The Brooklyn Brewery offers free tours on Saturdays and Sundays, where obviously the real draw is fresh drafts and a relaxed atmosphere. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, however, they offer an $8 “small batch tour” that occurs only at 5pm, is by reservation only, and includes four pours. We foolishly arrived ten minutes early, and finding no semblance of an entrance or welcoming party, promptly called the main number. “Doors open promptly at 5pm,” barked the person on the other end. Hrmm…OK. Did you forget you’re a brewery?
Anyway, after a short intro on the sidewalk, which is by now covered in a light drizzle, we’re led inside. Immediately I notice a cat who shows little interest in any of the 27 visitors storming his turf. “That’s Monster,” our tour guide explains. The cat promptly captures two birds from the street and drags them inside the brewery, displaying to the horrified crowd just how bad-ass (bad-cass?) he is. The various barkeeps and barmaids wander around aimlessly drinking beer as if it were water, and I think to myself, “yes, that is what I would do, if I worked at a brewery.”
We’re seated at picnic tables and given a brief rundown of the history of the brewery. One of the founders was a contractor in a predominantly Muslim country of indeterminate geographic location, and while there he was forced [under presumable Sharia law?] to abdicate the booze, so he learned how to make “hooch” in a bathtub. Let’s assume no one went blind drinking that stuff, because he eventually made his way to Williamsburg and opened a beer plant in a former matzo ball factory (Sharia->matzo ball…get it?).
At this time I noticed a fine looking man — probably a male model — whom I originally thought was a tour attendee but actually seemed to be writing about everything. For a blog? Look, bitch, I got that covered! As I watched him watch us and not interact, I began to develop a macabre backstory. Surely he had come here to murder us all, but could he at least wait until after the tasting?
And taste we did! First up was a classic pilsner, which was refreshing. I learned that the color of a beer is purely a result of the amount the barley is roasted, and it has nothing to do with alcohol content. So a pilsner isn’t low in alcohol because it is light in color, and a beer light in alcohol doesn’t have to be light in color. Take for example, Guinness. Next up was the Pennant Ale, my favorite. It was a little nutty and caramelly, which I liked. He tried to explain the backstory, which had something to do with baseball…goal posts, um…bleacher, or something. What I’m saying is that sports were involved, and apparently the beer tap is in the shape of a bat. How that resulted in beer, well, sorry but I glazed over that fact.
The bartender/tour guide then explained that the iconic logo was designed by the same dude who designed the “I Love NY” t-shirts (which, yes, is a design?), but his only form of payment was beer for life. Considering how much this shit costs, that actually seems like a rather lucrative deal for the designer. When the crowd started to ask about shipping costs, the tour guide steered the conversation back to the third beer, which was ominously named “The Concoction” which was based on an old cocktail known as the “Penicillin.” Look, I’m all for claiming booze has curative powers, but that shit was nasty. Gingery and reminiscent of cough syrup, I could barely stomach it. Though obviously I did…slash also someone else’s. It was disgusting, and more than a few people didn’t finish their glasses. Finally, we sampled the last beer, the “Local 2,” which is a bottle-fermented beer. It had a fresh orange peel taste to it, and I quite liked it. Next to the Penant Ale, it was my favorite.
At this point people were obviously sloshed and clearly thought their questions were much funnier than they really were. The one question I didn’t get answered was: Why is Brooklyn Brewery beer more expensive in Brooklyn, NY than Chapel Hill, NC? That was not answered, but I do know that all bottled beer (so, most that you’d come in contact with) isn’t bottled in Brooklyn. It’s bottled in Utica. All in all, the tour was actually quite interesting, and for only $8 sort of a good deal.