ICONYC Brewing Company

 

I recently stumbled upon a new microbrewery in Astoria, Queens, and I must say that this one immediately became one of my favorites. Named ICONYC Brewing Company, it’s owned by three friends who grew up together in the nearby neighborhood. The beer is brewed down the street, but there’s a tasting room on 34th Avenue.

First, let’s talk about the tasting room itself. It isn’t particularly large, but it’s comfortable and the tap wall is creative and fun. There’s a nice bar, and bar-level seating continues across the front of the space as well, allowing visitors to watch the world pass by outside. It’s a great place to hang out with friends.

Now for the beer.

We chose to order samplers, which allowed us to each choose 4 beers (5 ounces each) to sample. Kristy chose Uptown Haze (described as a “juicy, hazy, New England IPA”), Resonance (“rotating hop IPA, dry hopped with vic secret”), Never Settle (“white IPA, brewed with Moteuka and Centenial hops”), and a bottle pour – High Ryse (“rye saison fermented with Brett and Saison yeasts”). I went in a different direction: Steamline Lager (“California Common-style lager with 5 different specialty malts”), Spaaz (“Kolsch dry hopped with Spatz and Saaz”), Witbier (“tradition Belgian wheat beer), and the Sour Cherry Stout (“stout aged on sour cherries”). (Note: Two of my glasses are larger because they temporarily ran out of the tasting glasses – I’m not complaining.)

All of the beers were delicious – and it’s rare to say that when tasting such a variety of beers. The brewery is turning out high quality beers, and there’s something to please pretty much any beer lover’s preferences. (Not tasted this time: a grapefruit sour; a saison brewed with hibiscus, rose hips, and lemon grass; a cucumber saison; and a dry-hopped blonde ale.) In fact, ICONYC was so good that we returned the following weekend, and this time I ordered a full glass of my favorite, the Sour Cherry Stout. It has the coffee and chocolate notes of a traditional stout without being too heavy. The sour cherry hints are subtle, but somehow give the beer a hint of freshness. It’s so good that it will be my beer of choice any time I can find it.

ICONYC doesn’t have a kitchen, but they offer takeout menus for nearby restaurants. As a result, we discovered Homemade Taqueria next door. Their tacos, made with fresh corn tortillas, were absolutely delicious. We’ve been talking about them ever since and plan to make another visit soon.

Want to visit the ICONYC Brewing Company’s taproom and taste their beer? They are located at nue in Astoria. If taking the subway, take the R train to the 46th Street station. Walk one block south/southwest down 46th Avenue to 34 Street and then turn right. The tasting room is only a short distance away.

Sampling Farmhouse Ales at Transmitter Brewing

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A trip to Transmitter Brewing takes a little more effort, but it’s definitely worth it. If you are a fan of traditional farmhouse ales, a visit to Transmitter Brewing is a must. Theirs are some of the best I’ve had in a long time.

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It’s a small location, tucked under the Pulaski Bridge in Long Island City, Queens. There’s no taproom, but there is a small tasting room where you can taste some delicious beer. Behind the garage door next to the tasting room entrance is the actual brewing facility. You can take a peek at where the beer is brew, and there is also a small seating area if you are with other people and want to purchase beer to drink on site. Transmitter brews their beer in larger, corked bottles – perfect for sharing. You can also purchase bottles to take home for later consumption.

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We sampled three beers during our visit: the G1 Golden Ale, the F4 Brett Farmhouse Ale, and the H4 Italian Plum Sour Farmhouse Ale. My favorites were the G1 and F4, as I’m not a fan of sours, but another taster who really enjoys sours said that the H4 was also delicious. If you’ve never tried one before, farmhouse ales generally have a fruity note, with a little more body to it – some have an earthier, slightly funky taste. The yeast is usually suspended in the beer, making it a little cloudy. (I’ve been told that the yeast in the beer is actually healthy for you, although I’ve never confirmed that!) They are very drinkable beers, but robust and a little rustic. There’s a lot of flavor packed in the bottle. Transmitter regularly brews new beers, so there’s likely to be something different every time that you visit.

Here’s a display in the tasting room that shows some of the previous beers that have been brewed.

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How can you get to Transmitter Brewing? If traveling by subway, take the 7 train to the Vernon Blvd./Jackson Ave. station. When you get off the train, walk south along Vernon Boulevard, crossing both 51st Avenue and Borden Avenue. Turn left on Borden and then right on 11st Street. You will walk parallel to Pulaski Bride. After you cross 53rd Avenue, Transmitter Brewing is on the right. You can also get to Transmitter Brewing by way of the Long Island Railroad, getting off at the Long Island City station. The tasting room is only open limited hours at this time: Fridays from 5:00 – 8:00 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5:00 pm. (But check Transmitter’s website to verify times before you go.)

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Food and Drink at Threes Brewing

I had the opportunity to check out Threes Brewing, located at 333 Douglass Street in Brooklyn, this past weekend. Threes Brewing describes itself as a brewery, bar, and event space. It also has a rotating kitchen residency, where local restaurants take over their kitchen space and offer a special menu for a few weeks at a time.

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The entrance to Threes Brewing is small but welcoming. I expected that the interior of the space would be small as well, based on the store front, but it actually has quite a bit of space inside–the rooms are long and narrow. The front part is primarily restaurant seating, and the bar is towards the back. The bar is a comfortable space. Liquor bottles and glassware are neatly arranged on industrial-style metal shelving, with beer, wine, and cocktail options listed on chalkboard signs above. The brewing operations are barely visible behind the shelving.

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For my first beer, I ordered the Threes Brett Duck Porter, which is brewed in collaboration with Greenport Harbor Brewery. It was a delicious dark beer, with mild coffee/chocolate notes. The porter was good by itself, but it also paired well with what I ordered for dinner.

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Threes Brewing’s rotating kitchen is currently occupied by the folks from Roberta’s Pizza, which was a real treat. I ordered a white pizza (appropriately called the “White Guy”) and added mushrooms. I had heard about Roberta’s before but hadn’t had the chance to try it. Let me just say that it lives up to its reputation! The pizza was delicious. The crust had that perfect pizza texture–chewy, but still soft. There was that slight dust of flour on the bottom and the char of the air bubble along the edge. The cheese was plentiful but not overwhelming, and the ricotta actually lightened the pizza a bit. The mushrooms added another layer of flavor. This was a good-size pizza. Two people could definitely share it as a snack, and for many people half of one is enough for a meal.

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Wanting to try a second beer, I ordered Threes Vliet, a pilsner. (I know, quite a change after drinking the porter!) The Vliet was a good choice, light and crisp, with a dry finish. Threes offers two sizes for its beers, .25L and .5L. I appreciate having the different size options, as sometimes I don’t want another full-size beer. It also give visitors the chance to try more beers.

Will I go back to Threes Brewing? Absolutely–and probably before Roberta’s Pizza is no longer there. (Roberta’s is only there through December 13–hurry in while you can!) I look forward to seeing who the next resident of the rotating kitchen is as well.

How do you get to Threes Brewing? There are a number of options by subway. Take the 2, 3, 4, 5, B, D, N, Q, or R to Atlantic Terminal, or the F or G to Bergen Street. Complete directions are available here on the Threes Brewing website.

Bridge and Tunnel Brewery

DSC02395-editedLast weekend I visited Bridge and Tunnel Brewery‘s new tap room in Ridgewood, Queens. Currently served in a number of restaurants and bars in New York City, Bridge and Tunnel recently moved from nano-brewery to micro brewery status. One reason why this brewery intrigued me was its back story: Bridge and Tunnel’s founder, Rich Catagna, started the brewery in his garage. He recently just opened the new location, complete with tap room, at 15-35 Decatur Street in Ridgewood. (Currently, the tap room is open on Saturdays; check the brewery’s website for announcements about any additional hours.)

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I hadn’t been to this area of Ridgewood before. The area close to the brewery seems fairly industrial, but don’t let its location intimidate you. Behind Bridge and Tunnel’s small entrance is a warm, cozy space–the perfect place to hang out with friends on a Saturday afternoon.

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The bar is small but comfortable, and Rich has built long wooden tables for his guests to sit at. Guests are welcome to order local food for delivery, and there’s an excellent pizza place close by. There are also wine barrels set up with bar stools for additional seating. On the day I went, the space was filled with friends and neighbors, but I immediately made friends even though I came in by myself. It’s that kind of place–you feel immediately welcome, and you’ll definitely enjoy yourself.

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Now for the beer. I have to admit I was a little skeptical, as I have had my share of bad craft beer. But I really, really enjoyed it. I got a sampler so that I could try four beers: 20 Spot and a Switchblade Coffee Cream Ale, Sewer Alligator Spiced Honey Wheat, Angry Amel Dunkelweizen, and Bone Orchard Vanilla Porter. (In addition to tasting great, the beers have great names, with great stories behind them!)

My favorite was the Vanilla Porter. One of Rich’s friends had made cheesecake bites with a Vanilla Porter caramel sauce, which really complemented the beer. This would be a great pairing for a holiday party. The Coffee Cream Ale was a lovely surprise as well. It had a subtle coffee flavor, but different than the dark coffee-flavored beers I’ve tried in the past. I enjoyed the Dunkelweizen too–it is a great drinking beer.

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The brewing takes place in the back half of the space, currently separated from the tap room by a high metal fence. The lighting makes it a feature of the space.

How do you get to Bridge and Tunnel Brewery? As usual, I got there by public transportation. Take the L Train to the Halsey Street stop. The brewery is only a few short blocks from the subway station.