Mid-way through 2015, Australia’s last remaining family owned, large scale brewer, Coopers Brewery, struck a deal with New York City’s Brooklyn Brewery to brew under licence and distribute Brooklyn’s beer in Australia, basically Coopers were to brew Brooklyn Lager locally, and import the Brown Ale and East IPA from the States. It’s not the first time the two companies have worked together, in fact from 1991 to 2003 Brooklyn Brewery were the New York importer for Coopers, only stopping when Brooklyn Brewery sold their distribution arm when they decided to turn their focus inwards and concentrate on furthering their own international presence.
To that extent they have opened a joint venture with Carlsberg, the fourth largest brewery in the world, to create “Nya Carnegiebryggeriet” (NCB) a brewery and tasting room in Stockholm, Sweden. NCB’s opening marked the first time an American craft brewery had established a facility overseas. The venture was so successful for the two companies that they rolled out their second joint venture brewery, which opened in the historic E.C. Dahls Brewery in Trondheim, Norway in August 2016. However both of these breweries are serving a line of beers that are unique, fusing the Brooklyn style with Scandinavian tastes.
Australia on the other hand is not just getting “Brooklyn styled beers”, we are getting the ridgy-didge Brooklyn range. It’s also interesting to note that even though Brooklyn is one of the USA’s top beer exports, their beers aren’t easy available nationally in the US. We are getting beers here that aren’t sold in Los Angeles for example, or for that fact anywhere on the USA’s West Coast.
Brooklyn Brewery was founded in 1988 by Steve Hindy and Tom Potter, after Steve returned from five years working as a journalist in the Middle East. It was there that he discovered these wonderful home-brews that were being created by the diplomats and fellow journalists, and realised how different these beers were against the rice or corn based lagers he was used to drinking from the likes of Budweiser, Millers and Coors. Upon his return to the states Steve began home brewing in earnest, sharing batches with his downstairs neighbour Tom Potter, the two eventually convincing themselves, over several pints, to quit their jobs and launch their own brewery, delivering their first cases of Brooklyn Brewery Lager in 1988.
Fast forward to now, and we are finally seeing Brooklyn Brewery gaining some traction in our local watering holes, but more so in the restaurants and clubs around town sitting there neatly on the Wine and Beer menu. So much so that we decided to grab a few and put them up against a few other American beers, where we found the Brooklyn beers performed quite well. If the quality of these beers were anything to go by, I’m sure that we’ll be seeing more of them popping up on more lists as the months go on.
Brooklyn Brown Ale – brown ales don’t get much of a run on these days, but they used to be incredibly common place in the Australian pub. It’s a ruddy brown colour in the glass, aromas of toasted malts and chocolate leap from the glass, and it’s those two flavours, along with caramels that dominate on the tongue, along with some creamy nuttiness. It’s a pretty good beer, its just a tiny bit disjointed, having said that it was nominated in the godfather of beer, Roger Protz’s “300 Beers to try before you die”.
Brooklyn Lager – I found this a bit more interesting than a readily available Boston lager that’s out there, it wasn’t as malt driven as the Boston lager and had a cleaner whiter head. Great, yellow/amberish copper colour in the glass, the flavours explode on the front of the palate, then become a firm line of flavour along the centre of your tongue, till it reaches the back of your throat where it gets interesting, some cereal grain and malt notes and the bitterness shows up. Drinking it from a glass showed the aromatic qualities, light florals, biscuity yeast and some pine notes. Very refreshing and quite drinkable. Also on Protz’s 300 Beers list.
Brooklyn East IPA – styled more like an English IPA than some of the hoppy, mouth grenade craft beer versions out there. It feels clean in the mouth, it’s certainly drinkable, but at 6.9% it’s not going to be something that you can drink a lot of, but the flavour profile doesn’t stop you from wanting to try. Citrus, orange peel and hoppy notes on the nose. On the tongue those hop notes come through thanks to late dry hopping, bitterness is well balanced, and has a clean hoppy finish. Worth hunting around for on beer lists as this will work with a huge range of food.
Just a quick note here, we used a special kind of beer glass called a nucleated glass, basically it’s a regular lager glass with etched marks on the inside of the bottom of the glass. It creates a spot that forces the carbonation bubbles to pop, holding a head longer, releasing more of the aromas. They are perfect for lagers, pale ales (including all its cousins copper, amber, golden, brown etc) and some lighter flavoured IPA’s.