Steve Hindy, co-founder, Brooklyn Brewery
“I wanted to be here some day. I believe in Brooklyn,” says Steve Hindy in our podcast. “It’s kind of a mythical place in America, in the world, in literature, and in film.” Well, Hindy not only arrived in Brooklyn, he helped create what Brooklyn has become. Brooklyn Brewery, which Hindy launched with a partner almost three decades ago, became a pioneer in the craft-beer movement and a symbol of the borough’s transformation.
Hindy took the long way around in his journey to the beer industry. As a journalist, he worked for five years as Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press, a tour in which he learned the craft of home-brewing from fellow journalists working in countries where alcoholic beverages were prohibited. After returning to Brooklyn, Hindy continued his work as a journalist by day and began brewing at his Park Slope apartment in his spare time, with the help of his downstairs neighbor Tom Potter, a banker.
After discovering more about the borough’s colorful brewing history–Brooklyn had 45 breweries at the beginning of the 20th century, but zero by 1976–Hindy began to tune in more closely to the potential of his surroundings. “Being able to tell a story,” he tells us, “is really important for any businessman. Journalists are very enterprising, they are self-starters, they are persistent. All of those qualities were important in the history of the Brooklyn Brewery.”
In 1988, Hindy and Potter decided to take the next big step and turn their side project into a business. They were soon spotted around the borough pitching their product in person, and shortly thereafter delivered their first case to Teddy’s, the iconic Williamsburg pub. Hindy was intentional with his distributing. “I realized early on that the identity of the company was going to be a really critical element of success,” he says. Making it into these community hubs was the first test of not only their wares, but also their connection to their namesake.
Since then, the brewery has branched out from its classic Brooklyn Lager to dozens of varieties and seasonal brews including Post Road Pumpkin Ale and Brooklyn Chocolate Stout. Distribution is worldwide, in more than 20 countries, and the brewery has been launching new brands in partnerships with foreign brewers. The Williamsburg brewery and taproom, opened in 1996, has become a tourist destination and local favorite as well, drawing 3,000 to 4,000 visitors each weekend to what used to be a forlorn waterfront neighborhood. “We showed you can do this in Brooklyn,” says Hindy. “Brooklyn has always been a place for makers and strivers and it continues to be that.”–By Kim Thornton