It’s an exciting time, local beer loons: Bushwick’s first brewery in 40 years is ready to unveil some suds!
Our first chat with Kings County Brewers Collective, in April, was just prior to the release of a Meyer lemon–infused saison called “Yoga Pants” that was made in collaboration with Long Island City’s Rockaway Brewing Company. In addition to the salient characteristics of that beer, our conversation covered how partners Zack Kinney, Tony Bellis and Pete Lengyel met; plans for their 5,000-square-foot facility at 381 Troutman Street; and some beers they expect to make, like “Janiak Maniak”—a pilsner named for their endearingly eccentric landlord.
The nascent brewery’s 12-tap tasting room has yet to open, but when it does, its CSA-like beer membership program will begin. (The Collective’s highest membership tier, called “Baller,” will cost $300 and offer 36 Crowlers, access to preorder special releases and more.) They’ve been brewing for a bit in the meantime and their initial batches will be distributed to local bars and restaurants shortly.
We asked Kinney, Bellis and Lengyel to tell us about these first beers. They chose six in total, and each partner tackled two:
Robot Fish #1 (5.3%)
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introducing ROBOT FISH #1 — the first in a series of SMaSH beers from @petelengyel. Session IPA (5.3%) with classic Golden Promise malt and experimental new Idaho 7 hops. Smooth pine, hazy apricot, snappy finish. Coming very soon to a craft beer bar near you… (in NYC 🍻) #kcbcbeer #robotfish #brewedinbushwick #nyccraftbeer
With the three of us sharing the brewing duties, this is first in a series of SMaSH beers that I’ll be making. SMaSH stands for “Single Malt and Single Hop,” and it’s a style that’s not only simple and delicious but educational. By limiting [the beer] to a single malt and single hop you really get to know what those two ingredients bring to the party and how they work together. For the first Robot Fish, which was my original idea for a brewery name back in the day, I’ve paired the classic Golden Promise malt with a new and exciting American hop called Idaho 7. Golden Promise delivers a smooth, slightly nutty malt backbone and Idaho 7 brings flavors and aromas of orange, apricot, black tea and pine. This is a special one for us on many different levels: It was the first beer we brewed on the new system, and the first commercial beer made in Bushwick in over 40 years! —Pete Lengyel
Janiak Maniak (4.7%)
We all love a good hoppy pilsner and this take uses a classic malt bill of 100 percent Bohemian pilsner malt along with a large bittering hop addition. Then we hit it with a ton of spicy, floral Willamette hops at the end of the boil for aroma. It’s definitely a drink-all-day beer, named after our building landlord Gary Janiak. He grew up in this neighborhood and remembers hitching a ride to school on the back of the Rheingold Brewery yeast truck. He also lived through the days when pretty much everyone in Bushwick carried a gun. He’s a nice guy—just don’t fuck with him. Janiak Maniac is his childhood nickname, and it makes a great beer name. —Tony Bellis
Dangerous Precedent (6.9%)
This IPA is somewhat of a mash-up of old-school West Coast IPA and new-school Northeast IPA. Moderate bitterness, intensely juicy hop flavors and aromas, hazy golden color and stone-fruit yeast esters are the characteristics here. Specifically the late additions and dry-hopping with Cascade, Mosaic and Azacca hops give a blend of resin, grapefruit flesh and mangoliciousness. —Zack Kinney
I originally made this summertime saison as a homebrew for a fundraiser at our local community garden. They were hosting a benefit dinner with vegetables and herbs they had grown, so I wanted to make a light and lively, fresh and tangy, food-friendly beer well suited to garden-fresh foods. Sandcastles is based on that. Pilsner and wheat malts and a Belgian-saison yeast give a soft-yet-dry mouthfeel. We also zested an entire case of lemons and added that at flameout to give it a fresh lemon zing on the nose. —Pete Lengyel
Beach Zombie (3.9%)
I’ve been experimenting with different fruits in my Berliner Weisse recipe and this variant with strawberry and guava is one of my favorites. The base will always be a light and tangy kettle-soured beer with a soft, wheat-based body. Here the strawberry and guava are added at the tail end of fermentation to give a tropical-fruit flair and a delicate pinkish hue. Drinking this will definitely make you feel like you’re on vacation. I highly recommend taking a Crowler to the beach—just watch out for any zombies. —Zack Kinney
Stoop Sale (4.6%)
Old school meets new school for our version of a German kölsch, and it’s definitely a summer crusher. We use a light base of pilsner and Vienna malts, some spicy Saaz hops for bittering, a clean lager yeast and a big dose of dry-hopping with New Zealand–grown Wai-iti for a fruity, lime-like aroma. Crisp, dry and refreshing. —Tony Bellis