I currently live in Brooklyn, but my autobiography starts in Queens — Ridgewood, specifically. My childhood is now a quilt sewn with patches of foggy memories, but I can vividly recall lunch at Corato Pizza, Street Fighter 2 for Sega Genesis and Grover Cleveland Park. I also remember, not as fondly, frequent visits to Lerner on Myrtle Avenue, whining as my mother browsed incessantly for blouses.
I will always love Queens, which has quietly exploded into the beeriest borough of New York City: seven breweries have opened since 2012, and several neighborhoods, including Astoria and Long Island City, are now destinations for craft-serving bars. It still struggles, though, to receive the notoriety and drinker-traffic of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
This neglect was recognized by Daniel Bronson, manager of Crescent & Vine in Astoria. Bronson, who curates one of the dopest lineups of beer in New York City, extended his dopeness to launch Queens Beer Week. It’s a ten-day exploration and appreciation of the borough’s thriving beerbounty.
“Though we love New York City Beer Week, with 60-70 events in Manhattan alone it’s a tough sell to get folks to travel out to Queens, even when there’s some treasures out here,” says Bronson. “After a long discussion with the folks at Sunswick 35/35 and Queens Kickshaw, we decided that Queens needed it’s own week to show off.”
Queens Beer Week will strut confidently with 30+ events from April 18-27, “ranging from beer cocktails to brewing demonstrations, planned dinners to tap takeovers, special releases, and lots of music and parties,” says Bronson. A regurgitation of events is unnecessary, so instead, I offer three don’t-miss things:
The Debut of Transmitter Brewing:
Queens’ newest beermaker is Transmitter Brewing, nestled beneath the Pulaski Bridge in Long Island City. Anthony Accardi and Rob Kolb, a pair of Greenpointers (Greenpoint is home of WNYC Transmitter Park), combine for 25 years of homebrewing. Their focus is French and Belgian-style ales fermented with Brettanomyces, a wild, unpredictable yeast capable of imparting funky and wine-like characteristics. Transmitter is experimenting with 25+ strains of Brettanomyces — primarily isolated by Accardi, even from various fruits — to explore every crevice of fermentation. This includes conditioning, or maturing, beer in bottles and barrels.
“Brett[anomyces] has a life of its own and can completely change a beer over six months,” says Accardi. “We welcome variability and want to see what happens as the yeast interacts and take it from there. We’re not married to anything but making well-crafted beer.”
Transmitter will debut four beers at Crescent & Vine on Friday, April 18 (7:00pm-11:00pm): F1 Farmhouse Brett Golden Ale, S1 Mahogany Saison, S2 Saison Noir, and Q1 Quad.
Official Beer of Queens Beer Week:
Barrier Brewing Company‘s Queen of Tarts, a lime-laced pale ale, was brewed exclusively for Queens Beer Week. While Barrier is based on Long Island, not Queens, co-owner Craig Frymark resides in Astoria. The brewery is also “a big supporter of the bars pouring craft beer here, including Crescent & Vine,” says Bronson. “It was a no brainer to ask them to represent this week by creating something special.”
This request produced Queen of Tarts, brewed with 20 pounds of limes — and not with the intention of inducing puckerface.
“It’s a hoppy, refreshing pale ale with subtle lime presence rather than being a lime-forward or a crazy tart beer,” says Frymark. “We used Mosaic and Cascade hops to pair their citrusy characteristics with the lime. It’ll appeal to every drinker, which I believe is also the goal of the entire week of events.”
Queen of Tarts debuts at Taste of Queens, hosted by SingleCut Beersmiths, on Saturday, April 19 (7:00pm-11:00pm). It will pour at various events during Queens Beer Week.
Finback Brewery Open House:
Basil Lee and Kevin Stafford homebrewed together for eight years, creating stovetop-cooked batches of green tea-infused blonde ales and milky stouts. The duo graduated to 20-barrel recipes in February, opening Finback Brewery near Lutheran Cemetary in Glendale. Lee and Stafford will unveil a twelve-draft taproom in May, but grab a peekaboo of their 13,000-square-foot brewery on Saturday, April 26 (4:00pm-8:00pm). This will feature pours of Double Sess Wit, a pillowy, semi-spicy witbier brewed with ginger, chamomile and Szechuan peppercorns; BQE, a borough-connecting stout stuffed with Brooklyn’s Mast Brothers Chocolate and coffee from Queens’ Native Coffee Roasters; and more. Finback has also invited other breweries to Glendale, including Transmitter Brewing, Rockaway Brewing, and Big Alice Brewing. Beers are $4.