LONG ISLAND CITY — After opening in Hunters Point four years ago, Rockaway Brewing Company is growing — and returning to its beach roots.
The beermakers, who got their start homebrewing in their backyards in Far Rockaway, plan to open three new pop-up beer gardens in Queens this summer, including one that will eventually become a permanent taproom and brewing space for the company, owner Marcus Burnett said.
Their plans include a temporary outdoor beachside bar on Beach 67th Street that'll open in the middle of June, where ocean-goers will be able to sip suds from Rockaway Brewing as well as other local brews.
A short distance away at 415 Beach 72nd St., they'll also be setting up a brick-and-mortar site that will serve as a tasting room this summer but will eventually become a second brewery, where they hope to start making beer as soon as next year.
"We're really excited," said Burnett, who opened Rockaway Brewing with business partner Ethan Long in 2012.
"We started in Rockaway, in our bungalows, as homebrewers," he said.
"We've been brewing here in Long Island City and looking for space for three years back out [there.]"
In addition to the new Rockaway locations, they'll also be opening in Ridgewood, with another outdoor beer garden in a vacant lot on Woodward Avenue and Troutman Street that's expected to open the first week of June.
Tentatively called La Playa, they plan to fill the lot with 140 yards of sand trucked in from Long Island and decorate it with palm trees, according to Burnett.
"We're trying to make it into a little beach in the city," he said.
The three locations will serve Rockaway Brewing beers as well as those from other "farm breweries" in the city — those that use at least 20 percent of ingredients sourced from New York State in their brews.
The new beer gardens will be in addition to Rockaway Brewing's existing Hunters Point taproom and brewery, which will remain open, said Burnett, adding that the expansion is necessary to keep up with demand for their beers.
When they first opened in 2012, they were cranking out just about 18 kegs a week, but now brew between 70 and 75 kegs, which are served in their own taproom as well as other bars and restaurants around the city.
"We built this place out basically as much as you can possibly do here, as much beer as you can make," he said of the Long Island City site, saying the new brewery space on Beach 72nd Street will allow them to roughly triple production.
Their growth reflects the growing popularity of craft beer in general, Burnett said.
"This industry is just exploding," he said. "People love to come to breweries...they just love the idea that it's made here, they love the idea that you're getting a fresh product right from the source."
Queens has seen a boom of new breweries opening in the past several years — there are currently four in Long Island City alone.
"Queens, and Long Island City specifically, is becoming this Mecca of local breweries, which is really cool," Burnett said. "You have this kind of community building."