BUSHWICK- “Very few bottling lines exist now in Brooklyn, and many of them have super high minimums,” Marcia Hu says. “We really want to work with local businesses in Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, and give them an opportunity to try it out with us.”
The bottling line starts running while we are touring the space, taking the hundreds of glass bottles rattling along in the process. 100-gallon kettles take care of the small batch brewing of all of their items – teas, ginger syrup, and other drinks getting ready to be bottled in house.
Brooklyn Crafted, the company that has been brewing their teas, ginger beers, and other drinks in Bushwick since 2017, finished their bottling line in December and are now ready to bottle brews for other makers as well. Hu, the Marketing Manager for the brand, says that they are hoping to add carbonation capability in the near future – the last missing piece to be able to offer a full line.
Brooklyn Crafted was originally founded by Terry Tang, an immigrant from Hong Kong who has done business in Bushwick for decades, says Hu. She adds that this background has led to him hiring a lot of immigrants and people of color to work in his factories. Total, Brooklyn Crafted employs only about 30 employees, marketing, designing, and selling the product.
“[Tang] has been doing business here so long. When he left his job at the noodle factory and started this new venture with the beverages, he was tasked with finding a new location to take this new business venture. It was such a no brainer for him because Bushwick has really been there for him, in terms of the resources provided for his manufacturing business. When he wanted to manufacture beverages, he knew he had to stay in Bushwick,” Hu said.
It is Tang’s Asian palette that Hu says inspires many of the drinks Brooklyn Crafted offers. The herbal teas include a Prunella (common in some circles), a 10-Herb tea, hibiscus flower tea, a brown sugar ginger tea, and hawthorn berry, most of which were introduced in January of this year. Some of the teas, Hu says, including the brown sugar ginger, are even better heated up.
In May, Brooklyn Crafted introduced a line of flavored “Calamansi-ade” drinks made from the fruit popular in the Philipines. The drinks have a pleasant tartness and are popular with lemonade drinkers. The flavors include the original, a lite version, ginger, mango, and pomegranate, all subtle and interesting, brewed and bottled at the Bushwick factory.
“If you use real, good, high-quality ingredients, your products will taste real, good, and high quality,” says Hu.
You can try their line at a number of local Brooklyn locations – including some KeyFoods, Associated Markets, and Food Bazaars. Many local bars use their drinks for mixing or serving on their own.
“Specifically for Bushwick, Bunker Vietnamese recently took on the calamansi [a lime from Philipines], and I know they’re doing some exciting stuff there. Egg Shop in Williamsburg, they use our extra spicy ginger beer. There [are] definitely a lot of nice local favorites that are starting to carry our stuff. I would say that the herbal teas exist mostly within the retail side, whereas the ginger beers and the calamansi tend to be what restaurants carry as part of their program,” Hu said.
Brooklyn Crafted is serious about being a Brooklyn company, indicated not only by their name. They use local distributors, and they want to help local businesses with their bottling line.
“Instead of just using Brooklyn for real estate to operate our business, we really care about being a brand for the community. Whenever you see Brooklyn Crafted on the shelf you know that it was made for you. It’s made for Brooklynites,” Hu said.
“It’s made for that one person who lives in Williamsburg who is looking for an all natural ginger beer to have at their housewarming on Friday, or it’s made for that one person in Southern Brooklyn who’s looking to have some fun new drinks to take to Coney Island on a Saturday. It’s stuff that we’re making here for Brooklyners and Brooklynites to enjoy.”
Brooklyn Crafted headquarters is located at 465 Johnson Avenue, between Knickerbocker and Porter Avenues.
This story was updated on July 16th to reflect the correct size of the kettles.