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Craft Beer

After a 30-year-year detour, Brooklyn Brewery’s beers finally arrive in San Diego

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Unlike San Diego’s ale-centric breweries, Brooklyn’s flagship beer is a lager.
(Courtesy Brooklyn Brewery)

Steve Hindy opened Brooklyn Brewery in its namesake New York borough in 1988. By 1989, the fledgling operation was exporting beer to Japan.

While Brooklyn has been available on the United States’ Eastern seaboard and most of Europe, the brewery has always shied away from California.

“California is the largest beer market in the U.S., by far,” Hindy said, sipping an ice tea on the Lafayette Hotel patio one afternoon last week. “But shipping by boat to Europe is cheaper than shipping by truck to California.”

So Brooklyn avoided the Golden State — until now. This week, the beers of the nation’s 11th largest craft brewery will debut in bars and bottle shops across California, including San Diego County. Here, the beers will be distributed by Stone Brewing.

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“They’re a great partner,” said Greg Breen, Brooklyn’s regional manager.

Hindy’s hesitation about tackling the West Coast beer scene faded last year, when Brooklyn created a joint sales force with the Bay Area’s 21st Amendment and Colorado’s Funkwerks. This team includes about 70 salespeople plus 90 “brand ambassadors.”

“People underestimate what it takes to really sell beer and get a brand established,” Hindy said. “We didn’t want to come out here until we could do it right.”

Hindy insisted that the decision was not influenced by the recent arrival of his first grandchild in Los Angeles.

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“That’s just a nice bonus,” he said.

Initially, the brewery will send California its flagship beer, Brooklyn Lager; Brooklyn Bel Air, a dry-hopped sour ale; Defender IPA, “the official beer of New York Comic-Con,” and Stonewall Inn IPA, a session ale (4.5 percent alcohol by volume) brewed to honor the Greenwich Village bar that is a nationally recognized landmark in the LGBTQ community.

Hindy flew into San Diego last week, then jetted off to a conference in Europe. He’ll return Jan. 28 for two launch parties, at Normal Heights’ Blind Lady Ale House from 5 to 8 p.m., followed by an 8:30 appearance at Hamilton’s Tavern in South Park.


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