As our vice president might say, “This is a big, fucking deal.” Ken Christensen in Crain’s has the scoop:
An estimated 20 breweries are slated to operate in the city by next summer. In the past year, five breweries, including [Bridge and Tunnel], have opened in Queens alone, bringing the city’s current total to 14, according to the New York City Brewers Guild, a year-old industry advocacy organization.
It was barely a generation ago that Matthew Reich at New Amsterdam and Richard Wrigley at Manhattan Brewing dragged craft-brewing back to the nation’s largest city and the world’s financial, media and fashion capital. And it’s only been 26 years since Tom Potter and Steve Hindy opened what has become the most emblematic of New York craft operations, the Brooklyn Brewery.
Is 20 breweries too much, though? Christensen’s article talks about concerns of a beer bubble in Gotham. There was a shakeout about a decade ago that closed a number of New York breweries and brewpubs. The second annual New York City Brewpub Crawl Marathon in July 1996, for instance, included 12 brewpubs and 72 beers for those who might finished. Most of the stops in the marathon closed in the next few years (Reich and Wrigley’s operations folded earlier in the decade). In fact, the only operations still chugging along from that era are, I believe, the Heartland chain, the Chelsea Brewing Company and Brooklyn.
New York has a better shot this go-round in retaining these budding breweries. There’s a much more substantial consumer base than there was 15 or 20 years ago, and the city and the state are engaged in fostering brewing as a New York industry through tax and development incentives (though New York commercial real estate remains some of the priciest in the world). Also, as I like to remind people, Belgium and New York have roughly the same population: 10 million (New York’s swells during the workday, remember, as commuters come in from Jersey, Connecticut and Long Island). If Belgium can stomach its 200 breweries, give or take, then New York can heartily stomach 10 percent of that total. Plus, New York had many times more breweries before Prohibition in 1920—Brooklyn alone had around 50 a century ago—when the population was a paltry 3.5 million. Stay tuned.
· Competition Bubbles Up for Craft Brewers in NY [Crain’s]
· Tuesday Trivia Answer: Richard Wrigley [TomAcitelli.com]
· Tuesday Trivia Answer: New Amsterdam Amber [Tom Acitelli.com]