Nestled, almost hidden in an industrial area of Long Island City in the New York borough of Queens, is a tiny brewery amping up the volume on beer taste. Big Alice Brewing is one of several small breweries popping up in the rapidly-gentrifying Vernon Street neighborhood. But, Big Alice has a hook; they make small batches of beer in flavors that do not exactly fit in to mainstream beer categories.
The brewery is named for a giant electric power generator in Long Island City originally commissioned by ConEd and built by the Allis-Chalmers Corporation in 1965. Dubbed Big Allis by the power plant workers and locals alike, the generator is easily located by the towering smokestacks that vent it. Coming from nearly anywhere in Queens or Brooklyn, it is nearly impossible to miss the four stacks – Big Allis is the third from the left as you approach from Queens.
In a nod to the local landmark and the first one million kilowatt generator — big enough to serve 3 million people – the brewers decided to name the brewery Big Alice, changing the name to avoid any possible legal entanglements.
Big Alice, like so many other breweries, began life with a couple of friends who also enjoyed brewing beer at home. After a few drinks at the 2011 New York State Beer Festival, NY Tap, an idea began to ferment in the minds of founders Kyle Hurst and Scott Berger. In 2013 the duo’s dreams came to fruition with the opening of Big Alice Brewing, a small-scale brewer dedicated to creating interesting beers in small batches to provide beer-lovers with an ever-changing array of brews to taste and enjoy.
According to the brewery’s website, “Big Alice Brewing’s first batch was a Belgo-American Red Ale that was made with local organic cheese pumpkin (Cinderella pumpkin), a large amount of American hops, and a Belgian yeast. The second batch was an IPA that was made with a very fragrant citron fruit, Buddha’s Hand, from California.”
Unique and inspiring, Big Alice proves that a small operation can make a big impact. The flavors created in this boutique brewery are amazing and demand is sure to grow. But, if Hurst has his way, they will remain a small operation. By staying small they are free to experiment rather than get tied down to a particular style or flavor profile.
“We can do things the big boys can’t,” says the website. “That’s the really cool part.”
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