Brewed in Brooklyn

Explore the origins of the brewing industry in Brooklyn from early 1800s and meet modern day craft brewers and home brewers who are helping to transform the borough. The film features interviews with historians, brewers and beer lovers alike and includes vintage footage and excerpts of classic beer commercials. The documentary is must see for anyone who loves beer, Brooklyn or history.

AIRED: October 07, 2018 | 0:55:05

>> Funding for

"Brewed in Brooklyn"

is made possible

by a grant from...

John Sampieri Jewelers --

Crafting original engagement

and wedding jewelry in

Manhattan's Diamond District

for over half a century.

Online at

Peluso Orthodontics

of Cedar Grove, New Jersey --

Concentrating in teen

and adult smiles.

More information


By Grand Prix Auto

of Brooklyn -- Leasing new

and used vehicles since 1997.

At 2709 Coney Island Avenue


Narrows Insurance Agency

of Brooklyn -- A full-service

agency serving the tristate


Online at

Marovato Italian Imports --

Purveyors of Italian

gourmet foods.

Online shopping available


And by Lugara Law of Brooklyn, -- Focusing

on all aspects of residential

and commercial real-estate

matters, estate planning,

probate, and commercial



>> One of the special things

about New York, that everybody

who comes here brings his or her

culture, and so what you have

in Brooklyn is a culture of



>> Welcome to Brooklyn,

New York.

Of the five boroughs

in New York, it's the most

populated, with some 2.5 million

people of every ethnic

background living here.

It's a place where hipsters

and Hasids live side by side.


Our people are eclectic,

our bridges are iconic,

and our breweries

are world-famous.

Well, they were world-famous.


Marshall Stevenson is

a New York City tour guide

and beer expert.

Every week he brings tourists

on beer tours of Brooklyn

to visit breweries of the past.

>> Commercial brewing began

in Brooklyn in the early

19th Century.

Well, you have a lot of German

immigration, and that's really

key to it because Germans

bring their culture.

>> And when they came to

Brooklyn, they had their own


They had Williamsburg.

It was a separate city.

Bushwick -- just names now --

was a separate city.

>> Bushwick was well-suited

for brewing for one simple


>> This was really the heart

of beer brewing in Brooklyn

in part because

the Ridgewood Reservoir

opened up in the 1850s

and fed fresh water

into this neighborhood.

>> Built in Queens,

the Ridgewood Reservoir

had just been completed in 1858

to satisfy Brooklyn's increasing

demand for water.

Water from the reservoir

would be the main ingredient

that the breweries in Brooklyn

would use for decades to come.

For the German immigrant

brewers, water from

the Ridgewood Reservoir makes

for a perfect match for their

style of brewing.

>> The Germans come in,

and they start to open

the first breweries

in the 1850s, and those beers

were classic German-style beers.

They were lagers.

They were wheat beers,

or Weissbiers, and they're

the ones that really --

the industry takes off.

>> And not only did they bring

their brewing style here,

they brought with them

respectable places to enjoy

a cold beer.

>> So before German-American

immigration began, where

Americans drank were saloons,

which were associated with

crime, vice, corruption.

It really wasn't a place

where you would bring your

family to have a beer.

This all changed when

the Germans came, and they

introduced the beer gardens

and the beer halls.

These were, all of a sudden,

places where you could enjoy

a beer in the outdoors

with your family, and it was

accompanied by other pleasures,

such as singing, dancing,

or playing cards, and this

basically changed the whole


It made drinking outside

a respectable thing,

all of a sudden.

>> One of those immigrants

was a German Jew named

Samuel Liebmann, who came

to Brooklyn from Ludwigsburg

just north of Stuttgart in 1850.

His great-great-grandson,

Walter Liebman, explains

why the family left Germany.

>> I'm not, myself, a scholar,

but I do know that it was not

a very pleasant place to live

if you were a Jew,

and that's why they decided

to immigrate.

>> The family settled in

Brooklyn and started their

brewery there for the same

reason so many other brewers

were choosing Brooklyn --

the water from

the Ridgewood Reservoir.

>> In those days, of course,

Brooklyn was a separate city.

It had its own community.

It didn't look anything

like it looks today,

and I'm sure that the water

was pure and good.

Otherwise, they wouldn't have

done it.

>> For more than a century

thereafter, the name "Liebmann"

would become synonymous

with beer brewing in Brooklyn,

paving the way for what would

eventually become their

signature product --

Rheingold Beer.


>> Rheingold was created

for the Chicago World's Fair.

The family was making beer

ever since the mid 1800s

in Brooklyn --

different beers.

For the Chicago World's Fair,

they decided they would have

something new, so they developed

a new beer and called it

Rheingold, and it was such

a smashing success, that it

overwhelmed the whole company,

and it became Rheingold.

While we did make other beer --

we made bock beer, spring beers,

and, you know, a few other

things -- ales,

it was the dominant product

and became the signature product

of the company.


>> By the 1880s, 35 breweries

had been established in

Brooklyn, generating an

estimated $8 million in revenue


>> So you not only have a lot

of Germans, both in Manhattan

and in Brooklyn, you have people

with resources and skills

who can know something

about making beer.

I wouldn't be very good at it.

And, thirdly, you have a market,

because certainly in

the 19th Century, if not in

the 21st, you needed to --

beer production was associated

with something nearby.

I mean, you couldn't brew beer

in Brooklyn and sell it

in Tennessee very easily.

>> All breweries in Brooklyn

up until 1850 could be

classified as regional brewers.

A regional brewer sold its beer

exclusively to a local,

or regional market.

>> For early Brooklyn,

it was local.

So there was really --

There was no refrigeration,

and, at one point in time,

the areas that had the largest

German influence had

the breweries, because Germans,

beer is their drink of choice.

So the Bushwick section,

Williamsburg, East New York,

but, really, the heart

of Bushwick was where most

of the German immigrants came,

and they started opening


>> There's literally a brewery

on every corner, and that's

where people came to get their


They got it fresh from that

local brewery, and that's

how people were drinking

in the 1800s.

>> The German brewing technique

required cooler temperatures

to store the beer and employed

extensive cellars for storage

so as to take advantage

of the cool underground


They also used large blocks

of ice cut from area lakes

and ponds during the winter

to regulate temperature.

The block-ice business

in Brooklyn in the 1800s

was good for plenty of cold

cash, much of that due to

the enormous amount of ice

needed by area brewers.

>> They could only brew during

certain times of the year

when it was cool enough

to cool down the hot wort

coming out of the kettle,

and they had to cut ice.

If they had to store beer

for nine months in an icehouse,

they had to cut ice.

>> Changes in refrigeration

technology, which was first

employed in Brooklyn

at Liebmann and Sons in 1870,

hit most of the breweries

in the 1880s, helping to shorten

the cooling stages of

the brewing process and

permitting a longer brewing


The breweries were able to brew

more beer, and Americans were

falling in love with lager beer.

>> And at that point, the beer

was so good, they were actually

supplying a good percentage

of the beer in

the United States.

>> In the time period prior

to the Civil War to, say,

the 1880s, lager beer had

undergone a tremendous

popularization to the extent

that it had become a national

beverage enjoyed beyond

the ethnic German communities.


>> And what starts to happen

in the late 1800s and then going

into the early 1900s is you

start to see the industry

change, and it goes from being

a local industry to being

a regional and, eventually,

a national industry, and

the reason it changes is because

of technology, and brewers

were behind a lot of

the technologies we now take

for granted -- things like

pasteurization, refrigeration,

the development of bottling

lines and canning lines,

and all of these things make

beer manufacture easier,

and they make it possible

to keep beer for a long time

and ship it over long distances.

>> The number of breweries

increased in the 1880s and

1890s, as did production,

aided by an increased demand

and technology advances.

By 1898, Brooklyn was the fourth

most populous city in

the country and supported

45 breweries.

>> In terms of the number

of breweries in Brooklyn,

it peaked in 1900.

>> By the turn of

the 20th Century, you had

approximately 50 breweries

operating in Brooklyn.

It was the brewing capital

of the world, and Brooklyn

had a reputation of being

great beer.

It was extra hoppy

and very popular.

>> And the fact that three

of the largest breweries

in the country were right there

in Brooklyn -- that was Piels

and Schaefer and Rheingold --

said something.

>> Another one of those famous

breweries to have a lasting

impact on Brooklyn

was the Ulmer Brewery.

>> Ulmer himself was a great

philanthropist, and he gave

a lot back to the community,

so he was very popular

to the point his biggest

donation, so to speak,

was the opening of Ulmer Park

in the Gravesend section

of Brooklyn.

That opened around 1893.

It only had about a six-year


However, it was the amusement

park of the day, and they had

a hotel, restaurants, shooting

gallery, bowling alleys --

all sorts of fun things

for people to do, but most

importantly, it was an outlet

for Ulmer to sell his beer.

>> But the Ulmer name still

lives in Brooklyn with

the Ulmer Park Bus Depot

and the Ulmer Park Library,

not to mention brewery buildings

on Belvedere Street that still

bear the William Ulmer name.

>> His brewhouse and office

were actually granted landmark

status -- the only brewery

in Brooklyn, the only remaining

brewery, ever to be granted

landmark status.

Unfortunately, most of them

were razed, torn down.

You could drag yourself through

Brooklyn and possibly see some

remnants of the old breweries,

but Ulmer, who hasn't operated

since 1919 because his company

went out of business right

at Prohibition, his buildings

still stand.

Their romanesque-style offices

are actually in landmark status,

which is very nice.


>> There's one street in

Bushwick that had 11 breweries

in 12 square blocks.

It was called Brewers Row.

>> Brewers Row was

a two-by-seven block area,

which covered Scholes and

Meserole streets and extends

from Bushwick Place

to Lorimer Street.

One of those breweries

was the Otto Huber Brewery.

>> And this happened to be

one of the largest breweries.

in what was called

"Brewers Row."

>> The building can still be

found at 260 Meserole Street,

and at the peak of its

production, the brewery produced

100,000 barrels a year.

>> When this brewery opened

in 1877, we know that on opening

day, there were 1,500 people

that came to the party,

800 dinners were served.

They went through 200 kegs

of beer.

So this was one of many

breweries in the area that would

have been making fresh beer

that local people could come to.

>> The Otto Huber Brewery

was later bought by

Edward B. Hittleman,

and the facade still bears

his name today.

The Hittleman Brewery was

best-known for producing

Goldenrod Ale.

The building, however, plays

another role in Brooklyn


On the morning of

January 14, 1880, a fire broke

out at the brewery.

Engine 16 responded to

the blaze, which was brought

under control within a half

an hour, but then, without

warning, a wall collapsed down

on six firefighters.

All six were rescued,

but only five survived.

Captain William Baldwin

would die six days later

at St. Catherine's Hospital,

becoming the first firefighter

in the history of Brooklyn

to die in the line of duty.


Now, more than 130 years later,

a statue of Captain Baldwin

stands lookout in

Evergreens Cemetery in Bushwick,

just blocks from where he

battled his final blaze.


Despite the tragic setback,

Brooklyn was good for beer

and beer was good for Brooklyn.

It had become a major source

of revenue for the borough,

and, more importantly,

a major source of jobs.

>> The economic impact of

the beer-brewing industry

has been immense.

>> I think it was a major

employer during its entire


During the 1800s,

the development of this

neighborhood was really driven

by the German immigrants

who move here.

One of the biggest industries

they develop is the beer-brewing

industry, and hundreds and

thousands of Brooklynites

were employed in this industry.

It became a vital piece

of the neighborhood.

The brewers themselves,

the people that own

the breweries were some

of the wealthiest people

in the community, and they

spent their money in support

of building the community.

>> Brewing offered a lot

of people in Brooklyn

employment, steady employment,

livable wages for a while --

back before everything was

exported to other places

or cheaper states or

right-to-work states

or other kind of things.

Before the competition

of the South and exurban places,

Brooklyn had a lot of advantages


But it would have been extremely

important to Brooklyn's economy.

>> And it wasn't just Bushwick

and Williamsburg where the beer

was being brewed.

>> Right here in Bay Ridge,

there was

the Golden Horn Brewery,

and the Golden Horn Brewery

was an anomaly for the day.

Everyone was sort of in

the Bushwick area, a little bit

into Williamsburg,

East New York where Piels

was located.

However, Bay Ridge had

a penchant for beer.

There was a large German

population, also a large

Norweigian population

who liked beer, and

the Golden Horn Brewery,

this was very pre-Prohibition.

It was the early turn of

the 20th Century, and it was

right down Third Avenue

on 96th Street.

They actually don't know

which side of the block

it was actually on, but you'd

go to your neighborhood

Golden Horn Brewery,

and you'd get your beer.

>> But there was something more

than just beer that was brewing

in Brooklyn.

So, too, was anti-German


>> World War I happened,

[Chuckles] and that changed

it all.

>> The outbreak of World War I

in 1914 would put

German-Americans in Brooklyn

in a most untrue and unfavorable


>> Because they have German

roots, they support the Kaiser,

and they're unpatriotic

and unloyal citizens.

One famous prohibitionist,

his name is Wayne Wheeler,

actually called them

"alien enemies."

All of them, not just

the Brooklyn brewers,

but all brewers in

the United States were from

then on called "alien enemies"

who would supposedly support

the Kaiser back in Germany.

>> It was not a fun time to be

a German-American, and there

were sensationalized cartoons

depicting Germans in these big

Kaiser-like menacing cartoons,

and it was not fun to be German.

>> Brewers actually changed

the names of their brands

to no longer be associated

with the German element.

>> The Schmidts became Smith.

The Muellers became Miller.

The Germania Life Insurance

Company became

the Guardian Life Insurance

Company, which is actually

still in operation today.

>> The German brewers even

had to change the way they were

brewing their beer because they

were being accused of wasting

grain for brewing.

>> Every bushel of grain

that is used for beer

is used for kaiserism.

That's the equation,

and when Congress passes

the Food and Fuel Act,

brewers are no longer allowed

to produce any beer that

contains more than 2.75%

of alcohol, which diminishes

the body of the beer and,

of course, the flavor.

>> As World War I ended,

anti-German sentiment faded,

and life for the brewers

in Brooklyn began to return

to normal.


>> They were good neighborhoods

then, by and large, and good

employees and good beer,

and life was good.

You had a baseball team,

you had a newspaper, and you had

the Brooklyn Eagles, and you had

30 or 40 breweries at any given


Who could ask for much more?


>> The first half of

the 20th Century, Brooklyn

is a thriving city, a growing

city at a point during that

period becomes, if it were its

own city, the fourth largest

city in America.

Manufacturing explodes

all over the city.

The Brooklyn Navy Yards

along the river become one

of the most advanced shipyards

of the U.S. Navy.

Companies like Pfizer and,

you know, what we now know

as Exxon, but it was

Standard Oil at the time --

all these companies are booming,

and the beer business

is booming, too.

It's booming right up until

Prohibition, and then we kick it

in the teeth.


>> Prohibition would shut down

the breweries, taking jobs away

from a lot of people and

legal beer away from everybody.

It hit the brewery workers

and the tavern owners

like a sucker punch

in a Bensonhurst barroom.


In Brooklyn, the first whispers

of banning alcohol started

nearly a century before

Prohibition was actually passed.

Temperance societies had been


They passed out leaflets

and made their case to anyone

they could, all for

the so-called moral benefit

of life without drink.

It took a while, but,

eventually, they got their way.

Prohibition began on

January 17, 1920 when

the Eighteenth Amendment

went into effect.

A total of 1,520 federal

Prohibition Agents were given

the task of enforcing the law.


>> Here you had brewers that

maybe had five generations

of brewing skill in their family

before they came to America,

and you look at the breweries

of Europe, and they look like

these temples to Gambrinus.

You know, they have the name

of the family carved in stone,

and I'm sure when those families

came here in the 1880s and

1800s, they didn't foresee

having the product that they

so proudly sold be made illegal

in 1920.


>> Breweries, bottlers, and

saloons throughout Brooklyn

were forced to shut down or find

another line of business.

At Liebmann's Brewery,

the makers of Rheingold knew

that they had to do something

fast now that Prohibition

had given them lemons.

>> They made lemonade,

they made soft drinks.

They tried to distribute

other kinds of products.

They could take advantage

of whatever activities

would fit in, but it was mostly


>> The breweries that were still

around had to scramble, figure

out what else they can make.

Some of them make near-beer,

which is kind of like

the nonalcoholic beers

we have today like O'Doul's.

Some of them get into other

businesses, like cereals,

ice cream, extracts --

all sorts of things just trying

to figure out how to stay

in business.

>> But the real money was in

still making beer, so they did

that whenever possible.

>> And that really was the main

source of business that kept

them alive during the 14 years

of Prohibition.

>> The law, Prohibition law,

did allow what was called

near-beer, which is not beer,

but it sort of tasted like beer.

>> But the interesting thing

about near-beer is that it's

made from something else --

real beer.

>> So, at any given time,

agents could walk into

a brewery, and that brewery

could legally be in possession

of "high-powered beer"

because it hadn't made it

to the de-alcoholizing machines

yet, and so this provided a lot

of leeway for some of that

high-powered beer to make it

into barrels and make it

into trucks and be delivered

to saloons, and that's really --

So there was still a lot of beer


>> Now, Prohibition didn't stop

people from drinking.

In fact, speakeasies were

opening up from one end

of Brooklyn to the other.

[ "The Charleston" plays ]

Prior to Prohibition,

drinking was, for the most part,

a man's sport.

But with alcohol illegal,

women who had never before

darkened a doorway of a legal

saloon were now tipping their

martini glasses and dancing

the Charleston in gin joints

from Canarsie to Coney Island.

Instead of destroying

the institution of alcohol,

Prohibition had given it a chic

it had never before seen,

and now it was tax-free.

>> Speakeasies are very popular.

They're all over.

Speakeasies really went from

the beginning to the end

of Brooklyn, and they were just

social places.

Some were more out in the open

than others.

You think of the traditional

speakeasy in the movies

where someone has a slide

on the door, and you give

a secret knock or a password,

and someone opens the door

and lets you in --

those did exist.

They may exist today, actually,

if you really look into it,

but a lot of the speakeasies

are actually right out in

the open, and they would just

know who to avoid or maybe

who to pay, and that's where

you get your beer or your

alcohol, which was primarily

coming in, at that point,

from Canada if you wanted to go

for the hard alcohol, and beer,

too, was being brought in

from Canada, as well.

It was a little easier to cross

the border those days.

>> At the Trommer Brewery,

management could see that

Prohibition's days were

numbered, and they had a plan.

>> So they started making loans

to bars, hot-dog companies --

mostly hot-dog companies --

hot dogs were a big thing

back then -- with the hopes

that eventually they would

be able to ship their beer back

to those stores.

>> It took 13 years before

Prohibition would be repealed.

>> So there's this 13-year

period of Prohibition, kind of

a temporary national insanity.

We get over that.

Beer comes back, and

the beer brewing resumes again

in Brooklyn, and it's still


>> After Prohibition was over,

brewing recovered in Brooklyn.

In fact, by most estimates --

and these are all crude --

you could argue that Brooklyn

was about the brewing capital

of the United States.


>> Now, despite the turbulence

of everything else going on,

like a Depression followed

by a World War, things are

going along reasonably okay

for the beer-brewing industry

that had remained in Brooklyn.


That is, until 1949.

>> In 1949, there was a strike

in the beer-brewing industry

that went on for 81 days.

>> Unions probably had something

to do with it.

There were big strikes

at various times against

the breweries.

They wanted two-man trucks,

for example.

Well, the breweries said

that was inefficient,

so there were major strikes.

>> Yeah, they went on strike

for, like, three months

into the hot heat of summer,

and, in the meantime, brews

from out of state were coming in

by the caseload.

Blatz came in with big, big

sales and marketing.

>> ♪ I'm from Milwaukee

♪ And I ought to know

>> ♪ Why Blatz Beer tastes great

wherever you go ♪

♪ All Blatz is draft-brewed

♪ That's why you hear...

>> Blatz is Milwaukee's

finest beer.

>> Draft-brewed Blatz --

Milwaukee's favorite premium

beer -- now at local prices.

>> New Yorkers did not stop

drinking beer for 81 days,

so somebody had to supply

the beer, and this is one

of the points where Budweiser

and Miller and Pabst and these

other outside breweries

really make significant inroads

into the market.

People become Budweiser

drinkers, people become Pabst

drinkers, and they don't go back

to Rheingold and Schaefer.

>> Seven thousand people

were out of work as a result.

The strike propelled Wisconsin

to overtake New York

as the leading beer producer

in America.

>> Having a strike in the '40s

was bad, and it was also bad

'cause that's about the time

when you see the emergence

of canned beer, and canned beer,

'cause it's so light and so easy

to ship, really made it so that

companies like Budweiser and

Miller could sell cheap beer

here in New York City.

>> After the strike,

the breweries of Brooklyn

looked to regain the market

they had lost, but the damage

had been done.

Across the Hudson River

in Newark, New Jersey,

Anheuser-Busch was getting ready

to open a mammoth brewery.

The company boasted it would

have an output of 10 million

barrels a year upon opening

in 1951.

In Brooklyn, the breweries

were doing anything they could

to get their customers back

and keep them before being

pushed into oblivion

by the behemoth national


>> I think the beer you're

brewing now since we're back

is absolutely delicious.

The shipment that went out

this morning is the best beer

that ever left the brewery.

If only they'll try it again.

It's so good now.

We've got to make them try it


>> Advertising had become

a big part of the strategy.

>> Piels, they actually sort

of shunned sports for a while,

and they really were not

a major sports sponsor like

Schaefer was, and, in turn,

they came out with

the characters Bert and Harry,

who are two cartoon characters,

brothers who are allegedly

the Piels brothers.

Actually, the Piels brothers

had different names.

They weren't Bert and Harry,

but they would always be getting

themselves into some sort

of trouble, and people loved

them when you mentioned them.

They would put their faces

on signs and coasters and what.

So when you think of Piels,

people think of Bert and Harry.

>> My brother and I are brewing

you a Piels beer that is,

without question, the most

flavorful brew that ever tingled

your taste buds.

>> Trommer itself was also known

as the first advertising giants,

and they really focused on

print ads, signs, billboards,

pretty ladies to sell their


So they were really ahead

of the game on advertising.


>> Schaefer had also turned

to TV advertising and had come

up with a series of catchy

jingles and slickly produced

television ads.

>> There are times when only

an ice-cold beer will do.


And there are times,

like this one, when it's got

to be Schaefer.


>> Schaefer had a very

interesting jingle.

Actually, their slogan/motto

was "the one beer to have

when you're having more

than one," and I don't know

if that would fly in today's

world when you're encouraging

people to have more than one

beer and drink Schaefer and add

a catchy little jingle that went

along with that sung by many

people, one of which was

Queens' own Louis Armstrong.

>> ♪ Ye-e-ah

♪ Schaefer is the...

one beer to have ♪

♪ When you're having

more than one ♪


>> Schaefer also turned

to baseball, sponsoring

the Dodgers.

>> Schaefer was a tremendous

supporter of the sports,

and taking from someone like

Trommer, who really began

the sort of guerrilla

advertising to sell their beer,

Schaefer took it to the next

level by supporting sports

teams, and they actually

called it the Schaefer Circle

of Sports, and it was their goal

to be the sponsor for every one

of the sports teams, and they

really were ahead of the curve

on that and were a major sponsor

of the Dodgers -- you know,

at different times, pretty much

all the sports teams throughout

the New York area --

the Dodgers, especially,

because they installed a very

large sign in the outfield

at Ebbets Field, saying

"Schaefer," and very interesting

is that in the "Schaefer,"

the "H" in Schaefer and the "E"

in Schaefer would light up

if there was a hit or an error,

and that was really way ahead

of the time, and Schaefer really

took it up there, and becoming

a major sports sponsor,

really, they're a large factor

of how we have -- and now beer

is closely associated

with all sorts of sports,

and Schaefer could take a lot

of credit for that.

>> But without a doubt,

the most famous marketing

campaign ever to be employed

by a Brooklyn brewery and

arguably the most famous

and enduring beer campaign

there ever was came in the form

of a beauty contest concocted

in part by Rheingold's head

of advertising, Philip Liebmann.

>> Philip Liebmann, who is

a cousin of mine -- and older --

was a character of enormous


He was one of those very rare

people who is sort of a legend

in his own time.

>> But this legend was about

to come up with, or perhaps,

more accurately, stumble upon

what would become a legendary

marketing campaign --

the Miss Rheingold Contest.

>> Linda Bromley.

>> Miss Rheingold was a big


That was like Miss Subways

or something like this.

Rheingold was the New York beer.

>> I can remember as a kid

you would actually get into

arguments over which was

the prettier, prettiest

Miss Rheingold.


>> The Miss Rheingold Contest,

or election, could take a girl

from the sticks and make her

a superstar.

>> Miss Rheingold began in 1940

with the first Miss Rheingold,

Jinx Falkenburg.

For a quarter century

thereafter, the public voted

annually for Miss Rheingold

and vote they did --

by the millions.

>> The Miss Rheingold Contest

was incredibly popular

for the entire 25 years.

In fact, I got between

20 million and 22 million votes.


>> More people in Brooklyn voted

for Miss Rheingold than voted

in the presidential election.

[ Laughs ]

So people were jazzed --

I mean, everyone, you know,

whether you were beer-drinking

age or not.

Of course, Miss Rheingold

was a sex symbol of the day.

This sex symbol never showed

her elbows, so a little bit

different than a sex symbol,

but sex symbol nonetheless,

and Rheingold was progressive

in a way in that they had

women of color.

Of course, women of color

were Italian.


>> And guess what we've got

today that matches right up

to the Miss Rheingold election?

We've got "American Idol."

>> Well, Marge, there they are.

>> And while Miss Rheingold

was signing autographs,

Rheingold Beer was dominating

the New York market, thanks,

in part, to Madison Avenue.

>> We had this huge advertising

budget, and, of course, there

was the Miss Rheingold promotion

and the fact that we outspent

every other brewer in New York

to do this is what made us

the number-one beer in New York.

We had a 35% share of

the New York market.

That's unbelievable, I mean,

for any one product in

a multiproduct environment

to have 35% share of the market.

We did.

>> During her yearlong reign,

Miss Rheingold's picture

was on the Rheingold can

and in all their advertisements,

and her public-appearance

schedule was brimming over.

In 1964, Miss Rheingold

had a pavilion at

the New York World's Fair.

Just next door at Shea Stadium,

Rheingold was a sponsor

for an upstart baseball team

called the New York Mets.

>> And I can remember

July 26, 1964, which just

happens to be my birthday,

coming to the Mets game

as the guest of Casey Stengel

and being invited out onto

the playing field to throw out

the opening pitch, and after

I came back to my seat

in the stadium where my mom

and my chaperone were with me --

This was, I think, the first

year that they made those

beautiful, big tote boards,

and on the tote board they put

up the words to "Happy Birthday"

and "Happy Birthday,

Celeste Yarnall,

Miss Rheingold 1964,"

and the entire Shea Stadium

sang "Happy Birthday" to me.

>> For those who took the crown

of Miss Rheingold, it became

a springboard to instant fame.

>> The Miss Rheingold Contest

put me into a very different

bailiwick, if you will.

It made me a star in my own


I would go places and actually

have hordes of people and

paparazzi, which didn't even

exist, tearing at my clothes,

my hair -- you know, flashbulbs

popping as I'd go into

a restaurant.

Everywhere I went, I was

followed, but I loved it.

>> But as they say, all good

things must come to an end,

and 1964 was the last year

the adoring public elected

a Miss Rheingold.

>> Unfortunately, Miss Rheingold

ran its course, and there's

a few different reasons for

that -- one being that Rheingold

was a traditional company,

and they did not want

Miss Rheingold to be in bikinis

or looking in any sort of

a, I would say, sexy way.

At the same time, you know,

after all these campaigns,

after a while, people just get

tired of them, but an

interesting thing, as well, is

that there really was never

a Miss Rheingold of color.

So, at the time,

Rheingold did not want to

upset the minority communities

by not naming a minority

Miss Rheingold, and, also,

they didn't want to upset

the non-minority community

by naming a minority

Miss Rheingold, so it,

unfortunately, ran its course,

and by the end of 1965,

it disappeared.

>> It's a shame.

It was so much a part of

the every year of New York,

and -- my eyes kind of water up

as I think back to what fun

it was to have arguments

with your friends over

Miss Rheingold --

kind of a neat idea.

>> The Miss Rheingold Contest

was a phenomena that was utterly

amazing, and I just think that

it should never be forgotten.

>> Now, by around this point,

Brooklyn is starting to change.

People are moving out, going to

places like Connecticut,

Long Island, and New Jersey.

On November 21, 1964 in

the Bay Ridge neighborhood

of Brooklyn, Mayor Robert Wagner

would cut the ribbon on

the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge,

linking Brooklyn with

Staten Island.

Almost immediately the bridge

would offer an escape route

for tens of thousands of

Italian-Americans living

in Brooklyn to move to

Staten Island, earning the span

the dubious nickname

the "Guinea Gangplank."

>> So as people left, the city

lost tax revenue.

As it lost tax revenue,

it had less money for police

and sanitation.

As it has less money for police

and sanitation, the city got

dirtier and more crime-ridden

and more people left.

Meantime, it's hard for

the brewers because taxes

are high in New York.

It's difficult to expand.

The crime is such where

you can't leave a keg

on the sidewalk, and so it

became very difficult,

so the brewers started

to build -- not close in

New York right away, but started

to build higher-tech plants

out of the city.

>> Crime was at an all-time


Actually, every bad thing

was at an all-time high --

inflation, taxes, unemployment,

utility costs.

Brooklyn was falling apart.

New York City was falling apart.


>> In 1973, Abe Beame had been

elected Mayor of New York City.

The diminutive 5'2" Mayor

was up against the worst

financial crisis in the city's


In the old German neighborhoods

of Bushwick and Williamsburg,

buildings were abandoned

and boarded up.

Crime and burning vehicles

were a fact of everyday life.

It looked like Brooklyn's

best days were long gone.

>> And then the industry

in the mid 1970s just dies here,

and people -- again, thousands

of people lose their jobs,

and that's a time when Brooklyn

is going through a difficult

economic period, and I just

think about how hard it would

have been in that time to have

lost this entire industry

when it had been so thriving

just 10, 15 years before.

>> In 1976, within two weeks

of each other in January,

first Rheingold, then Schaefer

close their doors forever,

ending the storied Brooklyn

brewing history.

>> Just decimated, so decimated

the beer industry.

1977 -- zero breweries.



>> 1977 was not a good year

for Brooklyn.

Bushwick was burning.

People were fleeing the borough,

and then in the early morning

hours of July 31st, it was about

to get worse.


David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam

killer would strike for

the final time, shooting

and killing Stacy Moskowitz

as she and her date sat

in a parked car in

the Gravesend Beach section

of Brooklyn.

Compounding the misery,

a blackout that summer

left the city in darkness.

Almost the minute the lights

went out, the looting started

in Bushwick.

The blackout of 1977 was,

perhaps, the perfect metaphor

for Brooklyn.

>> It was the Dark Ages.

I mean, come on.

There's no beer, no baseball.

You know, it was a tough time

in Brooklyn -- a lot of high

unemployment, high crime,

a lot of tension in

the community.

It certainly --

You know, that's the time

when President Ford was

"Drop Dead" to the city

of New York.

So it looked bad.

>> Meanwhile, the Anheuser-Busch

Brewery in Newark was churning

out beer faster than its trucks

could deliver it.

Miller Brewing had been chipping

away at the market, and

the Coors Brewing Company

had come up with a beer in 1978

called Coors Light that

threatened to dominate

the New York market for years

to come.

And while beer was getting

lighter, Brooklyn's outlook

was getting darker.

No one in their right mind

would consider starting another

brewery in Brooklyn.

>> The big guys are getting


The distributors are swallowing

each other up.

How are we gonna compete?

>> The year was 1987,

and conventional wisdom held

that a startup brewery in

Brooklyn would not stand

a chance.

Steve Hindy and Tom Potter,

however, were not conventional


>> And I said, "Well, you know,

we're not gonna compete

with the big American breweries.

We're gonna compete with

the imports.

We're gonna make high-quality

beers of different styles,

the kind of beers that are not

being made here in the U.S."


>> Not only did Hindy start

a new brewery in Brooklyn,

he also chose to name it

the Brooklyn Brewery.

The name "Brooklyn" had been

tarnished from decades of

decline, and still carried

with it all of the negative

stereotypes and the image

of crime and poverty.

>> A lot of people questioned

calling it "Brooklyn."

Brooklyn doesn't have

the greatest reputation,

but, to me, Brooklyn's

an amazing place.

It's got an incredible history.

It's mentioned in literature,

in movies, and they say that

one out of seven people in

the U.S. can trace their roots

back to Brooklyn.

So it seemed, to me, to be

a great name, and it's

worked out really well for us.


>> Beer brewing was returning

to Brooklyn, but it was far

from an overnight success.

>> We had a lot of adventures

early on.

Our first warehouse was in

an old brewery over in Bushwick,

and truck drivers refused

to come into that area

after dark because of the crime.

>> To help market his fledgling

Brooklyn beer, Hindy hired

graphic designer Milton Glaser

to come up with his logo.

The logo, however, evoked

the memory of an institution

that had abandoned Brooklyn

nearly 30 years earlier --

the Dodgers.

How would this play?

>> When he unveiled the logo,

to be honest, I was completely

underwhelmed -- you know,

this simple little "B,"

it just seemed like,

"That's it?"

And, you know, the genius

of that label began to dawn

on me.

It does evoke the Dodgers,

but it's not just about

the Dodgers.

It's a fresh image of Brooklyn,

and, also, it's kind of

a timeless image of Brooklyn.

It's worked out incredibly well

for us.


>> Suddenly, the winds of change

were beginning to blow once

again in Brooklyn, but this

time, it was different.

Something was beginning to take


Artists and musicians were being

priced out of Manhattan

by Wall Street executives.

The once-shabby Brooklyn

was beginning to look like

a chic alternative.


>> We're not making any

cause-and-effect claim here,

but it just seems like a strange

coincidence that when beer left

Brooklyn was when Brooklyn

fell to its lowest point,

and then as Brooklyn has

re-emerged and becomethe place

to be in New York City,

all of a sudden, it's breweries

that are back on the scene.

>> People start to move over

to Brooklyn where the beer

used to be brewed, and they

start bringing their taste

for craft beer, because going on

at the same time with people

rediscovering the city,

they're starting to get tired

of Budweiser and Molson Ice.

>> You know, suddenly,

the pendulum has swung again,

and Williamsburg has found

a different kind of life.


>> And that's not all.

This new wave of people

moving into Brooklyn begin

to embrace something else --

home brewing --

a beer you not only make

yourself, but when done right,

tastes pretty good, too.

>> This is my malt here --

four different varieties

of malt.

This is what I make the beer

out of, and I have some

specialty malts, as well,

that I'll order when I'm doing

a recipe, but these are mostly

base malts.

Most of the beer comes from

these guys.

This here is a kegerator --

a couple of soda kegs in here.

They're five-gallon kegs.

That's what most home brewers

use when they start kegging

their beer.

It's perfect.

You do a five-gallon batch,

you have a five-gallon keg.

Everything fits perfectly.

>> Pete Lengyel is a member

of the Brooklyn Brewsers,

a group of some 80 home brewers

from Brooklyn.

>> Brooklyn home brewing

has exploded.

It's absolutely huge right now.

When I started, there was not

any shops in Brooklyn.

>> Now, you might think these

home brewers would be happy

to buy their malt, hops,

and everything else online,

but if that's what you think,

you just don't know home brewers

and you just don't know


>> At the time, there were no

home-brew shops in New York,

any of the five boroughs.

So we had a built-in market

ready to go, and people just

kind of hooked onto it, and

we've been growing ever since.

>> Benjamin Stutz, whose

Brooklyn Homebrew in Park Slope

opened in 2009, has become

a mecca for home brewers.

>> A big part of the job

is just walking people

through the process --

you know, introducing them

to the equipment, how it's used,

teaching them about ingredients,

and people like coming into

a shop because they can get

a face-to-face answer.

It really makes a difference.


>> There is this feeling

that we're kind of recapturing


Brooklyn is like that

in general.

All the neighborhoods are kind

of growing out, and people

are moving back and

revitalizing, and brewing's

part of it, too.

>> And if you think

the breweries in Brooklyn

are looking down at

the home brewers, think again.

>> They're totally on board.

They help us out.

I organize speakers for my club,

for my home-brew club,

and I've had all the local

breweries come in.

>> Among those breweries

that are hosting and encouraging

the home brewers is

the Coney Island Brewery,

which began operations in 2011.

Now, if you're wondering

why you haven't seen an ad

for the Coney Island Brewery

on the Super Bowl, or at least

a billboard on the BQE,

there's a pretty good reason.

>> We are the smallest

commercial brewery in the world,

Guinness Book World Records,

and it's just a fun, fun time.

It's kind of our test kitchen

in a way, where we get to

experiment with all kinds

of beers.

>> And if a beer is going to

have the brand name

"Coney Island," it should come

as no surprise that the style

of beers being brewed can be

as fun-filled as a ride on

the fabled Cyclone

roller coaster.

[ Riders screaming ]

>> We've done a Caramel Apple

IPA, which everyone loved.

That was real interesting,

but, yeah, we try to keep it

weird, [Chuckling] I guess.


>> There's no getting around it.

The eclectic diversity of

the borough combined with

the centuries-old tradition

of making your own beer --

you can only call it a match

made in Brooklyn.

>> The kind of people that are

drawn to Brooklyn in general,

very kind of maybe artsy

and artisanal-type people.

People are into all kinds

of weird hobbies, like gardens

on the rooftops, chickens,

making all kinds of things

these days, making their own,

I don't know, clothes and foods

and beer.

It kind of just falls in line,

and just -- it's perfect

for Brooklyn type of people,

I'd say.


>> That's not the only thing

perfect for Brooklyn-type


So are growlers, which is how

beer used to be bought fresh

from the breweries when patrons

rushed the growler from

the brewery back to their home.

>> And it kind of died out

for a while, and now it's coming

back, where you can refill

a glass jug.

They're various sizes now,

but standard is 64 ounces.

You can fill them up with

draft beer and then reuse them.

There's nothing to throw away.

The kegs are returned to

the brewery, the glasses get

reused, so it's a nice

environmental thing, as well

as a good way to get fresh beer.

>> You can, once again, rush

the growler at Beer Street

in Brooklyn.

Beer Street in the Williamsburg

neighborhood is turning a whole

new generation on to fresh

tap beer to go, as well as an

eclectic variety of brews

that you can't find anywhere

else in the five boroughs.


And you remember that old

Otto Huber Brewery in Bushwick?

Well, that, too, is getting

a new lease on life.


>> This particular space we're

in, we'll just be serving beer,

but the other side, the second

part of our project, which is

called "The Well," we will

actually be brewing beer

and have a full beer garden

in the back, as well.

>> That's Josh Richholt,

President of The Wick --

Wick, as in Bushwick.

He's got a 20-year lease

on the building, and he plans

to not only put a nightclub

there, but a brewery, as well.

>> I think it's just going back

to the heritage of the site.

You know, I mean, it would be

a shame to have a place that

looks like this, that was built

for what it's built for

and not have a brewery

be part of the project.

So we've been able to partner up

with a really well-done,

successful brewery, and we'll be

brewing beer shortly.


>> From Bay Ridge to

Brownsville, from Cobble Hill

to Carroll Gardens, and

everywhere else you look

in the borough, Brooklyn is


And what's the future for


And for that matter, what's

the future of beer brewing

in Brooklyn?

>> It's wonderful that now

craft beer is becoming so

popular with the new hip class

that's coming, that's in

Brooklyn, and continues to come

into Brooklyn because it's

bringing brewing back

to New York in this way

that's completely consistent

with what beer has become.

>> I think we're gonna see

more and more varieties being

made by more and more breweries,

and so I think we have a lot

to look forward to.

>> The future of beer is bright

across America, and particularly

in Brooklyn.

We have unprecedented choice.

There are more breweries

producing beer today

than there were in 1900,

and they're ever-expanding.

>> I think in the next

five years in Brooklyn,

you're gonna see a lot more

breweries opening up.

It's not easy 'cause the rent's

so high and the space

limitation, but you're gonna see

breweries and you're gonna see

brew pubs.

>> Everywhere in the country

where a brewer has gotten

a foothold and has built

a company, others have followed.

It's just kind of interesting

that it happens here in

Brooklyn, which has this

amazing history of brewing.

>> The stars are in alignment

for Brooklyn to do better --

and it already is --

in the next quarter century.


>> A new day has dawned

in Brooklyn, and with each

new day on tap comes more

promise that things around here

are going to be okay.

[ Riders screaming ]

And it just might be

that it's a result of beer --

Brooklyn beer --

whether it be from any one

of the craft breweries here

or the home brewers who have

brought their love of beer

to the borough or to

the specialty shops

like Beer Street.

These modern-day Brooklyn

brewers have brought a passion

for beer and a respect for its

history in Brooklyn combined

with an unbridled enthusiasm

that would have brought a smile

to the faces of the old German

brewers who walked these very

same streets more than 100 years


>> As of today in Brooklyn,

there are actually 13 operating


Some of them are small,

operating out of a commercial

kitchen, but other ones are

actually in full production


So it's really gone from ups

and downs.

So we went from this almost

10-year period of being nothing,

of the companies just trying

to really bring an inferior

product with some nostalgic

names in there, to, actually,

Brooklyn turning around and

to going back into mostly

craft beer, but really

becoming a brewery force.

The future of Brooklyn

is bright.

Brooklyn's always bright.

If you're from Brooklyn,

it's the greatest place to live

in the world.

>> As I stand here today

in the heart of Brewers Row

in Brooklyn, I can't help

but wonder, what would

Otto Huber think about all this?

What would the Schaefer

or Liebmann family say?

What would the Piel brothers do?

My suspicion is that they

would do the same thing

that we're all doing,

and that's raising a glass

to our modern-day brewers

of Brooklyn.




[ Music stops ]

Can you sing the Rheingold


>> Sure.

Am I going to?

[ Chuckling ] No.

>> Oh!

>> I can't sing.

>> I'll sing it with you.

>> ♪ My beer is Rheingold,

the dry beer ♪

♪ Think of Rheingold

whenever you dry beer --

buy beer ♪

♪ It's not bitter, not sweet

♪ It's the extra-dry treat

♪ Won't you try Extra Dry

Rheingold Beer? ♪

♪ Boom, boom, boom


>> ♪ My beer is Rheingold,

the dry beer ♪

♪ East Side, West Side

♪ End of town and down

♪ Rheingold Extra Dry Beer

is the beer of great renown ♪

♪ Friendly, freshening

Rheingold ♪

♪ Always happily dry

♪ The clean, clear taste

you want in beer ♪

♪ Is in Rheingold Extra Dry

>> ♪ From Lexington to Madison

and on both sides of Park ♪

>> ♪ They ask for

Rheingold Extra Dry ♪

>> ♪ Before and after dark


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