Brooklyn’s first brewery and distillery is opening this summer, just a few weeks after Kings County Brewers Collective released the first beer made in Bushwick in 40 years.
Interboro Spirits and Ales, based in Williamsburg, will start delivering to local bars tomorrow (follow them on social media for updates on where and when kegs will be tapped) and will make their debut with two beers. Both are low in alcohol and forward in hop flavor—a perfect combination to combat the recent torrid weather:
- Bushburg, 5.5%: Hoppy American pilsner brewed with corn, German lager yeast and noble hop varieties. Pours hazy pale yellow. Aroma of herbal minty noble hops. Taste is bright and slightly sweet, with a dry grassy finish.
- La Dee Da Dee, 4.7%: Hoppy session India Pale Ale brewed with wheat and Vienna malt, American ale yeast and Amarillo and Equinox hops. Pours pale orange. Aromas of citrus, mango and notes of pine. Juicy citrus and tropical flavors, slightly spicy with assertive bitterness and clean finish.
Bushburg and La Dee Da Dee are both creations of Jesse Ferguson, Interboro’s head brewer and distiller. After working at New Jersey’s Carton Brewing and, most recently, Other Half Brewing Co. in Carroll Gardens, Ferguson founded the new company with CEO Laura Dierks, who has experience in the local craft spirits scene.
As the two partners were building Interboro’s facility at 942 Grand Street last November, we spoke with Ferguson about their brewing and distilling plans, as well as the launch of their campaign on Kickstarter that would eventually raise almost $15,000 for a pilot brewing system to be used for limited and experimental recipes.
When we chatted with Ferguson earlier this week, he updated us on the facility buildout, what to expect from his two debut beers, when his first spirit should be released and more. The highlights from our conversation are below:
On facility buildout:
“At any point during the last year I would have told you that we were moving too slowly, we were behind schedule, but honestly I’m really proud of the job we did. We signed our lease last August, we started demo in December and the floors and drains were done by February so that we could get the brewhouse, cellar tanks and still in and installed … By March the gas company had torn up the sidewalk on the north side of Grand for two blocks and brought a new high-pressure gas service into our basement. Then last month the gas was turned on and I made our first batch.”
“It was custom built. It has some really unique features that’ll allow us to have real versatility when it comes to preparing beers and washes for spirit distillations. The biggest feature is that the kettle can act as a mash cooker, meaning it has mixing blades and the ability to both heat and cool the contents. I could go on and on.”
On first distillery release:
“The plan is to have a gin distilled from our own spirit wash when we open the tasting room. The first beer I brewed was actually a spirit wash. I ‘borrowed’ yeast from Other Half and brewed up a wort with no hops and fermented it around 85 degrees. Thirty barrels of beer is enough for three stripping runs, the first pass through the still followed by a single spirit run when the alcohol is condensed. The flavor profile is really defined this way.”
On when tasting room will open and role it will play:
“We’re really close. We’re hoping for September… It’s really gonna be the focal point of our operation. We’re opening the first brewery and distillery in the city, so I feel like our space is going to be where we can really break down the barriers between perceptions of beer and spirits. A lot of people aren’t aware that [beer and spirits] essentially start at the same point and then veer off in different paths. We can show that firsthand with the beers and distillates we make from the same mash.”
On delivering beer:
“We’re delivering everything ourselves—to accounts in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens—in the coming weeks. In my mind, the relationship between us and the bars and restaurants is one of the most important that we have in this business. It’s good to be face-to-face, a real person, with the people selling your beer.”
On what Interboro will bring to the local craft beer and craft spirits scenes:
“I plan on making good beer and spirits for a thirsty city that can’t seem to get enough variety. I think we’re all going to get along just fine.”
“It was the first beer I made for a number of reasons. A hoppy pilsner is what I want to drink when it’s 90 degrees day and night in the city. And I wanted to play with corn since we’ll be making bourbon, so I used 25 percent flaked corn because I love corn in lagers, and I wanted to see how the lauter would perform.”
On La Dee Da Dee:
“Session IPAs and pale ales are pretty much my first choice when I’m drinking. This one is heavy on the wheat for increased body and mouthfeel, so it’s a bit more solid a beer than some session offerings… Working at Other Half was the first chance I got to work with the hop varietal Equinox and I fell in love at first taste. This combines an old-school favorite of hop heads, Amarillo, with Equinox, something new school.”