A WILDLY POPULAR GOWANUS BREWERY KICKS OFF A FIFTH SUMMER OF BEER IN NYC, AND BEYOND
BY ERIK SCHONING
The Smith Ninth Streets subway station, at about ninety feet above ground level, is the highest rapid transit stop on the globe. It’s fitting, then, that only two blocks from this Gowanus site is the home of Other Half Brewing Company, helmed by beer makers with lofty aspirations of their own.
Though 2019 marks just the five year anniversary of Other Half, few are the local breweries that have so quickly expanded in popularity among both aficionados and casual craft drinkers. With a list that includes brews called “All Medusa Everything” and “Feels Like Outer space,” plus a roster of cans plastered with psychedelic designs, aesthetics have gone a long way in spreading the word. Limited releases and a masterful social media presence have helped, too, but taste is what counts, and Other Half’s New England IPAs, stouts, and sours have pleased taste buds all over the borough.
Summer for the operation means new releases. According to founder co Matt Monahan (along with Sam Richardson and Andrew Burman), warm months allow for more diversity in a lineup.
“Spring and summer is probably our most well rounded portfolio in terms of styles,” Monahan said. “It’s an uptick in a lot of the lighter varieties…pale ales, session IPAs, pilsners, and things like that.”
This summer also marks the first time Other Half will have an outdoor space. And, on April 25th, the brewery launched a second location in East Bloomfield, NY, about 25 miles south of Rochester. Opened in the former home of the Nedloh Brewing Company, the new taproom, called Other Half Roc, will feature a full selection of the trio’s classics.
“Rochester has an amazing beer scene,” said Monahan. “There’s an educated consumer base there. They know what they like. It’s nice to be a part of something that is already great.”
Plus, he explained, the second home will allow experimenting with spontaneous fermentation and barrel aged products processes indispensable in making sour and wild ales, but requiring separate facilities and air quality not available in Gowanus. To spearhead that effort, they’ve brought on longtime New Belgium Brewing Company veteran, Eric Salazar.
Back in Brooklyn, Other Half is sponsoring the second annual Green City festival, held in Industry City on Saturday, June 22nd. Named after the distinct color of hops, the event is intended to celebrate a beer style that is the backbone of Other Half: IPAs. This year’s edition will showcase more than 70 breweries from all over the world (including an ample selection of local brewers) and occupy a larger space.
“We’re trying to put something on the map for New York City,” Monahan said. “Something that isn’t distributor driven. We’re able to curate a list of truly the best producers in the world to come to the best scene in the world.”
Also returning is the bizarre yet compelling spectacle of professional wrestling, with NY Wrestling Connection putting on a show for festivalgoers.
The expansion of Other Half and local maker compatriots like Finback Brewery, Grimm Artisanal Ales, and Single Cut Beer smiths has made beer tourism viable in New York City, and the famous hours long lines outside the Gowanus taproom and the infamous beer hoarding bankers who collect cases like vintage winewell, these trends speak for themselves.
Borough wide, it’s not uncommon for bartenders to be asked if Other Half has a place on the tap list, and its signature super hopped, high alcohol by volume, and cloudy IPAs have more or less put a style referred to as “New England IPAs” on the map.
When the brewery launched, its founders intended to provide Brooklyn with a local maker of distinction; in their own words, to represent the “other half” of the beer industry. If the Green City festival, the upstate taproom, and the ever present hubbub at their original location is anything to go by, suds lovers should never despair: they are represented.
Other Half Brewing Company
191 Centre Street / 917.765.6107 /