BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
Craft beer enthusiasts have a new reason to rejoice as local favorite Bridge and Tunnel Brewery prepares to open the bright red doors of their new brick-and-mortar home at 1535 Decatur St. in Ridgewood on Saturday, Nov. 14.
Bridge and Tunnel Brewery was launched in 2012 by brewer Rich Castagna and his wife, Lisa. Over the past three years, the small nano-brewery that began as a labor of love in Castagna’s Maspeth garage has evolved into the soon-to-be-opened 10-barrel system and 16-draught line tap room.
The newly built tap room features rustic farmhouse tables and a large wooden bar, both handmade by Castagna from reclaimed materials. Castagna also constructed the large, wood-paneled brewing kettles that line the back of the brewery and overlook the bar, exemplifying the brewery’s motto of “DIY, self-built, low-tech, bomb-proof.”
Guests can sip from roughly 16 different beer varieties while seated in a vintage church bench or at the taproom bar. A reclaimed Technicolor stained-glass window suspended above the bar was repurposed as a light, casting a warm, cozy glow over the taproom.
Stained-glass lamps and retro patio lanterns illuminate the space and add a touch of whimsy and comfort. Edison light pendants dangle above the farmhouse tables, echoing the brewery’s industrial surroundings while acting as a nod to the area’s rich manufacturing past.
Personal touches, such as a vintage reclaimed metal yard gate, large painting of Babe Ruth and handmade drawings by the Castagnas’ three young daughters, remind guests that this is a family-owned, mom-and-pop operation.
Fans of Bridge and Tunnel, including Ted Renz, chair of the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation, welcome the brewery’s presence in the neighborhood.
“The opening of Bridge and Tunnel is within the Ridgewood Industrial Business Zone,” Renz said. “This is a great step in the right direction in bringing back manufacturing in this area, which previously has a long history of brewery industry in its past.”
Evidence of Ridgewood’s rich history as a brewery town was discovered while Castagna was refurbishing the industrial space. Remnants of past decades, or “artifacts” as the Castagnas’ daughters call them, were unearthed while Castagna was digging a 40-foot trench last spring.
The artifacts include a multitude of iridescent glass bottlenecks, pieces of broken Dutch and German porcelain, pottery and fossilized oyster shells from the once-thriving marshlands of the nearby Newtown Creek. A small, cobalt blue Bromide bottle bearing the embossed stamp “Shomo Seltzer Emeron Baltimore MD” and portion of a glass bottle dated 1898 were also among the impressive finds.
The eagerly awaited grand opening will take place on Saturday afternoon from 2 to 8 p.m. Guests are welcome to stop by, meet the Castagnas, raise a glass and enjoy some of Ridgewood’s rich history carefully preserved and revived by one of the neighborhood’s own.