Independent brewery industry sees huge growth in New York
The city's microbrewing industry has been growing over the last decade, not only bring more choices at bars but also more dollars to the Big Apple's economy.
There are five independent microbreweries in the city, with two more set to open in the near future, one in Harlem and one in Queens. And the breweries have poured in $1.5 billion into the state's economy, according to data compiled by the Beer Institute, a lobbying group, and the National Beer Wholesalers.
"It's the largest beer consumer market in the world. There is a huge population here and they have sophisticated palates," said David Katleski, the president of the New York State Brewers Association and the owner of the Empire Brewery in Williamsburg.
The various city breweries, along with the bars and stores that sell their concoctions, gave the city an $4.8 billion economic boost in 2010, according to the Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers.
When he first opened his first Empire brewery in Syracuse in 1994, Katleski said there were just 10 microbreweries in the state compared to the 140 facilities today.
With each new brewery that opens, such as the anticipated return of the Harlem Brewing Company from upstate to Manhattan next year, there is a large following of beer enthusiasts lining up to see what is brewing.
"I just want to support New York," said brewery enthusiast Jeff Rieck, 25, of Woodside. "I wouldn't want to drink anything from Jersey."
Both the city and state governments have taken notice to the increased popularity of the breweries and have worked to fuel their growth. During the summer, Gov. Andrew Cuomo passed several pieces of legislation that gave tax exemptions to breweries big and small.
Rich Buceta, who will be opening Queens' first major brewery, SingleCut Beersmith, in Astoria next month, said the state incentives were needed because maintaining the quality of their beer isn't cheap.
"You need a lot of space with a lot of overhead and that is a needle that you have to thread," he said.
The governor announced Thursday that he will be hosting a special conference at the end of the month with the state's beer and winemakers to discuss ways to promote their product.
The timing of the summit couldn't have come at a better time for the brewers since the fall is when they produce their best beets and shake up their offerings.
Tim Butler, the director of brewing at Empire Brewery, said the harvest season provides brewers with the ideal ingredients for beer, including the ever-popular pumpkin ale.
Customers are also looking for something different during this season.
"Going from summer into fall when the weather changes, it draws people into drink beers that are hardier and on the darker side," he said.
Katleski said New York has a lot of untapped potential for its beer industry since only 10% of the beer sold in the state is homegrown verses 30% in Oregon.
"The playing field for the beer industry has changed and we have a lot to offer," he said.
Most of the microbreweries in New York City offer their beers at their own bars. Here’s where you can find the most local brews.
Brewery Address: #1 Brewers Row 79 N 11th St Brooklyn
Tel: (718) 486-7422
2. Greenpoint Beerworks, Inc.
Address: 529 Waverly Avenue, Brooklyn
Tel: (718) 398-2731
3. Sixpoint Craft Ales
Address: 40 Van Dyke Street, Brooklyn
Tel: (917) 696-0438
4. Chelsea Brewery
Address: 59 Chelsea Pier, Manhattan
Tel: (212) 336-6440
5. Heartland Brewery
Address: main brewery location 529 Waverly Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238
Tel: 212-400-2300 (Katharine Ulrich)