Other Half Brewing Is Banking on a Local Beer Moment for New York
Founded in 2014, Brooklyn’s Other Half Brewing has been making the idea of “drinking local” a significantly more attractive option for beer-keen New York residents.
Located just off Carroll Gardens, the brewery has proven a perfect fit in the evolving area right by the Gowanus Canal. Brewers/founders Samuel Richardson and Matt Monahan met at Greenpoint Beerworks in Clinton Hill, where they were exploring their mutual passions.
“Matt came in one day looking for a job,” says Richardson. “He wanted to transition from working as a chef to brewing. We had a similar vision and we really got along well, so we started talking about it more.”
The watershed came in the form of a request to do a pop-up dinner in SoHo. The two—along with now-third-partner Andrew Burman—brewed three one-off beers to pair with the food they prepared.
“The food and beers were a huge hit and we were approached by some well-known restaurants about brewing beers for them,” says Richardson. “That was the tipping point. We really felt like there was pent-up demand for local beer. Good NYC area breweries already existed, just not enough for all the people here.” Not long after, they found their current brewing space on Craigslist.
Since opening Other Half, the team has focused mostly on composing hop-forward recipes that are designed to be consumed in the freshest state possible. It is for this reason that the partners threw financial pragmatism to the wind by constructing a production facility in New York proper.
“It’s so much more costly to run a brewery in NYC,” says Richardson. “I’ve worked in breweries in Oregon [where] we had farmers buying spent grain from us. In NYC, we have to pay to have it taken away. We pay an extra NYC excise tax that brewers in the rest of the state don’t pay. Plus, we really feel a strong obligation to pay our employees a wage they can live on in NYC.” But with most bar and restaurant clients—Other Half has over a hundred—practically within spitting distance, fresh consumption becomes much more possible.
The snug, rustic taproom attached to the brewery is the best place to visit for cans and growlers of the company's hoppy crushers. Be forewarned: A new, canned release from Other Half usually results in lines that wind down the block; such brews often sell out within a day. To get the best sense of what Other Half has to offer, seek out its single-hop releases, with each batch highlighting what a single varietal can contribute to an IPA base. (Hard-to-source Citra, Galaxy, and Nelson hops have been showcased, among others.)
“I like dry, clean, finishing beers that allow the hops to really shine,” says Richardson. “Getting the balance of hop bitterness to residual sugar is really important. It’s hard to drink sweet beer, so even with our really big beers, I try to keep the finish very dry.”
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