What happens when a microbrewery grows? Is it still a microbrewery? A regional brewery?
Steve Hindy, the 64-year-old CEO of Brooklyn Brewery has his own label: “Call us a craft brewery.”
Brooklyn Brewery, based Brooklyn’s Willamsburg neighborhood, produces 220,000 barrels of beer annually and ranks in the top 10 of more than 2,600 craft breweries in the United States.
As defined by the Brewers Association, craft brewers must:
- Produce fewer than 6 million barrels annually
- Maintain independence — defined as not be owned by more than 25 percent by a larger brewer
- Maintain its flagship malt beer
By comparison, microbrewers produce 15,000 barrels or less, Anheuser-Busch produces 100 million barrels and MillerCoors about 50 million barrels.
So, with Brooklyn Brewery’s size, the company can still play an important card.
“Underdog is in the eyes of the beholder,” he said.
He still considers Brooklyn Brewery an “underdog, battling those giant companies for market share and attention from our distributors and presence on store shelves around the countries,” he said. Compared to the heavyweights, “We’re just a drop in the bucket.”
Still, Brooklyn Brewery has 90 full-time employees, sells in 20 global countries and 34 states, and generated about $60 million in 2012.
Hindy and Tom Potter, a former banker who has since been bought out, launched Brooklyn Brewery in 1987 before the borough was hip. How did an AP foreign correspondent turn into a brewery maven and entrepreneurial success?
After writing about the Middle East for six years and covering wars in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, Hindy was asked by the AP to move to the Philippines. His wife countered, “No way,” and that led to his becoming a foreign news specialist for Newsday. While overseas many countries prohibited beer, which led to Hindy’s learning home brewing.
Gary M. Stern is a New York-based business journalist and author.