Good Beer Hunting

Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø Talks Opening Evil Twin's New York City Brewery

Evil Twin, one of the most well established and recognized so-called “gypsy breweries,” has found a home. Company founder Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø has confirmed his plans to build out a sizable production facility in the Bushwick/Ridgewood neighborhood of New York City. The new brewery, the first physical outpost for a company that has contracted production since being founded in 2010, is slated to open next summer.

Although originally from Denmark, Evil Twin’s beers aren’t typically associated with any geographic region. That’s because Jarnit-Bjergsø has built the brand atop a foundation of collaboration, outsourcing production to breweries all over the world. Reached by email this week, the Danish beer maker told us he has “always wanted” to call New York City home, though, which is what inspired the nomadic brewer to finally settle down.
“People need to have something to relate to, which they can by us being there physically,” he tells GBH. “We wanted to actually brew in NYC to be ‘real’ local.”
Having moved to New York City himself a few years ago, he added that he loves the place on a personal level and hopes he “can at least try and help with New York being on top” as a city known for beer. Just don’t expect him to curb the contract side of business as a result. Jarnit-Bjergsø said drinkers can look forward to entirely new beers from the dedicated production facility, but he will continue contracting as he always has. “We see this as an add-on,” he says.
On a local level, that “add-on” should result in a fairly significant uptick in locally produced beers available to New York drinkers. At 10,000 sq. ft., the new facility is expected to be capable of producing 8,000 barrels annually, while Jarnit-Bjergsø hopes to produce 5,000-8,000, with “most of it” sold directly out of the brewery itself. In addition to the ample production space, Evil Twin plans to construct 4,000 square feet worth of outdoor space, along with a taproom for visitors to enjoy.
Jarnit-Bjergsø isn’t the first transient beer maker to stick a flag in the ground. His own estranged twin brother Mikkel Borg Bjergsø—proprietor of the Mikkeller brand—partnered with AleSmith in 2015 to establish a joint venture in California that would produce and sell Mikkeller beers. On the north shore of Massachusetts, session beer extraordinaire Notch Brewing built out a sizable production facility and beer hall, which opened this past summer. It makes sense: operating solely as a contract brewery presents its own challenges, a number of which Evil Twin now believes the new facility will help to alleviate.
“There are a few challenges we have seen over the last couple of years,” Jarnit-Bjergsø says. “Testing being one of them. [The] smallest batch size we do now is 60 barrels, and that’s a lot to test a new recipe. With the new brewery, we can do 15 barrels, and if it’s good, we can move that to a big scale.”
He continues, “Another one is flexibility. As much as our current partners are awesome to work with, we still have to ask for permission all the time… We can do some smaller ones now without having to ask.”
As for staffing the joint, Jarnit-Bjergsø says it’s too early to say how many people will be hired, or who, but since the announcement, he says he has seen interest: “I’m sure we can get some awesome people in!”
—Dave Eisenberg