Open since last October, Alewife Queens was the third bar created by the partnership of Michael Bewley, Daniel Lanigan and Bryan Palombo and their first in New York City. The others are Alewife Baltimore in Maryland and Lord Hobo in Cambridge, Mass. The bars founders hoped to capitalize on a residential and commercial boom in the neighborhood. New residential towers rise on the waterfront close by. Also nearby are Citibank, JetBlue, Rolex, the New York City Department of Health, and the brand-new CUNY School of Law.
Despite all this, business at Alewife Queens “started out real slow,” said Lanigan at a recent open house for beer bloggers and members of the trade. “Nobody cared.”
New York City, Lanigan said, has many great beer bars, including Rattle ‘n Hum and Gingerman. “We want to be part of that family,” he added, noting that Alewife Queens is but one subway stop from Manhattan and three from Times Square.
With that in mind, he asked for assistance from Patrick Donagher, the New York City beer impresario who formerly managed Rattle ‘n Hum in Manhattan and runs Get Real Presents.
Donagher is intent on putting Alewife Queens on beer lovers’ maps. Already, there is much ado. Recently, the bar-cum-gastro pub hosted a group of beer bloggers and brewery reps at an open house and beer dinner. The next evening a half dozen Belgian brewers shared their sour beers and coming up on July 13 is a cask ale festival.
The beer impresario’s credentials lend credibility to the effort at Alewife Queens. In the 10 years he’s lived in New York, Donagher has done plenty. After moving from Donegal, Ireland, the third-generation bar owner quickly adapted to the new bar scene and its different challenges. He first co-opened and was managing partner of Cherry Tree, a bar in Brooklyn that quickly became known for its craft beers. Then, with his brother, Joe, and another partner, Eamon Donnely, opened Rattle N Hum. Rattle N Hum quickly became one of New York City’s most popular craft beer bars. He spent three years there before moving on in December to his own projects, among them Get Real Presents, which will create events focused on craft beer and local food.
At Alewife Queens, Donagher has a good head start. There are 28 beers on tap and a hundred more by the bottle, aimed mostly at aficionados. There’s am ambitious kitchen, a cavernous 2-level interior space with an outdoor patio in the rear.
I can vouch for the beers and the tasty eats. I enjoyed these brews at the recent open house:
Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. Summer Ale, which was perfect with the outside thermometer reading 98 degrees. A good starter for a long evening of brews, this Golden, pilsner like brew has notes of sweet malt and a pleasant dry finish.
21st Amendment Brewery’s Bitter American, a very sessionable, russet=hued brew with notes of malt and grapefruit on the nose and palate.
Stone Brewing Imperial Russian Stout (2011), poured from a bottle and shared by Dennis Flynn, Stone’s New York rep. A winner, despite its alcoholic bite. It offers up a big malty nose and flavors of raisins’, chocolate, and licorice.
Bottlework’s 13th Anniversary Ale, brewed by Stone. Also shared by Flynn from a bottle. Wow! Thick and delicious, malty sweet with notes of dried fruit and licorice.
Cantillon’s Rosé de Gambrinus with a delightful sour berry nose, strawberry palate and the beautiful sour funkiness that defines this Belgian brewer’s beers.
Bink Blonde by Brouwerij Kerkom, another Belgian, this time an amazing pale ale with notes of malt, herbs, spices, fruit and licorice and a lovely dry finish.
Given these sudsy delights, I’ve no doubt, I’ll return to Alewife Queens. Will you visit?