Cheers to beers! Brooklyn Brewery toast their lager’s 35th anniversary

Brooklyn Brewery partied with friends and family of the company at Teddy's Bar and Grill on March 24 and 25.
Brooklyn Brewery partied with friends and family of the company, including Borough President Antonio Reynoso (center) at Teddy’s Bar and Grill.
Photo by Chris Palermo

Beer loving Brooklynites gathered over the weekend for the 35th anniversary of Brooklyn Brewery’s inaugural lager, where they toasted to the iconic Kings County hops brand that’s become a staple in the borough’s ale scene. 

Staff, former employees, friends of the company and lovers of the famed Brooklyn Lager took to Teddy’s Bar and Grill in Williamsburg for the event, which featured music, brewskis and a spread of locally sourced eats. 

Steve Hindy, the retired co-founder of the company, started the brewery with one goal in mind — to bring brewing back to Brooklyn. 

In 1988, he and co-founder Tom Potter did just that by delivering their first batch of Brooklyn lager to Teddy’s.

“On that first day back in 1988 I think it was late March, we delivered to five customers and the only customer of those five that’s still in business is Teddy’s place here in Williamsburg,” Hindy told Brooklyn Paper. “It was kind of a hard sell 35 years ago but Teddy’s was one of the places that embraced it and educated their customers about it. Thanks to customers like Teddy’s, we were able to get a foothold in New York and succeed with Brooklyn Lager.”

Brooklyn Brewery toast to their inaugural drink's 35th anniversary.
Brooklyn Brewery toast to their inaugural drink’s 35th anniversary.Photo by Chris Palermo

According to Hindy, the pair went against the grain by bringing a richer, darker flavor to the beer scene, as most brews were light and fizzy at the time.

To add to their experimental business venture, they decided to name the drink after Brooklyn, a place with an unsteady reputation in the late 1980s. The brand now sells their brews across the nation and overseas in over 30 countries — a feat Hindy accredits to the modern fame and the people of Brooklyn.

“You can have Brooklyn Lager in Paris, Stockholm, London or Tokyo and I think that is largely due to the fame of Brooklyn. Brooklyn helped us expand around the world and it turned out to be a great calling card even though in the mid 80s people said ‘you’re really going to name it after Brooklyn,’” he said.

Local eateries catered everything from lobster rolls, burgers, pretzel bites, and pizza with dough made from the Brooklyn Lager.
Local eateries catered everything from lobster rolls, burgers, pretzel bites, and pizza with dough made from the Brooklyn Lager.Photo by Chris Palermo

Teddy’s Bar and Grill, the oldest continually-operated bar in all of Brooklyn, originally started as a family owned bar before becoming a tasting room for Peter Doelger Brewery in the early 1910s. 

According to Robin Ottaway, president of Brooklyn Brewery, it was “fitting” to honor their brand’s endurance along with longtime partners who also have history in Williamsburg.

“There’s a lot of history here that ties into the history of Brooklyn and kind of a really appropriate place for us to be, not only because they survived all the changes, but also because they’ve survived all of the changes as a building since the 100-plus years when it was owned by a brewery.”

“You couldn’t have asked for a more fitting place to be.” Ottaway said. “Teddy’s, like us, is a brand that’s just survived in this neighborhood of Brooklyn that’s changed a lot in the last 35 years.”

Crowds stopped in on Friday and Saturday to salute the brand's longevity.
Crowds stopped in on Friday and Saturday to salute the brand’s longevity.Photo by Chris Palermo

Ottaway, who has been with the company for 27 years, looks forward to continuing the brewery’s reign as Brooklyn staple. 

“You get really humbled over time because you make lots of mistakes. You realize that part of the goal is just surviving and then as you survive more opportunities get presented…You got to stay relevant, you got to keep evolving like the borough of Brooklyn like any dynamic urban environment,” he told Brooklyn Paper. “The more modest goal is for Brooklyn Brewery to be here even when we’re both gone and that’s really it — to be able to create a brand that survives, that outlasts you. That’s hard to do.”

The company will soon move to a new building on Wythe Avenue at the edge of the Greenpoint-Williamsburg Industrial Business Zone in the summer of 2024, as previously reported by Brooklyn Paper. 

For more coverage on the borough’s brewery scene, visit Brooklynpaper.com