Drinking Under A Bridge: Transmitter Brewing

J. R. Shirt, July 16, 2015

About a quarter of the way across the Pulaski Bridge, or three quarters if you're coming from the Brooklyn side, you will come upon some steps. At the top of those steps is a small sign for Transmitter Brewing, a Long Island City brewery with a focus on farmhouse styles. At the bottom of those steps, as advertised, is Transmitter Brewing.

If, like me, you're not a fan of looking down when you're more than 10 feet off the ground, you'll smell Transmitter before you see it and it will smell amazing, assuming the wind is blowing in your favor. Once on solid ground and assuming it's is a nice day or assuming that Transmitter opens their giant bay doors regardless, you'll be able to see right into the shiny, metal heart of the operation.

“[The system is] a six barrel brewhouse with some three barrel fermenters form the first system as well as a few new 12 barrel fermenters. We are looking at getting another round of 18 barrel fermenters in the coming months,” said Anthony Accardi, one of the founders of Transmitter, back in February when we had the opportunity to talk during NYC beer week.

So while the batches and the space might be small – I didn't take notice if that next round of fermenters had been put in place yet and everyone there looked hard at work so I didn't ask – there's something electric about sitting at a picnic table sharing a delicious bottle of a farmhouse ale while the next batch is being crafted just five feet away. Oh, and your sitting under a gigantic bridge – a view that is as charming as it is unconventional.

When I said that everyone there looked hard at work, that was a massive understatement – and you're right in the thick of it. Just enough space has been cleared among the pallets for a picnic table and some make-shift benches. The overflow crowd were pulling stools up to the same cooler chests that moments earlier housed the very bottle they slowly poured. That being said, the 10 or 12 people (maybe more) that were hanging out were comfortably enjoying the beer and the patio feel of the space.

On this particular day, those 10 or so patrons included BeerGraphs contributor Matt Murphy, who greeted us with a bottle of Transmitter's H2 Harvest, an ale fermented in oak barrels with Chardonnay grapes. During NYC Beer Week, I had a few pours of their BdG2, a delicious Biere de Garde aged in red wine barrels, so I was excited that Matt had picked another barrel aged bottle. The grape and oak came through nicely with the brettanomyces to give the beer a flavorful finish with just enough funk.

Back in February when I was first introduced to Transmitter's beers, I was surprised (most likely due to ignorance) that a brewery only 10 months old, and with the space restraints that I imagined came with brewing in New York City, were running a barrel aging program. According to Anthony, a barrel program is all about pros and cons:

“On one hand it does take up time and space but barrels also move beer out of the way in terms of the stainless steel. We have about 30 barrels now, which each hold about 2 barrels of volume or 60 gallons. When a beer is ready, we take it out and put something right back in. It is on its own schedule but we do what we can to keep as much beer flowing and aging as possible.”

Makes sense. Pro: The aroma, flavor, and feel imparted by the barrel. Con: The time it takes for that to happen. Pro: Barrel aging frees up the fermenters for other beer. Con: Barrels take up space.

Back at the picnic table, we were joined by fellow BeerGraphs contributor Michael Donato, and then eventually, after a lengthy search for and then occupation of a bathroom, by my brother and podcast co-host, T-Bone. We opened a bottle of Transmitter's G4 Golden Ale. Behind us, on the makeshift benches that separated us from the actual brewing taking place, sat my friends Phil and Brendan with a bottle of S9, Transmitter's noble hop saison. We traded pours and were happy to be sitting. We all took notice of how straight forward and spot on the flavor descriptions were on the labels. All three beers impressed in different ways, but the consensus best in show went to the Golden Ale.

In fact, it may have been the best beer we had that day.

And man, did we have some great beers that day. But more on those later...

G4 Golden Ale, Transmitter Brewing (6.6% ABV)

Appearance = 4/5

Hazy gold, tiny bubbles making up a finger of white head that passes quick off the pour.

Smell = 3.25/5

Very light aroma, some tartness, fruit – melon and pineapple like the label suggests thanks to Huell Melon and Nelson Sauvin hops. My first time hearing about/drinking a beer with the Huell Melon hop (that I'm aware of).

Taste = 4.5/5

Tart up front and then more sour than expected. But refreshingly sour with easy pineapple and melon flavors. A spot of funk in the finish. These labels at Transmitter really nail it or at least properly suggest. I appreciate that.

Feel = 4.25/5

Tiny bubbles, fizzy, light and refreshing with just enough of twang on the back of the tongue.

Overall = 4.25/5

Table beer-esque but with a bit more tart and sour touch and lovely fruit elements. Like an imperial table beer in that I feel like I should drink it all day but it's 6.6%. Really enjoyable and refreshing. Imperial table beer should be the next thing. If so, this is the standard.

Transmitter also runs what looks like a great CSB (Community Supported Brewery) program - if I lived closer, I would definitely be thinking about it. 

JR Shirt is available via Twitter and Untappd @beeronmyshirt and exists in audio format on the Drinking With Shirt podcast. Beers for your ears.