Walking down Grand Street past Bushwick Avenue amidst trucking supply shops and duct work fabricators, I almost missed Interboro Spirits and Ale’s new tasting room (942 Grand St.), which just opened a few weeks ago. It’s a raw, industrial space—formerly a manufacturer of naval anchors, and later a wood flooring workshop—that somehow feels warm and inviting, like a little oasis in the midst of all the warehouses. And the approachable vibe is thanks to the friendly folks at the helm.
Founder and Brewmaster Jesse Ferguson is the former head brewer at Carton Brewing, and more recently worked at Other Half in Gowanus. He also moonlights as a 90’s hip hop DJ, which shouldn’t surprise you when you hear some of the jams on Interboro’s playlist and notice the graffiti-style mural by Bisco Smith in the back of the brewspace, which reads: “Representin’ BK to the fullest.” Bisco also designed their logo, which at first glance looks like two diverging arrows, which cleverly form the letter I between them.
Jesse and his partner Laura Dierks have spent more than a year building out their dream brewing and distilling space. And, especially because they are distilling whiskey in addition to brewing beer, they plan to stick around in the neighborhood for a very long time. Currently the brewery is turning out and experimenting with a handful of beers, distributed to local bars and shops on tap and in cans (in the neighborhood, Beer Street, Brouwerij Lane and Eastern District all carry them), as well as gin and apple brandy, which are available on-site for purchase and to test drive in the tasting room. Whiskey is in the works, and Jesse’s already got a few barrels hanging out in the basement, which won’t be cracked open for at least four years.
Jesse’s goal with Interboro was to create craft beers for everyday drinking, for the working man. But that doesn’t mean bona fide blue collar Budweisers or PBR’s; these beers are not soda water. Interboro’s brews are suited for a variety of people to appreciate in familiar situations. Jesse’s more a fan of session beers (lower alcohol content beers) that are easy to drink all day, than a fan of beers overloaded with wacky flavors just ‘cause. So while Interboro will have a rotation of solid seasonal beers, you probably won’t be tasting any bacon-mocha-ghostpepper brews here. And that’s not the point. Jesse wants to make good beer accessible to everyone; if anything, he’s snobby about beer snobs.
I was able to taste most of their current brews on tap. The Bushburg is a local pils with hints of corn—which might sound weird, but my first reaction was “this is a fantastic picnic beer”. BBQ season is ending right now, but I definitely wanted more of that one. The La Dee Da Dee (we like to party) was the second beer they brewed, and it’s got a clean and dry finish—lovely. The Halftime is a session IPA, brewed with Pilsner and Vienna malt, and it’s citrusy with a dry finish. Here Come The Drums is a candied dry IPA, which upon first sip I immediately wanted to pair with some fries. It’d cut the grease of fried foods really well. And what was interesting about it being an IPA was that it wasn’t crazy strong; the taste didn’t linger, which I enjoyed.
You can pair your beers (available in flights of 4 for $10) with a cheese or meat spread, which changes based on what they have available locally and seasonally. They have a full kitchen, so the food offerings will be expanding slowly as they get things going. Beers to-go are the way to go; before opening the tasting room they canned one beer that yielded 5,000 cans, handled by the same popup canners who recently did Greenpoint Beer & Ale’s cans. Jesse tells me that the labeling actually took longer than the canning.
So if you find yourself in the mood for some solid beer and good company, head on down to Interboro’s tasting room and try a flight or take some cans to-go. They’ve got new stuff brewin’ all the time.