The good news about Bushwick’s new brewery Braven Brewing Company just got better. As excited as I was to promote last week’s Kickstarter Launch Party to fund the brewery, there was an inkling of fear in the back of my mind: The brewers seemed legit, but what if their beer wasn’t up to snuff? This Tuesday night my fears were put to rest when I sampled the brewery’s very first brews: the Braven Black and Braven White, a pair of India Pale Ales and the brewery’s flagship beers.
IPAs are known for their intense hop usage and they’re not everyone’s thing. But I think brewery owners Marshall Thompson and Eric Feldman have taken a smart approach to their versions of the style. By creating a black IPA and a white IPA the boys are essentially branching out their flagship brews to appeal to a larger audience than just hopped-up fools like myself. Let me break down what I mean:
The Braven White may be an IPA, but it has a Belgian wheat twist. This means the beer has a nice hoppy kick but also a wonderful aroma of oranges and spices that carries through to the each sip, more reminiscent of a wheat beer (think Blue Moon) than a hop-amped IPA. The beer is brewed with orange peel and coriander to create an intriguing blend of spice and citrus that will satisfy fans of lighter brews without being devoid of flavor. Then we have the Braven Black, which is totally my jam. I like to think of the black IPA as the love child of my two favorite beer styles, the hoppy IPA and the malty stout. True to form, the aroma of the Black Braven is heavily dominated by a roasted scent that almost smells like coffee with earthy fruit scents coming from the hops. When you go in for a sip the deep roasted flavor of the rye malt lends a coffee flavor as well, but each mouthful is finished out with the earthy, citriusy bite of the hops. Yum!
My friendly photographer Matt Chapman expressed another common concern – IPAs may be delicious, but that hop-rockin’ taste is often offset by a heavy-hitting alcohol content. You might be able to enjoy one with dinner, but they’re fairly unsustainable for long late-night rampages and day-long adventures. Don’t worry Matt, Marshall and Eric are on it. They love flavorful pints but want their beers to be enjoyed over the full course of BBQs and concerts. That’s why they’ve done their homework and are brewing their IPAs as session beers, carefully balancing their recipes so that the brews come out at a sustainable 5.0 – 5.2% alcohol content without losing the full-bodied flavor.
Eric Feldman moving fast to keep the beer pours coming at the Braven Kickstarter Launch Party.If Braven Brewing Company is news to you, here’s the deal with the brewery, folks. Four years ago Marshall Thompson and Eric Feldman simultaneously had the idea to buy a homebrew kit in a conversation now immortalized in their Gchat histories. “The first time you brew it bites a lot of people,” said Eric. “It gets into ya.” The bug certainly bit Marshall and Eric and this spring they decided to turn their favorite boozy pastime into a more lucrative endeavor with plans to open a full-scale brewery and taproom (!) in Bushwick within the next year. Operating as a “gypsy brewery” – brewing on another brewery’s equipment – will tide them over while they raise the funds to buy their own equipment and lease a space. Here’s where we come in. If we want our own Bushwick brewery we need to put our money where our mouths are by donating to the Braven Kickstarter campaign, currently in full swing. At pub time they had $10,311 of the 20K goal with 24 days to go. They have great swag as rewards, but really the best one is just finally getting a neighborhood brewery!
The guys landed on Bushwick as the site for their brewery because of our hood’s rich brewing history. In the early 1900s Bushwick had over 70 breweries, by 1976 it had none. Eric and Marshall are excited to revive the tradition by creating small batch, inventive beers. “We like the idea of getting kind of weird,” said Marshall. “Interesting combinations that won’t work, but you’ve got to try. Only if you’re taking chances is it really worth it.” Their logo and name, a combination of a buck and a raven, are seeped in Marshall’s family history (invoking images from his family crests) and represent the brewery’s motto “Bold and Crafty,” which is their approach to every brew they make.
Need further convincing? Don’t take my word for the quality of their brews, come taste one of their inventive beers yourself at Braven’s Dia de los Muertos Party this Friday at 10pm at Passenger Bar. There the boys will premiere their new beer Dia: a chocolate stout made with oranges and chili peppers – yum! Last Tuesday’s event at St. Mazie was a blast with all of the beer samples drained within two hours, surfy jams from Brooklyn band Los Hormiguitas and even some live tattooing going on in the back thanks to St Mazie owner and tattoo artist Mike Lucena. The Dia Party is our second chance to try some brews and enjoy the chill ambiance the guys foster (a hopeful sign of what’s to come from the boys’ taproom), this time featuring music by DJ Neville C and live Dia de Los Muertos face painting for the folks who couldn’t quite muster up the commitment to get a permanent Braven tatt at the last party. See you there!
The Braven Brewing Company’s Braven Black and Brave White IPAs get 5/5 stars – 1 for the White’s subtle spice and orange flavors, 1 for the Black’s wonderful roasted aroma and deeply balanced taste, 1 for the harmonious pairing they make sure to suit almost any taste, and 2 for the great promise they and their creators hold for the future of Bushwick beer.
Bushwick Brews is a weekly column dedicated to the exploration of Bushwick’s finest beers written and curated by brewista Erin Wicks. Erin wants to know which brews you’re drinking locally. So let her know where you’re at, what you’re drinking, and hashtag it #bushwickbrews on Instagram and Twitter. She’ll be doing the same!