Unless you’ve been living under a rock – or on one, as is the case for Roosevelt Islanders – you’ve probably noticed that the Queens beer scene is growing. From tiny micro breweries to hip neighborhood joints, there are some serious hops to try across the river in Long Island City. And with the Island’s new ferry terminal opening in just a few days, some of the best local brews will soon be mere minutes away.
Because we are always willing to accept a challenge, The WIRE's staff took a tour of some of nearby breweries. Bottoms up!
Big aLICe Brewing • Rockaway Brewing • Bierocracy
• Transmitter Brewing • LIC Beer Project
Big aLICe Brewing
Big aLICe Brewing is located off Vernon Boulevard, just south of the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. At slightly over a mile away, it’s a hike from the Island or a short cab ride (the Q102 also stops just a couple blocks away). That said, on a nice day, a flight of cold beer in their bright, air-conditioned tap room will be the perfect antidote, if you do decide to hoof it.
Big aLICe is a nano-brewery, meaning they produce very small batches of craft beer. You can watch the brewers at work while you sip your beer and chat with the enthusiastic staff. They are also a New York State Farm Brewery, meaning their beers are made from locally grown farm ingredients.
We recommend starting with a flight so you can sample the amazing variety. On the day we went, they were offering 13 beers with names like Sweet Potato Farmhouse, Lemongrass Kölsch, and Everything is Broken. A six-beer flight costs $15. You can also get pints and growler fills, as well as cans and bottled beer.
Big aLICe Brewing pioneered the Community Supported Brewery (CSB) concept back in 2013. Members pay a monthly fee for access to special brews that regular customers don’t get. On our visit, those flavors were Blackberry Pomegranate Fatale and Strawberry Chocolate Stout. A six month membership costs $125 and has additional privileges, including two half growlers per month. Other breweries now offer similar programs.
Our favorites: Queensbridge Ale, Queens Honey Brown, Honey Wit, Biere de Fierte, Sour Cherry Sour, and “Date Night, Bro,” which tastes surprisingly of coffee and donuts.
Details: Opens at 5:00 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and at 12:00 p.m. on weekends
8-08 43rd Rd., Long Island City www.bigalicebrewing.com.
Rockaway Brewing Company is also a hop, skip, and a jump away from the new Long Island City ferry stop at Gantry Plaza State Park. Depending on when you get there, they may have food available. When we arrived, they had sold the last of the sausage sandwiches. Luckily, LIC Flea & Food is located directly across the street and they have all kinds of tasty offerings.
Inside, surfing paraphernalia decorate the walls, reggae music plays, and, befitting the theme, our bartender wore his hair in long dreadlocks and was shirtless. According to the founders, Ethan and Marcus, before opening the Long Island City location, “we were homebrewing in our Far Rockaway backyards – mainly so we’d have something to sip on after a day of surfing.”
Although the menu isn’t as extensive as at some of the other stops on our tour, the beer is simple and refreshing. A flight of tour beers costs $8. They sell draught beer, cans, and you can get your growler refilled there; they also offer two growler sizes for purchase; personal at 32 oz, and party size, 64 oz.
Our favorites: Rockaway ESB, Rockaway IPA, Rockaway Surf’s Up, and Every 1 A Winner, as well as their Descendant Dry Hopped Cider.
Details: Opens at 5:00 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 12:00 p.m. on weekends
46-01 5th St., Long Island City
Located on Jackson Avenue, Bierocracy is an easy walk from the new Long Island City ferry stop. They don’t brew their own beer, but the beer hall does offer draughts from local breweries, including Astoria brewery Singlecut and Long Island City brewery LIC Beer Project.
The space is vast (4,000 square feet!) with a large bar in the center and long tables surrounding it. They do pints, growlers, and flights. A four-beer flight is $12.
In addition to a long list of beers, they have a full menu, and serve both dinner, and brunch. Our advice: believe the hype about their famous – and gigantic – $12 pretzel. We also ordered the $16 Bierocracy Burger, which comes with “stout glazed” bacon, crispy onions, arugula, tomato, aioli, beer chimay cheese; and the $14 grilled chicken sandwich with radish, carrots, cucumber, cilantro, jalapeno, cheddar, and chipotle mayo. Service was good and both sandwiches came with a generous order of fries.
By the way, if you don’t want the beer, but do crave some bar food, you don’t have to leave the Island. Bierocracy now delivers through Seamless.
Our favorites: Schneiderweisse, Down East Cider, Flying Dog Blood Orange Nitro, and LIC Beer Project’s Gal Friday.
Details: Opens at 4:00 p.m. Monday to Friday and at 11:00 a.m. on weekends
12–23 Jackson Ave., Long Island City
Transmitter Brewing is located in an industrial area under the Pulaski Bridge. It’s easy to miss, however, and the signs that line the block outside are necessary. Their location, though, rewards those seeking a personalized, quiet, off-the-beaten-track tasting experience.
You can walk right into the brewery’s internal organs, where there is seating or pick a spot on the back patio among the tomato vines. Next door is the small tasting room, where you can try out the offerings before you buy. When you do buy, it is all bottles, and there are often unlisted bottles for sale, so definitely ask them what else they have.
They call themselves an urban farmhouse brewery, and they focus on the quality of their ingredients with an emphasis on French- and Belgian-styled beers, and barrel-aged sours, including their newly released Passionfruit Sour. They also have a CSB program. A six-month subscription costs $185, which, among other perks, entitles you to two bottles per month.
Our favorites: Hibiscus Wit, Bohemian Pilsner, Brett Farmhouse, and Belge Saison Apple Brandy, a brew fermented in apple brandy barrels.
Details: Opens at 4:00 p.m. on Fridays and at 12:00 p.m. on weekends
53-02 11th St., Long Island City
LIC Beer Project
LIC Beer Project is located a few blocks from the 21St/Queensbridge F-Train station on a little stretch also boasting Birch Coffee, Brooklyn Boulders, and A Taste of Thai. It’s a cavernous warehouse space with high ceilings, high-end finishes, and a beautiful indoor mural. On a Sunday evening, it was crowded, but still comfortable. In addition to the beer on tap, they also sell their beer by the can and do growlers as well.
Our favorites: Grisette, Manhattanhenge IPA, and Genesis, their take on a German style Pilsner.
Details: Opens at 4:00 p.m. Wednesday to Friday and 1:00 p.m. on weekends
39-28 23rd St.; Long Island City