Bronx Brewery taps into culinary mindset for experimental B-Track beer series

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

Yokozuna Wit features Sumo Citrus oranges and Szchechuan buttons. Pic: Bronx Brewery
Yokozuna Wit features Sumo Citrus oranges and Szchechuan buttons. Pic: Bronx Brewery
Bronx Brewery has had strong growth from its core beer range that is designed to be approachable to all beer drinkers, but its recent B-Track Series allowed the brewer to push the boundaries of flavor with new and exotic ingredients.

Borrowing from the musical term of a 'B-Track' or the flip side of a record, where artists tend to experiment and go outside their typical repertoire, Bronx Brewery launched its B-Track Series program of innovative beers.

“It’s basically the same philosophy for us – we’re doing the opposite of what we normally do with these B-Tracks and it’s where we like to experiment and try something a little out of the ordinary,”​ Bronx Brewery VP of marketing Patrick Libonate told BeverageDaily..

Starting out in 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City, founders Damian Brown and Chris Gallant were committed to perfecting its American pale ale.

“The whole idea was to brew one thing and brew it right and make sure it was fantastic. Once it took hold then we started to expand the portfolio,”​  Libonate said.

Bronx Brewery is now up to roughly 30 beer varieties and distributes some of its year-round and seasonal beers to Connecticut, upstate New York, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania, with plans to expand in Rhode Island and Massachusetts in a few weeks, according to Libonate.

“We’re looking to expand a little more into the Mid-Atlantic, down into DC, North Carolina, and Virginia,”​ he added.

Working off a chef’s calendar

Bronx Brewery partnered with nearby Baldor Specialty Foods, who provided the brewer with the same seasonal ingredients calendar given to chefs and buyers of New York City restaurants.

“Chefs are always looking to these guys to get the freshest, most exotic fruits, spices, and vegetables…Baldor has access to some of the best ingredients,”​ Libonate said.

Working off the ‘freshness calendar’ ​and with the culinary guidance of Baldor, Bronx Brewery chose Sumo Citrus oranges, which hit peak season in February, and Szchechuan buttons as the focal ingredients of its first of four B-Track beers, a Belgian-style Witbier called ‘Yokozuna Wit’.

Baldor also exposed Bronx Brewery to uncommon ingredients such as fennel pollen used in its second beer, ‘Heavy Fennel’, an Irish stout released in early March that carries notes of licorice, citrus, and marshmallow.

A Gose style beer using Kaffir limes and pink Himalayan sea salt will be released on April 3, 2018. Its fourth B-Track beer, ‘My Berry Own IPA’, would not have been feasible without the distribution strength of Baldor since the brew uses specialty strawberries picked from Harry’s Berries farm in California.

“These strawberries only stay fresh for about six or seven days and it takes two days to get them from California to New York,”​ Libonate. “It’s basically the perfect strawberry.”

Baldor was the first distributor to bring the strawberries to the East Coast and now distributes the fruit to fine dining restaurants and gourmet markets throughout the New York City area.

The brewery’s plan is to brew a B-Track beer every three to four weeks and continue its collaboration with Baldor on ingredient selection through the year.

“We’ll probably have about nine or ten B-Tracks for the whole year. At the same time we might bring back some of the popular ones [for next year].”

‘Beer is food’

Being in the midst of New York City’s vibrant culinary scene, Bronx Brewery has seen the line between gastronomy and beer bend.

According to Libonate, there has been an explosion of beer and food pairings at restaurants as beer takes on a more gastronomic image with new consumers entering the category.

“Beer is food,”​ Libonate said. “People don’t always equate that, but the ingredients that go into it [beer] are also the same ingredients that go into a lot of food that people eat on regular basis.”

“I think that more and more with the popularity and the increased acceptance of craft beer, you’ve had this natural innovation,”​ Libonate said.

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1 comment

Great innovation with a helping of sustainability

Posted by Jennifer Kaplan, Adjunct Faculty, Culinary Institute of America,

What a great way for members of the beverage industry to improve the food chain. Not only is Bronx Brewery making a choice to to add value by using local, seasonal ingredients to enhance their offerings, but they have the opportunity to use ingredients that might otherwise turn to waste. It's a win-win-win.

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