New Beer Alert: Finback Brewery Opens in Glendale
All photos by Susannah Skiver Barton
Ever been to Glendale? Unless your grandmother lives (or is buried there), chances are you haven't. But now you have a reason to venture beyond Myrtle Avenue into this overlooked pocket of Queens: Finback Brewery (7801 77th Avenue, Queens), the latest craft beer-maker to join the borough's growing ranks.
Named in honor of the whale that washed up in Breezy Point in December 2012, Finback has been brewing for a few months, and you can find its beers on tap throughout the city. The brewery's tasting room, however, isn't officially open for business yet. It hosted a preview event last Saturday as part of Queens Beer Week. It was a chance to give already-ardent fans a taste of the latest creations and to host friends -- and beers -- from other borough breweries.
Fostering a community spirit is important to Finback's two founders Basil Lee and Kevin Stafford, who were longtime homebrewers before quitting their jobs to go professional last year. "We come from a homebrew background where the idea is you're always doing something different," says Lee. "And you're always brewing with your friends. And we want to keep that philosophy. So our whole goal is to collaborate with our friends who are trying to start breweries, other likeminded homebrewers, and then also with other people who have breweries." Saturday's tasting event featured beers from Barrier, Bridge and Tunnel, Big Alice, Transmitter, and Rockaway Brewing, alongside several Finback pours.
Kevin Stafford and Basil Lee (and friend)
Making Queens the home base of Finback played into the owners' desire for collaboration. "It's become a real hotbed," Lee points out, noting the half dozen or so breweries that have opened in the borough in the last 18 months alone. "We're all very much in the same boat." He sees this as a strength: "We challenge each other," he says. "We have different ideas and we talk about it and we might come out with a beer that's more than the sum of its parts."
Barrel-aged stout coming soon
Finback's location, while well outside the ordinary ramblings of most New Yorkers, has a certain charm, and the building itself is more than big enough for robust growth of the business as well as plenty of large-scale events. Although the partners originally selected the space because they weren't able to find suitable real estate elsewhere, Lee explains that it also plays into their goal to become a destination for serious beer aficionados: "The neighborhood is off the beaten track, which in the end, we kind of liked, because it's almost as if you have to make an effort. You have to want to come here. You're not just going be walking around and say, 'Oh, let's just pop in.' You want to go visit a brewery."
After the success of Saturday's preview -- which sold out rapidly considering the brewery has barely gotten its feet on the ground -- Finback looks forward to hosting more events and drawing in people from around the city. While they'll work out a core line over the coming months -- Lee predicted that the IPA and double session wit would be two constants -- the partners are currently brewing once a week, and they're always experimenting. Look for their latest offerings on tap at beer bars in Queens and Brooklyn, including Forest Hills Station House, the Queens Kickshaw, Sunswick , Bierkraft, Union Hall, and the Owl Farm. Or make the trek out to Glendale and visit the tasting room, which officially opens May 10.
OK IPA Pineapple and grapefruit notes mingle with a pleasant bitterness and slightly sweet hoppy finish.
Double Session Witbier Made with chamomile, Szechuan peppercorns and ginger. A strong ginger nose gives way to mild creaminess with slight malt flavor.
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