Williamsburg may be today’s Brooklyn beer capital (see Brooklyn Record’s excellent round-up of places to slake your thirst this summer), but back in the day, it was all about Bushwick, which was known as the beer capital of the Northeast.
It turns out we owe much of this brewing history to Long Island. The Germans responsible for opening the breweries first settled in Bushwick following the 1776 Battle of Long Island. About a century later, Brooklyn began obtaining water from Long Island lakes that was ideal for brewing. By 1890, there were 14 breweries in Bushwick. The new money brewers constructed mansions along Bushwick Avenue that you can still see today. The breweries began to close following World War II, and were all gone by 1976.
If you’d been alive then, though, what fun you could have had. From Brooklyn Geneology comes this 1877 report of a stabbing in a “Dutchtown” Saloon:
Two Men Badly Cut in am Inn which was Kept Open in Defiance of the Excise Law- The Scene of the Occurrence Near the Locality of the BETZ Homicide. The region of the "Swamp" in Dutchtown, has an unenviable reputation as a locality where serious brawls occur. Scarcely a night passes but a tenement house or barroom quarrel takes place, and the "Swamp" and "Pickieville" furnish more work for Captain Worth, his officers, and Justice Guck than another portion of the Sixth Precinct. Early this morning a serious affray occurred in the saloon of Jacob Mohr, corner of Humboldt and Debevoise streets, but a few blocks away from the scene of the BETZ homicide. The "Inn" it appears, had been open all night, in violation of the Excise law, and at four o'clock this morning the place was doing a rushing business, the proprietor having all he could do to attend to the wants of his butleusly inclined customers, who filled the "hotel". Suddenly a quarrel arose, no one concerned seeming to know the cause, and a number of men were seen leaning over one Lorenz JACKERS, of 236 Varet street, and taking a knife from his band. When the man JACKERS had been turned out of the saloon, it was found that Michael SULUMANN , of 38 Montrose avenue, had received a severe cut on his cheek extending from his left eye to his ear and laying bare the cheek bone. His brother, Andrew SULLIVAN also received a severe cut on his left cheek.