"I was a reporter for 15 years, six of those years were in the Middle East as a correspondent for the Associated Press," said Hindy, co-founder and owner of Brookyln Brewery. "I covered a lot of big stories like the Iranian Revolution, the hostage situation in Iran. I was with the Iraqi army when they invaded Iran in 1980 and I was in Lebanon during the civil war where I was actually abducted at one point in 1980. I moved to Cairo and I was sitting behind President Anwar Sadat when he was assassinated in 1981."
Although covering those stories was good for his journalism career, the danger and a job opportunity at New York newspaper Newsday brought Hindy and his family to Brooklyn. The move to Brooklyn gave Hindy the chance to perfect a passion that he had picked up while overseas.
Hindy said there is a long tradition of home-brewing beer in Egypt, where he was based. "I got interested in brewing my own beer," he said. "When I got to Brooklyn, I started making beer at home and serving it to all my friends and neighbors."
One of those neighbors, Tom Potter, turned out to be more than just a fan of Steve's home-brewed beers. Potter, a banker with a master's in business administration and a desire to start his own business, teamed with Hindy to start the brewery that brought beer-making back to Brooklyn.
"We decided to quit our jobs, raise some money and start the Brooklyn Brewery," Hindy said.
All of them failed
With a commitment to start the business, the partners began brewing, but they ran into a problem.
"Instead of building a brewery in Brooklyn, which would have been very costly, we decided to contract brew our first beers," Hindy said. "We made a deal with a brewery in Utica, N.Y., to brew Brooklyn Lager, our first beer. That beer is based on the beers that were brewed in Brooklyn back in the heyday of brewing in New York. Part of our mission was to bring brewing back to Brooklyn, but we decided to start brewing upstate, truck the beer to Brooklyn, then sell it ourselves out of the back of our van."
The partners also set up a distribution business that helped them get the products into the hands of consumers. Although setting up the distribution company proved difficult, Hindy credits it with being a major impetus behind the future success of the business.
"I think there were about 20 other small breweries that started up in the first 15 years of our existence," Hindy said. "All of them failed, and most of them failed because they had trouble … getting their beer distributed. A lot of them made really good beer, but they were unable to get it into the hands of the customers. I think that the distribution company was a key for us, both in educating us and in enabling us to build a market for craft beer."