Of course, the first time in weeks that I have visitors, it rains. All weekend. Thankfully, the Brooklyn Brewery gave us a delicious indoor alternative to checking out the sites.
Kate (who has her own very amazing blog here) and Darius had popped up from Washington D.C. for a couple of days and I was glad to hear that Darius especially is a beer fan. So we hopped on the subway to Williamsburg then ducked beneath brollies until we reached the brewery, which was housed in one of the large stone factories as you head towards the water.
Inside, we were met with lines of kettles and damp, thirsty patrons.
The brewery hosts free tours every half an hour at the weekends. You can’t pre-book so you just have to grab tickets when you’re there. Forty tickets are handed out per tour and we had no problem getting them the first time we tried.
But we still had an hour to pass, so headed to the bar. Among ourselves, we tried our best to sample the different types on offer.
Although I like a fruity, darker beer every now and then, they also really fill me up and I wanted to taste a couple so I stuck with the lighter beers. My favorite was the Weisse, which tasted of cloves and citrus – it was light and refreshing. Definitely a beer I could carry on drinking.
But rather than go back for thirds, we headed to the tour, which was held over two rooms. In the first, our guide zipped through the brewing process far too quickly and I heard and retained very little. But I did enjoy snacking on the grains that he handed around.
In the second, much larger room, I learned why lager and ale are different (ferment the grains for longer at lower temperatures and you’ll get lager, higher and quicker and you get ale). Again, more rush rush rush of information… but then he got to the history of the brewery and I realized he’d been speeding to get to the best bit.
Interestingly, it was co-founded by an Associated Press reporter, Steve Hindy, who had witnessed widespread home brewing among communities while posted in the Middle East. With his neighbor Tom Potter, who had a business background, he snapped up a cool spot in Williamsburg (well, far before it was cool) and went on to endure two dramatic hold-ups and threats from the mafia before ultimately establishing a very successful company.
While the tour was rushed and not too informative, the history was fascinating. Afterwards, we checked out the equipment (although I had very little idea what any of it was actually for).
If you’re looking for something to do one rainy weekend and don’t fancy the headache of museum crowds, I would recommend the Brooklyn Brewery. It’s a delicious rainy day activity – and where the tour disappoints, the stories and tastings more than make up for it.
Thanks for coming, Darius and Kate! But next time, don’t forget to pack the sun.
See the Brooklyn Brewery’s website for more details. Tours are free on Saturdays and Sundays, and tickets are given out on a first-come, first-served basis. They also hold tours Monday-Thursday that you have to book and pay for ($10), but that includes four beer tastings. Don’t forget your ID!