Since its founding in 1987, Brooklyn Brewery (above) has become one of the nation's largest, independent craft beer producers.

Beatrice De Gea / The New York Times

Since its founding in 1987, Brooklyn Brewery (above) has become one of the nation's largest, independent craft beer producers.

January 29, 2020

Pitcher Perfect: Brooklyn Brewery Founder Claims University’s Top Business Honor

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Recognized for his work in galvanizing the craft beer movement — a trend that, for many, popularized India Pale Ales over mass-produced cans  — Steve Hindy ’71, MAT ’75 was tapped Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year a week ago for his role in co-founding Brooklyn Brewery.

Located in hip Williamsburg, the brewery has expanded in the past three decades from one of the first producers of higher-end beer to a nationally-distributed brand found in bars and booze aisles across the country.

Best known for its flagship offering “Brooklyn Lager,” the company — now one of the largest of its kind not owned by an international conglomerate like Anheuser-Busch — has racked up a large line of accolades since its founding, including producing the custom “ShackMeister Ale” for Shake Shack.

The Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year honor is Cornell’s highest recognition for our entrepreneurial alumni,” said Zach Shulman ’87 J.D. ’90, director of entrepreneurship at Cornell told the University in a press release.

The renowned beer-maker joins a long list of alumni who have claimed the same honor, including Howard Milstein ’73, who was recognized in 2008 for his long career as a high-powered real estate and banking executive.

Hindy, who started Cornell with a desire to build golf courses, later changed his major to English, which led to a job after graduation as an English teacher and then, international journalist.

While serving as a Beirut-based correspondent for the Associated Press, Hindy learned the art of making home-brewed beer, inspired by his time spent visiting countries where alcohol is considered taboo. At 39, he decided to sacrifice a successful career in journalism to establish Brooklyn Brewery in 1988 — a daring move in an era that largely predated craft beer becoming a ubiquitous staple.

That taste for entrepreneurial risk-taking is one that should be emulated by Cornellians, according to Shulman, who served on the nominating committee that chose Hildy as the recipient of the annual award.

Now the brewery aims to sell 40,000 barrels of the brand globally.

“Starting a company while you are a student, there’s virtually no risk,” Shulman told The Sun. “If it fails, you’re still a student.”