The day we had dreaded had finally come… it was time to take Stanley into New York City. Don’t get me wrong we were excited to see the big city and explore the beer scene, but the thought of navigating a 29 ft RV through the type of traffic displayed by popular media in NYC was a scary thought. Not to mention street camping in a city known for it’s congestion.
Luckily, we had some inside info from my brother who lives in Brooklyn and he scoped out a spot for us next to a public park near his studio and apartment. We swept into the area early Sunday morning to avoid traffic and arrived relatively unscathed. Turns out the rough roads knocked our back cabinet door off the hinges!
We started off well as my standard practice of looking up local home brewer meetings yielded success when I found that the Brooklyn Brewsers were having their monthly meeting the day after we arrived. I was even more excited to discover that the original meeting had been postponed to the following week due to a new agenda, a tour of Brooklyn Brewery to be led by none other than the Brewmaster, Garrett Oliver. I emailed the club to make sure it was alright if we attended and was stoked when they said it would be fine if we came along.
The actual brewery was only a few blocks from where we parked, so it was an easy stroll despite the sweltering heat. A group of about 40 home brewers showed up. Garrett gave us a little background on the company before giving us a tour of the facilities. I was a little surprised to find that this location only brewed their bomber series and that the 12 ounce bottles and cans are produced at separate facility in upstate NY. Being that everyone there were home brewers and already knew how to brew, Garrett made the tour short and sweet to get onto the main reason we were all there, to sample the beer.
Garrett treated his homebrew guests extra nice and brought out some of their private stash, dubbed “ghost bottles” that you can’t find on the market. Some were experiments while some were made for specific events and collaborations. Each beer had a story and it was very interesting to hear Garrett talk about the circumstances behind each of them. If you ever get an opportunity to do a tour or tasting or even a beer pairing dinner with a brewer or even better yet the brewmaster, we strongly suggest you do so. No one can explain a beer or the vision as well as the Brewmaster. It helps that Garrett is an excellent story-teller as well. We were already excited to visit Brooklyn Brewery as we knew we loved their beer, it was extra special to be able to meet and hear Garrett describe some of his brews to us.
The beer sampling was excellent and it really expanded my impression of what Brooklyn Brewery was all about. I was well familiar with their Lager, Summer Ale, and IPA, but had never seen or heard of any of their more creative, specialty brews before this. We ended the night thanking the Brooklyn Brewsers and Garrett for letting us join them and went on our way ecstatically grinning ear to ear for the opportunity we had just happened to stumble upon.
Side note: If you’re ever looking to meet up with locals in a new area, try looking up the local homebrew clubs. They are usually more than happy to have an excuse to visit their favorite watering hole and if they are too busy and can’t find the time, they will surely know someone who will!
The next day we took a ferry into Manhattan and saw the standard sights: Ground Zero, the NY Stock Exchange, Times Square and Radio City Music Hall, before stumbling upon the 508 Gastrobrewery. 508 is what I imagined a brewery in New York to be like. It was a small intimate spot with the feel of an artsy boutique. It was more of a nano brewery with all the brews being produced in small batches on site. The beers were very good and they had quite a collection of bottled brews from one off batches. Even better they features $1 oysters if you sit at the bar and we took full advantage of that deal.
Unfortunately, the rest of our trip to NYC was timed badly as a Six Point Brewing was closed to the public while they were doing renovations and we left several days earlier than we intended due to a massive heat wave that made life in the RV with no AC unbearable for us and the dogs. But we’ve learned in our travels that leaving a city with unchecked boxes on the to-do list simply means we have even more reason to come back!
Here are a couple more pics from the trip: