Phew, our first year of operation is behind us. It started with our grand opening back on Dec 8th, 2012 when over 1200 of you filled the brewery. Opening Queens first micro-brewery was clearly something you were waiting for, and we’re so proud to be part of the growing social fabric of this great Borough, and greater city. It’s a decision we pat ourselves on the back for everyday. But it was a decision, and it might interest you to know why.
Opening a brewery in NYC is not an easy task. Far from it. We had our recipes honed and ready and could, like many others before us throughout NYC simply “contract brew” our beer through an already existing brewery, saving us the cost of opening a physical location. For those of you unfamiliar with this practice, essentially you use their equipment to either brew the beer, or simply have them brew your recipe for you. In some cases, they’ll even develop the recipe and all you need to do is add branding. These breweries exist far outside the city, and in other states in most cases.
It certainly has been a winning financial formula for many, and continues to be. Does it truly represent “local”? Is it the best expression of that beer? Who’s driving the bus? It is fair to the consumer? These are debates currently raging within the craft beer industry, many industry insiders arguing that the quality of the “liquid” is all that matters and if the standard is high, what difference does it make where the beer is brewed or comes from? Transparency of this practice varies however, regardless of how closely you read the label.
You probably already know where we stand on this topic: We say it does matter, and that there is no substitute.
Lets start with the discussion as to whether or not the quality of the beer suffers as a result of contract brewing. There certainly are a number of outfits that specialize in this practice, some have been open longer than you’ve been on this planet by a wide margin. They know how to brew beer, no question. Taste is a very subjective discussion, and is sometimes hard to argue one way or another. However, lets remember this is an industry based on craft, creating the genre known as “Craft Brewing”. In theory it creates beers of an artisanal quality thanks to the hands-on efforts by the individuals that set the goals and standards of said beer. It represents the polar opposite of bog standard product; “craft brewing” surfaced as a reaction to the macro-produced products of the day. Hallelujah!
We believe there is no substitute for the passion, guidance, outright craft of our Beersmiths throughout the brewing process. Especially for a young brewery establishing itself and its standards. Is it possible a contract brewery would have done as well with our recipes as we have? Impossible to answer. To be absolutely certain, we would have had to work on their equipment so that we would be the ones making the beer, insuring its quality. When you consider that scenario, contract brewing certainly is a viable alternative.
However, people don’t just drink beer. They believe in beer. A sense of locality provides a background, meaningful information that adds a depth to the relationship. And it is very certainly a relationship that transcends mere product – we can attest to that by reactions we’ve faced the few times we’ve run out of 18-Watt IPA! Footnote: We can assure you with our recently added capacity that is a thing of the past.
But there is an equally compelling argument we raise for the physical locality of our brewery here in NYC that contract brewing can never provide, an “X-factor” if you will:
The brick-and-mortar representation of local pride. Of community. Of an actual location in your town, your Borough, your city that benefits the social fabric, employing its residents. Generating tourist traffic. Stimulating local economy. Supporting and helping grow other local business. Generating collectives that even develop a neighborhood around the brewery altogether. That help shape even the beer that’s brewed.
We can tell you in our short history we’ve seen, experienced and been instrumental in developing many of these results. Craft? We call that sheer magic!
And we are only too happy to have these opportunities to contribute as we have. The additional benefit of interacting with our customers and retailers directly (we self-distribute our beer too) is something that we consider absolutely invaluable. It is in fact the favorite part of our jobs. We knew we had so much to look forward to when 1200 of you filled our space at our opening.
We cannot thank all of you that have supported us enough and truly cannot wait to see what additional magic lies ahead for 2014.
– Rich, Brian, Mark, Dave, Amanda, Sarah, Eric, Mike, Peter, Nick, Sam, Sean, Adam, Kate & Dan aka SingleCut Beersmiths