The Rockaway Brewing Company, is not, as its name might suggest, an evacuee from the storm ravaged Rockaway coast, but a new brewing venture set up in Long Island City. Owners Marcus Burnett and Ethan Long are two friends who have been enthusiastic home brewers for years in their Rockaway bungalows and who decided last year to extend their hobby into a part-time business, employing 3 staff and taking up the offer of space in LIC to start up in April 2012.
Locally-produced food and drink are the current enthusiasms of New York consumers; aware that local jobs are important and that food is usually fresher when produced in the region. RBCO is a “Nano-brewery”, a technical difference from a Micro-brewery, terms that relate to the number of barrels of beer produced. The company is currently producing 8 barrels per week of four different ales, two light and two dark, which are sold to local restaurants, supermarkets and bars: The malty ESB (Extra Special Bitter), a more hoppy Pale Ale (both of these deliberately softer than the more common hard-hitting and hop-driven IPAs around from other breweries), a Porter and Stout (“Black Gold)”. Not content to stick to these four brews RBC) is also experimenting with new brews, including a Scottish ale and an IPA (India Pale Ale). They also sell their draft ale in growlers directly from the brewery, from taps behind a newly built counter, with music from Vinyl LPs and a 1960s Heathkit valve stereo.
Beer is basically a fermented mix of water, yeast, hops and barley malt. Variation is obtained by the addition of flavour enhancing ingredients (such as toasted woodchips marinated in single barrel bourbon, in the soon-to-be available Scottish ale) and using different types of hop that offer bitterness and aroma. For the highest quality, RBCO source their hops from Hop Union in Washington State, but have also used fresh local hops, with honey, in their seasonal summer ale. They use up to eight different varieties of hops in a form which is freeze dried so that enough moisture remains to ensure that the essential life qualities of the hop remain. All their ales are unfiltered, with no artificial ingredients; therefore, whilst the brewers strive for consistency in their brews they are aware that variation in seasons will create the kind of subtle differences that set craft ales apart from their mass-produced cousins.
The brewery produces a mix of pressurised keg and hand-drawn, non-carbonated cask ales, which are destined for bars and restaurants (like “Alewife” at 5-14 51st Ave, between 5th Street and Vernon) who have the skills and equipment to care for and serve beers in the traditional way. Demand is strong with the owners anticipating that it will outstrip supply in the Summer season.
As well as buying direct from the brewery, at the corner of 46th Road and 5th Street in Long Island City; you can buy growlers from the “Food Cellar” supermarket on 47th Avenue, by Center Boulevard, and drink at local venues Alobar, Alewife, John Brown’s Steakhouse as well as establishments in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and, of course, Rockaway.
For more information check out www.rockawaybrewco.com