Putting You On: Dyckman Beer
Dominicans started their descent to America in the late 70s/early 1980s. A group looking for a better life to support those back home, and since then Dominicans have embraced entrepreneurship holding true to their mission to support themselves and family back in the Dominican Republic. Although baseball, owning grocery stores and night clubs are the preferred businesses, some venture out, and pave new roads for the next generation, one trailblazer that comes to mind is Juan Camilo, creator and owner of Uptown’s NYC own, Dyckman Beer Co. Using his heritage as inspiration, Dyckman Beer is just more than a business, its part of a culture, our culture.
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions in front of the entire cabinet ignorantly said “Fundamentally, almost no one coming from the Dominican Republic to the United States is coming here because they have a provable skill that would benefit us and that would indicate their likely success in our society,” Obviously this man is an ignorant idiot and factually incorrect, but I highlight this quote to showcase the obstacles immigrants face everyday and despite that Juan crawled out from the bottom to create something amazing. Born in Dominican Republic, moving to New York City at the age 5, and raised by a single mother, Juan J. Camilo started Dyckman Beer Co. in 2012 with a goal to create premium beers that will be a source of great pride for Uptown and its surrounding communities. Armed with recipes reflecting the taste and spirit of Uptown, subtly infused with Dominican flavors, Juan set out to give Uptown NYC a beer they could call their own. Dyckman Beer Co. was born.
I chatted with Juan to talk about how important Dyckman Beer is to him and the community:
What were you doing before starting Dyckman beer? Before Dyckman Beer Company I was working in a large multi-national bank within the Investment Banking division on Wall Street.
What inspired you to start DB? After home brewing for about 3 years I really wanted to give my neighborhood and community something we could call our own and most importantly tell our culture through beer.
What were some of your early challenges? Some of the early challenges were finding a producer to find my beers and placing the beer at new accounts throughout NYC.
Because DB is about the uptown culture, were people uptown hesitant to try DB? I think the brand name of Dyckman Beer did get people curious about the beer and that led them to trying the beer at first glance.
Now that you've convinced bars, Bodegas, and super markets to carry DB uptown, how was it getting downtown and the rest of NYC to buy in? After positioning the beer correctly uptown and establishing a presence. That did make expanding downtown and other parts of the city a lot easier because people had heard of it by that time.
Does being Dominican and making it plus carving out your own niche, do you find yourself with pressure to succeed? This was something that I was able to turn from a hobby to a business and I never would have thought I would have my beer in over 150+ locations. I'm happy to get the Dyckman Beer Company this far and the community support has been instrumental and huge motivator for doing this everyday.
You have a flavor called Chinola, which means Passion Fruit, but I see the labeling on the bottle is in Spanish, how important was it to maintain the Dominican culture in your branding? Yes, really putting our culture at the forefront of the brand is truly the differentiator and what makes the beers so unique in flavor profile. Some bars and restaurants are hesitant to write Chinola Witbier or Cafe con Leche Milk Stout on the menu or chalkboard but once I educate the consumer on what it means and explain our cultures relationship to that specific fruit they take a different perspective and understanding. I want the consumer to get the total experience and immerse him or herself in our culture and staying true to the original name of the brew is part of it. Just like our slogan "Una Vain Bien."
What are some of the dream stores you would like to see Dyckman Beer in? I am truly grateful to any business that opens up their doors to me and decides to proudly serve my product. However, having my beer at Eataly was pretty nice, since I worked just a few blocks away for some time.
Outside of your own beer obviously, what are some of your other favorite beers? Anything else that's local, Allagash White, Pliny the Elder.
What's next for DB? Having a larger reach within NYC and being the best brand ambassador for Northern Manhattan.
Beer lovers need to try the Chinola summer ale as well as the Café Con Leche. Dyckman Beer can be found all over Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and the entire NYC, check here for exact spots.