NYbeer

Beer as Narrative: A Chat with Anthony & Rob from Transmitter Brewing

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I got off the train with iPhone in hand, trying to figure out the best way to make it across the entrance to the Midtown Tunnel. It was barely 20 degrees and the wind was beating my face, but I was determined to make it to Transmitter Brewing in Long Island City, Queens on time to meet Anthony Accardi and Rob Kolb. As I made it closer to the brewery and peered at the Manhattan skyline, a nagging question raced into my head: Why the heck am I out here freezing my ass off in the first place?  Once I met Anthony and Rob and saw Transmitter for the first time, the answer was clear.

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Anthony and Rob focus on traditional and farmhouse ales, with a special zeal for experimenting with their wide library of yeast strains. They work with over 20 isolated strains of Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus, as well as other traditional yeast varieties. However, it’s the interplay of all the ingredients of beer that fuel their creativity and passion for brewing amazing beer.

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Before ever trying Transmitter Brewing’s beers, I was struck by the beauty of their bottles. Anthony explained the history of the label design:

The labels are designed by Jeff Rogers and are inspired by something called a QSL card. Amateur HAM radio operators would make contact and then acknowledge the contact with a post card that referenced the technical aspects of their equipment and signal strength as well as usually adding a personal note.

Their bottles are available at various bottle shops throughout NYC or on weekends at the brewery. Consider joining their CSB (Community Supported Brewery) bottle share program. Details are on their website: http://www.transmitterbrewing.com/

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With growing demand for Transmitter Brewing beer, I was curious about plans for expansion. Anthony and Rob recently upgraded to a 6 barrel brewhouse at the beginning of 2015. They also have around 35 barrels of stainless steel fermentation space to play with, in addition to 28 wooden casks of various alcoholic persuasions. That’s approximately 60 barrels of volume for both primary fermentation, as well as longer term aging.

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Rob Kolb (left) & Anthony Accardi (right)

Anthony and Rob have created a wide range of fantastic and unique beers during the past year. Here is their take on the beers that have been the most surprising:

W3 Hibiscus Wit with Orange Peel and Coriander took a long time to come together in a way that we liked. There was some acidity and tannic dryness in the young version that needed time to soften and come around. It did and was a beer that sold out very quickly. I think what is the most surprising aspect is always the temporal element to the beers we make. They are living beers, constantly changing, and it is interesting and fascinating to taste along its journey. There are notes and esters that slowly emerge and fade with time. I love that about our beer. They are not snapshots of a flavor, they are more like movies with a narrative.

Riding the G train back to Brooklyn, I sat and reflected on that last line for quite some time. “They are not snapshots of a flavor, they are more like movies with a narrative.” It occurred to me that this is exactly why I made a crosstown trek to Transmitter Brewing in the bitter cold. This is what compels me to meet random brewers, sometimes jumping on a train and often driving 300+ miles. It’s the artistry in creating something brand new and wonderful from disparate ingredients that fuels my quest to capture its beauty.

From the Archives: Barrier Brewing Company

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I probably don’t have to rehash the story.  NYC had this awful superstorm called Sandy and it really messed up quite a lot.  People lost their lives, their homes, heat and power, and the city was devastated on an unprecedented level.  If you need a visual recap, I highly recommend seeing NOVA’s Inside the Megastorm which aired on PBS on November 21, 2012.

Craft beer in the NYC region also took a big hit.  Barrier Brewing Company got hit hard by Sandy, sustaining over $100,000 in damages.  As I documented in an earlier post, the craft beer community in New York State came together to support the reeling brewery. I’m happy to report that Barrier is back in business.  I finally visited the Oceanside brewery and tasted their first post-Sandy batches.

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I picked up one of their remaining bottles of Submersion Double IPA.  They hand bottled the limited edition beer and even sealed each cap with wax.

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The brewery is open to the public on Wednesdays from 2 to 8 pm and Saturdays from 12 to 4 pm.  Try what they have on tap and bring home a growler or two. (Check their website for current tasting room days/hours – Barrier Brewing Co.

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Empire Brewing Company

From the Archives

I had Empire IPA from draught at NYC restaurants in the past, so I was curious to see what the brewery would be like. I did some prior research and found out that they don’t bottle or can their beer. They do well enough with keg distribution and selling directly to customers at their brewpub. Their best known beer is perhaps their Cream Ale, which has the creamy goodness of a Guiness without being a Stout.  To meet New York City demand, Empire has been contract brewing at Brooklyn Brewery. Empire hopes to finalize the purchase of a few acres of land in Upstate New York to increase their barrel output and to possibly start canning their wide selection of craft brews.

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Their food menu is pretty amazing. After sampling most of their beer list, we worked up an appetite and were not disappointed with the food. If you are in the Syracuse, NY area, I highly recommend visiting the Empire Brewing Company.

Enjoy these other photos from our visit.

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