LONG ISLAND CITY — Queens has seen a slew of new breweries open up recently — and now the borough finally has its own namesake beer.
Newcomer Queens Brewery is latest to hit the local beer scene. The company started up production two weeks ago, and its signature Queens Lager is now on tap at a growing list of bars and restaurants across the borough.
The brewery, which operates upstate for the time being while it looks for a space in Queens, is also in support of the local art scene and is interested in donating some of its eventual exterior space to the artists from 5Pointz, the Long Island City graffiti mecca that is slated for demolition.
"We're all about Queens," said founder Nelson Rockefeller — no relation to the former governor — a 32-year-old father of three and former commercial musician who lives in Maspeth.
"There's already a Brooklyn Brewery and the Bronx Brewery," he said. "I thought it was inevitable that Queens would eventually get a Queens Brewery, and I wanted to be the one to do it."
And though Rockefeller's office is headquartered in Long Island City, the Queens Brewery doesn't actually do its brewing in Queens — yet.
To save money, all production is currently being done in Saratoga Springs, in upstate New York — near where one of Rockefeller's business partners lives — while he hunts for a permanent home in Queens.
"We're looking for a building as we speak," he said, adding that he wants the Queens Brewery to draw visitors to the borough, and to capture the diversity and cultural spirit of Queens.
One idea he has is to offer up the walls of his future location to artists from 5Pointz, who are facing the loss of their graffiti-covered warehouses in Long Island City under a plan to make way for new a residential development.
"If they get their home torn down, we would want to give them a new home," Rockefeller said. "We're super into collaboration."
For the time being, Rockefeller said he and his business partners plan to keep churning out Queens Lager, which is on tap now at about 25 Queens bars, including Alobar in Long Island City, Astoria Bier and Cheese and the Flying Pig in Forest Hills.
"It's a hoppy lager," he said, of the brew. "It finishes smooth and bread-like."
Originally from the west coast, Rockefeller says he plans to start using hops and barley sourced from small farms in rural Washington state, where he grew up.
It was working on his family's farm where he gained an appreciation for beer, he said. After a long day working in the fields, it's customary to quench your thirst with a cold brew.
"Beer and farming go hand in hand," he said.
Queens Brewery has plans to add more beer to its roster, and to expand its distribution to bars and restaurants in other parts of the city. But for now, Rockefeller says their main goal is to serve Queens.
"Our whole focus is to try and bring attention back to the borough," he said.