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Grab a cold one and sip on these

Grab a cold one and sip on these Brooklyn Brewery secrets. (Credit: Meghan Giannotta)

food & drink

Brooklyn Brewery: An inside look at Williamsburg’s very own beer company

79 North 11th Street, New York, NY 11249

Brooklyn Brewery bottles up a bit of the borough's roots and a pinch of its heritage in its lagers and ales. (There’s New York City tap water in there, too).

A love of New York and a taste for home brewing led its co-founders Steve Hindy and Tom Potter to open its doors on a quiet Williamsburg street in 1988.

At this brewery, beer making isn’t just a business. It’s a craft and an experience for all. Tours, offered weekly, are free on weekends and give visitors an inside look at the process.

Don't know what went on before that locally brewed beer in your fridge ended up in its bottle? Grab a cold one and sip on these secrets.

When you go to Brooklyn Brewery, you'll stand

Credit: Meghan Giannotta

Why tokens?

When you go to Brooklyn Brewery, you'll stand on an outdoor line to get in. Then a line to buy beer tokens. Then one to trade in those tokens for actual beers. Why the extra step?

"Initially, liquor laws wouldn't allow us to sell beer, but we could sell tokens," Lauren Ford, manager of the Brooklyn headquarters, said. It has since obtained all proper permits to sell the beverage and sticks with the tokens by choice. They actually help contain the lines, she said.

The tokens never expire, so if you still have any lying around at home, they can still be traded in for a cold one.

A series of unusual events led Hindy to

Credit: Meghan Giannotta

It all started because Steve Hindy needed a beer

A series of unusual events led Hindy to decide to open Brooklyn Brewery with co-founder Potter. During his time as a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press in 1980, Hindy was stationed in the Middle East and witnessed the assassination of Eygpt's Anwar Sadat, he said. He was also abducted in Lebanon.

"It was a very nasty incident where the people who abducted us tortured and killed other victims," Hindy said. Luckily, he was able to escape and actually carried another victim to safety with him.

These two experiences eventually sent Hindy to New York where he quit his job and became an editor for Newsday. (Disclosure: amNewYork is owned by Newsday Media Group.) As a parting gift, his colleagues at AP gave him a home brewing kit. During his time as an editor, he picked up brewing as a hobby, because who doesn't need a beer after working 9 to 5?

"I was making beer at home and got carried away with the whole thing and started the brewery," he said.

Hindy and Potter asked Milton Glaser, the designer

Credit: Meghan Giannotta

It was supposed to be named Brooklyn Eagle Beer instead

Hindy and Potter asked Milton Glaser, the designer behind the iconic I ♥ NY logo, to help brand their new company, which they had named Brooklyn Eagle Beer.

When the co-founders saw the logo he had created, it was missing the word "eagle." Milton dropped it from the logo design and brewery name without consulting Hindy or Potter, Joe Thompson, packaging coordinator and tour guide at Brooklyn Brewery, said. But it wasn't a mistake. He did it because another very popular beer company was already featuring the bird prominently -- Budweiser.

After designing the logo for Brooklyn Brewery, Hindy

Credit: Meghan Giannotta

One New Yorker gets free beer for life

After designing the logo for Brooklyn Brewery, Hindy and Potter paid Glaser with an agreement of unlimited free beer for life, Thompson said.

"Milton is now well into his 80s and still drinks a lot of free beer," he said.

You don't have to live in Brooklyn, or

Credit: Meghan Giannotta

It's a featured vendor at the RNC and DNC

You don't have to live in Brooklyn, or even the United States, to down an original Brooklyn Lager. The brewery has distributors in 27 states and 30 countries around the world including Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Japan.

The brewery's beer has also been featured at various events across the nation, including Mets games at Citi Field, the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Everything you know about drinking beer is a

Credit: Meghan Giannotta

You’ve been drinking beer wrong

Everything you know about drinking beer is a lie. Chugging it isn't the way to go if you want to take in the full experience. Thompson (pictured) said there's actually a four-step process to "drink beer like a professional."

Step 1: Hold the glass up to a light at eye-level to figure out what color it is -- amber, orange, yellow or black.

Step 2: Swoosh the beer in a circular motion in the glass. This will help you determine how carbonated it is. If a foam clouds the top, it's highly carbonated. In some cases this motion can also help show how alcoholic the beer is by how much it clings to the side of the glass.

Step 3: Smell it! Not so fast, though. There are two methods of smelling beer. First, quickly move the glass in a swift motion from your ear, down your cheek, to your nose and back again, breathing in at the same time. Second, "bunny sniff" the beer by holding the glass right under your nose and breathing in quickly and rapidly.

Step 4: Finally, you can taste your beer. The proper way to take that first sip is to first swoosh, then swallow, Thompson said. "Don't spit it on the floor. This isn't a winery," he added.

You have to be 21 years or older

Credit: Meghan Giannotta

How to avoid the ‘clown shoes’

You have to be 21 years or older to enter the facility -- but that doesn't mean everyone is going to act their age. On a tour, there are beers being brewed at extremely hot temperatures and lots of flashy buttons, switches, sinks and conveyor belts that can tempt your inner child. On the off chance someone does touch something they're not supposed to, sending boiling hot liquid all over the floor, visitors would be put in danger. So, anyone with open-toed shoes has to put on the yellow rubber "clown shoes" (pictured), Thompson said.

A cold beer in your hand, chips on

Credit: Deb Klein

Pets are allowed in the tasting room

A cold beer in your hand, chips on the table and friends by your side: What's missing? Puppies. Or so that's what the animal-loving folks at Brooklyn Brewery thought.

The public tasting room is pet-friendly, Ford said. Yes, you can bring your pooch to the bar. Brooklyn Brewery also partners with local animal shelters, like Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue, to hold special adoption events. During the Puppies n' Pints events, shelters bring pups who are looking for foster or forever homes to the brewery.

Brooklyn Brewery created its Defender IPA exclusively for

Credit: Meghan Giannotta

The ‘defend beer’ slogan has a ‘Game of Thrones’ connection

Brooklyn Brewery created its Defender IPA exclusively for New York Comic Con in 2012. In exchange for the beer, one of the event's prop shop companies, The Griffon's Claw, provided brewmaster Garrett Oliver with replicas of the swords featured in HBO's "Game of Thrones." Oliver and his brewing team took photos of themselves with the swords at the bar, essentially defending its beer, a nod to the "defend beer" slogan.

Two of the swords stay locked up at the brewery, but aren't available for public playtime.

Pictured: Thompson and Ford duel it out to defend their favorite Brooklyn Brewery beers.

On a weekday small batch tour, you'll be

Credit: Meghan Giannotta

Not a fan of what’s in your glass? There’s a bucket for that

On a weekday small batch tour, you'll be given at least four different beers to try. Everyone's palate is different. If you find you're not a fan of what you're drinking at the brewery, there are two dump buckets where you can pour out your glass -- no judgment. You can find one on each end of the bar.

Monster made the brewery his permanent home in

Credit: Meghan Giannotta

‘Brooklyn’s Finest Feline’ once lived in the brewery

Monster made the brewery his permanent home in 1999 after being rescued from a local shelter. The friendly brown-and-white cat became known to guests and staff alike as "Brooklyn's Finest Feline."

"He adopted us," Ford said. "Guests really loved him." Monster died in 2012 at age 13 from kidney failure, but his memory lives on in the brewery. A framed photograph of him now sits next to the company store.

It takes high heat to turn malt, hops,

Credit: Meghan Giannotta

Why it’s incredibly hot in the brewing rooms

It takes high heat to turn malt, hops, water and yeast into a beer ready for tasting. The heat helps unlock the enzymes and contributes to alcohol level. The malt is mixed at temperatures as high as 200 degrees, Ford said. Luckily for those taking a tour of the brewery, that heat helps fill the room with a sweet-smelling aroma.

The mixture varies between boiling and 65 degrees during its brewing process. Pipes in the ceiling help contain and transfer steam created in the initial brewing process throughout the remaining operations, creating an environmentally friendly brewing system, Ford said.

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