A former war correspondent is writing about a whole different kind of battlefield these days.
Brooklyn Brewery founder and ex-journalist Steve Hindy has penned a new book about the history of the craft beer movement he helped start.
Writing a book on the battle for the beer market might not seem like such a serious assignment after reporting from conflict zones in the Middle East, but Hindy said he has been wanting to tell this story for a long time.
“I never quite escaped my journalistic roots,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been collecting these stories for 25 years.”
“The Craft Beer Revolution: How a band of microbrewers is transforming the world’s favorite drink,” traces the early days of small-batch beer making, through today’s explosion of new breweries. During the book’s launch event at Dumbo’s PowerHouse Arena on April 26, Hindy will discuss the growth of the industry in a discussion with Chris Gallant, a founder of the up-and-coming Bronx Brewery.
A relatively recent arrival to the craft scene, Gallant said he looks up to trailblazers like Hindy.
“Steve has seen the industry through its nascent stages,” Gallant said. “He’s seen it all. And I’m interested in hearing how he sees the future.”
Hindy first became interested in brewing while working in the Middle East for the Associated Press during the 1980s, covering events such as the Iranian hostage crisis, the Iraq-Iran War, and the civil war in Lebanon. He got his first taste of homebrew from a buddy in Cairo, and was hooked.
“You could get beer in Cairo,” Hindy said. “But their homebrew was just a lot better.”
After returning to the United States, Hindy started making his own beer at home in Park Slope. And in 1988 he founded the Brooklyn Brewery with his neighbor Tom Potter.
At the time, beer in this country was still made almost exclusively by a few big brewers. And the public was still used to the taste of mass produced brew, he said.
“A lot of people sort of pushed it aside,” said Hindy. “They said it was too bitter.”
The resistance did not last long, but Gallant sees those first steps as very important to the success of craft beer as an industry.
“Steve faced a huge challenge in getting people to try craft beer,” Gallant said. “The challenge we face now is different — how do we get people to try our craft beer?”
Recent years have seen the old dinosaurs of the beer world trying to hedge their way in on the success of craft brewers. Big companies now produce their own “craft beers” such as Shock Top made by Anheuser-Busch, and Blue Moon made by MillerCoors. Big Beer is now buying up some of the small breweries, so the battle is far from over, said Hindy.
“We’re involved in a very heavy fight,” he said.
And although this conflict goes down a bit smoother, Hindy says the battle is just as exhilarating as his days working as a reporter.
“I don’t think there’s any bigger thrill than going into a bar and seeing someone order your beer,” he said. “It’s kind of like seeing your byline in the paper.”
“The Craft Beer Revolution” launch at PowerHouse Arena [37 Main St. near Water Street in Dumbo, (718) 666–3049, www.powerhousearena.com]. April 26 at 6 pm. Free.