Zip City brewpub

1997: A NYC Brewpub Closes

Beer history guy Tom Acitelli takes us back 20 years, to when the Zip City brewpub in Manhattan closed its doors. Its cause of death was heavy competition.

Zip City, named for a fictional town invented by Sinclair Lewis, opened in late 1991. At the time, there were no brewpubs in New York City. For a while, Zip City had the city to itself. Then came the brewpub bubble of the late 1990s. In July 1996, an event called the New York City Brewpub Crawl Marathon stopped at 12 establishments. At the same time, a flood of microbrewed beer arrived on store shelves in New York. This at a time when craft had a tiny share of the nation’s beer market.

After Zip City’s demise, some in the media were ready to write off brewpubs—and even craft beer—as a passing fad. But, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the sector’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

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