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

by Sean Kenniff
February 2017

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.