2017 New York City Rising Star Brewer Daniel Acosta of LIC Beer Project

2017 New York City Rising Star Brewer Daniel Acosta of LIC Beer Project
January 2017

LIC Beer Project
39-28 23rd Street
Queens, NY 11101
www.licbeerproject.com

Photos

Just more than a decade ago, Daniel Acosta was working in construction as a project manager and brewing beer in his garage in Westchester County, New York. He’d recently returned from a backpacking tour of Europe, where he experienced Belgian beer in its birthplace, and a passion was ignited. 

By 2006, he had made some life-changing decisions, enrolling in the brewing science program at the Siebel Institute in Chicago. After that he went on to study and practice brewing at Doemens World Brewing Academy in Munich, Germany, just to be thorough. 

Back stateside, Acosta couldn’t find a brewing gig that paid the bills, so he went to work as a consultant for largescale breweries, lending his technical, mechanical, and construction expertise to his clients. Bringing together 10 years of beer exploration, Acosta wrote a business plan for an experimental brewery and taproom specializing in Belgian-style beers with an in-house coolship that he would design and fund largely on his own. 

LIC Beer Project was founded July 2015 in an industrial area of Long Island City, Queens. Acosta and his team turned four walls that previously housed cigarettes and candy destined for bodegas into a homey brew-space with a bucolic, farmhouse vibe that reminds him of what it was like to walk off the cobblestone streets into a functioning brewery in Belgium.

In less than two years, LICBP has experienced explosive success, adding more than 300 accounts in New York City and points northward, attracting the city’s top chefs and beer enthusiasts with its tradition-inspired, experimentally progressive barrel-to-bottle and canning programs.   

      



Interview with New York City Rising Star Daniel Acosta of LIC Beer Project

Sean Kenniff: How did you get your start? 
Daniel Acosta:
I’m from Yorktown Heights, New York. When I was backpacking through Europe, I fell in love with Belgian Beer. I went to Siebel Institute in Chicago, then to Munich to study and practice brewing. I came back to U.S. and couldn’t find job as brewer. Instead, I went back to consulting with big breweries, doing construction, mechanics, and working with equipment. I wrote the business plan for this place, got space in Long Island City, and went to work.  It’s a lot of my own money, some private investors, two silent investors, and we raised some funds. 

SK: What was the space like before?
DA:
It was four walls—a storage facility for cigarettes and candy to send to bodegas. Just four concrete walls. We want people to feel like they are transcending from the street, stepping off the street into a completely different experience. The idea is to bring a lot of the bucolic farmhouse feel and vibe to an industrial space. The design reminds me of bars in Belgium, just off a cobblestone street.

SK: What’s your distribution network?
DA:
We distribute to all boroughs, up to Albany, and we’re now in negotiation for west of New York, Westchester and Putnam Counties, and over the bridge in Nyack. The styles of beers we’re brewing—no one else is brewing them on a large production scale. It was new for all of the accounts taking the beers. They hadn’t seen those types, kind of forgotten styles, of beer.

This is a hyper local brand. I don’t see it being a national brand, nor do I want it to become that. I’m happy to be a New York City brand, feeding the surrounding areas, upstate, and maybe New Jersey eventually.

SK: Tell us about your brewing style.
DA:
We make highly experimental, hoppy beers—not hazy, aromatic, hoppy beers. We use a lots of different malt profiles and take some chances. We don’t always get it right. For our mixed fermentation farmhouse beers, wild yeast and bacteria are at the core of what we do. We’re just starting to see the fruits of our labor now. The beers are committed to oak for two years before we event taste them, and each experimental batch consists of some 40 barrels. It’s a lot of money and space to spend on experimentation. If you’re just one degree of fermentation from you want, they go bad. 

SK: What’s your five-year plan?
DA:
I’d like to have a satellite facility to showcase our barrel program, grow it exponentially, and have one of the largest barrel houses in New York City. We want to have the largest collection in city. It takes time, but we’ll definitely do it within the next five years.