Adrian Grenier's Beer Makes East Coast Debut at Brooklyn Sandwich Society

By Janet Upadhye on December 28, 2012 9:59am 

FORT GREENE — Actor Adrian Grenier is brewing a second career.

The "Entourage" star and Clinton Hill-based hearthrob recently launched a beer called Churchkey, which has just made its East Coast debut in the newly opened Brooklyn Sandwich Society on Dekalb Avenue in Fort Greene.

The beer comes in a bright blue retro-style flat-topped can with no pull tab. Churchkey, co-founded by Portland-based graphic designer Justin Hawkins, takes its name from the small metal device that must be used to pop it open.

The brew began selling in stores across Portland and Seattle in early 2012, but only hit Brooklyn when Camilo Dominguez, beer expert at The Brooklyn Sandiwch Society, came across it at a tasting.

"We chose Churchkey because of its taste alone," Dominguez said. "It was pure luck that we are the first in Brooklyn to sell Adrian Grenier's beer."

Dominguez tasted more 50 beers to handpick the 17 currently on the list. During one tasting trip to American Beer Distributing Company, Inc. in Cobble Hill, the distinctive Churchkey can caught Dominguez's eye.

After inquiring about the old-fashioned way to open the can, he tasted the brew and was pleasantly surprised.

"It was crisp and clean," he said. "I also recognized that it would fill a hole we had left in our beer list for something simple."

Dominguez ordered the Portland-brewed beer before he knew of its local ties.

American Beer Distributing Company, Inc. confirmed that The Brooklyn Sandwich Society is the only local spot known to serve the low-profile beer.

According to TechCrunch, the beer company is intentionally keeping quiet about its brisk pilsner, but has raised capital from the tech community, including companies such as Facebook and Zynga.

The brew is now part of the seasonal, artisanal, experimental and all-American beer list at The Brooklyn Sandwich Society, which includes Hop Crisis from 21st Amendment in San Francisco and Crooked Line Cockeyes Cooper, a Bourbon barrel barley wine ale from Salt Lake City.

“Each of our beers is unique and delicious,” Dominguez said.

Andres Valbuena, owner of The Brooklyn Sandwich Society, agreed, calling Churchkey a “gorgeous beer.”

Valbuena is proud of the beers his shop serves and said the menu will change with each season.

His sandwiches are each named after Fort Greene streets and are made with an eclectic mix of farm-to-table ingredients such as the Cumberland’s honey-glazed Berkshire pork belly, sweet-pickled carrot, shiso, kimchi and aioli on pain au lait and the Clermont’s roasted oyster mushroom, black ledge blue, lacinato kale and parsley aioli on ciabbatta.

The menu items were designed to pair with the beer list. 

“Beer and sandwiches are a classic combination,” Dominguez said. “We worked very hard to find and serve only the best.”

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