Pre-Prohibition New York City was flush with fermenting, bubbling, steeping barrels of brewing beer, but it was several decades after Repeal Day that the boroughs began making a beer-industry comeback. Today, though, local breweries are in a revival, and New York now ranks fourth for beer shipments by state. So get acquainted with your neighborhood brewer–we’ve rounded up the 10 best breweries in New York City (and just beyond). Go forth and drink local.
10. Rushing Duck Brewing, 1 Battiato Lane, Chester
This Orange County-based brewery–which opened last year under Dan Hitchcock, who thought up the concept in his dorm room in 2009–shows signs of a bright future. Brews like the Beanhead Coffee Porter, which won the Hudson Valley Cup at the Hudson Valley Brew Fest, are innovative and exciting, and Hitchcock continues to experiment: In a Kickstarter campaign last year, Rushing Duck raised money to buy bourbon barrels for aging. On tap very selectively in the boroughs (it was recently pouring at Mission Delores), you’ll find these beers are more prevalent in Orange County and the Hudson Valley. This is definitely a brewery to watch.
9. Peekskill Brewery, 47-53 South Water Street, Peekskill
Peekskill Brewery was at the forefront of the brewpub trend when it opened its Hudson riverside doors to diners and beer connoisseurs back in 2002. The brewery shows dedication to handcrafted products, which are well-balanced and unique; we’re into its various IPAs–including the Eastern Standard, Lower Standard (a half-IPA), and Higher Standard (a triple IPA)–as well as the Simple Sour. And while PB (as it’s often affectionately called) is distributed to upscale restaurants around Westchester County and Manhattan, it’s worth making the trek to where it’s made to sample the brews paired to organic, locally sourced bites like chicken liver parfait with onion jam, red wine gelée, hazelnuts, and toast points.
8. Newburgh Brewing Company, 88 Colden Street, Newburgh
Opened in April 2012, this young brewery pushes the boundaries of flavor (and beer names–Uncle Dunkel, anyone?) with brews like Chile Lime Stout or the C.A.F.E. Sour, which was inspired by Ethiopian sour beer and is brewed with Ethiopian coffee. The brewery also provides more familiar staples like cream ale, brown ale, and an English-style NewBurton IPA. The Hudson Valley taproom serves drafts, local wine, and food, though you’ll also find Newburgh suds in bars and beer shops all over the city.
7. Bronx Brewery, 856 East 136th Street, Bronx
Bronx Brewery’s 16-ounce canned pale ales pack an impressive punch, which is why this two-year-old operation is really picking up steam. After rolling out iterations of pale ale that include Bronx-style, Belgian-style, and black, founders Chris Gallant and Damian Brown have been aging their sturdy core beer in bourbon, zinfandel, and gin barrels, layering a new flavor profile on top of a tasty brew. Bronx Brewery is expanding to an 8,500-square-foot space in the Port Morris section of the South Bronx this summer; the new brewery will have a tasting room, beer garden, and–get this–a dog run.
6. Sixpoint Brewery, 40 Van Dyke Street, Brooklyn
Founded in 2004 in an 800-square-foot garage in Red Hook, this brewery now has hundreds of innovations under its belt, and there’s no indication of slowing. In addition to its well-edited core line–which includes The Crisp, Bengali Tiger IPA, and Sweet Action–Sixpoint brews seasonal offerings as well as one-off collaborations with NYC restaurants and purveyors. Look out, for example, for Wheatball–made for The Meatball Shop–and Three Beans, which was brewed with Mast Brothers’ cocoa beans and Stumptown coffee beans.
5. KelSo of Brooklyn, 529 Waverly Avenue, Brooklyn
This small, husband-and-wife-owned brewery opened in 2006 in an unassuming warehouse off Atlantic Avenue. Kelly Taylor, also a brewer for Heartland Brewery, and Sonya Giacobbe make clean, approachable beers–like pale ale and pilsner, offered year-round–as well as intriguing, innovative brews, like Flemish-style sours and beers brewed with beets, licorice, or cherries.
4. Brooklyn Brewery, 79 North 11th Street, Brooklyn
Inspired by the homebrewing practices of diplomats stationed in alcohol-forbidden Islamic countries, former Associated Press correspondent Steve Hindy launched Brooklyn Brewery with co-founder Tom Potter back in 1988 in Williamsburg, and it’s since become a staple of neighborhood culture. Reliably bold and refreshing, the team has continued to channel the homebrewer mindset with the help of one of the industry’s most lauded brewmasters, Garrett Oliver, who constantly experiments with new hops and brewing methods. Approachable perennial offerings like the pilsner and lager are complemented throughout the year by seasonal brews and large-format bottle conditioned creations; truly geeky one-off releases go out to the taproom and a handful of friendly bars around town. Brooklyn Brewery is now one of the largest craft beer distributors in America; after quintupling its capacity in the last two years, its beers are now available in 25 states and 20 countries.
3. Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, 444 Saw Mill River Road, Elmsford
Captain Lawrence Brewing Company got its start like many other breweries: in the kitchen of a young dude who wanted to make beer. Only this dude, Scott Vaccaro, was still in high school. “I bought a copy of Charlie Papazian’s The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing and began my brewing education while avoiding math homework in study hall,” Vaccaro writes on the company website. After making that first (parent-approved) batch on Captain Lawrence Drive in South Salem, Vaccaro did brief stints at other breweries–including Sierra Nevada Brewing Company–before returning home to brew for New York locals. Captain Lawrence brews a number of year-round offerings like the kölsch, smoked porter, and imperial IPA, as well as seasonal and specialty beers. Check out the Rosso e Marrone, a tart Flanders Oud Bruin, next time you have the chance.
2. Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, 234 Carpenter Street, Greenport
Drive out almost to the end of Long Island, and you will find Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, a small craft brewery that makes some of the best pale ales and porters in the region. Opened in 2009 in an old firehouse with a focus on small-batch drafts, the brewery now distributes to more than 200 places in NYC and on Long Island. Trips to the brewery offer opportunity to buy a keg or a refillable growler.
1. Barrier Brewing Company, 3001 New Street, Oceanside
Barrier Brewing Company is at the top of this list for one simple reason: It’s doing things with beer no one else is doing. Its expansive, inventive list of credits includes petite saison Cycle, German rauchbier Frau Blucher, Belgian smoked wheat ale Le Pete, and Saazsquash, a butternut squash ale. Proprietors Evan Klein and Craig Frymark launched this venture in 2010 and brewed just two kegs at a time; the partners are now producing 15,000 times that annually. Find these brews on draft around New York City and Long Island.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 15, 2013