Historical records show that Hoboken can claim to have hosted the first brewery in America, as Dutch immigrants opened brewing facilities in 1641 and 1663. Now, two Hobokenites are hoping to bring the city’s hoppy footprint into modern day with Hoboken Brewing Company, a project that is literally years in the making.
Co-founders Andrew Zebrowski and Brendan Drury, who graduated from Rutgers and Seton Hall respectively, are Jersey boys through and through. They say that before starting the brewery, they both had love/hate relationships with their old jobs. Their passion for homebrewing, coupled with the opportunity and market in the city they lived in, convinced them to take the plunge and start their own brewery.
“We were able to carve out a niche for ourselves, and we knew there was no better place in New Jersey to [start our business] than Hoboken,” says Drury.
Drury, who acts as Head Brewer, and Zebrowski, Head of Sales, have been working on the company’s brand for over five years. Part of that time has been spent perfecting their recipes and techniques for brewing their beers, which included spending a week at Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp in California honing their craft on the company’s Research & Development system.
The fruits of that trip, a beer called Oats and the Four Hops, was unveiled at local bars like TapHaus and The Shepard and the Knucklehead over the last month to promote the company’s full launch. The relatively small operation was operating out of a two-car garage at Drury’s former residence until April, when Hoboken Brewing Company officially acquired an 1,100-square foot warehouse at 66 Harrison St.
“It was extremely important to us to be true to our name and have a location in Hoboken, and we are thrilled to have landed this spot,” says Zebrowski.
During their initial launch, Hoboken Brewing Company will be selling two beers. The first, Bodi Blonde Coconut Ale, has hop-driven notes of fresh citrus and takes part of its name from Patrick Swayze’s character in Point Break. It’s a light beer brewed with barley, wheat, and corn, and then filtered through a bed of fresh organic flaked coconut.
The second concoction, the appropriately dubbed Cityside IPA, is a New England Style India Pale Ale with Mosiac & Amarillo hops. It’s a “sessionable” brew that focuses on the fresh aromatics and flavors of an IPA while being light in color, bitterness and overall Alcohol by Volume.
Hoboken Brewing Company will have the ability to distribute to every inch of New Jersey, but will focus on the northern part of the state initially. They also plan to sell their products in Manhattan and are working on a few other beers for the future.
“We will strategically be launching new beers when the time is right,” says Zebrowski.
Hoboken Brewing Company is currently brewing off-premise at a partner brewery and will be fermenting their first batches this week. The startup has faced plenty of hurdles throughout the journey of taking their beers to market, but that patience that will soon be rewarded when the drinks are finally released.
“There’s certainly nothing more humbling than starting your own business from scratch,” says Zebrowski. A taproom in Hoboken is an immediate goal of theirs, but for now, Hoboken Brewing Company’s beers will hit store shelves and local bars shortly after Labor Day.