Brooklyn Brewery is now Australian for beer.
The borough’s most iconic beer company has outsourced part of its brewing operation to a suds-maker on the other side of the planet, allowing a third party to make Brooklyn Lager for the Aussie market.
But is beer made by strangers in a different hemisphere really worthy of the name “Brooklyn?” Brewery honchos claim it not only tastes identical to the real deal, it is better than if they had shipped it there directly from Wythe Avenue.
“It’s a six-week journey to get our beer to Australia, and working with a rolling month’s supply means that the beer would be two-and-a-half months old by the time it gets to the bar,” said Eric Ottaway, Brooklyn Brewery’s chief executive officer.
The brewery, which has already been exporting its products Down Under for a few years, inked a deal earlier this year to allow Australia’s oldest craft beer outfit Coopers Brewery to cook up Brooklyn’s flagship beer under license at its facility in Adelaide.
This is not Brooklyn’s first foray into foreign fermentation — it opened a brewery in Sweden last year — but it is the first time it is trusting the task to a separate company 10,000 miles away.
To ensure the antipodean ale lives up to its moniker, Brooklyn says it flew an envoy over to Adelaide to school Coopers in replicating its formula to the letter. The two breweries then air-freighted samples back and forth, and finally Brooklyn sent a representative out to make sure the drink tastes exactly the same on Australian soil.
The first kegs of Australian-made Brooklyn Lager rolled off the line in early August, and the hit local taps two weeks ago.
The Brooklyn brand is already booming in Australia, which has only recently developed a taste for craft beer and doesn’t have much else like it on the market, according to a local beer expert.
“Brooklyn Brewery make a tasty lager in a craft market dominated by pale and golden ales,” said Miro Bellini, a craft beer guru from Melbourne who the brewery recently hired as its Australian ambassador.
American food and booze is also having a moment in the former penal colony, he said.
“USA style food is popular all over Australia, and dive bars and USA-themed cocktail lounges are gaining in popularity,” said Bellini. “And Brooklyn is a natural fit in those settings.”
The arrangement is just for kegs of Brooklyn Lager, the company says. It will continue to ship its bottles and cans — or “stubbies” and “tinnies” in the local parlance — from New York, and it doesn’t plan on contracting its brewing out anywhere else.
“The problem is unique to Australia,” said Ottaway.
Aussies are shelling out about $10 for a “schooner” — that’s 15 ounces — of the locally-brewed Brooklyn Lager, said Bellini — which is a couple of bucks more than they typically shell out for a similarly-sized serving of the country’s domestic macrobrews, according to local beer drinkers.
— with Ruth Brown