You are reading

Alewife Brewery Opens in Sunnyside, Looks to Overcome Latest COVID-19 Challenges

Alewife outdoor seating area (Provided by Alewife)

Dec. 28, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

Alewife, the popular Queens brewpub, finally opened in Sunnyside earlier this month and is looking to overcome the latest round of COVID-19 restrictions.

The brewing company, known for its specialty IPAs and craft beers, was expected to open in April but faced construction delays and difficulty getting permits due to the pandemic.

The business is now open at 41-11 39th St. but the operators face restrictions.

Alewife was first established in Long Island City in 2011 and had expected to operate in both Long Island City and Sunnyside but the spread of COVID-19 undermined those plans.

Patrick Donagher, who owns the company with Keir Hamilton and other investors, said COVID-19 restrictions prompted them to shutter their Long Island City operation and hampered their ability to open their Sunnyside venue.

With rising rents and indoor dining restrictions, the Long Island City operation was no longer economically viable, Donagher said. Therefore, he said, they decided to move their entire operation to Sunnyside.

They faced delays, however, in opening their Sunnyside establishment. They struggled to get the equipment needed to set up the brewery delivered.

“It stopped construction and slowed down our permitting and licensing approvals,” Donagher said. “It put us way behind schedule and over budget.”

The new 10,000 square foot facility opened earlier this month and Alewife is now brewing at the site. The facility produces a wide range of ales and lager that the company distributes throughout the New York region.

The establishment also features a taproom, where residents can enjoy their brews.

Given the latest restrictions, the taproom is closed. However, Alewife is currently open, offering out door service. The operators are also offering takeout and delivery.

Alewife initially opened its Sunnyside venue with several outdoor booths lined up on the roadway outside the front of the premises. Each booth is heated and contains a table and picnic bench.

Two weeks later the owners added additional outdoor space– when the full indoor dining ban went into effect.

The new seating area runs along the sidewalk and is parallel to the booths. There are high stools and wooden beer barrels for tables. The space is also heated.

Donagher, an Irish immigrant from County Donegal, said he has grown frustrated with changing rules and guidelines associated with the pandemic.

“We’ve spent $50,000 on COVID-related expenses, an amount we definitely can’t afford as a new business,” he said.

The opening of Alewife’s new indoor taproom – a major component of its operation – has also been put on hold due to indoor restrictions. The space has 20 taps and holds around 400 people at full capacity. Donagher eventually hopes to have live music and DJs performing at the venue.

“Imagine a German beer hall with communal tables,” he said, when describing the premises.

Inside the taproom (Provided by Alewife)

Alewife roadway outdoor seating area (Provided by Alewife)

Donagher said that despite the setbacks he is excited to be open and has been buoyed by the encouragement shown by residents.

“The neighborhood has been amazing, we’re getting so much support from locals, and it’s simply beautiful,” Donagher said.

He said he is trying to return the goodwill to residents and local business owners.

”We’ll support our neighbors as they’ve supported us and we’re excited to be here,” he said.

That support stretches out to local food vendors and restaurant owners, who he is encouraging to sell food outside his premises. Some food vendors have taken him up on his offer, including The Fried Kitchen and Mom’s Momo. Alewife also sells Sigmund’s Pretzels as snacks.

Consumers can wash the food down with some Alewife brand originals including “Thousand Stars,” “Chaos Gose,” and “Social Conditioning.”

The company regularly releases new brews and its latest drink, Death Before Dying, was released two weeks ago. The IPA is brewed with Azacca, Centennial and El Dorado hops.

“Alewife is a very style diverse brewery and we are not afraid to experiment,” Donagher said. The company also ages some of its products with whiskey, gin, and tequila.

Donagher is remaining upbeat after a rollercoaster year and hasn’t lost his Irish sense of humor.

“I’ve lost many things building a brewery during a pandemic,” he said. “I think I’ll miss my mind the most!”

Regular opening hours are Monday to Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Inside the brewery (Provided by Alewife)

email the author: [email protected]


Click for Comments 
rgs sunnyside

good to see new business in sunnyside & they’re keeping it safe with their outside set up. best of luck

Wild Weasel

Look forward to having product in their new location enjoyed it in LIC now they’re right around the corner


Welcome Alewife! Glad to have you in the neighborhood. Great set up and the beer is fantastic. Hang in there!

Mr. Sunshine

Yeah, this is great. Just what the neighborhood needs, another spot where people can go to numb their pain and world of hurt. Who needs money for food and other essentials when you can just walk over to a hipster joint in the middle of winter and sit outside while posing for your Instagram account. Priorities people…


Mr. Sunshine:

Please leave the neighborhood, you suck! What would you like in this space? Another giant 99 cent store. I am so excited about this place and will do anything to support it. One thing though they have the worst pretzels that I’ve ever had. Horrible. Get rid of those pretzels. The beer is very good!

Bring back Center Cinema

It’s not going to be a trouble spot. It’s is a legit place and not for nothing but it’s way down on 39th street totally out of the way so it won’t even be loud or annoying for the neighbors. It’s kind of in an ideal location for NOT being bothersome.

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Popular places where you can watch the Super Bowl in Queens

Feb. 2, 2023 By Tammy Scileppi

Hey, football fans! Game time is fast approaching, and across the city and here in Queens, you can feel the excitement brewing as the two teams prepare to take the field on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 12. So, kick back and watch the big game, and don’t miss Rihanna’s exciting performance during halftime. 

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Op-Ed: This Year’s State Budget Must Prioritize Climate, Jobs, and Justice for New York

Op-Ed, Jan. 30, By Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas

In a time of rampant economic inequality and environmental injustice, it is easy to feel defeated.  Here in Queens and across New York State, however, communities are organizing for a better future. New Yorkers from different backgrounds and with different lived experiences are proving that we can build community, organize, and create a future that reflects our shared values.

LaGuardia Community College receives federal funding to expand vocational training for the unemployed

Jan. 27, 2023 By Bill Parry

LaGuardia Community College recently received more than $400,000 in federal funding to enhance and expand vocational training for underemployed New Yorkers in a city that is still working to recover from COVID-19 pandemic-induced job loss. The support was secured by U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and former Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney.