more in this one then they do in mine.  The next brew I decided to go with their Blast.  Blast is their Imperial India Pale Ale.  I got this right before the tour and took it with me, but I’ll talk more about that in a minute.  The Blast was a fairly good Imperial, but it didn’t have the super hoppy flavor I really enjoy.  It was good, and it was easy drinking, but it wasn’t really my favorite.  Plus I had to give up two tokens to get it.  I think it’s because it has 9.5% ABV.  Anyway, I went up for my last beer and was told they had one beer from their Worshipful Beers series.  Read on to the tour to find out about the series, but it was created by one individual brewer and is only served in their tasting room. This one was called Centerfold and it was a pale ale brewed with rose hips.  I will be honest that I really didn’t get the rose hips out very much, but I liked it a lot.  I wish I could buy a bottle of that around here.

The Tour:  I was definitely looking forward to the tour.  I’ve done a few other brewery tours, but I don’t think I’ve done one with a brewery as big as Brooklyn.  I lined up for the 1 o’clock show with quite a few others, and we headed back to the tour room.  I say room because we stood in a semi-circle around the presenter in a single room the entire time.  We didn’t really walk around anything.  Things were pointed at, but we really weren’t shown much of anything.  Overall I was quite disappointed in the tour.  The presenter started out with explaining how beer is made.  He passed around some hops and different types of malts.  He pointed at different machinery and told us what they did, but we never really were taken to the different parts of the brewery.  The second part of the presentation was on the history of the brewery.  Once again it was interesting, but it was still somewhat boring.  The presenter certainly peppered in humor which kept everything interesting, but it wasn’t really a tour.  We ended with a question sessions which allowed me to ask about the barrels I saw on the floor of the brewery.  This is where we were informed of the Worshipful Beers series.  Evidently these are wine barrels that are filled with some type of beer one of their brewers brewed for the series.  The presenter didn’t know what was in them, but I was glad to be given the a little insight into something cool the brewery is doing.

I certainly did enjoy visiting the brewery.  It was nice to see where the beer I serve every week comes from.  It wasn’t an expensive trip, although I did buy a bottle and a t-shirt as well, but the tokens were 5 for 20 so it was okay.  I would definitely skip the tour if I ended up there again.  I would probably just buy an extra token or two instead.


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