According to today’s New York Times, the Brooklyn Brewery, who had been considering a move to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, has changed its mind. Its lease is up in 2025, and the brewery had been scouting out other locations to move to. They backed out of a plan to move their brewing operation into a smaller space in a building in the Navy Yard that is being overhauled as a hub for food manufacturing. Brooklyn Brewery, which has 115 full-time employees, had also planned to open a restaurant on the roof of that building and to occupy some office space there. They had second thoughts when their landlord offered to extend their lease.
The brewery has been located in Williamsburg so long, that it now has 3000 to 4000 visitors each weekend, who come to tour the facility and taste the libations. Many of those people are international travelers, since the brand is sold in 30 countries, including Australia and Brazil. Kirin, a Japanese beer company that bought a 24 percent stake in Brooklyn Brewery, will soon be brewing in Japan.
Even though domestic sales have slipped, the international ones have soared, leading the brewery to look for a place to build an additional brewery and distribution center. Among the properties it had considered was one on Staten Island and another near Stewart Airport in Newburgh, N.Y. This particularly tickled one of our staff here at Your Beer Show, since that staffer had recently lived in Newburgh.
There’s been much controversy about craft breweries selling out to “big beer”. That controversy stems mostly from loyal patrons who feel betrayed by the very brew masters themselves. We didn’t find any proof that Brooklyn Brewery suffered this fate, although domestic sales did slip a little last year. As stated before, international sales took up that slack.
With only a 24 percent stake sold off, the brewery is still “American-owned”. With the infusion of cash from the sale, there was an intent to build another bigger brewery that would brew 100% of the beer sold domestically in-house.
How would you feel if your favorite brewery sold out some or all of its interests to big beer? Is it just business? Or is it betrayal? Tell us how you REALLY feel about this topic. We’d love to hear.