Nelson Rockefeller is making sure no one forgets the borough after tasting his Queens Lager.
Coming from a family of barley wheat farmers, Rockefeller — no relation to the former governor — was always surrounded by one of the top ingredients that would take him to starting his own business.
Growing up north of Seattle, Washington, Rockefeller would wake up early to work on the farm and by 10 or 11 a.m. was looking for food and something cold to drink. And what’s better than an ice cold beer?
“That’s where we got the beer culture from,” he said.
Yet his love for beer continued to brew even as he attended Washington State University as a classical pianist major. In his junior year he decided to change his major to fine arts and in 2002 came to New York to finish his senior year at Stony Brook University, where he made the decision to stay in Queens. He currently lives in Maspeth.
His love for beer and the borough continued and he came up with the idea to start his own micro- brewery with the help of a team of business partners.
Queens Lager, which is the first line of beer from Queens Brewery, made its first public pour during the New York City Craft Beer Festival on July 20 at Webster Hall in Manhattan.
In the beginning of August, the first distribution of the beer began and Queens Lager can now be found in almost 40 bars around Queens, including the Courtyard Alehouse in Sunnyside.
“It’s like giving birth,” said the father of three. “It’s one of the best feelings in the world.”
At the moment, although Queens Brewery is headquartered in Long Island City, brewing and packaging takes place in Saratoga Springs. But Rockefeller is looking for a place in the borough to call home.
As for their future facility, Rockefeller would like to work with 5Pointz artists to decorate the indoor and outdoor walls while curating pieces as well. He said he would also like to work with Edwin Safarian, a professional arm wrestler, and the New York Arm Wrestling Association.
Although Queens Lager is the only beer Queens Brewery is currently distributing, Rockefeller is constantly experimenting with brew recioes to come up with new additions.
Queens Brewery is sticking to selling Queens Lager throughout the borough but hopes to expand its distribution to other cities in the future.
“You take care of home base first,” he said. “Queens is forgotten. We’re bringing back Queens.”
Looking to make Queens Lager a household name, Rockefeller has written a song for the beer that will be printed on their pint glasses. A video for the song, directed by Marcin Stawarz, can be found on the Queens Brewery website at www.queensbrewery.com and will feature a new artist every month.
“It’s one of the best songs I’ve ever written,” Rockefeller said.
Rockefeller says the big advice he gives people looking to have a nice cold drink is to try something new by ordering half glasses and samples.
And what better way, he said, than by sipping some Queens Lager.