Bronx Brewery Headed To The Borough

Originally published at the New York Daily News on June 2, 2014.

Finally, the Bronx Brewery will live up to its name.

The suds with the Jonas Bronck-inspired moniker has been brewed in Wisconsin and Connecticut for three years, but, starting this August, will finally be brewed close to home.

Better, the brewery, now under construction in a former lace factory in Port Morris, will open this August for tours and pours.

“This is our chance to make beer in the Bronx and share it with whoever wants to come,” said Sean McCain, a brewery director.

It’s not the first time beer has been brewed in the city’s only mainland borough. Back as long ago as 1900, brewers turned Mott Haven and surrounding neighborhoods into a mini Munich with a seven breweries within a 20-block radius including the Haffen Brewery, whose former headquarters is a city landmark.

But the industry — like so many things — collapsed during Prohibition, and the last brewery, Rheingold, left in the 1960s.

Bronx Brewery will be the latest to help revive the business of beer the borough, following Gun Hill Brewery which began brewing in Williamsbridge three months ago.

“The whole business plan was to have a brick and mortar brewery, but we just didn’t have a million and a half dollars on day one,” said McCain.

The tasting room will occupy a room off the supermarket-sized brewery floor, currently filled with equipment in various stages of assembly. Outside will be a beer garden – and planned dog run – in hopes of making the brewery a destination, much like the Brooklyn Brewery, a pioneer in the city’s latter-day beer boom.

“Tours are going to be a huge and integral part of it, bringing people into the community, into Port Morris, into the South Bronx,” said McCain.

“We look forward to having the brewery,” said Cedric Loftin, district manager of the Bronx’ Community Board 1. “It is great that they will bring some jobs and opportunities into the neighborhood.”

The planned opening of the home borough headquarters coincides with the grow of the business. In its first year, Bronx Brewery produced roughly 400,000 bottles – and is on pace to hit almost three million by Dec. 31. The company also has expanded beyond draft beer and moved into cans. For now, the cans say “Brewed in Lacrosse, Wisconsin,” a source of dismay for the brewery that hopes to build a true Bronx identity. The companies cans will soon read “Brewed in the Bronx,” as it begins to move its full brewing operation to the Bronx in phases over the next year.

“Moving here is everything — it is who we are,” McCain said. “We want people to be proud that it’s brewed in the Bronx.”

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