By Sybile Penhirin, Louise Dewast and Asha Mahadevan
The Gun Hill Brewing Co., in Williamsbridge is the first microbrewery to open in more than 50 years in the Bronx. While breweries are more common in the other boroughs, especially Brooklyn and Queens, the Bronx is still lagging behind in attracting these investors.
Kieran Farrell, one of the founders of Gun Hill, said that he uses the Bronx connection as part of his marketing strategy and it has not proved to be a disadvantage when he tries to sell his beers to bars in Manhattan. Rather, his buyers are curious and want to know more about the beer. Seventy five percent of his sales are to beer bars. Farrell supplies to around 25 bars all over the city, of which only two are in the Bronx.
Marlene Cintron, president, Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, sees benefits for both the company and its home borough. “There are great opportunities for the brewing companies to brew beer with the signature of the Bronx,” she said, and added, “Having these companies open here leads to additional rebranding of the Bronx. We can attract and keep younger residents with disposable income and they’ll see how cool the Bronx is. So it is a win-win situation.”
According to Cintron, the Bronx is financially attractive because, “it’s the last bastion of available land and property at an amazing price, it has great free access to the city. We are the only game in town.”
The craft beer industry is on an upswing in the New York state, thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to hand out Farm Breweries licences to brewers using local products. The license ruling came into effect in January 2013, and in October that year, Cuomo said, in a statement, “With the opening of 14 farm breweries since January and a nearly 100 percent increase in our microbreweries, it is clear that New York’s craft beer industry is booming—and this is just the beginning.”
In the same statement, Paul Leone, executive director, New York State Brewers Association, was quoted as saying, “The growth of our industry is huge—at the rate we’re going, we could possibly see over 200 breweries across New York State by the end of 2014.”
Nationwide, craft beer sales saw a 9.6 per cent rise in 2013, compared to 2012, according to research firm Technomic.