To celebrate our exhibition Beer Here: Brewing New York’s History, the New-York Historical Society is hosting a series of Saturday beer tastings run by local breweries in the exhibit’s Beer Hall. The program will run from May 26 through August 25; half-hour tastings will start at 2pm and 4pm. Not only will visitors get to taste some of these local creations, but there will be hops, whole leaf flowers and other beer ingredients for people to touch, smell and experience. Tickets are $35 unless otherwise noted.
Beer Here: Brewing New York’s History looks at the tradition of brewing in the city from the first Dutch settlers through to modern day. And that tradition has seen a lot of changes. In 1880 New York State was the largest producer of hops in the country, and the city boasted numerous breweries and beer halls. However, by the 1980s the tradition seemed to have been wiped away in favor of larger, national brewers and import beers.
It looks as if the city has realized how much it missed local, craft beers, because the past few years have seen some thriving local breweries. One recent addition is Bronx Brewery. Formed by native Bronxites Stephen O’Sullivan and Niall Henry in 2009, the Mott Haven brewery is currently producing Bronx Pale Ale, with plans to add more recipes to the catalog.
“I think New York City had a very rich beer tradition, and that sort of went away. The last Brewery in the city was in the 70s—Rheingold—so there’s a great history there. But there’s also been a resurgence now,” said Chris Gallant, General Manager and Co-Founder of Bronx Brewery. “I think New Yorkers are getting a more sophisticated palate for beer. Good beer wasn’t around on a larger scale until a few years ago, and now you see a lot of beer bars opening, and restaurants carrying craft beer.”
The three of them teamed with Head brewer Damian Brown, who graduated from UC Davis’ Master Brewers’ program, to create Bronx Pale Ale because “pale ales are our favorite beers,” said Chris. “We wanted a return to a balanced pale ale; we wanted a unique recipe and a well balanced recipe. It took about eight or nine test batches to get it right. ” That ale will be served at their New-York Historical Society tasting. Future plans include cask conditioning for some of the beers, and releasing a second beer, one made from ingredients grown right in the Bronx!
So, what advice does Chris have for anyone looking to tap into New York’s brewing world? “I would just encourage people to get out there and expand their palates. There are lots of great New York beers, and beers that are new to New York.” Do you have a favorite New York beer? Let us know in the comments!