Tag Archives: brewery

New LIC brewery to open taproom featuring experimental beers

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Jamie Lefkowitz Photography

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.”

Coolship located at the site of the LIC Beer Project.

Coolship located at the site of the LIC Beer Project.

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.”


Brewery in Ridgewood seeks Beer Week prize

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre


Ridgewood’s Bridge and Tunnel Brewery will be launching a new beer at a gala event next week as part of the annual New York City Beer Week “Rupert’s Cup” events.

The beer, aptly titled “Bound By Chains,” is a tribute to legendary illusionist Harry Houdini, whose famous gravesite is located in nearby Machpelah Cemetery off Cypress Hills Street.

As a tribute to Houdini, the special event — which will take place next Wednesday, Feb. 25, at Houdini Kitchen Laboratory — will also feature local performers from the Coney Island Sideshow. The live performance will include a live straightjacket escape, sword swallowing, The Human Blockhead, various feats of strength and The Human Pin Cushion, which involves a perilous bed of nails.

The event is a collaboration between Bridge and Tunnel Brewery founder Rich Castagna, Houdini Kitchen Laboratory founder and chef Max Bartoli and Nao Matsumoto, co-owner of the Lorimoto Gallery, located at 16-23 Hancock St. in Ridgewood.

“I’m hoping the event will be an introduction to Decatur Street for people in the neighborhood,” Castagna explained.

Bridge and Tunnel Brewery recently found a permanent home on Decatur Street, down the block from Houdini Kitchen Laboratory, and is slated to open to the public later in the year.

“Bound By Chains,” described as a double rye IPA, was created specifically for this special event. According to Bridge and Tunnel, the beer itself is one of many “NY S.M.A.S.H.” (New York State Malts and State Hops) beers launching during NYC Beer Week by breweries in all five boroughs.

“There is going to be a vote at the end of NYC Beer Week for the best event launched. The winner gets a trophy called the Rupert Cup,” Castagna explained. “Maybe we can win it for Ridgewood?”

The Rupert’s Cup is a “people’s choice” voting competition and fundraising event. According to Bridge and Tunnel, participating breweries are required to host a “value-added event during the 2015 NYC Beer Week highlighting something like an extremely rare beer release, a beer dinner or a Meet-the-Brewer night.” The winner is voted “Best Brewery at NYC Beer Week.”

Votes cost $5 each, with all proceeds going to City Harvest. According to its website, City Harvest estimates that each $5 donation could feed roughly twenty people, with every dollar donated feeding four people per day. Anyone can sign up to vote at www.rupertscup.com.

In addition to the new beer launch, event goers can also sample some of the many unique pizza offerings at Houdini Kitchen Laboratory. For $6 at the door, patrons can choose a 16 oz. pour of “Bound By Chains” IPA or pizza samplers from Houdini Kitchen. The website eventbrite.com also offers a package of four tickets, good for four beer or pizza offerings.

According to Bridge and Tunnel, the event will also include a short presentation on pairing beer with pizza by Braving the Brew founder and sommelier Joanna Carpenter.

“Other surprises are in the works as well,” Castagna said.

The “Bound By Chains in Ridgewood” beer launch event will be held on Feb. 25 from 6 to 11 p.m. at Houdini Kitchen Laboratory, located at 1563 Decatur St. Click here to find out more about this event.


Future Ridgewood brewery site begins transformation

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

A few days after announcing the leasing of a Ridgewood warehouse for the new home of Bridge and Tunnel Brewery, the owner has begun moving into his new digs.

Queens native Rich Castagna, who founded a 150-square-foot Maspeth microbrewery a few years ago, has already moved some vats, many kegs and tons of other equipment into the 2,300-square-foot site of the brewery’s future home near the intersection of Decatur Street and Wyckoff Avenue.

The father of three, who has a day job with a shipping company, is working on the brewery with a little help, but is aiming to set up and begin brewing from the new site within six months.

“The priority is to get beer flowing out of the doors, because I have to offset the rent,” Castagna said.

There is still much to be done with the new space though.

Castagna is hoping to soon bring a boiler, two fermenters and two stem jacketed kettles into the brewing section, which will be located at the back of the building.

The front part will become home to the bar and the tasting room. He already has long wooden beams in the site that he plans to fashion into tables.

Following the expansion, he hopes to bring beer to new outlets that he couldn’t serve before because of the limited brewing capacity at the former site.

“If I can get this thing up and running, there are a lot of other accounts that are frankly waiting in line for me to add them,” Castagna said. “In the nano system it’s kind of like I’m busting my pants. I’ve outgrown my school uniform.”

Take a look at the gallery below to see the future brewery in progress.




Bridge and Tunnel microbrewery expanding to Ridgewood

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Rich Castagna

A Queens microbrewery is planning a big move.

Bridge and Tunnel Brewery, a “nano-scale” brewery in Maspeth, signed a lease for a warehouse space in Ridgewood, the brewery announced.

Currently, the brewery has been operating through a tiny 150-square-foot space, but the new 2,300-square-foot building will “allow for more production” and be home to a brewery that patrons can visit, owner Rich Castagna said.

Castagna founded Bridge and Tunnel and received a license to operate in 2012. It has been a one-man operation and distribution system since the brewery’s inception, but Castagna is now planning to hire some employees to help with the expanded brewery.

The new location will be around the intersection of Decatur Street and Wyckoff Avenue, near eatery Houdini Kitchen Laboratory, which already carries some Bridge and Tunnel beers. There could be collaborations with the restaurant in the future.

“We have a pretty good working relationship,” Castagna said. “We’re kind of both excited about things we can do together.”

Castagna is happy Ridgewood has become a more desirable neighborhood recently, but wants the brewery to be a place where people who have known the area for a long time can enjoy the history of the neighborhood.

Ridgewood is where he had his first beer, attended grammar school and high school and played little league, among other firsts.

“It’s where my roots are,” Castagna said. “This is where I’m supposed to be.”

Castagna didn’t give a specific time for when the new brewery location will open up, but said he will begin moving into the space shorty.


SingleCut Beersmiths celebrate grand opening

| aaltman@queenscourier.com


It was suds heaven for Astoria beer drinkers.

Over 1,000 guests crammed their way into SingleCut Beersmiths on Saturday, December 8 for the grand opening of the borough’s first major brewery in decades.

“It was fantastic,” said SingleCut spokesperson Brian Dwyer. “We were bursting at the seams. It was excellent. We had a great response from everybody.”

The staff offered patrons free tastes of two beers — the “19-33 Lagrrr” and the “Dean Pacific Northwest Mahogany Ale.” Around 3:30 in the afternoon, SingleCut sold out of their take-home growlers — a huge sign of success for any business of brew.

Even Councilmember Peter Vallone showed up at the opening event to cut the ribbon and welcome SingleCut into the neighborhood.

“It was a huge community response which is exactly what we were hoping for,” said Dwyer. “The majority of the people there were from the neighborhood and they said they’d be back again.”

Queens’ first major brewery in decades opens

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

Bubbling plans for a Queens brewery are finally on tap.

On Saturday, December 8, SingleCut Beersmiths will welcome the public into their den at 19-33 37th Street in Astoria for a cold pint.

“Queens has not had a brewery to call its own in a very long time,” said the company’s president and owner, Rich Buceta.

In celebration of its grand opening, SingleCut is offering fans of the froth a taste of five new beers available year round: 19-33 Lagrrr!, Bob Sunburst Finish Lagrrr!, Dean Pacific NW Mahogany Ale, Billy 18-Watt India Pale Ale, and Billy Half-Stack India Pale Ale. The shop will also carry an arsenal of seasonal ales for beer drinkers of every ilk, rotating every few months.

SingleCut’s facility will feature a tap room with scheduled beer tastings and a 5,000-square-foot stage for live musical performances. Patrons may take home half-gallon growlers of their favorite suds.

While currently SingleCut is the only major brewery in the borough, Queens housed several breweries before the Prohibition era – mainly around Ridgewood. According to Richard Hourahan of the Queens Historical Society, between 1905 and 1920, there were five beer makers within five blocks.

Bob Singleton, executive director of the Greater Astoria Historical Society, said it’s probable that several brew hubs continued the craft even after the booze ban. Several years ago, he spotted labels on eBay for a business called “Burke’s Brewery” at an address in Long Island City. Singleton said he was unsure if the brewery was in Queens or if the labels were just printed in the neighborhood with a highly industrial past.

– Additional reporting by Ashley Welch

First Queens brewery in decades opening soon

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com



Queens will soon be home to its first brewery in decades with the opening of SingleCut Beersmiths in Astoria later this year.

The company’s president and owner Rich Buceta said that the new brewery, which will be located at 19-33 37th St., is a natural fit for the borough.

“Queens has not had a brewery to call its own in a very long time,” said Buceta, 48, who was born in Jamaica.

SingleCut will feature a Tap Room with beer tastings and a stage for live musical performances, Buceta said. Visitors will also be able to take home half-gallon growlers. Though there will be no bar on the premises, Buceta said he may consider that option in the future and will hold several events a year utilizing the 5,000-square-foot-space and its stage.

If construction stays on schedule, Buceta plans to begin distributing beer throughout New York City in September.

The borough housed several breweries before the Prohibition era with Ridgewood being the most prominent neighborhood, according to Richard Hourahan of the Queens Historical Society.

“From 1905 to 1920 there were five within five blocks,” he said.

Bob Singleton, executive director of the Greater Astoria Historical Society said that although the establishments still may have brewed beers illegally during Prohibition, brewing officially stopped once it was banned.

According to Singleton, another brewery may have opened in Queens after the ban lifted. Several years ago, he found labels on eBay with the name Burke’s Brewery at an address in Long Island City.

“We don’t know though if the brewery was in Queens or if the labels were just printed there,” he said.

For his part, Buceta is excited to bring a suds factory back to the borough — and so is the community of Astoria.

“The local support has been very enthusiastic,” he said.

Five years ago, the Upper East Sider left his career as an advertising executive to pursue his passion of craft beer. He had been brewing in his home for some time and soon found a job cleaning kegs at Greenpoint Beer Works in Brooklyn.

“I went from a corner office to the brewery equivalent of being a dishwasher,” he said with a laugh.

After quickly moving up in the ranks, Buceta decided to take his career to the next level.

“Once I felt I knew my trade well and had all the contacts, I quit to start my own brewery,” he said.

SingleCut will specialize in lagers, ales and hoppy beers, Buceta said. He emphasized that SingleCut will be a “real local brewery,” meaning beer will be brewed in Astoria and only Astoria.

“We will never have our beer brewed anywhere else,” he said. “If demand becomes too great in the future, then we just won’t take on new business. That’s how important quality is to us.”