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The Brooklyn Beer Garden celebrates art and beer in one creative space. Courtesy of Justin Schwartz

How This 24-Year-Old Entrepreneur Is Updating the Biergarten Experience with Street Art

The joy of drinking beer outside amongst friends is well documented, but a 24-year old entrepreneur and his partner have found a new way to liven up a celebrated drinking tradition. Gabriele Maurello, who along with partner Tyagi Schwartz co-founded Brooklyn Beer Garden, is banking that this hybrid street art gallery and craft beer garden can help rethink the modern biergarten concept, which has become synonymous with any outdoor patio or rooftop in recent years.

So what makes Brooklyn Beer Garden unique from the venues that hire artists to paint custom murals in an attempt to create an “in” with the neighborhood? Perhaps it’s the narrative that something was literally created out of nothing by a community of artists who were given the creative freedom to follow their own vision.

The Build Out

The first Brooklyn Beer Garden resides in a forgotten lot within the industrial but artistic neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn. “The main material used in Brooklyn Beer Garden are pallets. We literally built the place ourselves, blood, sweat, and tears over the course of 4 months. Once the buildout of the bar was complete, the artists began to come in. From one artist, to five, to 20, we organically created a community,” describes co-founder Maurello, who at the age of 24 has jumped right into the role of co-owner.

Visitors can sip on a brew and purchase a piece of art to take home. Courtesy of Justin Schwartz

However, building an art gallery where guests can purchase artwork while mingling over craft beer only works if you can get people to visit. To gain the attention of the crowd, Maurello relied on his upbringing growing up in a restaurant family.

Family Matters

“My entire childhoodconsisted of being next to my father in his Italian restaurants,” Maurellorecalls. “From peeling carrots in the kitchen to being a busboy, I learned theins and outs, but one thing my father always told me as a kid was ‘don't stoplearning how to learn.’”

One of the first movesMaurello made in his career was teaming with Tyagi Schwartz, an experiencedentertainment professional who helped Maurello execute the vision thatultimately became Brooklyn Beer Garden. The concept has already branched out ofits Bushwick headquarters with a residency at The William Vale Hotel this summer, and isalso appearing at events like Art Basel inMiami, where Brooklyn Beer Garden plans to visit for the second timelater this year. 

View of the Brooklyn Beer Garden location in Bushwick. Courtesy of Justin Schwartz

Though incorporatingstreet art into their space is a trend many business owners have takenadvantage of, the idea that artists had the creative freedom to design a beergarden from the ground up that doubles as a gallery is certified original.“Introducing local street artists to our guests, providing them with a marketplace to purchase art and experience a variety of Brooklyn brewed beers andwines is an excellent extension of the kind of programming we create for thehotel guests and the neighborhood all the time, “ says David Lemmond, the generalmanager at The William Vale Hotel. The luxury hotel includes a restaurant fromchef Andrew Carmellini, a rooftop lounge with skyline views of Manhattan, and adonut cafe from chef Wylie Dufresne, all of which puts Brooklyn Beer Garden indistinguished company.

For the artists, thevenue is a safe haven for escaping the usual legalities of decorating someoneelse’s property, not to mention the typical politics of the art world. Streetartists like SacSix and Isabelle Ewing have used the eventplatform to showcase their talents and sell their artwork. “Even the beststreet art galleries select and represent only the top 5% of street artists.That leaves a lot of other talented artists out in the cold. The Brooklyn BeerGarden has embraced these street artists and have welcomed them into their artfamily,” says Miami-born artist SacSix, whose work includes collaborations withAdidas.

Artist Dirt Cobain at Brooklyn Beer Garden.

It’s this sense ofcommunity that differentiates Brooklyn Beer Garden from the city’s countlessoptions. Though using art to attract guests is not new, from some artistsperspective, most restaurants and bars don’t do a great job. “A lot ofrestaurants and bars just slap up art on the walls not putting intoconsideration their aesthetic. Kudos to them for supporting the arts but whenthey do this it can not only make the business look bad, but can cheapen theartwork and or take away from the work,” says Brooklyn-based muralist IsabelleEwing. While it’s understandable that most restaurants would put their resourcesinto food and drink, the visual aesthetic of a dining room plays a crucial rolein the overall dining experience.

Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beer Holder

However, it’s not justthe imagery that makes Brooklyn Beer Garden unique. The selection of beveragesare just as important when thinking of ways to stimulate the crowd. InBrooklyn, local craft breweries like Sixpoint and Five Boroughs, along withcider from Brooklyn CiderHouse and wine from Red Hook Winery,are all available to help guests unwind. Brooklyn Beer Garden even found a wayto take advantage of the canned cocktail trend with its very own drink inpartnership with All-Wise Meaderycalled “The Brooklyn Mule.”

While the concept has proven popular with Brooklyn’s artistic crowd, growing the concept to other cities may prove challenging. In Boston, the popularity of summer beer gardens has caused friction with restaurant owners to the point where state legislature is considering limiting the number of permits issued to beer garden operators. Like most venues, Brooklyn Beer Garden will have to find creative ways to keep the crowd entertained, which is why putting the focus on building loyalty with artists above all else should come in handy. “A lot of career goals that I had set for myself years ago were accomplished thanks to them, like becoming apart of the Bushwick Collective, showing at Art Basel Miami, painting murals all over the city, the list goes on,” says Ewing. When it comes to where people choose to hang out, sometimes collaboration paints a prettier picture.

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