The fifth and last borough of our five boroughs in five days mission was Queens. I’ve always imagined Queens to be far flung from Manhattan and its skyscrapers. Actually you can get great views of Manhattan from Queens’ western most edge – Long Island City. I had actually been to Queens in 2014, when I went to see the New York Mets, whose stadium is alongside the number 7 subway line.
One of the features of Queens is its incredibly diverse population. Apparently the most ethnically diverse part of the United States. We experienced that by walking under the Number 7 subway from 111th St to 39th St along Roosevelt Street. Street vendors sell food from all different South and Central American countries. The blocks change from South American dominated restaurants and shops to a Nepalese section to an Irish section and just random countries in between. The Chinese/Peruvian restaurant was closed. I ate Ecuadorian instead. Fascinating.
After covering plenty of distance (we’d also visited the largest Chinatown in NYC in Flushing), we deserved a libation. We’d been tipped Fifth Hammer as one of the best breweries in Queens, and it wasn’t far from our hotel. We weren’t let. Fabulous taproom (and warm). Huge venue with 16 house taps. Great range of merch as well. As we sipped on a colourful paddle of tasters we were asked whether we had heard about the Long Island City Brewery Trail. Turns out there are 6 breweries in reasonably close proximity. Drink at all 6, get a stamp at each and get a gift. We didn’t need to be told twice.
Next stop was Alewife. They’ve been brewing since 2018. 30 taps split between their own beer and other New York brewers. Food looked really good, but I was still digesting Ecuadorian food. After watching the sunset and the Manhattan skyline, we hit up the oldest (according to the barman) taproom in Long Island City – Rockaway Brewing Co. Rockaway Beach, where the owners started brewing, is a part of Queens, but a long way away from this taproom. Famous for the Ramones song and now decent beer.
One of the dominant features of the Long Island City skyline is the “Big Allis” Generation station. The three stacks send steam into the sky every day. Big aLICe Brewing takes a clever spin on that name. The taproom is cosy. The beers are adventurous and prove that there is nothing a brewer won’t put in a beer. IcoNYC was our last stop for the evening. We were struggling to feel our feet due to the intense cold. It was hard to reconcile that summer in NYC can get hot and many taprooms have large outdoor spaces suited to that time of year. IcoNYC’s “Biergarten” is a classic and popular example.
The next morning I did a solo walk across the Queensboro/Ed Koch/59th Street Bridge that joins Manhattan to Queens. Fabulous but bracing in -5 degrees. I also visited Roosevelt Island. Crystal clear views of the Manhattan Skyline. FDR Four Freedoms Park at the Southern tip of the Island is also very cool.
My daughter and I then said our farewells to each other and New York City at the last of Long Island City breweries – LIC Beer Project. We toasted a marvellous 5 days together. Five boroughs in five days completed and the Long Island City Brewery Trail done. New York City is a great city and I really hope I can get there again.
Fifth Hammer Brewing Co: 10-28 46th Avenue, Long Island City, New York
Alewife: 5-14 51st Avenue, Long Island City, New York
Rockaway Brewing Co: 46-01 5th Street, Long Island City, New York
Big aLICe Brewing: 8-08 43rd Road, Long Island City, New York
IcoNYC Brewing Co: 43-63 11th Street, Long Island City, New York