It's hard to keep up with the ever-growing New York City craft beer scene. The number of local breweries in the last five years has more than tripled. In fact, the breweries have formed an association, the NYC Brewers Guild, to collaborate and promote each other. They are the ones hosting the annual NYC Beer Week with some thirst-quenching can't miss events. And throughout the year they often release special collaborative beers.
At last count there are 26 breweries producing beer in the five boroughs. More are on their way and a slew of others are based in the city but contract brew somewhere else. Since we have re-launched our Brewery Winery Distillery Tour, we have created a map listing all the places to drink local beer at the source.
But now you don't always need to go to the brewery because even the smallest of the local producers are beginning to find ways to allow you to take the beer home with you.
Many of these breweries are very small and don't have the facilities and expenses needed to bottle their beers on a larger scale for distribution. So until very recently, you coukd only find most of these beers on draft at local beer bars or at the brewery tasting rooms.
A rented mobile canning system has been the answer for a lot of the local breweries hoping to get their beer in more hands. The local cans probably started with Kelso and Bronx Brewery when they began releasing their Pilsner and Pale Ale in cans in 2013. Prior to that, it was only available on draft. Other breweries, like KCBC, Gun Hill, Rockaway, Singlecut, Flagship, Finback, and even the brewpubs Threes and Greepoint Beer and Ale Co. followed suit.
Some, like Other Half and Interboro, only sell the cans at the brewery and they sell out fast. Others, like Keg & Lantern, don't actually can until you buy - using a special crowler system - sealing up the beer and allowing you to bring it back for a re-fill. Just like growlers, but in a can.
It's certainly more economical and indeed better for the freshness of the beer by keeping out air and light. It also enables these small local breweries to reach a wider audience. And this is how we like to drink - local, sustainably, and sometimes in the comfort of our own apartments. And while there was once a stigma of beers in cans being of lower quality, the excellence of our local breweries (and others around the country) have easily dispelled that myth. So now you can feel good about knocking back a cold one.
All over New York City (all five boroughs are represented)
Learn more on our Brewery tours
Or at the NYC Brewers Guild