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Friday, August 22, 2014

Mainland brewing has come to a head

Story by Adam Wisnieski, video by Lindsay Armstrong, still photography by Matthew Rodriguez
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Brewing has finally come back to the Bronx.

The Bronx Brewery, which was formed in 2009, has leased a space on 136th Street and Walnut Avenue in Port Morris in the southeast corner of the borough, where the company plans to brew its beer.

According to Bronx Borough Historian Lloyd Ultan, this will be the first time a company is brewing beer commercially in the Bronx since the late 1960s when Rheingold Beer closed up shop.

“It’s great, we’re very excited to be over there. It’s a nice big space,” said co-founder Chris Gallant.

Though the company’s founders, including Riverdale resident Steve O’Sullivan, hail from the Bronx, the beer has been brewed at the Cottrell Brewing Company in Connecticut. They rented space in Connecticut as they worked on their beers and built up their business. In the fall of 2011, the beer was available at six locations. Now, their website boasts a Google map with 150 sites in New York state that either permanently or on rotation offer one of the brewery’s four beers on tap. But brewing beer in the Bronx has always been their goal.

With the new space and enough money to buy the equipment they need, Mr. Gallant said his team hopes o start brewing by the end of the year.

“I think it’s going to be great to have locally produced beer to bring back a tradition that was longstanding in the Bronx,” he said.
Back in the 19th Century, a lot of beer was brewed in the Bronx. Mr. Ultan said that as Germans immigrated to the Bronx starting in the 1850s, a number of breweries started up. Even the first Bronx borough president, Louis Haffen, was the son of a German Bronx beer brewer. But the breweries began dying out in the 1920s.

“A number of them were really given a body blow because of Prohibition,” Mr. Ultan said, adding that even the ones that survived that period closed with the growth of national beer companies a few decades later.

It was four decades ago that The Eichler Brewery, which was absorbed by Rheingold Beer, stopped producing beer in the Bronx. 

But now Mr. Gallant and his crew are resurrecting the past. They plan to build an indoor taproom for beer tasting after the brewery starts up, he said.

This isn’t the only good news in the world of Bronx beer. On Feb. 1, David Greco of Mike’s Deli and Bronx merchandising company fromtheBronx joined together to open the Bronx Beer Hall inside the popular Arthur Avenue Retail Market. Mr. Greco created the menu for the hall and Jonas Bronck’s Beer Company, the other Bronx-born beer, is offered on tap.

 “If you’ll excuse the pun, I’ve always said the Bronx should get ahead and this way it certainly will,” Mr. Ultan said.

 

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