New York is a city in a constant state of change with local, national and global forces shaping neighborhoods and communities. While Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood is now best known for its vibrant artist community and wood-fired pizza, it was once home to a thriving beer industry. Up until the early ’70s when massive industrial breweries began to dominate the market, Bushwick (and indeed Brooklyn as a whole) was one of the major centers for beer production in the US. Now, 30 years after the last brewery closed, two New Yorkers are revitalizing Bushwick’s beer tradition with Braven Brewing Company.
Co-founders and Bushwick residents Eric Feldman and Marshall Thompson began brewing beer in their cramped apartments and realized they were on to something. “We’ve got about 30 square feet to work with right now,” laughs Thompson, “So we’re raising money to expand our operation.” Braven is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, to expand their production and output abilities with a full-scale brewery. “We’ve had a really positive reception from bars and restaurants around the neighborhood,” says Feldman. Once the duo expands their operation, they plan on working with various venues for special edition suds and seasonal brews. Their latest, an Orange Jalapeño beer for Día de los Muertos, is an example of what these inventive brewmasters are capable of creating.
We were able to sample a version of some of Braven’s first two beers on offer: A black and a white India Pale Ale (IPA). While not the most common spin on the beloved hop-centric ale, each offers a unique and full-bodied taste without being too heavy. “We wanted to make our beers session-able,” Thompson says, “You want to be able to enjoy a few.” The white IPA is the more refreshing of the two, with a bitter hop undertone and a wheat base calling to mind the citrus notes of a Hefeweizen with the crispness of an IPA. Meanwhile, the young brewers’ black IPA offering is a slightly heavier affair with more stout-style tasting notes of chocolate and espresso, yet remains light due to its IPA-base.
Images courtesy of Braven Brewing Company