A little over a year and a half ago, Singlecut Beersmiths became the first new brewery to open in Queens since prohibition. And unlike basically any other brewery that’s opened anywhere in the past few years, Singlecut focuses much of their attention not on the now far more common ales, but on on lagers, a style that’s fallen out of favor in craft circles for a number of reasons: the brewing process is far more time-consuming and demanding, for one, but there’s also the sense, thanks to the garbage produced by Budweiser and all those guys, that they’re simply less advanced, less challenging than their warm-fermenting brethren.
At Singlecut, though, they’re doing more than their part to change how we look at the badly misunderstood lager. Two of their six year-round offerings fall under the category: Queens Lagrrr is a perfect example of the style—unbelievably clean and crisp, it’s the kind of beer that could easily be appreciated by less craft-obsessed drinkers, but it’s also interesting enough, with a substantial hop presence, to hold the more dedicated beer nerd’s attention. On the other end of the spectrum is Jan Olympic White, a lager that’s brewed much like a wheat beer, with hints of orange peel, pepper, and corriander, but is notable in that wheat beers are traditionally ales. If you’re forced to choose just one of their lagers to sample, though, you should consider Kim Hibiscus Sour, a 3.5% ABV beer that I guess would qualify as a Berliner Weisse if it were in fact an ale. Regardless, it’s light pink in color, thanks to infusions of hibiscus flowers and black currants, and it’s as pleasant a sour as you’re likely to find anywhere in the city.
With all this talk of lagers, you’d be forgiven for overlooking their equally solid lineup of ales, but it’s certainly not advised. Their family of IPAs is also stellar, showcasing a fairly aggressive approach to hopping, and a taste for somewhat unusual varieties, though they lean pretty heavily toward what, in simpler times, was usually referred to as “west coast style.” Billy 18-Watt is their 5.0 ABV session IPA, which packs as much flavor as any of the other sessions everyone’s drinking these days, while Billy Half Stack is a more substantial offering that comes in at 6.6% and boasts tons of bright citrus qualities. One step further up the ladder (be careful up there) is Billy Full-Stack, the one you’ll want to seek out if you’re serious about your hops. At 8.4%, it’s an Imperial IPA that hits hard with a barrage of hop flavors–floral, citrus, pine, spice–that are supported by thick, sweet malts that coat your tongue like crazy. It’s really fucking delicious.
Singlecut is located at 19-33 37th Street in Astoria. The tasting room is open on Thursday and Friday from 4pm to 1am, on Saturday from 12pm to 1am, and on Sunday from 12pm to 10pm. Growlers are available, and there’s a food menu as well.
Photos by Robert Caputo
Follow Mike Conklin on Twitter @MikeConklin.