“Blue Gas Flames And Birds Twirling” A Chat With Ed Raven On Dirck The Norseman and Grain Terminal Brewery
Ed Raven, of Raven Importing Company and owner of Brouwerij Lane, promised that the new brewery he is opening called Grain Terminal, along with a bar/restaurant called Dirck The Norseman will be – “the most awesome sunset beer drinking spot in Brooklyn.”
Sounds great right? When I visited the huge warehouse space on No. 15th St and Franklin St. in Greenpoint, which has a view of the Manhattan skyline and Bushwick Inlet, my next question was when is it going to open?
When Ed arrived to give me a tour he had just put out a fire, a “major major problem” after he learned that his construction permit was about to expire and was given the advice to call his contractor.
“I am the contractor,” he said clearly frustrated.
This is just one of the many hurdles he’s had to jump before he can open, along with getting a gas inspection to begin brewing and getting sign-offs on the final design plans.
“Is building this place driving you crazy?” I asked.
“You know me, Jen. I lost my marbles years ago.”
His wife, who is fully supportive of the expansion of his business, “hears a lot of venting. She hears a lot of screaming,” Ed said, “but after a couple of beers, I calm down.”
“It’s not up to me,” he said about the timing.
Complaining about all the snags his construction project has been caught in and the general difficulty he has experienced working with the Dept. of Buildings, he said, “What are we in the Stone Age?”
“I think it looks like you got them in the Stone Age, Ed!” They were awesome.
The overall vibe of the space, aside from being a construction zone has what Ed calls a “rustic steel iron concrete feel.”
“Everything is going to be a little on the rough, like I am – a little rough around the edges,” he said as he showed us the custom concrete bar.
Ed decided to call it Dirck The Norseman after local artist and Brouwerij Lane regular Chris Smith AKA Smitty recommended it.
“It was a community effort. Dirck the Norsemen was the first settler of Greenpoint. It’s to honor THE MAN,” Ed said, adding that it also pays homage to his own Norwegian/Scandinavian roots, “of course.”
A note to the New York Times Editor in response to an article about the History of Greenpoint clears some facts up about old Dirck:
Dirck Volckertsen, one of the early settlers, “was known as ‘Dirck the Norman’ despite being Scandinavian.” This also seems to have confounded a number of local historians. Actually, he was called “de Noorman” precisely because he was Scandinavian. Norman/Noorman means Norseman or Northman in Dutch.
Volckertsen’s 1645 house was probably not the first house in Greenpoint either. A group of settlers, mostly of Scandinavian origin, had already settled in the area (illegally, I might add) by the time the Dutch West India Company purchased the land in 1638. Volckertsen did not secure legal title until 1645, when he may have decided to build a more substantial dwelling.
The name of the brewery Grain Terminal refers to Red Hook’s New York Grain Terminal which Atlas Obscura describes as:
A vestige from the golden age of grain shipping, the Red Hook Grain Elevator is a monster of an anachronism on the Brooklyn waterfront…12 stories high and 430 feet long, containing 54 cement silos, each 120 feet tall and eight inches thick, this grain terminal is not only monstrously larger than most, but was also opened seven years after the last grain terminal in Brooklyn was converted into a storage warehouse, leading it to be dubbed the “Magnificent Mistake”. Built in 1922, the space is essentially a bomb shelter, the silos having been made fire proof in order to hold the combustible grain.
“Hamburgers are out! I’m just kidding we’ll have hamburger. But, bratwurst is out!” Ed screamed then said, “Rotisserie Chicken, that’s what’s in. Right on this wall you will see blue glass flames and birds twirling.”
While Ed passionately has his hands in everything from picking out the lighting to ideas about the food, he has given the honorable title of Head Brewer to Chris Prout. At Brouwerij Lane’s monthly home brew meetings, Ed said, “Chris’ beer stood out. He is one guy who really wanted to make a career out of brewing. This is a gift to Chris.”
The brewer system Chris will be working on is a small system that produces a “decent volume,” Ed said, and that “ideally we’ll have enough to fulfill the needs of the restaurant and some more outside the restaurant.” And if the operation grows the system can be doubled in size.
When I asked Chris if this was his dream, he said it’s always been his goal to be a brewer, but to be the head brewer is definitely, “special.”
“I know if the beer is not good, which I hope it will be, it won’t go out the door. I hope I know what good beer is,” Chris said modestly.
To this Ed said, “the product speaks fore itself. We will put out the best possible product with the best ingredient in small quantities that is literally handmade here. If we can’t do that, then why bother?”
And we can all watch Chris doing that through the windowed brick wall that Ed chose as an alternative to a $150,000 glass wall. He said he wants Grain Terminal to “introduce beer making to people in a nice cool environment where they can sit down and learn how to make beer and watch the process and feel like they’re in a brewery.”
While the scale of Dirck the Norsemen is much larger than Brouwerij Lane, Ed assured that the experience will be “what you get at the beer store: quality beers in an easy friendly low key unpretentious environment.”
He added, “we’re not trying to be a 4 star Michelin restaurant. I’m not going to pretend I’m a chef. I think we can do the hospitality side of it pretty well. We do know beer and we can build a place that I think is cool to come into and that’s what you’re gonna get.”
As I left he said, “look at this location,” and pointed to the future outdoor seating with a view of Manhattan, “a good beer out here with a a nice sunset,” and then he joked, “this is all really for me.”
Since this interview I spoke to Ed who estimated opening in mid-October 2013 and invited me over to see the progress, which includes artwork on the walls. Stay tuned for more photos soon.