Edison Place, a neighborhood bar deep into Archie Bunker territory, introduced beer from Finback Brewery, which recently opened around the corner to the locals at a “Tap Takeover” event last Friday evening. Most of the patrons were regulars who knew each other, the owners and eagerly embraced the addition to Glendale.
“A new brewery opened in our backyard and we want to welcome them to the neighborhood,” said Eddie Long, a co-owner of the pub at 71-28 Cooper Ave.
Kevin Stafford and Basil Lee, the Brooklynite brewmasters of Finback, were there to meet people as they sampled four beers, a smoked porter, a red IPA and a white IPA, and a witbier, which contained ginger and Sichuan peppercorn.
The pair spent a year and a half scouring Brooklyn and western Queens — areas saturated by the hipster demographic, one known for appreciating craft beers and local products — for a suitable brewery location, but deals fell through, until they found their Glendale home. They signed a 10-year lease for the 13,000-square-foot space on a dead end, partially obscured by the LIRR at 77th Street and 78th Avenue, which has room for them to expand and set up tasting rooms. Finback’s current output is 2,500 barrels a year. (A barrel is 31 gallons.)
The beer is also available at multiple locations around the city, including the Forest Hills Station House, Alewife LIC, Astoria Beer and Cheese, Queens Kickshaw, Sunswick 35/35, Olivers, and The Sparrow, also in Astoria.
Stafford’s interest in brewing began with a home brew kit he’d received for Christmas and became a “hobby that got out of control.” He started brewing once a month, then increased the frequency to once a week until he was constantly brewing and sharing beer.
“I joined home brew clubs and completely nerded out,” he said.
Stafford asked Lee, an old friend from Boston, to brew with him four years ago. Lee likes to cook and experiment with brewing. He’s even made beers with cucumber, coconuts and chocolate. Lee, a former architect, is pleased with the way “everything is coming together” and fulfillment of the “three and a half year dream.”
Stafford and Lee named the brewery in honor of a whale that washed up at Breezy Point in December 2012. Both hail from New England seaside towns and Stafford said they feel a connection to maritime life. Stafford, a graphic designer, designed the logo.
Long said the beer was “really good stuff” and that the bar is focusing on craft beer for sophisticated customers.
Jim Long, also a co-owner of the pub, said “we’re glad they’re here tonight and we look forward to a continued relationship.”
Glendale-native Emily Nolan often goes to Edison Place because “it’s one of the nicer, more relaxed bars in Queens.” She loves the neighborhood, but welcomes the changes to the area as more people come in from Brooklyn.
“Glendale is a forgotten zone, like a Twilight,” she said. “They’re just starting to build it up.”
Many locals regard Glendale as a hidden secret, sheltered by rail yards and cemeteries, but inaccessible by train.
Robert Kueber said that he is “Glendale through and through,” as he’s lived there his whole life, his whole family lives there and he has a real estate office there. He lives down the block from Edison Place and is good friends with Eddie Long. Kueber described Glendale as a “traditional neighborhood,” primarily German, Irish and Italian, although it has diversified and become more like the rest of Queens. “It’s a working-class area, probably always will be,” he said.
Kueber said Stafford and Lee “craft a good beer” and that he thinks “they got a future here.”
“So far so good,” Jim Steiner said, as he sampled his fourth beer. He was there with his friend Whitie Martens, who explained that they usually come to Edison Place in the afternoons, since they’re usually asleep by nightfall. Steiner lives two blocks away and worked as a part-time bartender back when Von Westernhagan’s German restaurant occupied the same location.
Both consider Finback Brewery a good boost for the neighborhood and reported satisfaction with their beers.
Paul Engler, a 40-year resident of Glendale, who goes to Edison Place at least twice a week enjoyed the beer and said that people were very happy.
“It’s a great time and a great atmosphere,” he said.
When Engler called it a night and left, Steiner and others said “Gute Nacht.”