Eric Ottaway: Craft Brewing Overseas

With a booming craft beer industry, Brooklyn Brewery is making the big move overseas. Eric Ottaway, General Manager and Co-owner of Brooklyn Brewery, is leading the charge in their expansion, planning to open a waterfront bar and brewery in Sweden with a 250-person capacity by 2014. What does this mean for craft beer enthusiasts? Unprecedented access to unique brews and a chance to experience the Brooklyn Brewery difference in an exciting new setting. So break out your passport and start saving your kronor, beer lovers, because the Brooklyn Brewery is heading overseas.

Eric Ottaway is a General Manager and Co-owner of Brooklyn Brewery, the 11th-largest craft brewery in the country. With its founders—Steve Hindy, Tom Potter, and Eric Ottaway—and now Brewmaster Garrett Oliver, Brooklyn Brewery is a powerhouse in the craft brew industry. The four owners of Brooklyn Brewery have decided to take the operation overseas to Sweden and plan to open a waterfront bar and brewery with a 250-person capacity by 2014. It’s an ambitious move with plenty of opportunity to establish a global presence.

Eric Ottway’s History and Involvement with Brooklyn Brewery

Eric Ottaway was working as a financial analyst when he met Steve Hindy, who was working as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East at the time. Hindy was experimenting with making his own beer in his kitchen and asked Ottaway to become a partner in brewing beer for fun. Initially, Hindy and Potter brewed beer on Ottaway’s Brooklyn Heights rooftop and gave it to friends and family. The beer eventually caught on and, in 1996, the first batch of Brooklyn Brewery beer was officially sold.

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Ottaway has worked as the General Manager of Brooklyn Brewery since its start. As General Manager, his responsibilities extended to overseeing the brewing operations and helping to plan where and how the beer should be sold. Ottaway also played a major role in the marketing and branding of the Brooklyn Brewery.

Brooklyn Brewery’s Expansion and Manufacturing Overseas

The four owners of Brooklyn Brewery, the 11th-largest craft brewery in the country, are taking their operation overseas to Sweden, where they plan to open a waterfront bar and brewery with a 250-person capacity by 2014. The perception of high-end foreign brewers has made craft beer a popular choice in Sweden, allowing Brooklyn Brewery to build a domestic Swedish presence.

The bar and brewery will be located in Stockholm’s Old Town, making it easily accessible to the local population. The waterfront property is already bolstered by foot traffic from both pedestrians and cyclists, which will give the business easy accessibility and an opportunity to garner immediate customers. It’s estimated that the new brewery will produce enough beer for 24 different locations in the city—twelve of which will be company owned.

The Challenges of Opening an Overseas Establishment for Brooklyn Brewery

Though opening a brewery in Sweden offers a plethora of opportunities for Brooklyn Brewery, it is not without its risks. The partners face the challenge of being able to consolidate the Swedish brewing system, which operates differently from the American brewing system. It’s important for the owners to have the right tools, resources, and personnel in place in order to produce a consistent, high-quality product. The Swedish population is also used to purchasing beer differently than in the United States—in grocery stores, restaurants, and bars, rather than at a brewery. Along with the cultural differences, the partners will also have to face new economic and logistical challenges, such as securing the necessary ingredients, energy, and personnel needed to operate a new brewery.

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The Benefits of an Overseas Expansion for Brooklyn Brewery

Despite the risks of opening a brewery overseas, there are also potential benefits. Having a brewery in Sweden offers the chance to expand the brand’s presence in the craft beer industry, as well as giving the owners the chance to work with new and unfamiliar ingredients and techniques. The new brewery will also have access to the local markets, which will make it easier to distribute their product. Finally, the brewery offers the chance to gain exposure to new customers and potentially increase their market share in the region.


Eric Ottaway, General Manager and Co-owner of Brooklyn Brewery, is leading the charge to open a waterfront bar and brewery in Sweden by 2014. Hoping to capitalize on the popularity of craft beer in Scandinavia, the four owners are faced with the challenge of navigating the new economic, logistical, and cultural factors of the region. Despite the risks, the benefits of their ambition look promising, setting the stage for an expansion of the Brooklyn Brewery brand both domestically and abroad.

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