Brooklyn booze boom “spikes” prices, drains warehouse space

September 23, 2013 01:39PM

Move over artisanal pickles and rooftop honey: Brooklyn is housing an ever-increasing number of micro-breweries, thanks to plentiful warehouse space and numerous areas zoned to permit “potentially noxious uses.”

Brooklyn nabes like the Navy Yard, Red Hook and Sunset Park, in particular, are booming with small-scale distillers and brewers. Of the 180 small distilleries across the nation, the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. estimates that at least 10 are in Kings County.

“There are city codes, state laws and federal requirements about where a distillery can be,” Colin Spoelman, co-founder of three-year-old Kings County Distillery, told Crain’s. Distilleries cannot, for example, be located near a church or school.

That said, the booze boom is beginning to catch up with demand. As small distillers grow and look to expand, many say space is increasingly hard to find. As landlords clue into the value of their warehouse-type spaces and spirit-friendly zoning, many have increased prices, with some charging $24 per square foot — 60 percent more than the market price four years ago.

“The rents people are asking are egregious,” Brad Estabrooke, founder of Breuckelen Distilling in Sunset Park, told Crain’s. “For us to have a bunch of whiskey sitting around in an overpriced warehouse while we wait for it to come to is an uphill battle — maybe aging it outside the city is the solution.” [Crain’s]Julie Strickland