Next time you find yourself at the LIC Flea & Food in Long Island City and you’ve sifted through your share of vintage dresses and antique furniture, you might consider rewarding yourself for your hard work with a pint at Rockaway Brewing Company, which is located just around the corner–behind the famous Pepsi sign–at 46-01 Fifth Street. Prepare for company while you sip your beer and gaze at the midtown Manhattan skyline; according to brewer John Chapman, despite the two-room brewery’s somewhat out-of-the-way location, “We’ve had a lot of foot traffic since the flea market’s opened.”
Founders Marcus Bernett and Ethan Long, an Emmy-nominated cinematographer and a set designer respectively, had been home-brewing in their backyards for three and a half summers, playing with recipes, accumulating brewing equipment, and making themselves popular guests at barbecues before they finally began officially distributing their beer to the public in June 2012. Practically old pros at this point, Bernett and Long plan to keep four brews on tap. One of those rotates seasonally, and like the warm weather, their blonde, citrusy Summer Ale Saison is on its way out, making room for an upcoming fall flavor. Rockaway ESB (Extra Special Bitter, a rich, all-malt American take on an English style), Old School IPA (“closer to an English UPA pre-West Coast American hop craze”), and Black Gold Stout (local beer aficionado Jimmy Carbone’s “favorite beer of 2012”) can be enjoyed any time of year.
Locals who plan on regularly partaking in Rockaway Brewing’s small batch brews–the brewery makes only 12 to 16 kegs of beer per week–at its “unofficial tasting room” by the flea market can invest in refillable, logo-bedecked growlers, available in two sizes: personal (32 ounces) and party (64 ounces). Buy it full, drink it up, and bring it back for a refill. And locavores will appreciate the fact that Rockaway brews with ingredients like Rockaway-grown hops and honey collected from Bernett’s Lower East Side roof, where he keeps bees.
If you’re looking to enjoy some of Rockaway Brewing’s beer but you’re not in the market for the perfect $3 earrings, you’re in luck: You don’t need to go to the brewery to try it. For those still hoping to squeeze in a few more beach days this year, look for these brews at Low Tide Bar at 96th Street and the Boardwalk in Long Island City. Rockaway Taco and Caracas are also great options if you want to pair your Queens ale with something tasty nearby. Manhattanites don’t have to worry, either: Hit up Jimmy’s No. 43 in the East Village, midtown’s The Stag’s Head, or Malt and Mold on the Lower East Side.
Of course, if you want to try a Rockaway Brewing Company beer alongside dozens of other local craft beers, then you should buy your ticket for Brooklyn Pour Craft Beer Festival 2013 on October 12 in Fort Greene.