In what's still a mostly industrial area of Sunset Park, down the block from a strip club rumored to be co-owned by 50 Cent, you'll find the city's newest brewery, Five Boroughs Brewing Co. In this case, the term new should be applied loosely. The large team, which includes a former brewer from Southern Tier along with several longtime homebrewers, has been a nomadic brewing operation of sorts, crafting and refining their brews in Mott Haven in the Bronx and the Rockaways before finding their permanent home on 47th Street just west of the BQE about two years ago.
During the two years, the team exhaustively renovated a former steel manufacturing plant—even unearthing some train tracks in what's now the large taproom up front—and transforming it into a flexible brewing-and-beer serving hybrid that will officially open to the public on Saturday, August 5th.
While the behind-the-scenes brewing operations won't be open to the public, there's a large picture window that overlooks some of the fermenters. Behind the swinging doors to the left of the bar is a veritable playground for beer nerds, including a microbial laboratory for experimentation; a state-of-the-art waste management system to help ensure ph-balanced water flows back into the city sewers; and of course a multi-tank brewing operation that includes enormous tanks for the brewery's "core" beers and small fermentation systems and tanks for creating limited-edition, taproom-only brews.
Head of Brewing Nick Griffin, along with Co-Founders Kevin O'Donnell and Blake Tomnitz, are quite excited about a wine barrel fermenting and aging system they have set up that employs both American and French wine barrels that formerly contained both red and white wines. Once the base beer has been initially fermented in a steel vat with a saison belgian strain of bacteria, the liquid is moved to the wine barrels, where wild yeast and two more bacteria strains are added. The resulting brew—which could take as little as three months but could sit for two years—will be an "American wild ale," a sour, dry beer that they'll cork in bottles.
If the brewing system sounds extensive, it's because this won't be some boutique beer operation. They've already retrofitted the space in anticipation of expanding their brewing operations. And after the taproom opens on Saturday, the Five Boroughs team will launch their brews in bars and restaurants, starting with a launch at South Slope's Greenwood Park on August 9th.
To sample the full range of their brews, however, you'll have to visit the taproom. The industrial space has been spruced up with a nice bar in the back and plenty of tables and chairs. Its somewhat sterile for now, but O'Donnell points to wood paneling on the wall as the home of a future living garden populated by succulents and other greenery. Similar to SingleCut Beersmiths in Astoria, the taproom boasts a balcony-type stage for live performances, either musical or even poetry.
The "core" beers—Pilsner, IPA, Gose, and Hoppy Lager—will always be available in the taproom, alongside experimental brews and limited edition offerings, which for the opening includes a delightfully fruity and sour Raspberry Gose, a highly drinkable Helles, and a few other special offerings.
Saturday's opening taproom party will be full of fun and games like cornhole, and kid-friendly activities like bubbles and sidewalk chalk from noon until midnight. After that, the taproom will operate Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturdays from noon to 11 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 10 p.m.
215 47th Street, Sunset Park, 718-355-8575; fiveboroughs.com