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One On 1: Steve Hindy Goes From Journalist To Beer Entrepreneur

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TWC News: One On 1: Steve Hindy Goes From Journalist To Beer Entrepreneur
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In New York, pursuing one career, and then a totally different one seems now to be the norm rather than the exception. But Steve Hindy’s resume stands out. Foreign correspondent-turned-beer-entrepreneur is definitely not a title you hear often. Hindy is the subject of this week’s One on 1 with Budd Mishkin.

Maybe we should have known that Steve Hindy would end up in Brooklyn.

He was eight years old in 1957 when he first visited New York from Ohio with his teetotaling grandmother and mother.



They came for the Billy Graham crusades at the Garden.

But Hindy had a different type of religious experience.

"We went to the last ballgame at Ebbets Field — the last Brooklyn dodger game — and I never imagined that my future would be in Brooklyn,” says Hindy.

A little foreshadowing, perhaps, much to his mother's chagrin.

“They said, Îdid you ever imagine your son would own a brewery in Brooklyn?’ She said, ÎYeah, I guess that trip kind of backfired on me,’” Hindy jokes.

By year's end, Brooklyn Brewery is scheduled to be sold in 22 states and eight countries overseas. Steve Hindy loves all topics beer: the making of it, the history of it, and explaining the intricacies to the uninitiated.

“If the plant were growing and the sprout were continuing to grow, it would grow into a plant, a barley plant,” says Hindy, pointing out some barley seeds.

In his first professional life as a correspondent in the Middle East, Hindy covered wars and uprisings and assassinations.

Who knew starting a microbrewery could be almost as dangerous? The problem at the first brewery in Bushwick in the late eighties? Crime.

“These big burly truck drivers were afraid to come in there after dark,” recalls Hindy. “When they did come in after dark, we would have to unload their truck, because they wouldn't get out of the cab it was a whole different world then."

The company moved to Williamsburg in the mid Î90's. One morning gunmen demanded that Hindy open the safe. Just one slight problem: Hindy couldn't remember the combination.

"He said, Îdon't BS me man, don't BS me.’ He was clicking the safety on the gun. I said, ÎI'm not BSing you. I can't do it.’ And he said, Îwell who can?’ And I said, ÎI think Leeland, our


comptroller,’” recalls Hindy. “I said, ÎLeeland, can you open the safe?’ and Leeland, "I don't know how to open the safe, Karen does it!’”

The safe was eventually opened and no one was hurt.



Just before the new brewery was finished, the mob showed up. Hindy says the boss put his hands between Hindy's legs and said: "We're gonna have to hurt you."

“I did a double take I'm sure and I know I was sweating down into my pants at that point,” says Hindy. “He grabbed me by the arms and threw me against this fence in the chair, and he said ÎJust kidding!’ and they all burst out laughing."

For some reason, they didn't bother him after that.

The Williamsburg brewery opened in 1997, but the financial struggles continued.

For example, the company lost more than a million dollars in a dot-com direct distribution plan.



But in 2003 the company sold off its brand rights and distribution company, and its financial woes were history.

“I had dreamed of the day I would pass out checks to those that invested in the very beginning and I did it here in this room one day in 2003 and it was just a thrill,” says Hindy.

Middle East correspondent to beer entrepreneur is not your typical career path. But Hindy says the first career prepared him for the next.

“I viewed starting the company as sort of like covering a war, you know, sort of like going to war,” says Hindy. “I was committed to making it work. I knew that would mean crazy hours, I knew it would mean a lot of stress and a lot of unexpected situations."

In the late Î70's, Hindy worked for the associated press in Lebanon. He was once part of a group that was abducted. He survived while two others in the group were killed.

“It kind of changes your whole view of things because you realize this can go wrong, I mean, I can get hurt here, I can be a victim,” says Hindy. “I think after that, I was probably a little more cautious about what I got myself into."

In 1979, Hindy was in Iran to witness the overthrow of the shah and the taking of American hostages. He experienced firsthand the ayatollah leading a prayer meeting of a million men. Hindy said a few prayers of his own.

“I was praying that nothing happened to him, because I'm sure these people would have


torn me limb from limb, because I was the only westerner apart from my photographer in the crowd,” says Hindy.

In 1981, Hindy and his wife Ellen and their child moved from the danger of Beirut to the comparative calm of Cairo. But shortly thereafter, Hindy attended the military parade where Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated.

“When I was in the presence of Yasfir Arafat, for instance, I was always waiting for someone to blow his brains out, and you know, the reporters would always joke about what could happen at any given moment,” says Hindy. “We were just speechless. I mean, we were flabbergasted."

But a few years later, when the Associated Press wanted to transfer Hindy to Manila to cover the fall of President Marcos, his family decided it was time to come home.

“I took a look around at the other foreign correspondents and there aren't too many of them over 40 years old whom you’d want to emulate,” says Hindy. “They definitely developed some bad personal habits running from war to war and so I decided my family was more important than my career, and I gave it up."

While he was in the Middle East, Hindy learned about home brewing from colleagues and American diplomats. Back home in Brooklyn, he experimented.

“It was just a pot on the stove. Did have some accidents in the kitchen, which my wife was not to happy about,” says Hindy.

Soon he created a larger playground, Brooklyn Brewery.

Twenty years later, the company is a major player in Brooklyn's resurgence. Today the issues are not life and death, but rather the future of a borough.



Hindy eventually came out in favor of the Atlantic Yards Project, prompting calls for a boycott from opponents.

“I was very upset because you can disagree on things, but I don't know how damaging my company is going to help the people opposed to the project,” says Hindy.

Ironically, the company might be priced out of a neighborhood it helped to boost. Hindy is hoping to relocate to the waterfront on Atlantic Avenue in the latest challenge for the Brooklynite from a small town in Ohio.

“I guess I kind of like being a little bit on the edge,” says Hindy. “When you work in the Middle East, you're really on the edge, and when you start your own business, you're on the edge too. There's something more terrifying, I think, about facing failure as a business because it’s almost like a little bit of you would die if the business didn't work. When I see one of our distributor’s trucks running through the city with the Brooklyn logo on it, my heart swells up a little it. And I love it when I’m in a bar or a restaurant and I hear people ordering Brooklyn Lager. It's a real thrill."

— Budd Mishkin?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????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