I started Brooklyn Brewery 26 years ago with my downstairs neighbor in Brooklyn, Tom Potter. We now sell in 26 states and 25 countries. Before beer, I was a journalist covering the Middle East for Associated Press. I just wrote a book, THE CRAFT BEER REVOLUTION: How a Band of Microbrewers Is Transforming the World's Favorite Drink. Ask me anything!

https://twitter.com/PalgraveUSA/status/458609036515373056

Edit: Thanks very much for the great questions. Check out THE CRAFT BEER REVOLUTION: How a Band of Microbrewers Is Transforming the World's Favorite Drink."
Wow. I need a beer. Peace out. Steve Hindy

Comments: 217 • Responses: 63  • Date: 

sfwbutnsfw13 karma

Hi Steve, Big fan of your work, Brooklyn is by far my favourite beer. It was myself and my flatmate that made the Brooklyn Brewery Christmas tree a couple years ago if you ever saw that! Whats been your toughest obstical getting the beer out there and well known? I've not seen any advertising of any sorts yet Brooklyn seems to be taking off from when me and my flatmate would hunt about Edinburgh looking for the OG bottles!

SteveHindy8 karma

Distribution is definitely the biggest challenge, no matter the market. We do not advertise, but we do donate beer to good causes. Builds good will and gets out beer into good hands.

yohnyohnson11 karma

as someone who definitely enjoys a good beer, do you still ever go out and just crush a whole case of keystone or something similar?

SteveHindy20 karma

Not since high school.

1CuteCreeper8 karma

Starting a Brewery in Brooklyn must've been tough in the 80s, especially down in Williamsburg. Did you ever have any trouble with crime or gangsters at the time you were starting out?

SteveHindy19 karma

I was robbed at gunpoint and forced to open the safe, which held $30K in cash. We had a run in with some mob-like guys when we build the brewery. Read about it in BEER SCHOOL, my first book.

DadaEconomics6 karma

If you haven't read Beer School, go buy it now. It's one of the best craft beer industry books available, and it's an inspirational entrepreneurial book with tons of info. Plus it's written by major pioneers of the industry. Cheers, Steve and Tom

edit: The robbery scene is actually hilarious in the book.

SteveHindy19 karma

It was anything but hilarious at the time...

uberlad7 karma

What's your very best life advice?

SteveHindy27 karma

Don't do business with assholes.

gonzbot7 karma

Steve, what do you think is the biggest opposition/threat to the brewing industry at this point in time?

SteveHindy9 karma

Disunity.

dblbasschic5 karma

Can you elaborate?

SteveHindy22 karma

Craft brewers and large brewers need to work together on the big issues facing the industry. There are plenty of people out there who want to limit the way we sell our beer and who want to pile on more regulations. For instance, the FDA recently proposed that brewers dry and package their used grain before giving it to farmers for use as feed. Brewers have been giving beer to farmers for centuries, and to my knowledge there have never been any adverse effects.
In Brooklyn, we have no room to dry and package. We would just have to throw the spent grain away instead of giving it to farmers.

AlpsStranger6 karma

I was once served an ice cold Brooklyn Brown in a frosted glass. I'm allowed to punch that bartender, right?

Seriously, love that stuff (and the Blast), but I was upset that I had to wait so long to be able to actually taste it.

SteveHindy11 karma

We have a long way to go with educating retailers about how to serve our beers.
Thanks for being patient for Blast. Buying and installing and operating a bottling line is not easy!

AlpsStranger3 karma

Thanks for the response and all the great beer. I was upset with the bartender, not the wait on Brooklyn Blast. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

SteveHindy5 karma

You raise an important issue.

joshcarp5 karma

What are some of your favorite breweries besides Brooklyn?

SteveHindy8 karma

Deschutes in OR; Yazoo in TN; New Belgium in CO, New Carnegie in Stockholm.

Traceofbass5 karma

Since everyone's asking about beer... I've got a question not about beer.

What's for lunch? Do you eat in the office or do you go out? Does your work experience open the door for the infamous "CB" (Casual [Lunch] Beer)?

SteveHindy10 karma

There are dozens of great lunch spots in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and we try to patronize all of them.

kimberlyinc4 karma

Thanks for answering questions, Steve. Would love to know what you consider your biggest mistake with Brooklyn Brewery -- maybe some of us can avoid it and try some new mistakes instead!

SteveHindy11 karma

In the late '90s, we were distributing our own beer and others. We tried to develop a dot-com to home deliver the beers in NYC. Big mistake; cost us $1 million.
Lesson: stay focused.

BrewKeep4 karma

Hi Steve, curious about your thoughts on the recent trend of Session IPAs. Good beers? Gimmicks, or the perfect gateways? Is craft beer pigeon holing itself into 1 style?

SteveHindy9 karma

I think Tony at Lagunitas declared that IPA was the new pilsner. I don't think any one style of beer is going to dominate the craft beer revolution. Craft brewers and craft beer lovers are just too curious to settle on one style.

SwedishFishSticks4 karma

First off, I really loved your book about starting the company. It was an incredibly informative and insightful read.

My Question: What important bit of advice would you offer to smaller breweries/brewpubs just getting started in this quickly evolving market?

SteveHindy2 karma

Read my book and then get ready for the most stressful time of your life!

___hi4 karma

Thoughts on opening an outdoor beer garden in BK? :)

SteveHindy7 karma

I'd love to, but brewers cannot hold retail licenses in NY, except at the brewery location.

trippedout3 karma

besides the beers u make, what are some newer craft beers you're on the look out for and love?

SteveHindy2 karma

Yazoo and Jackalope in Nashville; Nola in New Orleans. I was just in those two cities.

tbcullen3 karma

Greetings from Cervejaria Nacional in São Paulo, Brazil!

I read an article this morning in Beer Advocate Mag that some Brazilian brewers are using ants in their recipes. Do you see this as anti-vegetarian and therefore restricting possible consumers or does the exotic quirkiness overcompensate that fact? Do you see such experiments as more of a marketing tactic or a genuine attempt to produce unique flavors?

Saúde, Thomas

SteveHindy3 karma

I predict that will have limited appeal. Gives me the creeps.

beerlovescompany3 karma

When you sit down at a bar, what style of beer do you tend to order?

SteveHindy10 karma

I usually ask for the local beer. I am not wedded to any style.

jahbronie_3 karma

Hi Steve, do you have any tips on home brewers getting jobs at breweries without qualifications? Do you think its necessary to do a chemistry or biology degree? Thanks

SteveHindy2 karma

Members of our brewing team have 5-10 years of experience before they come here. You have to be a super homebrewer to get a job in a brewery today because there are many experienced people around. Brewing school helps, but experience is everything.

geneticswag3 karma

Talk to us about how genetic engineering could completely change the brewing game. Are you guys actively developing new yeast strains? Is anybody out there genetically modifying enzymes to produce more esters?

SteveHindy3 karma

Wow. We are trying to avoid GMO grains. So far, I don't think there is a GMO barley. And we use good old brewers' yeasts. No chemistry experiments here.

Wyrmnax3 karma

So you are the guy that is taking 1/3rd of my paycheck....

Why did you decide to start a brewery? How kuh practice did you have breweing when you did it?

SteveHindy5 karma

I always wanted to start a business and I was bored being an editor at a newspaper. I was a decent homebrewer, but I hired a professional, experienced brewmaster when I started.

pluiewolf3 karma

With the explosion of craft beer and the wider distribution of microbrews, do you find that "tiers" are starting to emerge in the craft brew world? For example, do you compete more directly with, say, Magic Hat, rather than Dogfish, or is the market just one wide open shark tank?

SteveHindy8 karma

Retailers are interested in craft beer, period. So we are competing with Samuel Adams, New Belgium, Barrier Brewing, and the nano brewery down the street. And so far, we all are thriving!

pluiewolf1 karma

That's awesome, good to hear the beer world still has plenty of room for the little guys!

SteveHindy6 karma

There are 2800 breweries in the US, and 2000 in the works. I named my book THE CRAFT BEER REVOLUTION for solid reasons!

beerlovescompany3 karma

What do you think of so many homebrewers opening professional breweries in the past couple years? Any concerns about quality control due to the quick expansion of the craft beer industry?

SteveHindy10 karma

Most of the craft brewers of my generation started out homebrewing. The market was very forgiving 30 years ago, but no more. You have to have a top quality product of you will not make it.

kimberlyinc2 karma

What's the best advice you've received about building your business?

SteveHindy3 karma

If you have a partner, or partners, make sure you have a partnership agreement, sort of like a pre-nuptial agreement. I've seen many businesses fail because of disputes among partners.

sapper11d2 karma

Any plans for a limited release double IPA? If there is one I have yet to see it.

SteveHindy3 karma

We just started selling Brooklyn Blast! in 12-ounce bottles.

abhiSamjhe2 karma

Going forward, with the proliferation of breweries, what is your take on the global shortage of hops and some of the bigger guys like buying up most of the supply?

SteveHindy2 karma

Definitely becoming a problem. We have longstanding and loyal suppliers, so I think we will be OK.

amydcal2 karma

How did you get a job with AP?!

SteveHindy4 karma

I worked for small newspapers in Upstate New York and North Jersey and got noticed by the AP in Newark, NJ, in 1976. Then I started studying Arabic and volunteered for the Middle East. There aren't too many people who want to do that, so I landed in Beirut in Feb 1979.

br_james2 karma

Any advice for someone looking to work in the craft beer industry? Not as a brewer, but what kind of professionals do brewing companies need to thrive?

SteveHindy2 karma

Sales, marketing, administration. All are important departments here at Brooklyn Brewery. And we have great people!

bsus14122 karma

My classmates and I are working up a model for an L3C brewery as a business class project. In your opinion, how feasible would this brewery be and would it be advantageous to operate as an L3C?

SteveHindy3 karma

Without knowing the specifics of your project, I suggest you read my first book, BEER SCHOOL. It outlines the process of creating the Brooklyn Brewery.

bsus14122 karma

It would operate as a local small-scale microbrewery in Richmond, Indiana. There would be three craft beers offered, with community outreach and sustainable agriculture being the main focus of the brewery. This brewery would provide a safe and comfortable place for college students, as they don't really have a place to hang out and drink beer.

SteveHindy5 karma

Sounds like a good plan. Good luck!

Not_dM2 karma

Hi. When you're creating new types of beer, what is your creative process? Do you start with a certain type of hops, flavours you want or just what type of beer you want to make, as in "let's make a new ipa" and go from there?

SteveHindy3 karma

Our brewmaster Garrett Oliver and his team create most of our beers. It can start with a style idea, or with an ingredient. Brooklyn Sorachi Ace was Garrett's idea for a hope he fell in love with. Brooklyn Hammarby Syndrome was all about the grain, spelt, and spruce tips. Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout is about bringing out the chocolate flavors in malted barley...

EmBryOyeah2 karma

What are some of the more important qualities you look for when signing with a distributor? I feel like I'm handing over my children to an abusive home some days.

Our brewery is celebrating its first successful year in business this week, down here in the Bible Belt.

SteveHindy2 karma

Congratulations on year 1! We look for distributors who really want our brand. We look at their craft beer portfolio and figure out where we fit. And we develop a plan for launching our beer and developing the market. We commit resources and we expect the distributor to do the same. It is a marriage, and you need to be sure before you say I do.

TheTerribleCat2 karma

Thanks for all the tasty beer; will you tell us about your soft serve?

SteveHindy9 karma

Have we played tennis?

beerlover262 karma

Steve, Do you have a favorite Brooklyn Brewery Beer?

SteveHindy5 karma

Right now, I have Hammarby Syndrome on tap at home. It is a beer made with the artisanal grain, spelt, and spruce tips. It is a tribute to our joint venture brewery in Stockholm, Sweden. Delicious!

bsus14122 karma

Also, what do think the start-up costs would be to start your own microbrewery and How much extra money should you also have on hand?

SteveHindy5 karma

It depends on your ambition. There are very small breweries and there are more ambitious breweries. You can probably start a nanobrewery for a few thousand dollars. Licensing can be costly though. As far as capital goes, you need more than you think you need, no matter the scope of your ambition.

culture_beat1 karma

Did you ever have to bribe anyone to get the brewery started? You told Inc. a story about how you had to deal with thugs harassing you back in the day. http://www.inc.com/chris-beier-and-daniel-wolfman/brooklyn-brewery-co-founder-steve-hindy-extortion.html

SteveHindy2 karma

No. I would never bribe anyone.

SwedishFishSticks2 karma

You should read his book, Beer School, for the full story. Sounded terrifying.

SteveHindy2 karma

It was.

culture_beat2 karma

Thanks for being here and answering questions, Steve. My question from Brooklyn is: Why'd you leave journalism?

SteveHindy3 karma

I had been covering wars in the Middle East for 6 years and suddenly I was an editor at Newsday. Quite simply, I was bored. And I had always dreamed of starting my own business. Starting a brewery seemed like an amazing dream. And it was! And I did it!

Axel9271 karma

Interesting. Did you know my uncle, Peter Goodman? I know he worked at Newsday for a while.

SteveHindy1 karma

Yes I think so.

bsus14122 karma

One last question. What was the most difficult part in setting up a stable customer base? How did you handle that/work around the difficulty?

SteveHindy3 karma

Many brewers sell beer. Our goal was to develop relationships with customers. I would rather have 10 good customers than storm a market and get 50 draft lines. Good, loyal customers are invaluable.

charleswrites2 karma

Hi Steve. I'm sure you know that the pub market (in the UK, at least) is now very reliant on food sales. Alongside this, the craft beer boom has helped to both widen and refine the average beer drinker's tastes and make a whole new generation of beer connoisseurs. Do you think there's scope for these trends to combine and create a future for beer as a more formalised accompaniment to meals in restaurants in the same way as wine?

SteveHindy2 karma

Our brewmaster, Garrett Oliver, wrote the book on beer and food, "The Brewmaster's Table." However, we have a long way to go before we get the attention we deserve from quality restaurants. We are working on it.

iamnotanerd1 karma

Just want to thanks for sponsoring the vendy awards! I've volunteered the past three years in New York at the bar. Had the pleasure of meeting Garrett this year and serving him his own ale. Awesome guy, real awesome guy. Haven't visiting the brewery yet, but definitely working on getting there!

Might as well ask a question: did you ever expect Brooklyn Brewery to be so successful? Was there a point when you thought that this might not work out?

SteveHindy1 karma

Yes I believed we would be successful. And yes, we were sweating bullets for the first 8 years. In 1991, we could not afford to pay me so I went back to work at Newsday editing Gulf War copy. Newsday's Pat Sloyan won a Pulitzer Prize that year.

iamnotanerd1 karma

Ah the thrill of entrepreneurship. Thanks for sticking with it! I'm excited to get my hands on the summer ale again!

SteveHindy3 karma

Brooklyn Summer Ale is a big winner!

br_james1 karma

Hi Steve, thanks for doing this. Do you have a favorite style of beer? As follow up, is there a style out there that Brooklyn does not currently make, but you are excited to create?

SteveHindy2 karma

I am fascinated by all beer styles. Innovation is a hallmark of the craft beer revolution. Garrett and his brewing team are constantly created new and interesting beers.

yohnyohnson1 karma

what was the best story you covered or the story you're most proud of from your days with AP?

SteveHindy4 karma

Well, I just wrote a story for vice.com titled "Between Beirut and a Hard Place." Check it out. I can't get away from the Middle East!

yohnyohnson1 karma

understandably! i'm finishing up a history degree right now and that place is fascinating. the politics, the oil, the history, the people...all just so captivating. looking forward to reading your article, thanks for answering!

SteveHindy1 karma

We have an interesting interview series with war correspondents at the brewery. The first is with Scott Anderson who wrote a book about Lawrence of Arabia. Check our website for the date. I think it is in June.

1CuteCreeper1 karma

Is the beer industry really cut-throat on the smaller/craft level, or are you more supportive of your competition? Have you ever made any friendly bets with other Breweries, if so, what are they and what were the outcomes?

SteveHindy2 karma

It can be cutthroat on the street, fighting for a draft line. But the craft industry is incredibly collegial. I have learned much from my fellow brewers and I always make time for newcomers. We had a cool bet with Anchor on the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. Ditto with Harpoon. They had to serve our beer in their pubs and wear Giants jerseys.

markymark4121 karma

I met Garrett Oliver at a beerfest in Pittsburgh this year, he was great to talk to and is very passionate about the beer. How did you hook up with him and get him to join as the brewmaster?

Also please send 12 pallets of Brooklyn Blast and Brooklyn Local 1 my way. Thanks.

SteveHindy5 karma

I met Garrett when he was founder/president of the NYC Homebrewers Guild. We drank homebrewed beer together until 3am and had a big argument. I forget what it was about.

soulexpectation1 karma

Hi Steve, been a big fan of your beer since I moved to New York for college 5 years ago. I'm curious what you think about the price of beer in Williamsburg and the rest of the city. Does Brooklyn brewery look to decrease the price of their beer to make it more affordable/open to more buyers? Or do you feel that the quality warrants the price?

Thanks for the awesome work!

SteveHindy3 karma

The price of a pint in NYC has more to do with rent than with the price of the beer.
If you want quality, you must pay the price.

toblertone1 karma

Which is more difficult: writing a book like THE CRAFT BEER REVOLUTION or running a brewery?

SteveHindy1 karma

Running a brewery.

moonpie281 karma

How do you judge a beers success?

One thing I do wish is that other bars had other beers by Brooklyn Brewery on tap. On a recent visit to the brewery, my friends and I were obsessed with the Cuvee. Any intentions in manufacturing that again? How about offering to manufacture it as a keg that other bars can buy?

SteveHindy1 karma

It is no surprise that I wish we had more taps too. We are debuting barrel-aged Cuvee Noir in 750-ml bottles on May 3 at the brewery. I think you are referring to Cuvee La Boite, a keg beer made with spices.
Both are special beers with a niche appeal. I am not sure how they would do as regular offerings.

WiIIworkforKarma1 karma

Have you ever caught anyone drunk at work before? Peter Griffin like?

SteveHindy3 karma

That is grounds for dismissal. The brewery is a dangerous place.

kingkevz1 karma

hey Steve! I'm a brooklyn native, and visited new orleans a few weeks ago, and stumbled upon your Mash event. Can you give a brief description to the people here as to what Mash is, and if you plan on bringing it to even more cities? Also.. I had to go to new orleans for Mary's Maple!! TSK TSK! lol

SteveHindy2 karma

The Brooklyn Mash is a cultural festival that we do in 13 cities, celebrating the music, food, beer, books and comedy of each city. Check out www.brooklynbrewery.com for information about this year's events.

AlbertFifthMusketeer1 karma

What are your future plans for Brooklyn Brewery and your new sister brewery Nya Carnegiebryggeriet?

Do you think that cask ale will ever become popular outside of the UK?

SteveHindy4 karma

We may be announcing more joint ventures like New Carnegie around the world. The hurdle for cask ale is that you need retailers who understand how to condition the beer at their pubs. It is costly, and the market is not huge, so I dont expect it to become widely available. Having said that, there is nothing like a well-conditioned pint of cask ale.

1CuteCreeper1 karma

Besides the beer styles, what does your Brewery do 'better' or differently then other breweries to be as successful and grow as quickly as you do?

SteveHindy3 karma

From Day One, we committed all our marketing dollars to donations to not-for-profit and arts groups. We donate beer mostly, and some dollars. That has earned us good will in the communities we serve and has gotten our beer into the hands of many people.

imba81 karma

Do you think Americans will move away from the bud / miller / koors lite to beers that actually taste like beer?

SteveHindy2 karma

They already are. When I started in business, the imports were 3% of the US market. Today, they are 13% and craft beers are 10%. ABInBev and MillerCoors are 74%. Craft beer is booming.

imba81 karma

It's booming in Australia too, brands like James Squires and Little Creatures are becoming very popular.

The misconception Australians have with American beer is that it's all bad. Which really isn't true as you know, it's just the good beer isn't as popular as the very watery neutral tasting beers for some reason.

Thanks for the answer.

SteveHindy2 karma

Love Mountain Goat.

WaynePrice1 karma

What is your favorite beer, outside of anything brewed by Brooklyn Brewery?

SteveHindy2 karma

Tough question, which would elicit a different answer virtually any given day.
New Carnegie Brewery in Sweden makes a killer kellerbier. I like that style.

JackPlatinum0 karma

I hate my job and I'm looking for a new one. Can I come work in the brewery? I was born and raised in Brooklyn. Hook a brother up.

Seriously I'd love a job at the brewery. I love beer in general and I'm a damn big fan of yours as well. I've been down to the brewery a few times and I've enjoyed myself immensely. I've been told a million times by a million people that a job doesn't seem like work if it's something you love. Well I love beer. And I have no problem with work feeling like work either. Busting my ass for a living has never been a problem, I was raised that way.

SteveHindy4 karma

We are hiring in administrative, sales, marketing and brewing departments. Most of the applicants have experience in their field.
I worked my way up as a journalist. When I got my first job, at the Geneva Times in Upstate NY, my Dad said, "Six years at Cornell and you are making $100 bucks a week..." But I loved journalism and that was what I wanted to do. Eventually, I made more money. When I started the brewery, I called myself President. I have not advanced in 26 years, but I love what I am doing.