They may only be working a two-barrel system that generates a mere 12 kegs per week, but Rockaway Brewing Company is quickly losing its status as Queens’ best-kept beer secret. Now that the LIC Food & Flea is in session, the growler-only shop has its unofficial “tasting room” across the street, where Flea-goers can drink Rockaway Pale Ale or English ESB in a plastic to-go cup while browsing for cool chandeliers and apartment accessories, or paired with the many food options the Flea is serving up.
It’s been four years since co-founders and brewers Marcus Burnett and Ethan Long started brewing in their Far Rockaway beach bungalow backyard, but the true impact on the Queens brew scene cannot be overstated. Queens now has several licensed craft breweries, but it was Marcus and Ethan who launched the renaissance back in 2009. They finally were able to distribute city-wide when they opened the brew house in Long Island City last year.
And the brewery has progress a long way from the days when they were carting nano-kegs on their bikes. Marcus admits that despite the limited number of kegs, several of NYC’s beer distributors have approached him to carry Rockaway beers. Thanks to the weekend foot traffic, the brew house is regularly selling out its stock with no need for wider distribution channels. Of course, they maintain their presence in the Rockaways, where restaurants with long-term Rockaway Brewing connects have fought back this summer post-Sandy. You can still find Rockaway beers stocked at Rockaway Taco and Caracas.
The brew house itself is largely a DIY set-up that harkens back to the brewers’ homebrew days out on the beach. From the grinder to the cleaning system, Marcus and Ethan have created a brewery for pennies on the multi-thousand-dollar. It’s a truly cool space that anyone brewing in an apartment will appreciate, and a far cry from the traditional setups of larger brewers in the city.
For now, anyhow, Rockaway Brewing is going to maintain its nano roots, and keep bringing great beer to the small masses of Queens.
Rockaway Brewing’s brew house is located at 46-01 5th Street (that’s the corner of 5th St. and 46th Ave., for those who don’t speak “Queens”), and open Friday 3-8PM and Saturday-Sunday 11AM-4PM.