The Bronx has not had a brewery in their borough since the 1960’s. Then Damian Brown helped to change that. Damian Brown is the co-founder and head brewer of The Bronx Brewery. Along with co-founder Chris Gallant, and a hefty brewing pedigree Damian was able to bring The Bronx Brewery to life in 2011. Damian took the time to sit down with me and discuss his beer, the Bronx community and of course J.Lo.
The Brewery: Let’s get this out of the way first, there is a Chase commercial out there talking about how Chase was able to see your vision and help get The Bronx Brewery off the ground, is that a true story?
Damian: Yeah. We received a loan from Chase to purchase all of our brewing equipment. They then reached out to us to participate in their Mission Main Street campaign. It was based around promoting Chase as a bank and lender for small businesses.
So they helped you Chase your dream?
Yeah, it’s been a great partnership with them. The team we work with has been great. We get a lot of people telling us they hear us on the radio or have seen the videos on the internet. It’s been great.
Your brewery is The Bronx Brewery, did you ever discuss other possible names?
No, not really. We wanted to name and build a company and brand around the borough and New York City. So, we certainly had thoughts, but for us it was important to make the name as simple and descriptive as possible.
Other than your breweries name, how do you incorporate your maniacal love of the Bronx into your beer?
A number of different ways, the most obvious and perhaps the simplest thing to point to would be the fact that we’ve established our company here and have invested close to two million dollars in our company and our facility. So, basing ourselves in the Bronx, hiring people here. We’ve also sponsored a number of events and charitable organizations here in the Bronx. We worked with a number of community gardens, including a parish that has grown hops for us for some specialty batches of beer. I mean, we’re sort of early in our lifecycle as a company. Having a connection to our immediate block, our neighborhood and our borough is something we take seriously.
Speaking of being serious, the motto of The Bronx is “Yield Not to Evil” what’s the motto of The Bronx Brewery?
(laughs) Well, we have sort of a slogan that you’ll see on some of our cans and cartons. It says “Our Borough, Your Beer”. For us the point is that we’re making this beer for beer lovers wherever they may be and bringing people together with a product made in our borough and in our city is what it’s all about.
Your focus seems to be on Pale Ales, was that intentional? I’ll admit it’s fun to say “A Bronx Pale.”
Absolutely! We saw a lot of companies coming out and launching with a huge portfolio of beers day one. We saw some other companies that have been successful building companies on the backs of a flagship beer. We decided to take the latter approach and really focus on pale ales as a style, as a family of styles. You know, build some expertise and do one thing and try to do it well.
You also do some barrel-aging right?
We do, but it’s barrel-aging of those same pale ales. So right now we have a portfolio of 5 beers. One flagship pale ale that we do year round, and then we do a different seasonal pale ale every quarter. So we do a Belgian pale ale in the spring, we have a summer pale ale with dried lemon peel for the summer, a rye pale ale for the fall and then a black pale ale for the winter. Then we age each of those beers in a bunch of different wine and spirits barrels.
What’s your favorite Bronx offering at this point?
That’s a good question. I’m obviously partial to our flagship beer that was the beer that we launched the company with. But I think in terms of seasonals my favorite has been our winter release which is a black pale ale. I think it’s probably the most unique of the beers that we make.
The name alone is unique. So, what’s the best part of your day as Head Brewer?
Honestly I think the best part of the day for me is generally you know, sitting down and having a beer towards the end of the day.
You can’t go wrong with that, so who’s your most inspiring native Bronx person real or fictional?
Hmm… most inspiring Bronx person? And it can’t be Jenny from the Block huh? (laughs) I’ll throw that one out there.
The Bronx Zoo, The Bronx Bombers and now The Bronx Brewery, all good things, is there anything bad about the Bronx?
I think every neighborhood and community have their own challenges. There’s certainly things that the Bronx can improve on, just like anywhere else. I don’t really know how to answer that. I mean, I think there’s plenty of things to celebrate about the Bronx which isn’t to say that it’s perfect.
Finally, keeping with the theme of the Bronx Bombers, are there any performance enhancing drugs in your beer?
(laughs) No. Well, that depends. It depends on what sort of performance you’re doing. I think a lot of people think they’re much better at doing things after a few beers. So, perceived performance enhancing.
We thank you for enhancing the beer world Damian. Currently The Bronx Brewery is beginning construction and build out of their facility on 136th Street. They are looking forward to having people swing by and take tours and see their public tasting room when it’s finished. And remember, you don’t have to be from the Bronx to go out and grab a 4 pack of the Bronx Pale Ale this weekend.