A bright yellow crane stuck out against the Williamsburg waterfront on Tuesday morning as it installed three 25-foot-long fermenters in the Brooklyn Brewery on North 12th Street.
This week marks the third and final phase in the Brooklyn beer company’s expansion plan that was announced in February 2011. Eight fermenters will be installed this week, enabling the brewery to produce beer 24 hours a day at its home in Williamsburg. It will be able to make 100,000 barrels of beer a year right in its backyard. Before the expansion, the brewery was churning out a fraction of that, at 12,000 local barrels a year.
These tanks will only brew the specialty products: 750 milliliter bottles and draft-only beers. That’s the only way expanding locally makes financial sense, said Steve Hindy, co-founder of Brooklyn Brewery, in an interview on Monday. “There’s a higher value and a higher cost to the beers brewed here in Brooklyn,” he said.
“Whenever you expand, you have to hold your breath. You buy these tanks to put beer in, and you better sell the beer.” Many of the limited brews will be sold in the Brooklyn Brewery suite in the Barclays Center, of which Hindy has been a longtime supporter.
The last phase of expansion fills out the Williamsburg space completely. “It’s looking pretty tight in there!” said a construction worker on site on Tuesday morning.
The local growth adds to the newly purchased 40,000 square-foot warehouse in Utica, NY where the brewery has brewed its most popular beers, like 12 oz. containers of lager and pale ale.
That kind of space can’t fit close to home, but after looking at plots on Atlantic Avenue and in Red Hook last year, it made sense to build in Williamsburg, which became an Industrial Business Zone in 2005.
“They’re the perfect example of the sort of industrial use that can thrive in a community like Williamsburg where things are changing. There is still room for manufacturing,” said Leah Archibald, the Director of the East Williamsburg Industrial Development Company. “The silver lining of the declining residential housing market fairly early on in the recession was that they were able to negotiate long-term leasing with their property.”
Construction ends Wednesday afternoon and with it starts round-the-clock beer production, which of course means only one thing: More beer. Oh hoppy days.
Correction: An earlier version of this post stated nine new fermenters were installed. The correct number is eight.