The Long Island City Beer-Making Scene

Andrew Rosenberg

(Updated 01/24/2020)

Just a decade ago, microbrewing in New York City was a relatively untapped field—some core producers but nothing approaching a widespread craze. The beerscape has exploded in recent years, and perhaps nowhere has it found greater liftoff than in Queens’ Long Island City. What sets the scene here apart is the proximity of places (and their willingness to collaborate with one another on joint production efforts). You can, with relative ease, walk to five different taprooms in one (long, perhaps wobbly) evening, with a sixth farther along. Here’s a quick primer to the hops kings in this neck of Queens.

Alewife
The owners of this bar, which opened back in 2011, recently started brewing their own beer and are opening a new production facility in 2020 located in nearby Sunnyside.
Born on date: 2018
Taproom details: Two levels hold big wooden tables at which to quaff the goods.
Choose the brews: About two thirds of the 20 beers on tap are house-made, including a half-dozen types of IPA.
Also known for: Probably more than any other LIC brewery, Alewife is a place for food, with tacos, wings and burgers highlighting the menu. Wednesdays are comedy and bingo night.

Big Alice. Photo: Molly Flores

Big Alice Brewing Co.
Named for the borough’s giant electric power generator “Big Allis,” this low-slung brick brewery on a quiet industrial street is worth seeking out.
Born on date: 2013 (a second taproom, in Brooklyn’s Industry City, opened in 2019)
Taproom details: An intimate, living-room-size place lined with barstools where regulars feel free to bring their dogs.
Choose the brews: They’ve got roughly a dozen on tap, many of which incorporate unusual ingredients such as lemongrass, hibiscus and jalapeño.
Also known for: Setting down local roots. They’ve partnered with area businesses to produce some of those unexpected ingredients mentioned above.

Fifth Hammer Brewing. Photo: Molly Flores

Fifth Hammer Brewing
Frequent food pop-ups and the occasional artsy event help make this a lively hangout.
Born on date: 2017
Taproom details: It’s cavernous and warehousey, with a long bar and beer barrels used as tables; the tap handles are actually hammers.
Choose the brews: The dozen or so draughts lean heavily on IPAs, topped off by the hazy Propitious Day.
Also known for: The resident beer impresario, Chris Cuzma, doubles as a sax player. He leads a regular jam session on Wednesday evenings.

Courtesy, Iconyc

Iconyc
In 2019, Iconyc opened a new taproom in L.I.C., putting it within walking distance of many other local Queens breweries.
Born on date: 2016
Taproom details: Located in a former garage behind the brewery with an entrance on 12th Street, their newest space features a "biergarten" as well as an outdoor space for games like cornhole.
Choose the brews: There are typically around 10 beers to choose from, headed by lagers and saisons and the occasional punny name (like Proper Berrial, with summer fruits).
Also known for: Their oversize bottling, which stands out on a shelf. Also, the Vexed stout is around 13 percent ABV. That is…a lot.

LIC Beer Project. Photo: Jamie Lefkowitz

LIC Beer Project
A couple of blocks north of Queens Boulevard sits this garagelike spot with a rustic feel.
Born on date: 2015
Taproom details: A compact bar area and more open table seating provide a setting for sipping, playing games and gazing into the production space in back.
Choose the brews: About 10 are on tap at a time, including pale ales Coded Tiles and Dream Shovel, and a variety of IPAs.
Also known for: Collaborating with other breweries (both local, like Other Half, and further afield) and partnering with a kitchen or chef to provide taproom food on Saturdays.

Rockaway Brewing Co. Photo: Molly Flores

Rockaway Brewing Company
If you’re looking for a casual place that has a resident brewery cat, you’ve found it.
Born on date: 2015
Taproom details: The space feels more like a pop-up surf bar than a brewery taproom. The beer can collection on the wall is impressive and impeccably kept.
Choose the brews: They’ve got eight on tap, with the ESB (extra special bitter) serving as their calling card.
Also known for: In case you were wondering about the name, the owners did start out by homebrewing in the Rockaways. They opened a second location there in 2016.

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