“What are you going to follow if not things you feel passionate about?”
Damian Brown, co-founder of The Bronx Brewery, fell in love with brewing while living in Nashville, TN. Soon after, he found a job at a small craft brewery in Virginia, where he gained lots of hands-on experience. And by 2007, he was finally able to go all-in on his dream: enrolling full-time in the University of California-Davis’s brewing program. (He’s in good company, with fellow alumni including the bootstrapping Scott Vaccaro of Captain Lawrence Brewing Co and other brewers who later landed at breweries such as Lagunitas, Dogfish Head, Sierra Nevada and more).
After graduating UC Davis in 2009, Damian headed back East to focus on developing his marketing experience at various companies before the official launch of Bronx Brewery in 2011, with his new partner Chris Gallant.
Damian and Chris had complementary talents, and Damian focused on product development, while Chris brought business development experience from his years at Heineken. The two invested in some equipment to contract brew at a friend’s facility in Connecticut, and put together their first batch of beer. They found a used Red Bull truck and repainted it in their brand’s signature black and orange, and began hand-delivering their Pale Ales to bars across the tri-state area.
Their vision was ambitious; they aspired to bring back a brewing tradition that once played a significant role in their Bronx neighborhood (where the great Rheingold once brewed much of the Northeast’s brews), and they focused on finding the right investors to help them open a brewery and tasting room in the Port Morris area of the South Bronx. In 2014, their dream materialized and the guys broke ground at East 136th Street.
Today, the tasting room is open 7 days a week and Damian describes success in the same way so many bootstrappers do: a long-term continued pride in their products and people.
By The Bootstraps is my way of highlighting the stories of intrepid entrepreneurs as they bootstrap their way to success. Every week I’ll release a video (and sometimes audio version) of these conversations. If you’d like to read more about the project or submit your own entrepreneur story for consideration, visit here.