After the Storm, New York's Beer Industry Cleans Up

Photo credit:
Chris O’Leary

First things first: right now, after the beating that New York City took in Hurricane Sandy, there are things we should be more worried about than beer. Dozen have died, hundreds have lost their homes, and hundreds of thousands are still without power. We’d recommend making a donation to the Red Cross or the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and signing up for volunteering with NYC Service or New York Cares.

But the beer beat goes on. In fact, it some cases, it never stopped. We have to give props to the staffs at places like The Pony Bar UES (1444 First Ave. at 75th St., Upper East Side)and our own local The Bodega (24 St. Nicholas Ave., at Troutman St., Bushwick) that stayed open throughout the storm, saving many people from boredom and cabin fever.

Obviously, many bars, breweries, and even beer distributors weren’t nearly as lucky.

With no power in Lower Manhattan, places like Good Beer (422 E. 9th St., btw. 1st Ave. and Ave. A, East Village) and Jimmy’s No. 43 (43 E. 7th St., at 2nd Ave., East Village)are obviously closed. Since this has financial consequences, Jimmy’s asked its loyal customers today to purchase gift certificates or tickets to upcoming events.

With the power outage on Monday night, places like One Mile House (10 Delancey St., at Bowery, Lower East Side) and Blind Tiger Ale House (281 Bleecker St., at Jones St., West Village) stayed open in darkness late into the storm, but are now closed. Blind Tiger put out a request for ice so they can at least stay open during the day, before it gets as dark as it did there on Monday.

In terms of water damage, Greenpoint’s The Diamond (43 Franklin St., at Calyer St., Greenpoint) watched water come perilously close to their bar, but they were spared and opened yesterday. The Heartland Brewery location at South Street Seaport, obviously, suffered significant flooding, and will be closed for a while. In Long Island City, Alewife(5-14 51st Ave., at 5th St., Long Island City) took on some water and is still cleaning up and hopes to reopen tomorrow.

Breweries took a hit from the storm, too. Sixpoint’s Red Hook brewery was in the heart of a neighborhood that suffered devastation from the storm surge, and they did not escape damage. Meanwhile, newcomer Rockaway Brewing took on water from the East River in their Long Island City brewery, and was carefully monitoring temperature to make sure they didn’t lose any beer due to the power outage. Brooklyn Brewery experienced “minimal damage” and didn’t lose any beer in the storm.

Two breweries that may have taken the worst hit don’t know the extent of the damage yet. Given the devastation reported on Coney Island, Shmaltz’s “World’s Smallest Brewery” isn’t expected to fare well, and they’re heading down to see the extent of damage this afternoon. Barrier Brewing in Oceanside, Long Island, hasn’t even been able to get to their building yet. “We can’t access our brewery yet,” they said when asked via Twitterhow they fared, “but judging by the boats wrecked on the street and the water mark halfway up our door, not good.”

Another victim of Sandy was the warehouse of the city’s largest beer distributor, Union Beer Distributors. Their location is along Newtown Creek, which rose several feet into their building during the storm surge on Monday night. Even from street level, you can see the high-water mark, but we’ve been told the damage on the inside is much worse, and brewers had already been contacted about loss of product. But their cleanup and recovery will likely be swift; needless to say, demand for beer stops for no one.

The physical damage, though, can be repaired. With human lives lost, these are relatively insignificant casualties from Sandy. And given New York’s resilience, we know the city - and the beer industry - will recover.