Brewing in the Bronx
Damian Brown & Chris Gallant, founders of The Bronx Brewery, talk to us about beer styles, future beers and brewing in the Bronx.
You emphasize your philosophy in doing one thing and doing it right. Why did you choose pale ale?
Like many brewers who started out small, we began the company brewing pale ales because it's what we loved to drink. While our love for pale ales definitely hasn't changed, a lot has. Consumers are trying more styles than ever, and we've fallen in love with other styles ourselves including IPAs, kolsch and other ales. For that, we like to say we make “No Nonsense Ales” - essentially, a statement that all of our beers are well-balanced, approachable and made for people who, like us, just love good beer, style-independent.
Years ago, we heard a theory that to be a successful brewery in America, you needed a great pale ale, a great IPA and a great Double IPA. Do you think that’s the case here in NY?
We could see how that might have made sense years ago, but these days success is as much a result of the quality of your best beers as it about checking the style-boxes that someone from a different generation invented.
How have you seen beer culture change in New York since you opened up the Bronx facility back in 2014?
We wouldn't be making any headlines to say that competition is more intense than it was when we started out, but that really is the case, and it's a testament to the number of great breweries that make up our competition. Additionally, the taproom experience has really taken off. A lot of people who, a few years ago wouldn't have been craft beer fans, are now getting a taste of all of these great breweries through the experience of a taproom visit. This has definitely introduced more people to the beer community which is better educated as a result. Overall we think it's great for the culture.
Bronx Brewery is very tied to music, specifically hip hop. How would you say music influences your brewing/your brewery?
When you spend as much time in a place that's known for not only birthing hip-hop but also for producing some of the best artists in the genre's history, it's bound to rub off on you (especially when you listen to it while you brew). At the end of the day, we just want to represent the borough in the best possible light, and we can't really do that without paying homage to one of the most significant aspects of the history here.
Can you reveal any future plans for your Barrel Reserve series?
The series is a great way for us to experiment with different conditioning and aging processes as well as build relationships with wineries, distilleries and other businesses. It is something we’re excited about. We’ll definitely be sharing some new barrel-aged beers with the world in the near future -- including a bourbon barrel aged Imperial coffee milk stout in a few weeks.
Bronx Banner is one of your flagship beers. 5% of every case goes to the New York Restoration Project; how did you get involved with NYRP? What is The Haven Project?
New York Restoration Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to transforming open space in under-resourced communities that we caught onto during their Million Trees NYC Initiative. After joining them on some volunteer projects in the community and sponsoring the happy hours that followed, they told us about their amazing plans for The South Bronx and we had to get involved. The Haven Project is a reaction to the fact that these neighborhoods have some of the highest rates of asthma in the United States, and a big part of that is due to the lack of accessibility to green space. The idea is to create more green space and eventually make it all extremely accessible for all Bronxites. Bronx Banner allows us to do more than just lend a hand here and there, which we do through regular volunteer activities. It allows us to make a product that the people of The Bronx can call their own, as all purchases both on & off-premise directly impact them in a positive way. You can find out more at nyrp.org/thebronxbrewery