CLAREMONT — Skyrocketing rent prices have driven a well-known beer company out of Manhattan and into the South Bronx.
Chelsea Craft Brewing Company, which was based out of Chelsea Piers from 1995 until April 2014, recently moved into a new location: a former parking lot in The Bronx at 463 E. 173rd St. where it plans to start making beer next week.
All of the company's profits went to paying rent at its Manhattan location, and although staffers initially focused on Brooklyn when looking for a new place to move, they soon discovered that borough was out of their price range as well, according to Head Brewer Mark Szmaida.
Places in Brooklyn were generally also only willing to offer them three- to five-year leases, as opposed to the 20-year lease they were looking for, he continued.
“After a protracted search of Brooklyn, we found the rents there were going the way of Manhattan, so we came to [The] Bronx,” Szmaida said in an email. “We found [a] 10,000 square foot building at 463 E. 173rd St, moved our equipment in and built it out to make a beautiful brewery and tasting room with a full liquor license.”
Szmaida anticipates being ready to start brewing beer at the company's new Bronx location next week, and he hopes to have the tasting room open by next week as well.
It will probably take another month for official tours of the new brewery to launch, but Szmaida said he would be more than willing to give some unofficial tours in the meantime.
"If I'm here—if anybody's here—we're happy to show people around," he said.
Despite its move from Chelsea to Claremont, the company decided to keep the name Chelsea Craft Brewing Company, as it is already a recognized brand.
Szmaida said he was very happy with the reception the company had gotten in the South Bronx so far despite not being very familiar with the area when choosing it as the brewery's new location.
"We knew nothing about the neighborhood," he said, "but as we moved in, we found it's a nice place."
He recommended that beer fans try the company’s flagship Checker Cab Blonde Ale and said to keep an eye out for their Hop Angel IPA, Sunset Red Ale and Black Hole XXX Stout as well.
Although their new location is less centrally located, especially when compared to a tourism magnet like Chelsea Piers, Szmaida was not worried about Chelsea Craft Brewing Company struggling to attract visitors.
He pointed to the successes of The Bronx Brewery and Gun Hill Brewery, as well as the area's fairly close location to the subway and Metro-North, as reasons why people would still be eager to come check out the company's new location.
However, he did acknowledge that visitors to The Bronx would most likely be beer enthusiasts instead of sightseers.
"We got a lot of tourist traffic, especially in the later years with The High Line going by," he said of the company's Chelsea location, "but I think we'll get the beer people in here."