Bridging the gulp! Brooklyn Brewery ponders trans-Narrows expansion

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Brooklyn’s longest-running brewing company is eyeing opening up a factory across the Narrows on bucolic Staten Island.

Brooklyn Brewery, despite its name, got its start brewing in Utica, New York, and now has facilities in Williamsburg and Stockholm, Sweden. The brains behind the beer-making operation said bottles of the stuff are flying off the shelves, particularly out of town, and the new factory cannot open fast enough.

“We are growing very rapidly, and in particular, our exports are growing,” said owner Steve Hindy. “We need the resources to keep growing.”

The expansive plot Hindy has in mind on the Rock was previously owned by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, which bought it in a failed bid to build a racetrack. It is only one of a handful of spots around the state Brooklyn Brewery is currently considering — the others are upstate near Newburgh — but the real estate in the rugged lands of Shaolin is the frontrunner because it is close to the Newark-port transit hub in New Jersey, Hindy said.

“It would give us very quick access to railroad,” he said.

The Staten Island facility would be strictly devoted to production and would not include a bar or store like the brewpubs in Kings County and Sweden, Hindy said.

The fermentation station would start by producing half a million barrels per year and could eventually expand to a full million, according to Hindy, which would be an increase of nearly 10 times its current output. The Brooklyn facility now turns out 80,000 barrels a year, while the Utica operation makes 37,000 and the Sweden one makes a paltry few 100, per Hindy.

The company will make a final decision by the end of the year and hopes to get the new vats bubbling by 2017, he said. Building the expansion will cost $70 million, so Hindy is hoping to score some of state exporter-incentive money.

“If we can get some help with that, it would make it a lot more desirable,” he said.

The new facility would triple the brewery’s staff to more than 300, Hindy said.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.
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