February is drawing to a close and most New Yorkers might be thinking, “Good riddance,” as the month was the coldest on record in more than 80 years. While seeing the East River almost completely freeze over is a truly chilling sight, the shortest month of the calendar year was actually a heartwarming time for craft beer enthusiasts. This weekend concludes the Seventh annual NYC Beer Week, and it’s been a slow-rolling juggernaut of malt and hops. One of many local players making a splash was Queens-based SingleCut Beersmiths. Their 19-33 Lagrrr! pretty much sums up the temperature range of the past four weeks. It serves as a suitable toast this weekend as we wave goodbye to February and Beer Week.
When they opened just over two years ago, SingleCut became the first operating brewery in Queens since Prohibition. Their address — 19-33 on 37th Street — also happens to be the year of Repeal. So when they introduced their flagship beer, a Czech-style Pilsener with a crisp, bready-malt backbone, they decided to honor the happy coincidence in its title. The 5.4 percent ABV lager is true to its category, offering muted but nuanced flavors in its medium, straw-hued body.
Although there is a surprising appearance of herbal hops emerging in the finish, don’t expect this beer to deliver any sort of IPA-like punch. Lagers aren’t about that life. This is a sessionable beverage designed to be enjoyed repeatedly throughout the course of the day. It’s also a great reminder of how diverse New York’s craft landscape has become, both stylistically and geographically. Drinking events throughout this frigid month have showcased saisons, stouts, grisettes, and gruits from homebrewers, gypsy brewers, upstarts, and established players from every borough of the city.
Brooklyn and Manhattan have long held the edge in the great suds race, but they best not rest on those laurels. SingleCut and the noteworthy names that have followed in their wake — Big Alice, Transmitter, and Finback, to name but a few — are making it clear that Queens is ready to rumble. Head over to their taproom in Astoria for potable proof. Or make it to The West in Williamsburg today and keep warm with their full-day SingleCut tap takeover in celebration of Beer Week.