Drinks

Beer in the Boroughs

5 great city breweries
Head brewer Kevin Stafford of Finback Brewery in Glendale, Queens
Head brewer Kevin Stafford of Finback Brewery

Save for Harry Houdini's grave, there aren't a lot of tourist attractions in Glendale, Queens.

Add to that short list Finback Brewery. The new spot crafting some of the city's most exciting beers in an enormous 13,000-square-foot warehouse a short walk from the M train.

"We initially wanted to be in Brooklyn," says Basil Lee, who founded Finback with head brewer Kevin Stafford, "but we wanted enough room to add tanks and do barrel aging and sours. Here we have the space to do what we want."

Stop by on Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. for a free tour and you'll catch a glimpse of an imperial stout called the Brooklyn Queens Espresso, or BQE, aging in bourbon barrels. Block out plenty of time to spend in the tasting room, too; there's already a wide variety of beers on tap and they'll be debuting at least one new brew per month.

For now, be sure to try the floral and spicy Double Sess(ion) witbier ($5), brewed with ginger, Sichuan peppercorns and chamomile, and the Coasted Toconut ($5), a lightened-up, summery milk stout with just the right amount of coconut-y nuttiness. Take home a growler of the Starchild ($20), a sour ale brewed with grapefruit peel.

Here are four more breweries worth a checking out.

SingleCut Beersmiths
A short walk from the Astoria/Ditmars stop on the N/Q line, SingleCut offers free tours every weekend at 4 p.m. Snag a seat in the tasting room afterward and select one of 10 beers on tap to wash down the kitchen's meat pies.

Other Half Brewing Co.
Relatively new to the Brooklyn Scene, this Carroll Gardens brewery is serious about hops. Stop by the tap room on a weekend to sample the excellent All Green Everything Triple I.P.A. in a flight of four ($5) and take a peek at the factory next door. 

Transmitter Brewing
New to Long Island City, this brewery specializes in deliciously funky traditional and farmhouse ales. In other words, this is one for the beer geeks. Transmitter is open for tastings and free tours on Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m. and on weekends from noon to 5 p.m.

Brooklyn Brewery
Ye olde standby is still a great choice for tours and tastings. Tours are offered for $10 on Monday through Thursday at 5 p.m. (by reservation only) and for free every half hour on Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. Be sure to get there early—tours are limited to 40 guests and they fill up fast.

  • The unassuming door to Finback Brewery, located inside a 13,000-square-foot warehouse in Glendale, Queens.

  • Owner and Head brewer Kevin Stafford tests a new recipe.

  • The tanks at Finback Brewery.

  • Currently in barrel: The BQE stout, otherwise known as the Brooklyn Queens Espresso. A shout out to both boroughs, it's brewed with cocoa nibs from Brooklyn's Mast Brothers and coffee from Long Island City's Native Coffee Roasters.

  • Beers are served in tulip stemmed glassware and growlers are available for takeaway.

  • From left to right: Finback Brewery owner Basil Lee, brewer Peter Lengyel and owner and head brewer Kevin Stafford.

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Finback Brewery 7801 77th Ave Queens NY 11385 718-628-8600 Other Half Brewing Co. 195 Centre St. Brooklyn NY 11231 347-987-3527 SingleCut Beersmiths 19-33 37th St. Astoria NY 11105 718-606-0788 Transmitter Brewing 53-02 11th St. Long Island City NY 11101 646-378-8529 Brooklyn Brewery 79 N 11th St. Brooklyn NY 11249 718-486-7422

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