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Singlecut brews light, medium and dark beers.

Singlecut brews light, medium and dark beers. (Credit: Anthony Lanzilote)

food & drink

SingleCut Beersmiths: Secrets of the Astoria brewery and bar

19-33 37th St, New York, NY 11105

A few sips in, and all the secrets come out.

Astoria's SingleCut Beersmiths launched in 2012, after homebrewer and former marketing executive Rich Buceta (yes, he's been called the Don Draper of craft beer many times over) turned his hobby into a business.

Raised in Queens, the current Upper East Side resident launched the business in a 5,000-square-foot space in Astoria -- just across from a strip mall and down the street from a power plant -- and every drop of SingleCut beer has been brewed in that facility.

On a Friday night, the tap room was hopping, as it often is whenever SingleCut is pouring out its local craft beers.

"We're known for our IPAs," said Dan Bronson, general manager of the brewery and bar. He gave us a behind-the-scenes tour and, afterward, let us in on a few unknown facts about the nearly 4-year-old craft brewery.

Just like many only-in-New-York tastes (bagels and pizza,

Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

It all starts with New York City tap water ...

Just like many only-in-New-York tastes (bagels and pizza, for example) SingleCut beer tastes the way it does thanks to one key ingredient -- New York City tap water -- Bronson explained.

Cultivated back in 2012, SingleCut's yeast is unique

Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

SingleCut uses a proprietary yeast in all its beers

Cultivated back in 2012, SingleCut's yeast is unique to its beers, with strains evolved from various brews through the years. While some craft breweries will sell their yeast to homebrewers who want to replicate the taste, SingleCut keeps its yeast top secret.

While the liquid starts locally, SingleCut looks as

Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

SingleCut sources ingredients from all over the world

While the liquid starts locally, SingleCut looks as far as Australia for ingredients to use in its craft beers. For special ingredients, like unique hops, the brewer may have to purchase crops years in advance in order to ensure they'll make it to SingleCut. The grain market is tough!

While many breweries use three to four types

Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Unique hops and blends are key to making SingleCut's beer different

While many breweries use three to four types of hops in a single beer, SingleCut uses around 10. Buceta can roll a blend of hops in his hand and smell it to envision what the beer will taste like.

A new beer hits SingleCut's menu at least

Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

SingleCut introduces at least 12 new beers a year

A new beer hits SingleCut's menu at least every four weeks. According to Bronson, the 19-33 Pilsner is one of the most difficult beers to make, as pilsner is a light beer and flaws can't be hidden with added flavor, though that doesn't make the beer -- rarely seen in craft breweries-- the highest in demand. Flavored stouts like the Heavy Boots of Lead (cocoa, vanilla) tend to be very popular. Due to the craft nature of SingleCut's beers, every batch is destined to be slightly -- maybe not even noticeably -- different. The best way to taste a large variety is with the $2 five-ounce pours for sale in the tap room. Yes, you can buy a beer for $2 (plus tip).

SingleCut swears by them for lagers. While many

Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

These horizontal vats are unusual and pricey

SingleCut swears by them for lagers. While many beers ferment in vertical containers, SingleCut uses horizontal tanks -- more expensive than vertical but worth the investment, according to Bronson -- to ferment some beers, including lagers. During the fermentation process, the yeast sinks to the bottom, giving the beer a smooth, pure flavor.

The brewery is named after a body style

Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

SingleCut is named after the cutaway style of guitar

The brewery is named after a body style of guitar that makes it easier for musicians to reach the upper frets. To honor the brewery's name, all of the taps look like guitars, and beers are named for songs.

This is thanks to an expensive soundsystem, the

Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

All the music SingleCut plays is on vinyl

This is thanks to an expensive soundsystem, the quality of which is heard best when vinyls are playing, not digital music, according to Bronson. When the record player is turned off, live music is performed on a mezzanine above the tap room.

During the week, Singlecut employs special-needs adults to

Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

All of SingleCut's bottles are bottled by hand

During the week, Singlecut employs special-needs adults to run its bottle machine. Every bottle ($8 in the tap room) has been processed by hand.

Free tours of the brewery take place Saturdays

Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

SingleCut offers free tours weekly

Free tours of the brewery take place Saturdays and Sundays at 4 p.m. Learn about the brewing process and, yes, you can tour with beer in hand.

SingleCut's cask ale sits at the far left

Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

The cask ale is always evolving

SingleCut's cask ale sits at the far left corner of the bar, appreciated by some and misunderstood by many. This unfiltered beer ferments in the cask from which it is served, unlike traditional American beers which are kegged. Popular in Europe, the flavor of this beer evolves every day it ferments, though Bronson said SingleCut's patrons aren't too fond of it beyond the fifth day.

While drinking is a big reason to visit

Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

The tap room isn't just for drinking

While drinking is a big reason to visit the tap room, a slew of board and card games brings locals to the bar. Groups of 10 or more can also reserve an area for parties. Wi-Fi is also available, for those who want to finish up their work day with a cold pint. (Pictured, Astoria roommates Marco Favela and Danielle Gonzalez, both 28, play Battleship on April 1, 2016.)

SingleCut is located at 19-33 37th St. in

Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

You probably want to visit SingleCut Beersmiths now

SingleCut is located at 19-33 37th St. in Astoria, a 15 minute walk from the N/Q at Astoria Boulevard. They're open Wednesday 7 p.m. - 12 a.m., Thursday 4 p.m.- 12 a.m., Friday 4 p.m. - 12 a.m., Saturday 12 p.m. - 12 a.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. - 9 a.m. Check their calendar for special events, including air guitar contests, vinyl pop-up stores, beer release celebrations and more. You can bring home bottles and growlers of their beer or even purchase a keg in advance. And of course, you can find SingleCut on tap at several NYC bars -- even the pizza place across the street! In Manhattan, check out Tanner Smiths or Three Monkeys; in Brooklyn drink SingleCut at Ba'sik, 61 Local, Side Car, Union Hall and Fawkner or head to Bronx Ale House for yet another borough with the Queens brew.

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