New Long Island City Brewery to Offer Beer 'CSA'
LONG ISLAND CITY — Forget vegetables — how about a beer CSA?
A new brewery opening in Queens this week is taking its cue from neighborhood farm shares, offering thirsty patrons a chance to buy into a club for seasonal beers.
For $200, Big Alice Brewing is offering seasonal "beer shares," allowing members to gain access to a new batch of brews made every month at the Long Island City facility.
"We actually modeled our sales after a CSA. About two-thirds of our production is sold through shares that people can pick up at the brewery once a month," said Big Alice co-founder Kyle Hurst.
Hurst, 39, started the brewery, which officially opens Saturday, with his brother-in-law Scott Berger and Berger's cousin, Robby Crafton.
The three relatives work for the same Long Island City-based air conditioning company, and have been home-brewing beer together as a hobby for the last few years. They decided to open their own space in 2011 after winning an award at a contest sponsored by Heartland Brewery.
"That planted the seed," Hurst said.
The name Big Alice is an homage to "Big Allis," a giant electric power generator nearby — one of the very recognizable red-and-white stacks that dot the Long Island City skyline.
The men renovated a former paint shop at 8-08 43rd Rd., where they turn out very small batches of beer — about 10 gallons per batch. They sell their brews in 750-ml bottles, which go for $18.
A $200 share gets customers two of the large bottles each month.
Hurst said they've already booked most of the 90 spots available for the July through December season, and estimates they only have about a dozen shares left. The remaining beer will be sold at the brewery during taproom hours on Friday nights.
The men make a new beer with every batch — with no repeat recipes — and try to incorporate different ingredients, many of them found at food co-ops and farmers markets.
"We do a lot of specialty ingredients within our beers. We’ll do a style and try to supplement that with something a little more unique," Hurst said.
Past batches include Belgian red ale made with Cinderella pumpkin, a smoked ale with peppercorns and an Indian Pale Ale with Buddha's Hand, a citrus fruit that hails from China.
"We really try to blend different styles and flavors," Hurst said, adding they're currently working on beers flavored with purple potato, salted caramel and a black tea porter.
Big Alice Brewing will host a grand opening party on Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m.
Hurst said he's happy to see craft beer finally getting its moment in the spotlight.
"I think people are starting to open up to the idea that beer can be an interesting drink, something that can be paired with food," he said. "Beer is every bit as interesting and dynamic as wine can be."