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Last night, we headed to Finback Brewery for the Untapped Cities Holiday Happy Hour and Tour, a reader suggestion from our piece on the top microbreweries in NYC. Finback’s tasting room in Glendale, Queens is a hidden gem. You’d never guess from the street (unless it’s summer and they have the garage door open) there that there would be a warm and inviting bar and beer hall inside this nondescript warehouse building tucked within a residential neighborhood.

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Owner Basil Lee took readers on two tours of the brewery during the happy hour, filling us with fun facts about microbrewing and tasty beer. Basil and his co-owner Kevin Stafford began as home brewers, and it shows with the inventive mix of flavors that are in Finback beers. The Double Sess(ion) is Szechuan peppercorn, chamomile and ginger–but is a great choice as a summer beer or for those that like their beers less hoppy. In the grain mashing room, there are bags of green tea. They’re always experimenting, Basil tells us. And the Fort Tildenist beer is brewed with green tea and lemon zest.

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Basil and Kevin hatched the idea to run a brewery 5 years ago, finally opening up Finback earlier this year. Most of the regulations around brewing are centered on taxes, and brewers have to pay city, state and federal excise taxes. Still, says Basil, the taxes on brewing are far less in the United States than in other countries, accounting for the microbrewery movement here.

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Finback Brewery-Tour-Beer-Microbrewery-Ridgewood-Queens-NYC-004Bag of chamomile

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There are rooms of barrels where they’re aging beer in bourbon barrels, whiskey and wine barrels. This Sunday, Finback will release their barrel aged BQE beer brewed with cocoa nibs from Mast Brothers and coffee from Native Coffee Roasters in Queens, along with another barrel aged beer called Smoke Detection. It’s been harder and harder to procure barrels, says Basil, because of all the beer brewers using them now. 

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Finback Brewery-Tour-Beer-Microbrewery-Ridgewood-Queens-NYC-001Free self-serve popcorn

Read our picks for the top 12 microbreweries in NYC. Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.