In days of old, Brooklyn was a haven for breweries, with factories and distilleries of all sorts lining the borough’s waterways. Things changed with time though, as the factories closed and New York transitioned from an industrial city into a post-industrial one.
However, a dedicated community of craft brewers remain who keep the storied history of Brooklyn-brewed beers alive. Such is the case at Other Half Brewing.
“There were once over 35 breweries here, but now there is nothing,” explained Geriz Ramirez, General Manager at Other Half Brewing, during our paper’s recent site visit at the company’s new Domino Park location.
Founded in 2014 in Carroll Gardens, Other Half Brewing has always been rooted by its simple mission to push the boundaries of craft beers. Since then, the company has found a loyal community of fans and opened additional breweries in upstate New York and Washington D.C. and has participated in festivals throughout the U.S.
Earlier this year, Other Half opened a Domino Park location along the Williamsburg waterfront. The new site comes with a state-of-the-art brewing system that will help the company push the envelope in the craft-brewing industry.
“This is basically an R&D [research and development] location,” Ramirez explained. “So we test things out and if something works we will expand it to something bigger. It’s pretty amazing.”
Ramirez works alongside Stjepan Pavich (Other Half’s Head of Innovations) and Anthony Finley (Other Half’s Tasting Room Manager) at the Domino Park location. Together, the jovial trio — all of whom live nearby in Brooklyn and Queens — work to dream up the most innovative and original beverages they can imagine.
“The innovation helps bring customers into this location but it also gives us an opportunity to see what we can scale up for the other locations,” Pavich explained while showing off their impressive five-barrel brewing system.
This summer, Other Half’s Domino Park team is celebrating the launch of their new Oh2 Hard Seltzer. The summery drink was first brewed on site in March of this year, and is now being shipped out to Other Half’s other locations.
“If I’m making a seltzer, I want it to be as crisp and clear as possible,” Pavich said. “We made it a blank canvas so we could mold it into whatever we wanted it to be.”
The Oh2 seltzer lineup includes Ginger Lime Mule, a rendition of the classic Moscow Mule with a ginger beer kick, and All Citrus Everything, a refreshing and tart seltzer finished with pink grapefruit juice. Additional flavors made with all-natural ingredients are scheduled to drop later this summer, all of which will max out at just 120 calories per 12-ounce can.
Pavich — who first learned how to make wine from his father — has found that working for Other Half is both rewarding and enjoyable.
“In my 20s I was home-brewing a lot and I hated my job,” he explained with a chuckle. “Luckily I ended up here. We are all friends too and aside from work we actually hang out.”
The innovative nature of the Domino Park location in particular allows the brewing team to pursue their fantasies of the perfect beverage.
“I personally love stouts and lagers. We recently just made a banana lager. It turned out to be pretty amazing,” Ramirez said. “It had all those strong flavors of banana without being a puree. Stuff like that I really like. It’s my dream.”
“It’s fun that the system allows us to experiment,” Finely chimed in. “It’s quiet in the morning when we come in, we have a nice view while we work, and it’s fun all day.”
The Domino Park team is excited about some of the other projects it has planned for down the line, including experiments with daiquiris, dried fruits, and even pistachio nuts.
Even though this innovative trio is having fun, brewing is still hard work. Unlike a larger brewery, there is no automation at Other Half and all the work must be done by hand. This includes working with heavy equipment and chemicals.
Additionally, the Other Half team opted to wait pretty long until reopening after the pandemic, keeping it’s locations closed until well into 2021.
“We took a long time for that though,” said Ramirez. “We opened our tap room pretty late because we wanted all our employees to feel safe and for our customers to know that we care.”
Luckily, the brewery is fully open once again, opening the door for innovation, creation, and fun times.
“We are at full capacity right now,” Ramirez said with a smile. “We have free will to do whatever we want.”
Other Half Domino Park is located at 34 River Street and is open for indoor and outdoor seating. A variety of cans and bottles are also available for curbside pickup and neighborhood bike delivery.