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Were there other challenges that you faced being in Brooklyn?
If I was going home late at night, I'd get in a cab and say I was going to Brooklyn, and it'd be like, "Oh, I'm off duty." And this was not a long time ago, even like seven or eight years ago. And this would happen four or five times before someone was willing to take you to Brooklyn. It was considered the boonies to an awful lot of people. So when you said that you were from Brooklyn Brewery, it was like, "Why would you name a brewery after Brooklyn?" Most people who live here don't know that this was one of the great brewing capitals of the world. We had 48 breweries in the late 1800s into the early 1900s, and they made 10 percent of all the beer in the country. So Brooklyn used to be famous for beer.
It's been interesting to watch the brewery grow from a tiny brewery that nobody knew to a small brewery that a lot of people know. It went from "Brooklyn Beer? What the hell is that?" to, "Brooklyn Beer? Why is it amber? What's wrong with it?" to, "Brooklyn Beer? I heard that it's good" to "Brooklyn Beer? Ok, I'll try some." And that happened over the course of many years, and now it's, "Of course we're gonna have Brooklyn Beer. What are your new specials that are coming out?"
What I like to say is that these days Brooklyn Lager is the beer that, if somebody's having a party, you bring Brooklyn Lager and you know everyone's going to be happy with it. It used to be you brought Brooklyn Lager, and it was the weird, fancy beer. We're getting out of that period.
I wanted to talk about the 25th-Anniversary edition of the Lager. What was it like working on that beer?
I've had a lot of beers that have been anniversary beers for various breweries, and the temptation is always, "We're going to make the biggest, craziest, most barrel-aged thing you've ever seen, and it's going to completely blow your mind." And I started thinking about it, I'm like, ok, we make beers like that, and we think they're a lot of fun. But if this is really about our 25th anniversary, shouldn't it tell the story of where we came from and where we're going and where we are? So that's how I came up with the idea that it would be an amped-up version of Brooklyn Lager, made with the same proportion of just about the same ingredients. But then, in its bottle form, we're refermenting it in the bottle, which is something we didn't even know how to do until 2006 or 2007. I think it shows the arc of the brewery in a certain way, and it shows that we're still very proud of our roots. We're very proud of that beer.
But at the same time, it's kind of like if you were a musical artist, and you've been around for 25 years, are you really just gonna play all new stuff? There's always that album that came out 20 years ago that everybody still loves and that you're still most famous for. Your inclination is to play all the new stuff because you're an artist and you're moving forward. But every time you play a concert, you have to play those songs from that first album. And I feel that way about Brooklyn Lager. It's our everyday beer, and I'm gonna sing that song every time I show up, but I've got a lot of songs.
So you'll be releasing it throughout the year with four different labels from four different artists. How'd that idea come about?
That really came from Steve Hindy, who's always been tied into the artist community here. He wanted to do something that really reached back to our roots. Here are artists from Brooklyn that were just starting out when we were starting out, and are now well known internationally. I came up with the beer separately from his idea for the label, but I think we were both thinking in the same direction. We're not here divorcing ourselves from where we came from. We're proud of where we came from.