A new outpost of the Bronx Brewery is topping up its kegs in Hudson Yards, where the outer borough brand hopes happy hour office workers and holiday visitors will find it a convenient Midtown watering hole amid the corporate towers.
The Hudson Yards Bronx Brewery is located on the second floor of the complex’s shopping center, in a colorfully painted taproom serving up signature, house-made brews (with on-site brewing launching soon) and Bronx street food. From its founding brew pub on E136th Street, the brand expanded to the East Village and now Midtown, where its founders believe that fans of the local craft brews will enjoy a central, work-adjacent location with an indie rather than corporate feel.
“Hudson Yards is a tremendous opportunity for us to get our brand in front of an entirely new community of New Yorkers as well as international travelers and shoppers,” said Bronx Brewery co-founder Damian Brown. “It’s a way to use our beer, physical location, events and partnerships to introduce the Hudson Yards visitor to the dynamic culture, food, music, and creative community of the South Bronx.”
Hudson Yards location assistant manager Sean Valenti, who has been working with the brand for four years, said the taproom was excited to invest locally in new neighborhoods. “We originally were distributing beer to a bunch of different states, and we’ve actually scaled down to focus on this massive island Manhattan that’s got millions of people there,” he said. “We’re just trying to focus on Manhattan as opposed to sending beer out, where the quality goes down a lot. We figured there are plenty of people right here willing to spend the money.”
Return-to-office workers are a key part of their customer market, Sean added, “A lot of companies are trying to get people back to the office. The best way to entice them is to get them here — so we do a lot of holiday parties and events for retail businesses.” He told us that they’ve been “very, very busy,” pointing to the empty kegs lining the back of the taproom.
“I would say it’s been 50/50 in terms of tourism and office workers — there are a couple of OG regulars that have been to our location in the Bronx that come down and visit us here,” he said. “But it’s pretty split between tourists and office workers.”
Craft breweries are being encouraged to open by developers in a bid to tempt workers back with the promise of enjoyable after-work venues nearby. The pandemic’s effect on office life has generated a hangover for “in-office” culture, a change acknowledged this month by Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul as they unveiled ideas to keep New York’s economic fortunes alive — and avoid “zombie” offices whose occupancy is stuck at 47 percent, according to Curbed. On the West Side, Hudson Yards has been hit directly, with Facebook/Meta scaling back expansion of their previously announced campus.
But if office leasing is struggling, beer is not. According to a report by the Commercial Observer, “Beer is now a $100 billion industry, with about 27 percent of that coming from smaller craft breweries last year, according to the Brewers Association, a trade group.” New York’s craft breweries have grown significantly in the past decade-plus. Just three breweries opened in the city in 2010 — mostly within industrial warehouses at the outskirts of retail and restaurant centers, but there are now more than 40 taprooms now operating across the five boroughs, many positioned at the center of residential, retail and office complexes.
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After Prohibition all but killed New York’s once-thriving brewery scene, it was not until the Craft New York Act of 2014 that the industry kicked back into gear. The legislation eased State Liquor Authority restrictions for breweries and distilleries and allowed expanded production for microbreweries, leading to a renaissance of Big Apple beer brewing. As well as Bronx Brewery, which brewed its first batch in 2014, other major names to benefit from the boom included Brooklyn’s Other Half Brewing Company, Evil Twin and Sixpoint Brewing which now has a massive 7,500 square foot space in the Brookfield Place retail complex in Battery Park City.
Visitors like Mike, in town from Manchester, UK, after an absence of eight years, have noticed the difference. “Last time I came to America, it was all just standard beers and wasn’t very exciting,” he said. “But this time it seems like things are getting more like the UK with breweries, and places like this seem to be getting more and more popular.”
Others recognized that taprooms like Bronx Brewery had built a sturdy community following that was likely to translate to their Hudson Yards location. Employee Claudia, enjoying an after-shift drink, told us: “I actually started off as a customer — I threw my 25th birthday at Bronx Brewery and became a regular there. The staff eventually said, ‘You should join the team at our new location’, so I did.
“A lot of people come here on breaks or after work — they like finding reasons to come,” added Claudia, with after-work events and the recent World Cup only sweetening the draw. “People know the brand and they’re happy to see it here. A lot of people have said ‘I work in the area,’ or ‘I live across the street,’ and ‘I love that this is so close to home’. Midtown is central and I feel like there aren’t a lot of breweries here.”
One such Hudson Yards office worker was Jerome, who was drawn to visit the new location after attending a Midtown Oktoberfest pop-up prior to the launch. “We got a chance to sample some of the beers there, and we liked quite a few of them that we tried. They gave us some free drink tickets to come back when they opened and we’re back to check it out,” he said.
Jerome said the brewery is a convenient way to connect with co-workers ahead of far-flung commutes. “It’s nice to extend conversations you might have had with coworkers throughout the day, but you don’t want to go somewhere that’s too far.Before some of these spots opened, it was really just Porchlight, which is a little bit further down and away from the subway — so this is nice.”
Other Hudson Yards workers agreed, and a group of happy hour coworkers told W42ST that they were “excited to have an easy place” to connect near their office. “We usually go to Queensyard, and we saw this place on the way and thought, ‘this is perfect,'” said customer Mike.
Canadian visitors from Vancouver, British Columbia, agreed that it was great to have additional casual food and beverage options near major tourist attractions. “We were up at the Edge and we were thirsty, so we decided to find something cheaper than the drinks there,” said customer Sunny. “It feels like this is geared toward a younger crowd, whereas a lot of the other stuff here is more formal,” she added, “it’s pretty unique to have fun, brewery, style-vibes in a building like this.”
It’s those vibes that the brewery is counting on for the location’s continued loyalty from locals and visitors. But on a frigid Monday in Midtown, it appeared that the bet was already paying off. Italian visitors Luco and Damiano told W42ST that they were drawn to the fun atmosphere of the Hudson Yards brewery, and added: “We said, ‘why not finish our trip with a beer!”
Bronx Brewery at Hudson Yards is located at 20 Hudson Yards (second floor) and is open 11am to 9pm every day.