Woodlawn resident Steve Nallen, owner and founder of Jonas Bronck’s Beer Company, intends to do the borough’s namesake proud.
The earliest evidence of a Bronx brewery is in an inventory of Swedish-born settler Jonas Bronck’s South Bronx estate, made when he died in 1643.
The latest batch of borough brew was introduced at the Bronx Ale House last week.
As Mr. Nallen tells it, the tasting event in Kingsbridge was the result of two of his favorite pastimes — beer and Bronx history — coming to a head about a year ago.
Mr. Nallen holds a position as an accountant at MTV by day, but during his spare time he has been indulging his fascination with Bronx history by posting past-tense tidbits to his Jonas Bronck Facebook page. He also began brewing his first batches of beer at home.
“It starts out as a hobby or an idea and then it just blossoms into something like this,” said Mr. Nallen, surrounded by pint guzzling patrons at his brew’s unveiling.
Mr. Nallen comes from a family in which at least six generations have called the borough home. His father has owned a deli in Woodlawn for more than 30 years. His great-grandfather and great-granduncle played on the Morrisania Sylvans in 1883, when the team won the city championship with Al Smith, who later became governor of New York and a presidential contender, serving as bat boy.
As Mr. Nallen’s Facebook page — featuring historical photos, including a scan of a postcard from 1909 showing Bronck’s treaty with the Indians — gained popularity (it now has 3,500 friends and 5,000 Twitter followers) he started toying with idea of starting a Bronck’s beer brand.
And after last week’s event, his brew likely has some followers, too.
He brought a keg of Pelham Bay IPA and two kegs of Woodlawn Weiss to the Ale House tasting and about an hour after they were tapped, one was already kicked and bubbling in the stomachs of those who came to partake.
He is also pondering a Kingsbridge Kolsch, and he’s sure about one thing — he wants each brew to bring with it a bit of the Bronx, whether it be the name of a neighborhood, a street or some other emblem its residents will appreciate.
A beer with his own neighborhood’s namesake seemed an obvious first choice. Mr. Nallen described the Woodlawn Weiss as being made with 100 percent German yeast and more in the German tradition than a beer like Blue Moon. He called it a perfect drink for a warm summer’s day — by which time he hopes the it will be pouring from local taps.
He described the Pelham Bay IPA as smoother than most IPA’s, more of a “session beer.”
“You can drink like 12 of them if you want to,” he said.
As the event wore on, some of his supporters seemed as though they had.
“I drank it all,” one reveler said.
Mr. Nallen, who is funding the venture by himself for now, said he hopes to continue working with the upstate brewery that created his first batches and would eventually like to open a small tasting room in the Bronx where patrons sample test brews.
He already has pint glasses with his logo and is working on T-shirts and other gear to sell along with his beer.
At the tasting, which was made complete by a bagpipe combo, he was approached by representatives from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.’s office, who were considering making his beverages a part of Bronx Week.
After all, according to Bronx Historian Lloyd Ultan, the borough’s first beep, Louis F. Haffen, came from a brewing family.