Brooklyn Brewery

In 1984, Steve Hindy ended a five and a half-year tour as the Middle East Correspondent for the Associated Press where he covered wars and assassinations in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Sudan. On his last night in Beirut, his hotel was hit by a mortar barrage. Steve picked up a still-warm piece of shrapnel as a memento, packed up his family and returned to New York City. During his years in the Middle East, Steve befriended diplomats based in Saudi Arabia, where Islamic law prohibits alcoholic beverages. The envoys were avid homebrewers and happily plied Steve with their flavorful beers. Returning to live in Brooklyn and editing foreign news for Newsday, Steve started brewing at home. Eventually, he enlisted his downstairs neighbor, banker Tom Potter, and they set out to establish the Brooklyn Brewery. Steve placed that shrapnel on his desk as a reminder of his days in the Middle East, where it still sits today.

Intent on starting a brewery that would pay homage to the rich history of their beloved borough, Steve and Tom set their sights on bringing in the legendary graphic designer Milton Glaser to create a logo that would give their fledgling Brooklyn Eagle Brewery brand an instant identity. Steve was particularly insistent on the name as a reference to the venerable Brooklyn Eagle newspaper. After months of repeated phone calls, Milton finally agreed to a five-minute meeting with the eager entrepreneurs. Knowing they had only a few minutes to make a strong impression, Steve and Tom employed a bold tactic: they entered Milton’s office and told Milton their stories, instead of just pitching him their business. Two hours later, Milton was persuaded to join in with the bold plan set forth by Steve and Tom. He first insisted on changing the name to Brooklyn Brewery, saying: “You’ve got Brooklyn here, who needs an eagle!” He even agreed to waive his usual fees in exchange for an equity stake in the company. Steve and Tom had no problem with that; after all, they had no money. With handshakes all around, Steve, Tom and Milton established a professional relationship (and personal friendship) that continues to this day. Milton designs every label produced by the Brooklyn Brewery, and the Brewery in turn keeps his office well-supplied with fresh beer.

In 1988, Steve and Tom delivered their first cases of beer, and flickerings of brewed glory began to appear in Brooklyn once again. First on their list was Williamsburg local Teddy’s, an upstart bar run by longtime neighborhood activist Felice Kirby and her husband in the old Peter Doelger’s Extra Beer pub. Word started to spread that the two men could be found at bars and restaurants pouring this (relatively) shocking concoction that was darker than Heineken and smelled strongly of hops, of all things. Steve and Tom were hitting the streets to educate consumers from the bottom up, exposing a new generation of beer drinkers to flavorful beers that had been all but lost to the American beer scene. The fledgling Brooklyn Brewery found a following and began to grow.

Today,Brooklyn Beer is enjoyed worldwide.