Rank #1: Bronx Brewery
The Bronx Brewery was started by Chris Gallant and Damian Brown to share their love of pale ales within the five boroughs of NYC, and regionally. While they focus mainly on the pale ale, they do produce small batch and barrel-aged beer for consumption in the brewery’s tasting room.
Join us as we wander through our own neighborhood for a new season of the Brewery Show, starting with The Bronx Brewery. To find out more about Bronx Brewery you can check them out in person or online at http://thebronxbrewery.com
Now that season 3 is underway, we will slowly release new episodes of the show when we can fit it in. For episode 1, we’ve started with The Bronx Brewery in our own hometown of New York City. Unlike previous seasons with a defined time-limit, we’re going with a rolling schedule because our lives are crazy busy.
Apr 16 2016
Rank #2: Fiddlehead Brewing — IPA Mastermind of Vermont
The minute I started brewing, for me, it was the perfect marriage of craftsmanship, creativity and science. To this day, it really keeps me going. — Matt Cohen, Owner & Brewmaster, Fiddlehead Brewing
Fiddlehead Brewing begins with an IPA
Years ago, Matt reached out to us to let us know that he had started Fiddlehead Brewing — following his departure as longtime employee with the position as Head Brewer for Magic Hat. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get up to Vermont to put together a Brewery Show episode at the time, but years later I managed to check out the brewery while on vacation. During that visit I recorded an episode for my side project Brewfiles. We discussed a bunch of things about his new brewery, including what he had planned for the future.
While it’s not the same as the Brewery Show, I think it does a pretty great job of capturing his intentions for Fiddlehead, how he got into brewing and what being a Vermonter is all about, including: keeping things green and brewing sap beer.
Since filming the above video, there have been obvious changes for Fiddlehead, such as growth and a huge surge in popularity. Not unexpected at all, as Fiddlehead is now canning some very popular and highly rated beers through Iron Heart mobile canning. Most if not all of these special release beers are available at the brewery on release days.
Mastermind IPA, Second Fiddle and Hodad Porter are all canned and quite highly regarded — and have some pretty awesome artwork, too. It looks like Hill Farmstead, The Alchemist and Lawson’s Finest Liquids have a true contender in the Vermont IPA category, which is great, because competition only makes beer better.
GROWTH, SUCCESS AND THE FUTURE
In 2012 Fiddlehead was brewing 30 barrels a week, and according to Matt, the business plan projection was to brew 500 barrels in the first year — except after only 6 months he had already surpassed 1000 barrels. That was while brewing primarily Fiddlehead IPA — the flagship beer, with just a few brewery-only specialty offerings.
I’m saying it right now — we’re staying at 5,000 — I’m on the record, so it’s out there… but we’ll see!
It’s clear from the success Fiddlehead is having, 5000 barrels isn’t the ceiling, and that’s great news. It’s a powerful reminder that great beer will float you beyond your capacity, and in the case of Vermont breweries, this seems to become a trend. Maybe there’s something in the water, or maybe it’s just great skill amplified by regional interest. No matter what the cause, they are brewing some solid beer.
Beyond world domination, what’s next for Fiddlehead Brewing? Only time will tell, but it sure seems that the answer is already obvious. Also! This seems like a good reminder — we should head up to Vermont for a formal episode and an update on all things green.
Sep 22 2015
Rank #3: Beer’d Brewing — Taking Stonington by Storm
This how Beerd Brewing began:
The reason I got into this, is the love of making beer. Putting a smile on someones face when they try a beer for the first time — and saying “that’s phenomenal” — is the most rewarding thing in the world for me. – Aaren Simoncini, Beerd Brewing
After leaving the accounting and finance world behind to follow his dream of a career in brewing, Aaren Simoncini stealthily launched Beerd Brewing Company on a 3 barrel brewing system. After years of toying with the idea and running a high-end homebrewing operation, along with some professional practice at Cottrell Brewing, he decided to make it a reality — and Beer’d Brewing began its journey.
Located on the inside of an old factory building known as The Velvet Mill — which was literally a velvet mill used for importing and processing velvet in the late 1800’s — since, has been sold and converted into spaces for artists and small businesses to set up shop. One only has to look up at the rafters and admire the beautiful industrial structure that has withstood the test of time. It’s quite a unique building situated amidst rows of sea-breeze kissed properties, and over the years it has continued to be a valuable asset to the industrial and crafty operations within the seaside community.
Once you enter the main hall, past the huge open court which houses the farmers market during winter months, stands a recognizable logo painted on the side of a massive sliding fire door. If you happen to arrive before 1pm on weekends (prior to opening hours) a neatly assembled line begins to grow — as eager customers wait for the fun to begin.
From the Get-Go
Last year during some downtime on a trip up to Boston, I had the chance to film a quick interview to capture Aaren’s story. For my side project Brewfiles, I put together a video profile which captures the relatively early beginnings of what appears to be the powerful future of the craft brewing industry. People who get it — and people who like being connected to their customers and the industry.
Being an accounting and finance major, I said let’s put some constraints on this business plan and not hope on the best. Let’s hope on the worst, and if I have to, I can use my own cash from my day job to keep this thing afloat. – Aaren Simoncini, On starting his brewery
Expansions and The Future
What started out as a 3bbl brewery with 36bbl of fermentation space, quickly exceeded those expectations. At the time of the interview they were already going beyond their bbl/year prediction.
I caught up with Aaren in August of 2016 to see how he was doing, and like visual music to my eyes, success was obvious at the brewery. According to the current stats, they have recently been certified for statewide distribution throughout Connecticut, minus one county. While they were formerly restrained to the 8-or-so initial draft accounts and on-premises growler filling — now they can be found on 15 draft accounts with more planned via self-distribution.
If all goes according to plan, Aaren stated that they could potentially reach over 800 bbl for 2015 — which is all scheduled to fit into the new space that’s almost 2,000 square feet, with a capacity of about 3,000 bbl. All things considered, that’s amazing growth for just over a year, specifically in a small town such as Stonington.
Riding the Wave
As easy as it seems, Beer’d Brewing looks to be making a splash far and wide, starting with Connecticut, and hopefully throughout the brewing scene with their uniquely hopped offerings. If you’ve never been to the brewery — you should go — if you have, and have had a moment to chat with Aaren, you’ll know that he’s a humble guy, connected to the brewing scene and his customers.
It’s important for me to constantly be innovating. Unless my beers are getting 5’s or 100’s, it’s important to constantly be changing them. I want to be the best I can possibly be, not only for myself, but for the consumers. – Aaren Simoncini, Beer’d Brewing
Like other brewers with real passion, his grassroots beginnings in homebrewing indicate the skill involved and success to come. Additionally, the general interest in what people have to say about the beer (which by the way, is really good) will help maintain this growth track — so we can all continue to be happy campers with a Beer’d.
Past ↦ Present
For a recap, some of the major changes include (in no particular order):
- Tasting room with full servings.
- State-wide CT distribution, minus one county.
- New 2,000 sq ft facility with up to 3,000 bbl capacity.
- A super-cute English pointer puppy named Lilly (pictured above in all her cuteness).
- More beer — up to 56 in the rotation! — more availability — and a bright, hoppy, future.
Don’t forget to read more about Beer’d Brewing in the September issue #104 of Beer Advocate’s 9 Steps to Beerdom article — featuring a photo by yours truly!
Sep 02 2015
Rank #4: Barrier Brewing
The Strongest of Long Island at Barrier Brewing
The guys at Barrier Brewing are as strong as it gets. We found out about them shortly after they opened their nanobrewery. Evan and Craig met as they were co-workers at Sixpoint. They ventured off to create something of their own. After about 2 years of brewing lots of great beer, many unique styles, they were so well received that expansion was required.
They purchased a new space on Long Island, and a short while after, Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc in New York. They were within the path of damage and almost lost everything. The brewery was mangled, but salvageable. Estimates of up to $100,000 in damage.
They are back on their feet — but it was a trying time. So much so, that multiple breweries on Long Island came to their rescue to help rebuild (and even contract brew for them).
Check out the video for info on how they got started.
Aug 16 2015
Rank #5: DuClaw Brewing
Down south with DuClaw Brewing
The folks at DuClaw Brewing are a bunch of down-to-earth goofballs, who enjoy entertaining with beer. You can tell, as they’ve produced a bunch of their own comedy videos to go along with beer releases, and they’re quite good.
On top of that, they’re fully into the beer they make, have a bunch of barrel aged offerings, and bottle releases, events. The list goes on, and with multiple brewpub locations and a big brewing facility, it’s no wonder they’re able to create quality fun in the form of beer.
Take a look at the episode for more of the DuClaw story.
If you’re in the Washington D.C. or Baltimore area, check them out for some beer (or a meal, because the food is great).
Aug 16 2015