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Brooklyn's Best Beer: Five Boroughs Brewing Co.

food and-drink


Fordham University


Brooklyn's Best Beer: Five Boroughs Brewing Co.

Five Boroughs Brewery is ready to become New York's beer of choice

Liam Mckeone


Read time: 6 minutes.
Photography by Colin Joyce

Brooklyn has historically been known for having a wide variety of places to find good beer. Whether you like hoppy beer, stout beer, or IPAs, there’s always a spot that will be brewing specifically to your needs. . The recently-opened Five Boroughs Brewery is no different, and they're making their case to be considered one of Brooklyn’s premiere beer destinations, and eventually one of New York City’s most recognizable brands.

Located at 215 47th St. in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn, Five Boroughs Brewery was founded by Kevin O’Donnell and Blake Tomnitz, who both left jobs on Wall Street six years ago to chase their dream of opening a brewery. Blake and Kevin want to expand their brand far beyond Brooklyn —they’re trying to become New York City’s beer, as can be seen by the name and by their slogan, “United by Beer”. The taproom opened up only in August of this year, and is located in an abandoned steel industrial factory, the third-biggest brewing space in NYC behind the Bronx Brewery and the Brooklyn Brewery. About a fifth of the space is dedicated to the taproom, with the rest used for the oh-so-complicated process of brewing their own beer. There's a giant observatory window next to the bar in which patrons are able to sneak a peek at the mad scientists behind the scenes of the up-and-coming brewery.

The taproom itself feels much bigger than it actually is, thanks to the high ceilings that come along with an old steel factory. The area is dimly lit by a ring of colored lights from far above, giving it a cozy ambiance that contrasts with the dwarfing feeling that comes along with being in such a massive room.

The bar itself is simple, with an impressive assortment of taps to choose from. While Five Boroughs doesn’t have a kitchen, they do encourage their customers to order food from whatever your favorite delivery service is straight to the taproom.

“Whenever I was back [in the brewing area] it was crazy, seeing all that goes into it. And all these brewers look like they were on some Heisenberg shit with glasses and clipboards and beards” laughed Colin Joyce, FCRH ’18. Colin worked at the brewery over the summer as their social media intern, in charge of all of their accounts and responsible for taking, editing, and posting photos. His bosses didn’t want shots that seemed staged, so Colin spent a lot of his time taking candid pictures of the process of brewing-- from soaking the malt barley to fermenting the yeast in massive silver vats, day after day.

But, being an intern, he also did whatever was needed, whether it was helping his bosses with beer deliveries in Greenwich Village or helping fill up kegs before an event that was being held in the taproom. While the opening of the brewery had been a work in progress for six years, Colin had the experience of starting there right before the official opening, granting him a front-row seat to the unique—and hectic—timeline leading up to an opening nearly a decade in the making.

“Yeah, I loved doing it. It was very exciting to be a part of something that was about to launch and then see it happen, it was a really cool experience. They didn’t really have a lot of social media experience, so I came in [for the internship] I felt like I actually made a difference, and helped increase their follower count by over 2,000. Plus, the bar itself was basically my desk, and I got to taste-test regularly.”

The beer is, of course, the primary measure by which breweries are judged, and Five Boroughs is not lacking. With a selection of over 25 beers on tap, they have something for everyone: from the hoppy Insufficient Fare to the heavy Imperial Stout to the fizzy and somewhat odd (yet delicious) Cherry Plum Gose, Five Boroughs pleases taste buds of all different preferences. Don’t just take my word for it, though. These beers have been approved by the height of authority on all things beer.

“When things were really starting to ramp up during the summer, we started getting people visiting the taproom and basically evaluating what we were doing. A lot of these guys were Brooklyn beer connoisseurs that came in and tested all of our beer before giving it the go ahead, sort of like checking off a list before we got to open” said Colin, who helped take action shots during visits like these for the brewery’s Instagram. Nobody knows beer better than someone from Brooklyn, and Five Boroughs has the official stamp of approval.

They truly have it all: beer for people who don’t like beer, beer for the most experienced of beer drinkers, and beer for everyone in between. On top of that, they have a fun staff and a comfortable, spacious area to relax and grab a drink, something that can be rare in the cramped New York City bar scene. They even have UNO and Settlers of Catan. So whether you’re there for a long break from the biting winter winds or just popping in for a quick drink to warm yourself up, stop by Five Boroughs. You won’t regret it.

Learn more about the Five Boroughs Brewery and their quest to become New York's brand of beer here!