When you smell the vinegar, you’ve arrived. Jars fill the windows and barrels line the floor of Brooklyn Brine’s new retail store, soft-opened in June in the front of their Gowanus brinery.
The demand for Brooklyn Brine has been growing steadily since Shamus Jones and company put their hands in the pickle jar in 2009; today it’s sold in small specialty stores, at big retailers like Williams-Sonoma and Whole Foods Markets, and is exported to Canada, Japan and Hong Kong. Jones moved operations from his Greenpoint home to more spacious pickling digs on President Street in 2010, and anticipates he’ll need more space in the next couple of years.
Laugh all you want about the fermentation fad, but such success could only come from making “damn fine pickles,” as Jones summarizes his mission. Brooklyn Brine favorites include classic NYC Deli Pickles, made with organic Kirby cucumbers, spices and apple cider vinegar from upstate; the famed Pickled Fennel Beets; and Lavender Asparagus and Whiskey Sour Pickles, made with McKenzie Rye Whiskey from Finger Lakes Distilling.
The distillery also plays an essential role in Brooklyn Brine’s hyper-seasonal offerings. The evolving selections include pickles made with bourbon and whiskey; there are barrel-aged Chinese five spice ramps, lacto-fermented garlic scapes, and beer ramps made with assorted suds from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.
If you want to see what’s brewing behind the small storefront, just ask: the staff is happy to take visitors on impromptu tours. Jones sees the shop’s tight quarters as a plus: “People can come in, ask us questions and learn about what we’re making. The store’s about having a conversation.” Visitors will be able to take the conversation to a tasting table at the end of July: Jones plans to kick off upcoming classes by letting students crunch away as recipe testers for Brooklyn Brine’s upcoming cookbook.
574A President Street, Brooklyn
Open almost daily (usually closed on Sundays) from 10:00am to 6:00pm.
Images courtesy of Jaclyn Einis.