Brandon Doughan (left) and Brian Polen (right). Photo © Molly Tavoletti for Brooklyn Kura
6sqft’s series “Where I Work” takes us into the studios, offices, and businesses of New Yorkers across the city. In this installment, we’re touring Industry City’s Brooklyn Kura, New York’s first sake brewery. Want to see your business featured here? Get in touch!
“It was my first ‘oh, my God’ sake which was made in the U.S.A.” said Japanese-born sake sommelier Chizuko Niikawa-Helton when he tasted the product of Brooklyn Kura, NYC’s first sake brewery and one of only 15 in the nation. And this is exactly what co-founders Brian Polen and Brandon Doughan strive for. They’re committed to respecting the thousands-year-old Japanese sake brewing traditions, but they also hope to inspire a new interest in this ancient beverage by using unique American ingredients and engaging New Yorkers in the process at their Sunset Park brewery and tap room.
After meeting at a mutual friend’s wedding in Japan and developing a passion for sake, Brian and Brandon teamed up and got to work on their 2,500-square-foot space in Industry City, which combines the functionality of traditional Japanese breweries with a contemporary Brooklyn design aesthetic. 6sqft recently paid them a visit and had a drink in the tap room (yes, we agree with Niikawa-Helton that the sakes are “so soft, so gentle”), got a look at the sake making process, and chatted with Brian and Brandon about their journey, life at Industry City, and how they’re turning New Yorkers into sake lovers.