By Bill Parry
Two brewing companies have emerged in Long Island City in the past year—the first since prohibition shut the industry down in LIC almost a century ago.
The first company to arrive was Rockaway Brewing Co., which was formed by two home-brewing enthusiasts, who moved into an old meatpacking plant at 5th St. and 46th Ave., last year.
The second—and more recent arrival– Big Alice Brewery, located at 8-08 43rd Road, started production two months ago.
Big Alice Brewery was founded by three home-brew hobbyists.
The brewery—which is a part-time venture—is owned by Scott Berger, the owner of LIC-based Arista Air Conditioning, and two of his employees, Kyle Hurst and Robbie Crafton.
The three were brought together by their hobby more than a decade ago.
They formed a business and named it after the huge power station just north of the Queensboro Bridge that is known to locals as Big Aliss. They then rented a warehouse.
“What began as a hobby 14 years ago has turned into something bigger,” Hurst said. “We made a beer that won the People’s Choice award at Heartland Brewery [a popular craft-beer/home-brewing competition] and we thought maybe we could make some money at it.”
However, given their full-time day jobs, they only get to work on their product every other weekend.
The three of them have discovered that brewing beer for the general public is a long and drawn out process—typically mired in bureaucracy.
“When you’re dealing with a controlled substance,” Crafton said, “there’s plenty of government requirements: even cleaning chemicals require the right permits.”
“We’ve been securing the proper permits for two years,” said Hurst.
They are hopeful that that the beer they brew—after the lengthy fermentation period—will be ready at the same time the permits come through.
By summer, they aim to open the brewery to visitors, allowing visitors to observe the process and have a tasting.
“Hopefully they like the beer and buy a few bottles to take home,” Crafton said.