Beer School : Bottling Success At The Brooklyn Brewery by Steve Hindy and Tom Potter

Beer School : Bottling Success At The Brooklyn Brewery by Steve Hindy and Tom Potter

Beer School is an engaging and informative book that delves into the journey of Steve Hindy and Tom Potter, two individuals from different professional backgrounds who came together to create the now-iconic Brooklyn Brewery. Written with a refreshing blend of the skepticism of a journalist and the practicality of a banker, this book not only highlights their triumphs but also candidly discusses their mistakes.

Renowned beer connoisseur Michael Jackson, known as The Beer Hunter, describes it as an account of a remarkable achievement, offering valuable insight into the world of entrepreneurship. Professor Murray Low, Executive Director of the Lang Center for Entrepreneurship at Columbia Business School, praises it as a compelling case study that provides aspiring entrepreneurs with profound lessons.

The impact of the Brooklyn Brewery on its local community is unmistakable, as affirmed by Norm Brodsky, Senior Contributing Editor of Inc. magazine. He hails the book as a remarkable firsthand account of how Steve and Tom’s business positively influenced their surroundings.

Not limited to its value for new entrepreneurs, Beer School also offers guidance on growing an established business. Michael Preston, an Adjunct Professor at Columbia Business School, emphasizes the enthusiasm and insight with which Steve and Tom share their experiences. He highlights the book’s potential to educate readers on the obstacles and lessons learned.

The book’s relatable content and fierce determination to build a beer business from scratch in the challenging landscape of New York City make it an engaging and enjoyable read. The founders’ passion shines through as they navigate the complexities of an industry they were initially unfamiliar with.

For Ken Grossman, the founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., the book resonated on a personal level. Although his own brewery did not face the daunting challenges of the Mob or armed robberies, he relates to the initial struggles faced by Steve and Tom. He sees their ultimate success as an inspiring tale of determination and resilience.

The Craft Beer Revolution: An Inside Look at the Rise of Microbreweries

Hi, I’m Mari Malcolm. I’m a senior editor at Amazon Books. I’m joined today by Steve Hindi, author of “The Craft Beer Revolution.” We are here at the Tack Room at the Brave Horse Tavern in Seattle. Also with us is George Hancock, formerly of Pyramid Brewing and now of Phoenix Ale Brewery, and John Furrow of Amazon Books.

I was interested in reading your backstory, Steve. I heard that you were actually a foreign correspondent for the AP who learned how to brew beer in the Middle East. Could you tell us about that?

Yes, before I got into brewing, I spent 15 years as a journalist, including six years in the Middle East in the early 80s. I covered major events like the Iranian Revolution, the Iranian hostage crisis, and the wars in Lebanon. I learned about home brewing when I met American diplomats in Cairo who made their own beer because alcoholic beverages were not allowed in Saudi Arabia due to Islamic law. When I returned to New York, I became passionate about brewing and eventually started the Brooklyn Brewery with my neighbor, Tom Potter.

When we started the brewery in 1987, we were not aware of the larger craft beer movement that had started in the 70s. However, the collegiality and support among craft brewers have always been strong. There have been annual brewers’ conferences since 1984, where we all learn from each other. The craft beer industry has grown significantly, and it is a labor of love for many brewers.

George, you mentioned that the craft beer community is like a religious cult. Can you expand on that?

Yes, the craft beer community is like a cult in the sense that people become deeply passionate about brewing and the breweries they work for. It is not a business people enter for the money, but rather for the love of beer and the movement to create better and more flavorful beers. Charismatic leaders play a significant role in the success of breweries, and the camaraderie among brewers is strong, despite being competitors.

You both mentioned how the taste for craft beer has changed over the years. Can you elaborate on that?

Steve: When we started selling Brooklyn Lager in 1988, many people found it too bitter and dark compared to mass-produced beers they were used to. However, tastes started to change in the 80s, and there has been a continuous shift towards favoring craft beers with bolder flavors. The craft beer movement mirrors the local food movement, and people appreciate the quality and variety that craft breweries offer.

George: The taste for craft beer is a result of a rebellion against mass-produced products in various industries. Just like people started to appreciate artisanal chocolate, cheese, and baked goods, they also sought out craft beer for its uniqueness and flavor. It has been a long upward curve, but the growth and appreciation for craft beer continue to rise.

Both of you mentioned the importance of sourcing quality ingredients. Can you speak more about that?

Steve: When developing a new beer, we focus on finding the most appropriate grains and hops for that specific style. The availability of grains and hops from all over the world has allowed for creative experimentation. However, there is also a trend in cultivating local ingredients to create truly local beers. Some breweries are even growing their own grain and hops to support their community and increase the uniqueness of their beers.

George: Sourcing quality ingredients is crucial in creating exceptional beers. Just like wine, the taste can vary depending on where the ingredients come from. There is a lot of innovation in the industry, not just from brewers but also from suppliers and farmers growing specialized grains and hops. The variety and quality of ingredients contribute greatly to the flavor of craft beers.

Mari: It seems like the distribution of craft beers has expanded significantly in recent years. Can you discuss the impact of distribution on the craft beer industry?

Steve: Distribution has played a crucial role in the growth of craft beers. About a decade ago, major distributors like Anheuser-Busch started carrying craft beers, which increased the availability and visibility of these products. Additionally, the rise of social media has allowed small breweries to reach a broader audience without spending a fortune on marketing. Craft beer consumers are eager to discover new breweries and flavors, making social media a powerful tool for the industry.

George: The craft beer industry has experienced tremendous growth in the past decade. Craft beers are now available in places like drug stores and gas stations, showing how ingrained they have become in our culture. Craft beer consumers enjoy supporting local ventures and are excited about trying new beers, which has contributed to the growth of the industry.

Steve: The craft beer segment currently represents about 10% of the US beer market by volume and 14% by dollar value. While many may think this is a small share, it is important to note that craft beer is the only segment that is experiencing significant growth. Large beer companies are losing market share, and they have started acquiring craft breweries to stay competitive.

Mari: As craft beer continues to evolve, it is an exciting industry to watch. Thank you, Steve Hindi and George Hancock, for joining us today and discussing “The Craft Beer Revolution.”

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