Visit any bar in New York City and you’ll spot at least one patron tossing back a local craft beer — without realizing, it’s actually a throwback.
Today’s NYC breweries are mostly shiny and new, robust with swashbuckling brewers that opened brick-and-mortars within the past few decades. But the trend didn’t start from scratch; back when New York was still New Amsterdam, Dutch settlers introduced this choice, responsible beverage. Reliably clean water wouldn’t arrive until 1842’s opening of the Croton Aqueduct, and thanks to its boiling process and the preservative nature of hops, beer was safer to drink than water until then.
Ale was aplenty, and German immigrants furthered early 19th-century brewing with lager, of course. By the middle of the 19th century, New York State produced more hops than anywhere else in the country.
Prohibition arrived to pop the bubbling industry. By the time the ban on alcohol was lifted, the beverage landscape had changed dramatically, leaving little room for craft makers. A batch of local breweries lingered in Brooklyn producing notoriously light lagers, until the final set, Schaefer Beer and Rheingold Brewery, made their exit in the 1970s.
Thankfully, times and laws changed, making it easier for small-business brewers to open up shop. The city’s palate changed, too, eager for locally made flavors over mass-market makers. While NYC, with its array of fifth-floor walk-ups, might not be the country’s easiest, or even most elegant place to craft beer, microbreweries now bank on high demand to side-step high rents.
New York’s craft beer scene is buoyant, no matter the borough. Brooklyn is…