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Queens Beachgoers Can Sip Suds from New Long Island City Microbrewery

Marcus Burnett, one of the owners of the Rockaway Brewing Company
Marcus Burnett, one of the owners of the Rockaway Brewing Company
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

HUNTERS POINT — Life's a beach in Long Island City.

Just in time for the start of summer, a new microbrewery is opening in the neighborhood with plans to pour its beers there and at a seaside bar in Rockaway Beach, the owners said.

The opening of the suds factory comes on the heels of news that Queens would be getting its first brewery in decades, SingleCut Beersmiths, which plans to open soon in Astoria.

For now, Rockaway Brewing Company, located in an old meatpacking plant on Fifth Street and 46th Avenue in Hunters Point, will brew two kinds of beer: ESB (extra special bitter), an English style ale, and Summer Ale, which will be “brighter and hoppier,” said Marcus Burnett, one of the owners, who is also an Emmy-nominated cinematographer for National Geographic.

He and his business partner, Ethan Long, 40, said they have always loved beer, but the idea to open their own microbrewery didn't hit until them a couple of years ago during a cross-country trip from California to New York.

“We went through all these small towns in Oregon and Washington states where there are like three microbreweries in every town,” said Burnett, 40. “And then you come to New York City and you think, ‘Oh, that would be great, if there was some good local beer.’”

The city used to be home to dozens of breweries — there were at least half a dozen in Ridgewood alone, as well as some in College Point. But the breweries disappeared over the years.

Now, the entire city counts only about six breweries, Burnett said.

The two friends, pals from the neighborhood, taught themselves how to make beer and started brewing about 2 1/2 years ago in their backyards in Far Rockaway, where they both live.

A year later, they started Rockaway Brewing Company.

Long’s other firm, Konduit, a studio that builds sets for films and music videos, is located in Long Island City. He said his landlord, Plaxall, offered him a good deal on the brewery space.

A few weeks ago, Burnett and Long installed a two-barrel system, which can yield up to 63 gallons of beer at a time, and last week started brewing their first commercial batch. 

During the brewing process, Burnett explained, they want to adhere strictly to the 1516 German beer purity law, which states that the only ingredients that can be used in beer production are water, barley and hops. After its discovery, yeast became the fourth legal ingredient.

Rockaway’s beer will be sold on tap at Low Tide Bar at 96th Street and the Boardwalk on Rockaway Beach beginning the last weekend of June.

And within a couple of weeks, Burnett said LIC locals will be able to buy growlers to go at the brewery.