Queens: A Hotbed of Brewing in NYC

In the past few years brewing in New York City has exploded. And it shows no signs of slowing down. Check out this report on Brew York about some of the new operations expected to open in the near future. Basically, it’s an exciting time for NYC beer.

So who would have thought Queens would be the epicenter of beer growth in the city? Certainly not us. We don’t get to the borough just north of us very often. But there are really good reasons to visit. Here are some of them.

Rockaway Brewing Company

Contrary to what its name indicates, Rockaway Brewing Company is headquartered in Long Island City. Opened by longtime friends and homebrewing companions Ethan Long and Marcus Burnett in 2012, the brewery is a tribute to the Queens beach destination, where they met and started making beer together. Rockaway’s flagship beer is its ESB, not a common first brew in the beer world, so it stands out. A tasty, malty smooth beer with 6.4 percent ABV, the ESB is worth getting at the source.

Rockaway’s Long Island City brewery is open Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Located at 46-01 5th St., the tiny taproom is a fun place to visit to sample some beers, take a peek at the brewing operation and bring home a growler of fresh brew. Rockaway beers are on tap at bars in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

Bridge and Tunnel Brewery

Rich Castagna is a very dedicated brewer. He put together his nano operation utilizing every square inch of space he had on hand, while keeping his day job and helping his wife take care of their children. He launched Bridge and Tunnel brewery as a tribute to his home borough in the fall of 2012. Castagna sometimes starts brew days at 2 a.m.

Each of the Bridge and Tunnel beers is named for a neighborhood tale or lost legend. Castagna’s Angry Amel Dunkelweizen recalls a curmudgeonly neighbor he had when he was growing up. It’s an excellent example of the style, malty with banana and clove flavors. Though you can’t yet visit Bridge and Tunnel Brewery, you can find beers at many beer spots in Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn. Queens locations include Queens Kickshaw, Sunswick 35/35 and Astoria Bier and Cheese.

SingleCut Beersmiths

Traditionally known for its delicious and authentic Greek food, Queens’s Astoria neighborhood has been home to SingleCut Beersmiths since December 2012. Opened by homebrewer Rich Buceta, SingleCut focuses mostly on lagers. Buceta names his beers after guitar and rock icons. One of the more whimsically named brews is “Eric” More Cowbell! Chocolate Milk Stout.

At a visit to the brewery you can enjoy pints of beer alongside savory pies or meat plates, and purchase growlers to take home. SingleCut, at 19-33 37th St. in Astoria, is open Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 11 p.m., Friday from 2:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.,  Saturday 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Sunday from 1 to 8 p.m.

Big Alice Brewing

Started by friends and coworkers Kyle Hurst, Robby Crafton and Scott Berger, Big Alice Brewing has a different concept than any other brewery in NYC. The brewing system, manned by Crafton, is only 10 gallons, and each brew is a one-off batch, sold in large-format bottles. The team will often source ingredients at the farmers market and not know what the recipe will be until they take stock of those ingredients.

The brewery’s taproom is located at 808 43rd Rd. in Long Island City and is open on Fridays from 5 to 7:30 p.m. You can visit to sample a couple of bottles or purchase others to take home. Every six months you can purchase beer shares in Big Alice Brewing, which for $200 gets you two beers each month.

Brewed Offsite: Queens Brewery

While most beers by Queens breweries are made in the borough, Queens Lager by the Queens Brewery is made at Olde Saratoga Brewing Company upstate. Started by Nelson Rockefeller, who comes from a line of barley wheat farmers in Washington, launched his flagship brew at the NYC Craft Beer Festival Summer Jazz event in July.

Queens Brewery produces only one brew thus far, and its Queens Lager is available at locations in Queens and Manhattan, some in Brooklyn. Rockefeller is looking for a home in his brewery’s namesake borough to brew on site.

Coming Soon: Finback Brewery

Basil Lee and Kevin Stafford are dedicated homebrewers who have been on a long journey to open their brewery. They’ve only recently found a permanent location in Glendale and just this week completed their Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for barrel aging. Similar to Big Alice, when Finback opens the brewery will offer Community Supported Beer (CSB) subscriptions to receive 12 growler fills a year, special events and merchandise.

Finback Brewery is named after the 40-foot whale that washed up on Breezy Point beach last year. Lee and Stafford hope to open later this year.

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