Beer Finder

After nearly a year of prep, planning and brewing, we’re excited to share that we’re gearing up to launch the 2015 Brew York New York contest winning beer, Grin and Tonic! We sat down with the man behind the idea, Andrew Said Thomas, to learn more about the inspiration behind the beer and his brew day on the boardwalk.

First things first…how did you hear about the contest?

I follow Brew York on Twitter and saw a post about the contest. The idea for a gin and tonic inspired beer was fairly immediate.  

What kind of brewing background do you have? Have you ever brewed on a larger system?  

I’m an award winning homebrewer who has brewed for over 7 years. In that time I have created well over 100 batches of beer ranging from Belgian Tripels to coffee stouts to IPAs to blended sours. You name the style, I’ve brewed it. But this is the first time I’ve ever brewed on a large scale system, most of my homebrew batches have been in the 5-10 gallon range. 


What was your inspiration for Grin and Tonic and what ingredients does it feature? 

Gin and tonic is my favorite cocktail and I’ve always wanted to brew a beer hybrid of the drink. The GRIN AND TONIC features Juniper berries and lemongrass to represent the gin component as well as cinchona bark which is the bittering agent in tonic water (and the source for quinine). We used an aggressive Belgian yeast strain to add peppery notes and help dry out the beer. I have used juniper once before in a gruit a few years back, but certainly not at this concentration. And the berries Coney Island sourced were much fresher and I assume will be much more prominent in the final beer.  img_0098

What were some highlights from your brew day with Eric and crew? 

We brewed mid-week and I was able to take the day off of work, so it was nice to hit the beach and play hookie. The Coney Island crew ground up the many pounds of juniper berries the day before, but the brewhouse was still redolent of gin. Arriving at 8am, Eric put me right to work, weighing out the grains and hops. With a cup of coffee getting cold, I was hauling 50 lb sacks of grain into the grist mill and hand stirring the malt as it hit the mash tun. It was not unlike a day of homebrewing, but with hundreds of pounds of grain, it was much more or a workout. A few people stopped into the taproom in the afternoon and got a tour of the facility. It was fun answering their questions about the beer we were making and its inspiration. You could see some of them salivating over the idea and they were all eager to come back and try it. It was then I knew we were on to something special. 

What should people expect from the final product?

A bright, high gravity and highly effervescent beer that has all the glorious aromatics of a gin and tonic, but is still reminiscent of beer. We didn’t want to make a malt beverage, so you’ll still find all the hallmarks of a big Belgian blonde with a supplemental hop background. 


Had you ever been to Coney Island or the brewery before the brew day?

My first trip out to the brewery was this summer, following the Brooklyn Half Marathon. There is nothing better than a fresh beer at 9 am after running 13 miles! I was amazed at the variety of great beer they were able to put out utilizing a relatively modest amount of space. And overall I love Coney Island, Go Cyclones!

So when, where and how can you try the Grin & Tonic? Join us at the brewery for the premier on Saturday, December 3rd! It will also be on tap at select spots around NYC which you can locate in the Beer Finder once it starts hitting the taps. Here’s a few spots to get you started:

  • Whole Foods Williamsburg
  • Whole Foods Gowanus
  • Northern Bell
  • Bed Vyne
  • Parlay
  • The Clubhouse, New Hyde Park

And if you think you have your own winning idea for a brewery and want the chance to brew it with us, enter our Brew Your City contest! We’re accepting submissions through December 28th.