April 2, 2013 By Bill Parry
Long Island City, NY: The owners of a Long Island City-based micro brewery have been receiving plenty of business following the fallout of Superstorm Sandy.
Rockaway Brewing Co., named after the neighborhood where the two owners began brewing out of their homes, is receiving plenty of inquiries nationwide as the name “Rockaway” resonates with consumers.
“Rockaway has always had a connection with people locally,” said Ethan Long, a co-owner of the brewery that is located at 5-01 46th Avenue. “But after the storm it became a buzz word nationally.”
Today, the company receives e-mails from around the country, as well as visits from out-of-towners looking to sample its beer.
With its growing name recognition and its own quiet success, the brewery’s seen a surge in interest. The nascent brewery, which offers four different ales, has recently added its first full-time staff member and has expanding its visiting hours.
“We can’t keep up with the demand,” Long said. “I wouldn’t say it’s meteoric, but a serious increase in interest.”
The company has increased the number of days that consumers can drop by and fill their growlers/bottles at the brewery. The brewery will be open from Friday (3-8pm) through Sunday (12-5pm), and the owners anticipate increased foot traffic in the spring and summer months.
“Every time it gets warm our growler sales double,” Long said. A 64 ounce growler can be refilled (during opening hours) for $15 and a 32 ounce growler for $7.50. There is a small charge to buy the bottle.
Consumers are also able to refill their growlers at Foodcellar, located on 47th Road.
The first keg rolled out of the brewery last June and many bars and restaurants—particularly in Manhattan—now offer its beer. “We cater to a lot of restaurants,” Long said. He said, “Alobar, John Brown’s Smoke House and Alewife have been with us from day one.”
Long, who also is a set designer for commercials, and his business partner Marcus Burnett (an Emmy-nominated cinematographer) started home brewing in their Rockaway Beach bungalows in 2007. During a West Coast trip, the two noticed an abundance of breweries in a number of different towns and decided to open one of their own.
Long found an empty space in a former meat packing plant down the street from his design studio in Long Island City. The pair moved in and started their brewery in November of 2011 and started selling the following summer.
But the company did not get through Superstorm Sandy unscathed. A storm surge from Anable Basin–one block away—brought nearly two feet of flooding that took out a series of pumps.
“The last year has been quite a ride,” Long said. However, “It’s been fun.”