On a recent Sunday afternoon, I visited the self-proclaimed “World’s Smallest Brewery”, located in Coney Island (right next to the entrance for the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, aka Freak Show), near the southwest corner of Surf Ave & West 12th Street. Run by Shmaltz Brewing Company, this location makes several beers of the Coney Island Craft Lager line. They weren’t joking, the space is very small! The size of a small storefront, the place is a basically one-person operation that brews in one-gallon batches. Beer is available for sale, but technically, they are not allowed to offer on-site tasting. If you want to drink their beer while visiting Coney Island, there are several nearby spots including the café/bar at the corner of Surf Ave & West 12th Street, Beer Island and Bratva.The storefront will be open through Halloween on Thursdays through Sundays, noon until 6 p.m.
Pleasantville Metro-North, $9 each way
Over the past five years, Westchester County’s Captain Lawrence has become one of the region’s breakout craft breweries. But beer is only one reason to visit the captain’s home in leafy Pleasantville. Following a 45-minute train ride from Grand Central, you’ll disembark at Memorial Plaza, where on Saturdays till 1 p.m. you can shop the farmers’ market. Afterward, a five-minute stroll from the town center brings you to Captain Lawrence (914-741-2337), where free Saturday-afternoon tours run at 1, 2, and 3 p.m. and finish with free samples of beers like the piney Freshchester Pale Ale (the tasting room is open till 6 p.m.). Grab dinner at the Iron Horse Grill (914-741-0717), specializing in New American cuisine such as soft-shell crab with polenta, then catch an early evening art-house flick at the Jacob Burns Film Center (914-747-5555; movies like Cave of Forgotten Dreams begin at 7 and 9 p.m.). Then catch a 9:49 or 10:49 p.m. train home.
This sounds like a great day-getaway to visit a fantastic brewery. No craft-beer focused NYC bar crawl is complete without a Captain Lawrence or three! I hope to visit the brewery in the fall and will share my experience with you.
I had a brief tour of the new Distillery still under construction in Williamburg. I got to meet the co-founder, Tom Potter, who is also a co-founder of the Brooklyn Brewery. The construction is nearly complete and the New York Distilling Company will be open later this year for business and visits.
I recently visited the Kelso brewery for a tour. Kelso, which started brewing in 2006 in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn, opened its doors to the public for tours on Saturday, April 16. The brewery is located at 529 Waverly Avenue, on an industrial block about half-way between Fulton Street and Atlantic Avenue. Look for the Heartland Brewery sign above the entrance (Quick aside: Kelso is a subsidiary of Greenpoint Beer Works, which has been brewing all the beer for Heartland Brewery’s five Manhattan locations for over a decade. The owners of Greenpoint Beer Works decided to brew their own beer as well, starting in 2006. Kelso is an acronym of the husband and wife team that owns Greenpoint Beer Works, Kelly and Sonia).
To enter the brewery, you must open a windowless door and, after you enter the foyer, make an immediate left. You will find yourself in the brewery. It feels as though you are in an oversized four story garage, but you will know you are in the right place because you will see the aging tanks on the back, left side of the room. The tasting area is on the right side of the room, near the mash tank. In between the mash tank and the aging tanks is the parking spot for the delivery truck that takes the Heartland beer from Clinton Hill into Manhattan (the Kelso beer gets picked up by Manhattan Beer Distributors). The tasting area is made up of a bar with three taps and some chairs and a few tables. The beers available to sample during my visit were the India Pale Ale, the Nut Brown Lager and a Bock.
Jess the tour guide and bartender was a fantastic and knowledgeable host. The tour began in the tasting area, where, after we had a sample or two, Jess started by telling us a bit about the company and how Kelso came to be. The next part of the tour was the explanation of the brewing process. For those who have already been on a brewery tour, this part is universal to all brewery tours. For those who have not been on a brewery tour, I will not get into the details of the brewing process here (a somewhat detailed description here). After the brewing process is explained, Jess took everyone into the refrigerated kegging room (at the back of the brewery, behind the delivery truck’s parking spot), where dozens of full kegs, both for Heartland and Kelso, were awaiting delivery. Once the keg room visit was over, it was back to the tasting area! We had a few more samples (all samples were free of charge; 64 oz. growlers also available for sale) and then it was closing time.
Tours are conducted every Saturday, one at 2pm and one at 4pm. The place closes around 5:30pm. Take the C train to the Clinton-Washington stop and after exiting on to Fulton Street, head to Waverly Avenue, which runs parallel to Clinton Avenue and Washington Avenue (Waverly is one block east of Clinton and one block west of Washington). For those who are interested in visiting a small brewery and sampling some great beer, I highly recommend a trip to Clinton Hill and visiting Kelso!