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Brooklyn brew out at Freddy’s

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Woe, Canada — Freddy’s Bar has joined the boycott of Brooklyn Brewery beer and has replaced the hometown suds with Labatt Blue.

The Prospect Heights bar pulled out its Brooklyn Lager tap at 8:30 on Monday night after selling its last pint of Brooklyn lager, citing brewery owner Steve Hindy’s support of Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards mega-development.

Ratner owns the building occupied by Freddy’s — which will be torn down to make room for a proposed arena for Ratner’s Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets.

Hindy, already facing a Web-based boycott of his beer because he supports the team’s relocation, earned further wrath last month when he told The Brooklyn Papers that he supports the entire $3.5-billion project — the largest development in Brooklyn history.
Ratner sells Hindy’s beer at the Meadowlands.

“To [Brooklyn Brewery], it’s an account, but to us, it’s a home,” said Freddy’s owner Donald O’Finn.

Hindy hit back that O’Finn was shortchanging his customers with a “generic” mainstream Canadian brew.

“I’m very sorry to hear that Freddy’s thinks that selling a beer owned by the biggest beer conglomerate in the world is better for them and their community than Brooklyn Lager,” Hindy said.

Many of O’Finn’s customers were caught between the Scylla of O’Finn’s anger and the Charybdis of Hindy’s delectable draughts.

“My band just played here the other night and we drank Brooklyn and had a great time,” said Alec Betterley, pianist in the band, My Friend Other.

“But I also understand the issue, so I understand what Donald is doing.”

Virginia Griswold got the last pint.

“I didn’t know he was cutting us off, or else I would’ve ordered two,” said this Brooklyn beer fan — who nonetheless supported O’Finn.

“I completely agree with Donald’s right to do this. If Brooklyn Brewery is contributing to his bar’s demise, this is what he has to do.”

But that’s a big “if,” Griswold admitted.

“I’m not sure if Brooklyn Brewery is really what is driving Freddy’s out, but Hindy’s public support for Ratner does contribute to that eventuality, so yes, the boycott is important.”

But like so many important things, it hurt O’Finn’s customers more than it hurt him. At around 7:30, O’Finn started the extrication process, first taping a red circle and slash over the Brooklyn Lager neon sign in his window. Next, at 8:30, he covered the “Brooklyn Lager” sign above the bar with a “Labatt” sign. Only one customer clapped — though more applauded when O’Finn covered over Brooklyn Lager’s $4 price with the new $3.50 price for a pint of Labatt. (Clearly, beer price trumps beer politics.)

Finally, O’Finn opened up the Brooklyn Lager tap and let the honey-hued libation flow without so much as a glass to catch it before it went down the drain.

“Wait, Donald,” yelled one man. “Can I grab a bucket?”

Another customer, Sean Gallahue, was more philosophical.

“Sure, it hurts to watch this great beer get wasted, but I’m sure the tea they threw into Boston Harbor was good tea, too. But that wasn’t about tea. It was about something larger, like this.”

Gallahue admitted that he once lived in Vermont, where he had ample opportunity to sample Labatt.

“It is,” he said, “frat-party piss water.”

After a minute or two, the Brooklyn Lager sputtered to an end at Freddy’s Bar. Seconds later, O’Finn screwed off the Brooklyn tap and replaced it with the Labatt version (it features the mask of a hockey goalie). Without fanfare, the Labatt started flowing a few seconds later (see sidebar).

But a day later, Brooklyn Lager was back at Freddy’s — in the form of a company truck driver showing up to reclaim the neon sign.

It’s property of Brooklyn Brewery, not Freddy’s.

— with Gersh Kuntzman.



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Reasonable discourse

Peter Yost says:
Donald is an amazing guy, but does not own Freddy's.
Oct. 28, 2007, 6:09 pm

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