I’ll Drink to That: Governor Cuomo Signs Craft Beverage Law


Governor Cuomo proved himself a hero of hooch yesterday by signing into law several measures designed to make it easier for craft start-ups to get off the ground. Anyone who supports the so-called “little guy,” be it a wine, beer, or spirit producer, or really just any small business in general, ought to raise a glass to toast this game-changing legislation. But before landing on the perfect pint to lift, let’s look more closely at what Albany just set in motion.

In the words of the governor himself:

“New York produces some of the best wine, beer, spirits, and cider in the world — an industry which not only creates jobs but supports farmers and brings in tourism dollars across every corner of the state. This new law builds upon this administration’s ongoing efforts to promote this industry by cutting red tape, reducing burdensome regulations, and removing artificial barriers that stifled growth. New York is truly open for business, and I thank my partners in the legislature for their hard work in making this a success for all of our craft beverage businesses.”

Sounds good to me. Good for business, good for booze, good for beer. No problems finding bipartisanship there. Especially when the law allows producers to conduct tastings and serve “by the bottle” and “by the glass.” Additionally, farm distilleries may increase the number of retail outlets where they can sell and offer samples of their products.

Awesome start, especially considering the changes go into effect in just 30 days. But Cuomo went several steps further, launching the Craft Beverage Grant Program, which promises $2 million to market the industry and $1 million more in tourism promotion. Dude seriously wants to develop the scene. Some might be so bold as to call him a true American patriot. If that’s the case, he deserves a local craft selection honoring our region’s revolutionary roots. I cannot tell a lie, Bronx-brewed Gun Hill fits the bill.

Less than a year old, Gun Hill has already won gold at the Great American Beer Festival with its Void of Light Foreign Stout. Hold a flashlight up to a pint of this sucker, watch the beam get swallowed by its pitch-black body, and you’ll know it ain’t some clever name. This beer is unapologetically dark. But its medium body belies its color, offering a versatility in its roasted essence, allowing it to pair as well with Dutch chocolate cake as it would, say, a smoked salmon.

The 8.2 percent offering is yet to be bottled, but it’s currently on tap at many of the city’s craft meccas: Pony Bar’s East and West, Ginger Man, and Jimmy’s No. 43 in Manhattan; Barcade, Brouwerij Lane, and Spuyten Duyvil in Brooklyn. Even Queens can’t resist the dark side, with both Oliver’s and Astoria Beer and Cheese pouring the city’s hottest new stout.

After applying his John Hancock to yesterday’s bill, Governor Cuomo ought to head straight to the brewery’s colonially inspired taproom — within firing distance of one of the Revolutionary War’s most pivotal battles. It was at Gun Hill Road where the Rebels fought off the British, seizing control of the primary thoroughfare into Lower Manhattan. The little guy took on the establishment and emerged victorious. That’s something the folks at Gun Hill Brewing can relate to. And thanks to the Craft Beverage Law, they’ll be armed with more ammunition to make it happen.

Gun Hill Brewing Company is the only microbrewery in NYC open seven days a week. Offering pints, flights, and growler fills out of six selections on tap, they can be reached via a 10-minute walk from their namesake stop on either the 2 or 5 lines. Surely the folks there will be happy to float you a pint, Governor Cuomo — if only for a little while. So I’d hop on that train before it leaves the station, sir.