Brooklyn Used to be “The Beer Capital of the World”


Sure, sure, Brooklyn (or at least parts of it) is on the up-and-up, things are going well for this borough, etc. Nonetheless, we all have to live with the knowledge that the glory days are long, long past. In addition to its storied history as a bustling marijuana hub, Brooklyn also used to be a major boomtown for the beer industry. So much so that it kind of puts our current small-batch boozing to shame.

“There were close to 90 breweries at the turn of the 19th century,” says John Weber, director of Brewed in Brooklyn, a new film about the rise and fall and rising-again of Brooklyn’s local beer industry. “Brooklyn was known as the beer capital of the world.”

It was such a big deal, according to Weber, that more people in the New York area voted for Rheingold Beer’s “Miss Rheingold” competition than did for presidential elections. Things took a turn in the 1970s, though, for the reasons you’d probably guess: incoming competition from national breweries, rising costs of local production, crime and urban decay in the area, etc.

We still haven’t quite regained our reputation as a borough of beer power brokers, but, as you probably noticed, we seem to be getting there. Or, as Weber puts it, “the stars are aligned.” Aligned for more beer. Perfect.

Anyway, Brewed in Brooklyn is up on Kickstarter right now (trailer is embedded below), and the team is hoping to raise money to cover costs for original music and insurance. You should probably help them out. It’s a beer movie. Do you really need convincing?

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.


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