WHAT WE'RE THINKING & WHAT WE'RE DRINKING
The Official Blog of Brooklyn Local
An Interview with Hopwin's
How did Hopwin's get started and where are you in the brewery launching process?
We started out like many breweries. In our case, just two guys and two girls who love beer and Home Brewing. Our wives goofed around with the notion that we should open a brewery. We put that off for a while. Then one day it all just clicked; and the 4 of us agreed to take that step. (Well more than a step, we jumped in with both feet.)
Right now HopWin’s is in the licensing part of the process. We hope to have that done by December of this year or early January 2016. We can’t wait for the day we are fully licensed. We have plans, Big Plans.
What sets you guys apart?
We get allot of people telling us that we have a flavor, different then your normal flavor of beer for each beer style we have. We are not following the standard mold; but brewing with our imagination and heart. Whether it’s our Vanilla Ale (One Hella Vanilla,) West Coast APA (Up Your Ale,) or our Banana Porter (Mind Your Own Bananas,) when you taste them you will see they are all very unique.
A lot of beer lovers don’t actually understand how you make the different beers. What is the most simplified explanation you would give.
Each style has a baseline formula, depending on the grains and hops (as well as the yeast.) When you put certain combinations together you get a certain style (like an IPA or Porter.) It’s up to you (the brewer) to bend and tweak it to more of your personality. Kind of like people, everyone has their own thing that makes them standout.
What about for the avid home brewers? Do you have any tips that could help them elevate their hobby.
Read and research as much as you can. And when you think you have it down, read and research some more. We feel that is the best tip we can give. We constantly read and do research to this day. And we never will stop.
That, and don’t cut corners. Don’t force the mash, or cut the boil time just to make it faster, for example.
What do you think is the #1 mistake people make when brewing their own beer?
We would say the biggest mistake is taking short cuts. Beer takes time and patience. After all it is a craft. Take your time. You will be happy you did.
Most importantly- drinking! What is your favorite beer or beer style of the moment?
Jenn and Rhiannon prefer Belgian wheats. Billy prefers Russian Imperial Stouts. And Steve is a lover of Stouts in general.
Finally, what can we expect from Hopwins for the upcoming year/ before the next Brooklyn Local?
We will have our Brewery and tasting room open to the public. We are looking to be well established in the New York brewing and craft beer scene. And on taps throughout Suffolk and Nassau counties and the 5 boroughs.
Look for more from hopwins in the coming months and check them out here.
Brooklyn Kitchen and Homebrew in NYC
First off, we want to say that we are happy to announce that we are partnering with the Brooklyn Kitchen for this year’s festival. And as a PSA of sorts we wanted to get the word out about their homebrew section.
The connection between craft beer fans and homebrew is well documented and, well, obvious. Many of you might already know about the sad closure of Brooklyn Homebrew this summer and how it leaves Brooklyn particularly bereft of homebrew-supply options. When speaking to Brooklyn Kitchen about attending the festival the conversation quickly shifted to their homebrew department. It was evident that it had expanded since I had first checked it out about a year ago. And I then learned that it often went undiscovered, because of its location up the stairs (near the butcher counter) in their building.
We asked Brooklyn Kitchen to tell us a little more about it:
“The Brooklyn Kitchen's Homebrew department is North Williamsburg's first stop for ingredients, supplies and expertise. A great source for beginners and advanced homebrewers alike, The Brooklyn Kitchen has a large variety of base and specialty malts as well as a wide expanse of hops for any level of hophead. We've also got supplies like carboys and cappers available for that last minute run to get brew day and bottling day necessities. Enter promo code BKKBEERFEST for 10% off your next purchase at thebrooklynkitchen.com/shop/homebrew
Already equipped? We have classes to get you started on your homebrew journey. The next one is scheduled for 10/14: sign up now at thebrooklynkitchen.com/classes”
Look for The Brooklyn Kitchen at this year’s festival.
The Folks Behind Lithology Brewing Co.
First blog post here! To start off, we are really excited about this year's festival (insert obligatory "if you haven't bought tickets yet, buy them here" comment). We will be posting entrees from here on out on a variety of topics ranging from running the festival to interviews with brewers. To kick it off we are starting with the latter - an interview with Lee Kaplan of Lithology Brewing!
First of all, tell us a little about your background in beer. When and how did you discover your passion for it?
“I became interested in craft beer about ten [years] ago. This is about the time craft beer was becoming more available and accessible. I had some friends who were into home brewing and thought it would be fun to try it out. Coincidently, one of the other owners of Lithology (Manny) bought me a home brew kit and I guess the rest is history. Being a scientist (myself and Kevin, two of the four owners are geologists/environmental scientists), it was easy to fall in love with making beer. It was like a home science experiment that you could really enjoy afterwards. Once I caught the bug, I dove head first into reading and researching every as much as possible. It consumed me and still does. “
How did that lead to starting your own brewery?
“Kevin, Marc, Manny and myself were brewing together frequently and had been discussing opening a brewery for a few months. We started to jot down ideas, core values and a mission statement. Then we made the same 7 or 8 beers over and over again until the recipes were prefect. These would later become our flagship beers like the L.B IPA, Lithology Brown Ale, Lafayette Farmhouse Ale, The White, Rock Hammer Vanilla Porter… Starting the brewery with less than perfect recipes wasn’t an option. We were lucky to find a shared brewery location, got licensed and started hand crafting small batch beers. The whole process took about two stressful years.”
I can imagine starting a brewery is a huge project, what would you say was the biggest challenge?
“Having enough time and money are the biggest challenges. Though running a business is stressful, the work isn’t hard and we love doing it. However, none of us are rich and we all still have regular day jobs. There isn’t a lot of profit brewing at our scale and all of our profit goes right back into growing the business.
On the sales side of things the biggest challenge is getting our beer into bars and restaurants. The response to our beer has been overwhelmingly positive but it’s still hard to find an open tap handle that one of the major distributors doesn’t have rights over. “
We know you have finalized all your licenses since last year’s festival. Congratulations! How has the brewery changed since then? And what can fans expect to see and taste?
“Thanks! It’s a really exciting time to own a brewery. Other than scheduling farther into the future, the brewery hasn’t changed drastically since we received our license.
Access to ingredients is better than it has ever been so fans can expect to see a nice variety of seasonal beers and special one-off styles with hops and grain from around the world. We are even working on a rye sour ale that is bittered with something other than hops (very mysterious). “
Are there any particular challenges involved in expanding as a brewery in NYC? And on that note how do you balance expansion with maintaining your brewery’s identity?
“We are at the point where our production is almost at its limit. Our biggest issue right now is making enough beer to meet the demand. Other than finding space to expand, I don’t think there are many limiting factors to expansion. As long as you stay involved and don’t give up control of the brewing process, maintaining identity shouldn’t be difficult. This can be easier said than done with the lure of quick money. “
What is currently your favorite beer you make, I remember the Farmhouse Saison was a hit last year?
“That’s a tough question. It’s probably between the Lafayette Farmhouse, L.B. IPA and Legal APA.”
Is there any beer or style you are really excited to make but haven’t yet?
“We haven’t been able to barrel age any of our beers yet. I would love to take our Belgium Strong Ale and barrel age it in rum barrels.”
What do you think is the most exciting thing happening in the local beer scene here in NYC?
“The explosion of breweries is exciting. The local brewers are as diverse as the City and it makes for incredible beer. You no longer have to travel far high quality local beer.”
What is currently your favorite brewery in NYC (not including yourself of course!)
“Wow… that is a loaded question. I can’t exactly say what our favorite brewery is (there isn’t one) but I will say that some of our favorite local beer is made by Single Cut, Finback and Third Rail.”
And finally, how excited are you for the 2nd Annual Brooklyn Local?
“Very Excited! The Brooklyn Local was one of our favorite events from last year. The response to our beer from the media and local community was overwhelming. “