It has been just three months since Cortlandt Manor resident and Yorktown native Daniel Acosta tapped the first official keg at the brand new Long Island City Beer Project, and his distribution list is already in the hundreds. He is selling his sought-after brews to businesses throughout Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Westchester and to thousands of Mets fans at Citi Field every game-day. The fast success is a surprise to him but he is happy to see it (even though he’s a Yankees fan).
“We are growing much faster than we expected,” Acosta said. “This type of beer has been undersold in Manhattan,” he said of his Belgian-inspired, American wild, and sour brews.
Acosta started distributing to Citi Field before he even had his taproom off the ground because of a fortunate invitation from New York City’s Randolph Beer to collaborate on a pairing. Early this summer, the owners of Randolph asked Acosta to brew something that would pair well with a jerk chicken they were preparing to sell at Citi Field. That’s when Long Island City Beer Project’s Belgian Pale Ale Wonderlic was born. The pairing was a success and Citi Field asked the company to have its own stand there.
“I was hesitant at first because we were new and I wanted to make sure we could meet the demand,” Acosta said. “But we did and it is good exposure for us.”
Acosta was not always a craft beer fan. In 2004, while he was working in construction, he started brewing beer in his garage as a hobby after experiencing the world of Belgian beers during a trip to Europe. In 2006, he attended Siebel Institute in Chicago for its brewing science program, and, by 2009, he decided he was going to transform his passion into a business. As he perfected his craft, style, and recipes, Acosta sought partners and funding. After six years of hard work, his dream came true.
Acosta chose the Long Island City location because it allows for distribution to NYC’s boroughs and to Westchester, where he lives with his wife and three daughters. He also sees the developing area as an up-and-coming neighborhood in which to start a business, with new luxury condos, and more restaurants and bars moving in to cater to the young crowd.
Long Island City Beer Project occupies a 5,500-square-foot, 20-barrel brewery and tap house, which also contains a rare piece of equipment (and the first of its kind in a NYC brewery), a coolship. The coolship is a traditional piece of brewing equipment that became obsolete in most parts of the world as technology evolved, but that stuck around in Belgium. It creates spontaneous fermentation, a process that is used to create sour “wild” American beers.
For those into the science of beer: “The coolship is used to capture wild yeast and bacteria to inoculate the wort. That natural flora spontaneously ferments the wort. We aren’t pitching (adding) any cultured yeast to it, so we are using NYC air to ferment the beers in the coolship project,” says Acosta.
Long Island City Beer Project is currently the only brewery in New York State to be using this equipment for the sole purpose of spontaneous fermentation and the second on the East Coast, after Allagash Brewing Company, based in Portland, Maine, whose brewers are mentoring Long Island City Beer Project on the process.
Acosta acknowledges that his work with the coolship will be an unpredictable adventure.
While he experiments, he also plans to expand the distribution of his other beers into all five boroughs and Long Island. Currently, his taproom features six drafts that rotate, and he always has four beers in distribution. But you don’t have to travel to Long Island City to taste them. Here is a list of where you can find Acosta’s beer right here in Westchester:
Beer Noggin, Bronxville
Birdsall House, Peekskill
The Oath Craft Beer Sanctuary, Tarrytown
The Craftsman Alehouse, Harrison
Bridgeview Tavern, Sleepy Hollow
Madison Kitchen, Larchmont
Growlers Beer Bistro, Tuckahoe
The Long Island City Beer Project
39-28 23rd Street, Long Island City, NY