From the outside, it doesn't look like much. But inside a generic warehouse in a strip of industrial businesses in the Williamsbridge section of the Bronx is something out of the ordinary. Behind that metal garage door is the first brewery to make beer in the Bronx in more than 50 years.
Shiny silver fermentation tanks, a grain sifter and a "hop-back" are just some of the beer-brewing tools at Gun Hill Brewing Co., the latest in a line of breweries opening in New York City.
Craft brewing in the city has been growing steadily over the past five years, and in the past year alone, eight new breweries have opened, according to Jeremy Cowan, president of the New York City Brewers Guild, a nonprofit that works to promote this burgeoning industry. The guild counts 16 craft breweries among its members, and Cowan says that number includes all of the breweries operating commercially in the city. More are still in the planning stages.
These local breweries will be celebrated during New York City Beer Week, which runs through March 2. Events across the five boroughs range from tastings to happy hours, dinners, book signings, trivia events and more.
Cowan says the interest in craft brewing in New York City is twofold. Both the complex flavor profile of small brews and the fact that the beers were made locally appeal to consumers here.
"The growth has been pretty astounding. ... All these amazing venues, restaurants, cafes, you can get good craft beer at," he said. "We're selling an authentic experience."
Gun Hill was an idea dreamed up by friends and baseball teammates Dave Lopez and Kieran Farrell. The two play semipro ball on the New York Thunderdogs, based in the Bronx. Both Lopez (centerfield) and Farrell (first base) have ties to the borough, and take pride in being the ones to bring beer back to the Bronx. (Rheingold brewed here until the '60s.)
Lopez and Farrell admitted that the craft brewing boom is more often associated with Brooklyn and Manhattan, but that only made their desire to open in the Bronx stronger.
"That's exactly why. There really wasn't anything in the Bronx," Farrell said.
"We want to bring that revolution up here," Lopez said, adding that there has been a lot of interest from the local community.
Speaking of revolutions, this won't be the first in the neighborhood. Gun Hill is named after a nearby location where colonists stored ammunition during the Revolutionary War.
There are other breweries based in the Bronx -- but they don't make their beer there. The brewmaster at Gun Hill is Chris Sheehan.
Gun Hill will be open every day beginning March 22 and will have four to five beers on tap daily. Most will be in the IPA style, though the beer on tap when amNewYork toured the facility was a lighter ale called Gun Hill Gold, which tasted like a more flavorful pilsner. Pints are $5 and plans are afoot to bring in a well-known Arthur Avenue restaurateur to prepare food to sell it at the brewery.