A trio of beer lovers have come together to begin a project in Long Island City that will bring new flavors to Queens.
Daniel Acosta, Damon Oscarson and Gianni Cavicchi are the guys behind the LIC Beer Project, a new brewery expected to make its official launch during Queens Beer Week, which is set to kick off on May 10.
The idea of the brewery was born after Acosta took a backpacking trip through Europe in 2004 and fell in love with Belgian beer. He had already been interested in craft beer, but while overseas, he was able to visit well-known Belgian breweries. When he came back to the United States he tried some Belgian beer at a California brewery and from there started brewing at home.
At the time, Acosta was working in the construction industry and this got him interested in the process portion of making beer and how breweries are built.
“I had all of that behind me to help drive having the idea to start a brewery,” he said.
He later attended the Siebel Institute of Technology, an accredited brewing school, and received an education in brewing science. For the next eight years he studied and traveled around the world visiting breweries.
With the idea of starting a brewery already in his head and wanting to create Belgian-inspired beers and American wild ales, he just wasn’t sure where he would call home. Then, three years ago, he met Oscarson, who had also been home-brewing beers, and Cavicchi, a wine and beer sommelier, and the idea of the brewery became a reality.
The brewery is now located in Long Island City at 39-28 23rd St. and its site is slated to open in June, although LIC Beer Project will officially launch with three to four of its beers next month.
“I felt there was really a need for these styles of beer here in the city so we all converged and wound up here in Long Island City and this is where it is beginning. We’re on a crazy journey here,” Acosta said. “We felt that [LIC] was a real up-and-coming area and we are very close to Manhattan, close to Brooklyn, so we felt that it was at the center of something big to happen.”
The idea of the brewery is to create different types of beers, using various techniques, and all shooting to be dry, allowing for people to enjoy more. The main set of beers will go through weeks of fermentation, a second style will be brewed with wild yeast called brettanomyces, naturally occurring on fruits, and another batch will go through what is known as the coolship method.
Through the coolship method these beers spend time in an open vessel, allowing what is naturally occurring in the air to ferment it, and then will be transferred to oak barrels. Through this method, which takes from six months to two years for beer to be ready, the brewers hope the beer will be exposed to the Queens air and have its own kind of “local touch” to it.
“The reason we call it LIC Beer Project is because we have several different types of beer we’re going to do here starting from more traditional Belgium-inspired beer with their own American twist on them and then they’ll go through an evolution,” Acosta said. “So as we go through the different beers they’ll get more complex, more difficulty in brewing process, more complex yeast characters.”
Along with being home to the LIC Beer Project, the 23rd Street location will also serve as a taproom expected to be open to the public Fridays through Sundays starting in June.
The taproom will have 10 beers on tap, which will constantly rotate in order to try different experimental beers and get feedback from visitors.
The site will include seating and food, and tours of the brewery will also be given, in order to provide an educational portion. Visitors will also be able to walk around the 5,550-square-foot facility and get a firsthand look at the brewery’s production.
“We’re going to make it a pretty interesting place for people to come and try something new,” Oscarson said. “We wanted to give people an experience when they come here and enjoy the beer as well. We wanted to give them an experience when they are drinking the beer and take them to a different place, so we wanted to do same thing with the taproom and brewery itself.”
For now, the LIC Beer Project has three beers — Ardent Core, Evening’s Empire, and one yet to be named — ready to be released to the public, and after Queens Beer Week these selections will be available at various locations in Queens.
Acosta added that the ultimate goal for the brewery would be to become a nationally known boutique brewery, sold at various markets around the country, but for now they will let the beer take them forward.
“We’re going to keep evolving, keep working. We’re on like a beer odyssey. Sometimes things might work out and sometimes not,” Acosta said. “At the end of the day everything that we do is all about the beer.”