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New breweries: Get the scoop on five outer-borough beer-makers

The spring, a whole host of new breweries will open in the other four boroughs. Meet the newest crop of New York City hops-pushers.

 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
Photograph: Filip Wolak

Gun Hill Brewing Company

Open now

Start it up: Baseball-playing buddies Dave Lopez and Kieran Farrell planned to open a beer-making joint with a third teammate, a seasoned home-brewer. When that fell through, the pair moved forward undeterred, and now they have the first brewery operating in the Bronx in more than 50 years.

Pedigree: Lopez and Farrell hooked up with former Chelsea Brewing Company brewmaster Chris Sheehan to run the tanks; they met the award-winning aficionado through ProBrewer (“It’s kind of like a Craigslist for brewers,” explains Lopez). 

The brews: Two flagship beers—Gun Hill Gold and Gun Hill IPA—will be manufactured year-round, along with a stout, which is a particular favorite of Sheehan’s. They also created an ale made with ingredients grown locally by Sheehan himself. 

Why NYC?: “All three of us are New York guys,” says Lopez. “We wanted to try and play off of our roots as much as possible.” 

How to taste it: The adjoining 25-seat bar features Gun Hill’s flagship brews, plus seasonal drafts. For $5 you can sample a pint or a flight; Lopez and Farrell plan to partner with local food vendors (including an Arthur Avenue deli) to bring in grub. 

3227 Laconia Ave between Boston Rd and Duncan St, Bronx (gunhillbrewing.com)

 (Photograph: Courtesy Finback Brewery)
Photograph: Courtesy Finback Brewery

Finback Brewery

Opens in April

Start it up: Cofounders Basil Lee and Kevin Stafford home-brewed together for about four years before going pro. Both eventually ditched their full-time gigs (as an architect and a graphic designer, respectively) to turn their hobby into a business.

Pedigree: The two are relative newbies in the beer-making biz: Stafford worked for a commercial brewer for one year, but the pair draw on a combined 14 years of home-brewing experience when concocting new recipes.

The brews: Once it opens, there’ll be three year-round offerings (including a citrusy IPA) and a few seasonal options, such as a smoky session beer. Lee and Stafford also used Kickstarter to help fund a sour-beer program.

Why NYC?: “There’s just so much variety,” says Lee. “[New York breweries] all have their own point of view, contributing to a more rich beer culture in the city.”

How to taste it: The duo is cooking up special offerings (chef-beer pairings, art exhibits) to make its taproom a destination. “We want a place where you can come and hang out on the weekends, chat with your friends and have some good beers,” says Lee.

78-01 77th Ave between 78th and 79th Sts, Glendale, Queens (finbackbrewery.com)

 (Photograph: Jessica Lin)
Photograph: Jessica Lin

Other Half Brewing

Opens late March

Start it up: Greenpoint Beer Works alums Sam Richardson and Matt Monahan struck out on their own last year with this 4,000-square-foot brewery in Carroll Gardens. “We have similar taste in and ideas about beer,” explains Richardson.

Pedigree: Richardson was the head brewer at Greenpoint—which produces Kelso and Heartland Brewery’s suds—for six years, and has a degree in fermentation science (yep, it’s a thing) from the University of Oregon.

The brews: The pair is focusing on hops-heavy IPAs, with more styles (like an imperial stout) available seasonally. Other Half also has a farm brewery license, which requires that a certain percentage of its ingredients be from New York. “We will be trying to source as much New York State–grown hops and grain as possible,” says Richardson.

Why NYC?: “It’s the best place in the country to open a brewery right now,” says Richardson. “The community here is well connected; people work together and are supportive of each other.”

How to taste it: On weekends (to start), Other Half will offer growlers to go and pints in its taproom, as well as tours of the brewery.

195 Centre St between Hamilton Ave and Smith St, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (347-987-3527, otherhalfbrewing.com)

 (Photograph: Courtesy Transmitter Brewing)
Photograph: Courtesy Transmitter Brewing

Transmitter Brewing

Opens late March

Start it up: Pals and founders Anthony Accardi and Rob Kolb have a few shared interests: bike racing, food and—most importantly—home brewing. After making beer together for two years, they decided to take their recipes to the people.

Pedigree: “We’re not coming at this as professional brewers,” explains Accardi, who’s been home-brewing for two decades.

The brews: Since Transmitter is a nanobrewery, only two or three barrels of each batch will be produced. The focus is on farmhouse and traditional beers, like saisons and bières de garde. Accardi is also a big fan of wild yeast, and will incorporate different strains to create funkier brews.

Why NYC?: “Brewing as a profession is highly underrepresented here,” says Accardi. “We have so many people [in New York] and so few breweries, it seemed like a great time to get into it.”

How to taste it: Although there won’t be a taproom, the duo will offer samples of their beers, as well as growlers and 750ml bottles, at the Long Island City brewery.

52-03 11th St between 36th and 37th Aves, Long Island City, Queens (transmitterbrewing.com)

 (Photograph: Courtesy Flagship Brewing Company)
Photograph: Courtesy Flagship Brewing Company

Flagship Brewing Company

Opens early April

Start it up: Co-owner and Staten Island native Jay Sykes has been crafting his own recipes for about a decade. He and partner Matt McGinley both worked for Phoenix Beverages, an NYC-area distributor; two years ago they decided to bring their know-how to the borough’s burgeoning beer scene.

Pedigree: Sykes and McGinley hired Patrick Morse—an industry vet who’s put in time at Harpoon, Kelso and Eagle Rock Brewery—to create Flagship’s starting lineup.

The brews: The brewery will launch with a Belgian-style wheat beer brewed with American-grown hops, a dark session ale and an American pale ale.

Why NYC?: “We’re from Staten Island, and we saw the need,” says Sykes. “We hope that what we’re bringing here can start the end of that whole ‘no brewing on Staten Island’ [attitude].”

How to taste it: The 4,000-square-foot tasting room will have a beer-hall feel, with picnic tables and wooden benches. Visitors can also get a peek at the process from an enclosed observation deck overlooking the brewery.

40 Minthorne St near Bay St, Staten Island (theflagshipbrewery.com)

New York City is experiencing an outer-borough brewing boom: In the next few months, no fewer than five breweries will open in neighborhoods as diverse as Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn; Glendale, Queens; and Tompkinsville, Staten Island. And while you can find their creations at bars throughout NYC, most of these new breweries will also have taprooms where you can sample the goods and talk to the folks behind the beer. And what’s better in the spring than hanging out with some friends, drinking some good beers? (Nothing, that’s what.) Read on to find out where you’ll be drinking this season.​​​

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