New Beer Alert: Transmitter Brewing
It only opened for business this past weekend but already Transmitter Brewing (53-02 11th Street, Long Island City) is making its mark on New York's micro-craft scene. Boasting a majority of products made with different strains of the yeast Brettanomyces, Transmitter offers a novel range of beers you won't find anywhere else in the five boroughs.
The project began last year under Anthony Accardi and Rob Kolb, two biking buddies who had begun to homebrew together. After the long process of securing space -- right on the edge of Long Island City, and conveniently close to their homes in Greenpoint -- and a microbrewery license, they began brewing just six weeks ago. From the beginning, they wanted to set their beers apart from what's currently available on New York's craft scene.
"We started thinking about what would be interesting, what would be possible, what beers we actually like," says Accardi. "And also what would fit well into New York City -- what would differentiate us from what else is going on." Having once cultured his own yeasts as a homebrewer, Accardi began building a "library of Brett" with multiple strains of Brettanomyces, the yeast that gives many sour beers, saisons, and other ales their funkiness. Seventy-five to 90 percent of Transmitter's output will feature Brettanomyces in one way or another -- whether as the sole yeast in the fermentation process, an addition that imparts fruity flavors; as a secondary yeast for more "barnyard funk"; or during bottle-conditioning.
Using a yeast as unpredictable as Brettanomyces means there's always a chance that a batch of beer doesn't turn out as expected. At Transmitter, though, instead of pouring the beer out, Accardi and Kolb wait to see what happens. "All beer is living," Accardi points out. "We don't filter, so all our beer is a living product and it certainly changes over time. The beer we make will taste different today than it will in a week, and it'll taste different in two months and a year and two years. And in some ways, that's part of the serendipity and what makes it interesting."
Transmitter knows that not everyone will like the beer they make -- and the owners are okay with that. "I don't have to brew beer that everyone likes," says Accardi. "In fact, I think we'd be failing if I brewed beer that everyone likes. It would be a mediocre beer because that's democracy of taste, right?"
Catering to a niche market of taste isn't the only thing that sets Transmitter apart -- the brewery also plans to bolster its bottom line via its CSB (community-supported beer) plan. Similar to a CSA (community-supported agriculture), but on a rolling rather than seasonal basis, people can pay in advance for future batches of beer. When the beer is ready, members come to the brewery to pick it up, where they can also take advantage of a discount on additional bottles. This setup guarantees that those who want Transmitter's limited-batch beers will get them, and it enables the brewery to sell at retail prices directly to the consumer rather than wholesale to a store, bar, or restaurant. Those extra few dollars go a long way for such a tiny operation.
"The work is just starting," says Accardi. "But at least it's the exciting part of it." Both partners work day jobs, devoting their nights and weekends to making beer. At the moment, they brew about 78 gallons at a time, and they hope to grow as they learn more about running a professional brewery. Neither is in any hurry to expand, though. Accardi cites Barrier Brewing in Oceanside as the kind of brewery Transmitter aspires to -- a happy medium of size and high-quality product.
Helping kick off Queens Beer Week, Transmitter debuted four offerings, including a "saison noir" and Belgian quad at Crescent and Vine (25-03 Ditmars Boulevard, Astoria) this past Friday. The brewery is open on the weekends for bottle sales and will be kegging soon. Look for them at restaurants and specialty-beer bars in Brooklyn and Queens.
F1 Farmhouse Ale Pineapple, grapefruit, and mango mingle with a piquant tartness and finish on a lingering sweet note.
S1 Mahogany Saison Smooth and easy to drink, with nutty and creamy coffee flavors and a tart bite.
S2 Saison Noir Tart and sweet, reminiscent of summer blackberries, with a subtle licorice bitterness.
Q1 Belgian Quad Sweet and thick, with strong notes of cloves, honey, and star anise.
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