About The Brewery
Bridge and Tunnel Brewery was established in early 2012, by Rich Castagna (founder, brewer, builder) with official operations commencing on September 12th of that year. Those beginning days were humble beginnings for sure, as this brewery stepped into the craft beer world as a 1.5 barrel nano brewery, housed in a 1 car garage in Maspeth Queens NY at an undiscloded back yard location (sketchy). The equipment was completely built by Rich from reclaimed and repurposed materials. The system itself was unconventional, but beautiful at the same time, with the mash tun, HLT, and boil kettle all clad out in oak (primarily to ramp up the heat efficiency of the system). Stories on where many of the brewery components originally derived from to this day are amusing stories told at the current tap room.
The first beer that left the nano location was our Ol' Gilmartin Milk and Oatmeal Stout (who would launch a brewery with a stout?). Many more followed, and all were well received. Brewing carried on, fast and furious (partly because the system only produced 9 five gallon kegs per batch). Brewing in a garage, with a door wide open and changing seasons posed various challenges (fierce heat in the summer time, dangerous freezing conditions in the winter). Aside from an overwhelming public response to Bridge and Tunnel Brewery, the brewing challenges and the small scale of the system made the prospects for a move to a larger facility more sensible with every passing month.
With a tight New York City real estate market, and zoning restrictions, it took founder Rich and his wife Lisa 2 years to find the second brewery location in Ridgewood Queens (at 15-35 Decatur Street, Ridgewood NY). With many lessons learned from building and brewing on a rig constructed of materials not traditionally designed for brewing (and the massive cost savings that resulted from such an approach) the same path was followed to bring the next expansion into the world.
The result of the move to Ridgewood manifested into a 10 barrel, self built, "dairy tank" system and a comfortable tap room housed in a building that was at one time part of the pre-Prohibition brewery 'Diogenese Brewery.' Bridge and Tunnel Brewery once again was built from the ground-up by Rich, along with his wife Lisa and a handful of friends.
There are stories in every component and corner of the brewery and tap room - each part either repaired, rebuilt, or fortified to work as part of a brewery/tap room puzzle. Our mantra and approach from the beginning is/has been: DIY, self built, low tech, bomb proof. B&T Patrons and pals that are part of our 'Bridge and Tunnel Family' know and appreciate this approach, and expect nothing less. At our brewery, everything that we do, we complete ourselves. We don't pretend to be something that we are not. We are a rough and tumble, hands-on brewery that boasts 16 lines of craft beer creations at any given visit - all brewed in house by Rich and crew. We like to experiment with recipes, as well as churning out traditional styles. We forge community in our tap room, and embrace all of our customers. Regulars and newcomers alike - all have a place at Bridge and Tunnel Brewery. Our street cred as a small, boot strap entity is built from our hands on approach, the quality of our product, and our desire to accomodate. We manage our tap room with a no bullshit attitude that forges real social bonds and exchanges. Fast friends develop every week at our place. Stop by for a visit.
Additional History of Bridge and Tunnel Brewery
Bridge and Tunnel Brewery is a Queens based nano-scale micro-brewery, launched by brewer/proprietor: Rich Castagna. At the present time, the brewery is operating as a one-man brewing operation, with the help from Rich's wife Lisa with the various additional tasks necessary to keep a brewery afloat.
Rich has been brewing for over 10 years, and enjoys brewing and drinking darker beers, and beers with a flavorful kick. So the current line leans toward beers that are colorful in the glass (as well as on the palate).
Rich was born and raised in Western Queens, and spent most of his life in the New York area short of about 8 years living and traveling around the U.S. and overseas. Over the past 15 years, he's lived in the Ridgewood/Bushwick area, Long Island City, Astoria, and Maspeth. He has 3 kids, 3 cats, a dog, a fish, a large amount of brewing equipment, and a very patient wife.
What's in the Name
Since meeting bar owners, and discussing the brewery and beers, the question has been asked a handful of times about the name of the brewery itself. It's a great question. A blog post was set aside for an explanation - but to put it into a nut-shell:
Bridge and Tunnel Brewery
Because it's the bridges and tunnels that unite this city, not divide it.
Watch Home Brewed
A film by Shannon Smith featuring Bridge and Tunnel Brewery.