Archive | June, 2012

The Brooklyn Brewery-everything you need to know

28 Jun

So what does one do after a beautiful day in Williamsburg, sampling tasty craft beers on the waterfront?  Go drink more beer, of course.  The festival’s location a couple of blocks from the Brooklyn Brewery made this the perfect post-event hangout.  After waiting outside for about 15 minutes, we were inside, ready to try some of the seasonal Brewmaster’s Reserves on tap.

            Now for those of you who have never been to the brewery, or haven’t been in recent years, let me explain how this works.  The brewery has recently expanded, doubling their brewing capacity, and increasing their operating hours, so that “small batch” tours are now available during the week.  The small batch tours are limited to a couple of dozen beer drinkers, and will cost you $8 a pop.  While you have to pay, the tour is intimate and informative, so depending on what kind of experience an individual is looking for, the small batch may be for you.  Reservations are available via the Brewery’s web site.

            For years now, the brewery has also been open Friday evenings for happy hour, and all day Saturday and Sunday, for mess hall type drinking and less intimate, hourly tours.  Entrance is free but granted on a first-come, first-serve basis, so it’s wise to get there early, especially if you’d like to have a place to sit.  The place fills up quickly!  It seems as thought the Brewery is always busy, no matter what season it is.   

This recent expansion has allowed the brewery to experiment more as well, and now even more beers are being offered on tap, including a cask of real ale (on our visit, it was their EIPA).             

The draft selections change almost weekly, depending on availability, but seems to always include their flagship Lager, East India Pale Ale, and the Pennant Ale ’55.  Also, since the former Brewmaster’s Reserve Brooklyn BLAST! became a year-round selection, this will most likely be available on tap, and if you’ve never tasted it, I highly recommend it.  BLAST! will cost you 2 tokens (more on tokens later) although be prepared, because this beer goes down way too easily.  It’s extremely hoppy, with a 50/50 split of hops from England and the U.S.   Be forewarned: It has a 9% ABV, and after a few of these you will become what I deem “BLASTED!.”

 

            In addition, on this particular Saturday afternoon, their Summer Ale, Radius, Dry Irish Stout, and Brooklyner Weisse were available on tap as well as two limited release beers.  There is also a limited selection of big bottle beers, including the Brooklyn 1 and 2.  A pour of these will guarantee you a beautiful signature snifter glass—definitely worth the extra tokens.    We were most excited to try the current Brewmaster’s Reserve, Gold Standard, and The Centerfold, which is a brew created by Brooklyn Brewery employee, Rob Lemery.

            The Gold Standard is a kellerbier, an unfiltered golden lager that is a popular beer for consuming in German beer gardens.  Drinking this beer, it’s easy to see why.  It was light and crisp, yet more bitter (44 IBUs) than I expected.  The yeast strain used to brew this beer is actually from New Glarus Brewing Co. in Wisconsin.  I enjoyed this beer immensely and like many other Brewmaster’s Reserves of seasons past, will remember it fondly.  If you plan on visiting Brooklyn Brewery in the next few weeks, I highly recommend trying it.

            Another limited release beer on tap during our visit was the Centerfold.  While I love the idea behind the beer (brewed with rose hips), I found it almost undrinkable.  The name alone brought to mind that annoying song by the J. Geils Band (you know the na na na na na na…) but this didn’t deter me from trying it.  Maybe at this point in the day my palate was shot, but this Centerfold just wasn’t my type.    

            My particular favorite thing about visiting the Brooklyn Brewery is the “ATM” (which stands for Automatic Token Machine).  If you have a Jackson on you, entering it in this machine will entitle you to 5 wooden tokens, which are the currency you exchange for a beer.  Most beers are 1 token, a few are 2 or 3, depending on alcohol percentage or rarity.  The tokens come in one of those little plastic bubbles you used to get toys or candy out of when you were a kid.  Ahhhh, nostalgia!    

            We decided to join the last tour of the day, which brought us into their newly expanded area, and involved a short discussion about the brewery’s origin and current beer production.  Being summer, there were tourists from everywhere, and it was great to see how this local brewery’s popularity has continued to rise, both in the continental United States and internationally as well.  That iconic “B,” designed by Milton Glaser (aka the guy who came up with I “Heart” NY) adorns taps, bottles, and t-shirts alike and has become a bold symbol for the local craft beer movement.

             

 ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

The Brooklyn Waterfront Beer Festival

19 Jun

Beer festivals, love them or hate them, seem to serve various purposes in a craft beer drinker’s life.  It’s a way for smaller breweries just starting out to get their product out there and their beers tasted by a mass audience. For savvy drinkers looking for something new to taste, there is usually a rare or strictly seasonal beer on hand.  And then there’s the people who simply see the word “beer,” and try to get as loaded as possible and then act like drunken buffoons.  All of these types were gathered at one place on Saturday: The Brooklyn Waterfront Beer Festival on the Williamsburg Waterfront.

V.I.P.s were granted early entry but only “Connoisseurs” were able to access to some specialty rare beers in an air-conditioned area.  This lounge (what looked like a small break room in an office building?) was under tight security and also pretty cramped, but held limited releases from a few selected breweries including Kelso, Founders, and Stone.  We decided to start our beer fest journey here.

One of my particular favorites, even for the name alone, was “The Empire Strikes Bock.” Yeah, I’m a Star Wars nerd.  This particular “Bock” was a Maibock style of beer, which is traditionally consumed in the late days of spring (aka late May and early June).  Maibock literally translates to May Bock.  This strong spring lager was light and crisp and super refreshing on a day like Saturday.  It’s unfortunate its season is over because I could easily drink “Empire Strikes Bock” all summer long.

Other rare beers offered in the Connoisseur lounge included Kelso’s Brett IPA.  Since Brettanomyces are becoming all the rage in beers these days, it’s no surprise that one of Brooklyn’s local favorites would add this to their IPA.  The abundance of hops was able to balance the sourness the “brett” imparts, but was still tart on the tongue.  Fans of sour beers would enjoy this variation.

Innis & Gunn, the Scottish brewers responsible for the bevvy of barrel aged brews (including bourbon and rum) were pouring their “Independence Day,” a brand new beer brewed especially for our July 4th celebration and acknowledging the American relationship with Scotland, both through their brewing methods and historically.  It was interesting in that American hops were used, yet it still had that familiar “cream soda” taste that many of their beers do, a flavor imparted from the oak barrels.  This beer has a very limited release, so if you are a fan of Innis & Gunn and barrel-aged beers, definitely give it a try.  Also, “Brave,” comes out this weekend so maybe try to sneak one into the movie theatre.

Upstate Keegan Ales were offering “Joe Mama’s Imperial Coffee Stout,” and I don’t know Joe or his mama but this was a delicious (and strong—hence imperial) coffee stout, for fans of this style of beer.  It’s right up there with the brewery’s Milk Stout, and just the little zing I needed to wake me up.  Another stout offered in the connoisseur lounge was Wandering Star’s “Bert’s Disqualified Imperial Stout.”  The stout was a “Brewer’s Choice” winner at a local competition, but became disqualified due to a label not being removed from one of the bottles. Doh!  I’m glad this beer was given a second chance at being served to the masses, because it definitely deserved it.

While the connoisseur’s area had its perks (regular bathrooms versus the port-a-potties set up for everybody else), one couldn’t stay cooped up in a little room all day at an outdoor beer festival!  The main area offered pours from over 86 stations spread out over the entire festival area, where most breweries represented had two beers to pour into the 2 oz. tasting glass.  And it was made of glass, as throughout the festival a popular noise was of these baby glasses shattering all over the pavement.  I miraculously did not cut my feet.  They should probably make rubber cases for these guys.

Since I was familiar with many of the breweries and the beers being poured, I gravitated toward those I was unfamiliar with, like Massachusetts’ Clown Shoes.   While I’ve heard of Clown Shoes due to their raunchy beer names (Lubrication anyone?) and their controversial labels, I’ve never tried one of their beers.  The Clementine White Beer got my attention because I love the little fruit and thought the flavor would go nicely with a white beer.  The Belgian style ale was refreshing on this hot day although the clementine flavor was pretty subtle.  This beer would be a nice craft beer substitution for those Blue Moon lovers out there, and I think we’ll continue to see more from brewery in the future.

Many breweries were also pouring their summer beers including Sierra Nevada, Greenport, Empire, Southern Tier and Troegs.  On a beautiful summer day on the Brooklyn waterfront, it was refreshing to sip these in between heartier and heavier beers.  It was also great to see representation from some up-and-coming breweries like Oneonta’s “Ben’s Brews” and “Jona’s Bronck’s Beer Company,” a new craft brewer from the Bronx offering some competition to The Bronx Brewery (who was not at the festival).  There were also plenty of ciders, an alcoholic ginger beer (way too sweet for my taste), and mead to sample.  Once in a while it’s nice to change it up from beer, plus for those with a gluten-intolerance, cider is really the only option (with the exception of a of couple gluten-free beers floating around the market).

Time was limited, and as the session began waning, I had to make a difficult decision: Attend the “Women in Craft Beer” seminar, or continue sampling beers and mingling.  I decided to go to the seminar, as I was genuinely interested in what these ladies had to say and probably needed a little break from drinking anyway (after consuming imperial stouts, wheat beers, and Belgian triples one tends to get a little fuzzy in the head).  I enjoyed Olivia Cerio (brand manager for Empire Brewery), Jessica Tabac (Brewery Agent), and moderator Mary Izett (blogger/homebrewer extraordinaire) talk about their roles in the craft beer industry.  Unfortunately, the seminar tent’s location was by the bathrooms, making it difficult to hear the discussion over sounds of boisterous antics.  At one point, two extremely intoxicated morons (I’d call them gentleman but they weren’t) decided to crash the talk by rudely smoking cigars (which were being sold by vendors) and interjecting with unnecessary comments.  The crashing was ironic, given the seminar’s topic of women in craft beer and their struggle to be taken seriously and respected.  I applaud the ladies for keeping their cool as I tried my hardest not to use my tasting glass as a weapon.  Unfortunately, it seems like there’s always one (or several) of “those guys” at every beer festival.  Don’t be that guy.

As our session (which was the day—I can’t speak for the night) came to a close, we desperately tried to fit in a few more tastes and ended up at Wandering Star, where our last taste was that of their Ultimate Summer Session Rye (USSR) being offered in a firkin (a quarter barrel cask whose name is really fun to say).  Chris Cuzme was on hand to talk to us about cask ales and this particular brew, which I think is one of the best casks I’ve ever had.  The beer was great—a summer rye beer (self-explanatory) that had a sweet malty flavor and was reddish-brown in color.  I savored the beer as the taps closed down for the end of the session.  A great beer to end a great day.

Brooklyn Brewery Cans Now Available at “Public Fare,” at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park

15 Jun

Fifty years ago, the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park became home to Joe Papp’s dream of making “highbrow” theatre available to everyone regardless of income, by establishing “Shakespeare in the Park,” which takes place every summer.  One year ago, Brooklyn Brewery’s Summer Ale became available in a can and offered a new way for craft beer-drinkers to enjoy a summer classic, described as an English-style “light dinner ale,” joining their flagship Brooklyn Lager and making NY summers even better.  How are these two things related?  Well, over the weekend, while participating in what I now consider to be one of my own personal summer traditions, I was able to watch “As You Like It,” on a beautiful NYC summer night in Central Park while drinking Brooklyn Summer Ale out of a can.  This added to the enjoyable experience of seeing a magnificent Lily Rabe as Rosalind set to a foot-stomping blue-grass soundtrack written by Steve Martin.   

 “Public Fare,” the concessionaire available at the theatre has been open for a few years now, part of Danny Meyer’s foodie empire.  In the past, the beer choices sold at the Fare were rather “uncultured” and included overpriced plastic bottles of Bud and Bud Light or Stella on draft—leaving the summer theatre-goer little choice (of course there is always a BYOB option—no glass).  Now, with the addition of Brooklyn Lager and Summer Ale in cans, your Shakespeare In the Park experience just got a whole lot tastier.  Because what goes better with good theatre than good beer?  Plus, one deserves a nice can of Brooklyn after waiting all morning in the NYC summer sun to get tickets. “To Craft, or not to Craft,” is thankfully no longer a question. 

 

 

Brooklyn Waterfront Beer Festival Saturday June 16,2012

8 Jun

While summer is (unofficially) here and that means lots of things (like hot dog eating contests, barbeques, and my unreadiness to sport a bikini on the beach), most importantly it means the start of outdoor craft beer festivals and an offering of specialty summer craft brews.  King’s County will host to what is shaping up to be the granddaddy of all summer beer festivals. 

The Brooklyn Waterfront Craft & Specialty Beer Festival will take place on Saturday June 16th, offering attendees two tasting sessions, and gives local craft beer lovers three ticketing options: Connoisseur, VIP, and General Admission.  For those of you who truly want the full experience (and have a full wallet), the Connoisseur option will allow guests to enter an hour before GA ticket holders, have access to an air-conditioned tent and waterfront deck as well as the ability to taste a number of rare beers that will not be offered in the general tasting area (like the Alchemist’s Heady Topper).  Just a step down (in price and status), a VIP ticket holder will be able to enter an hour early but will not have access to the rare beers.  All ticket holders have the opportunity to attend two seminars: one centered on women in the craft beer industry and the second about home brewing.  The seminars are on a first-come first serve basis and are limited to only 50 guests.   

Described as a “craft beer block party” by organizers, the festival will also feature Brooklyn-centric gourmet food as well as live music.  Local favorites such as Brooklyn, Sixpoint, and Kelso will pour side-by-side with up-and-comers like Ben’s Brew (out of upstate Oneonta) and Clown Shoes (with their raunchy titled Lubrication Ale) and even two brews from Manhattan’s 508 Gastropub (see previous blog post). Honestly, what more could one girl want?  I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday in June.   Here at “Two Girls One Pint,” we’re looking forward to mingling with local brewers, revisiting our old favorite breweries and beers as well as falling in love with new ones, and spending a day overlooking the Manhattan skyline in one of the coolest areas of Brooklyn.  Much better than spending a day at the a beach in a bikini…    

 

Gastropub 508

5 Jun

 

While hanging out on a rooftop in the Flatiron and drinking Italian-themed cask ales on a late spring day was a fun task for my “first time” working with Two Girls One Pint, I decided to really take an adventure for my second.   Well, I intended to.  But the Bronx is pretty far when you work in lower Manhattan.  Saving that trip for another day, I stuck around locally and revisited a “GastroBrewery” on Greenwich Street. 

            Gastropub 508 looks like any other little bistro in Greenwich Village (in this case, some call it “South Village” while technically I believe it is still SoHo, since one is still “South of Houston).”  But don’t let the red awning and candle-lit tables fool you: this place has something else going on.  The difference here is the beer: it is brewed in the basement.  While I’m sure that sometimes sketchy things happen in SoHo basements, sometimes great things happen too, and one of those great things is Anderson Sant’anna de Lima’s handcrafted brews.  Pair them with food here, and you’ve got yourself a rich and fulfilling culinary experience. 

The beer’s intention is to elevate your tasting experience—you know, help you reach the “T” spot.  And Sant’anna de Lima is adventurous with the offerings of beer styles, like a rich American Cream Ale and Double IPA on tap, as well as a Flemish style sour ale and a gueze in bottles.  There’s a style to fit every beer lover’s palate, including a Hefeweizen with a low ABV—good to pair with a light lunch, like 508’s Curry Chicken and Cashew salad. The dollar oysters are also a draw, and they offer both an east and a west coast variety. 

            My first beer was the Cascade Common, although it seems that sometimes the hop variety may differ, as previous offerings have included a Citra Common and a Galaxy Common.  Some may know this style of beer as California Common, and it stands out because it is ale brewed with lager yeast.  Anchor Steam beer is the most famous version of this style, but 508 offers a twist on this variety (also, Anchor is the only brewery that can call this style “Steam,” hence the term “California Common,” although since we are in NYC and not California, the “Common” is preceded by it’s a hop variety).   The Cascade hops from New Zealand and Australia add a citrusy nose and lend a smooth lingering bitterness that is balanced by the caramel and toasty malts.  I confirmed the use of lager yeast with the bartender and we both giggled gleefully at my beer nerdy-ness.

            You see, most of the patrons at the bar on this early weekday evening were drinking cocktails (like the “Panty Dropper”) or wine and while I appreciate the variety of imbibe options, I was shocked that my partner and I were the only ones geeking out on the beer.  508’s uniqueness and draw is that they are one of the few restaurants in this magnificent city of ours that offers house-crafted beer, but on this evening the beer-drinkers must have been elsewhere.  Oh well, more beer for me.  Which leads me to my next beer, an American Cream Ale, a style of beer that is truly nostalgic for me.

 

I shamefully admit that I wasn’t always a craft beer connoisseur.  There’s still a weak place in my heart for a little can of cream ale, brewed in my hometown of Rochester by Genesee Brewery.  So whenever I see this style offered by a craft beer brewery, the frat-boy inside of me gets pretty excited.  Empire Cream Ale has become a go-to beer for me now, and is offered in a variety of bars in New York City thanks to a satellite brewery in Brooklyn.  (More on Empire later this summer, as it has become one of my favorite breweries/brewpubs). 

 

While I avoided jumping up and down with giddiness as my cream ale was being poured, the impression it left on me was lasting.  I have apologize to my hometown, as I’m sure I will be at a bar or a barbeque there this summer, and a can of Genny cream ale (or two or three) will be popped open, but as far as I’m concerned, 508’s cream ale is the only cream ale that truly has my heart.  It’s almost like licking an ice cream cone on a hot summer day, and the subtle tartness and crisp sweetness reminds one that they are drinking a beer, not sipping a milkshake.  The cream ale made my heart happy, and was also the beer used to batter the “slap yo mamma” onion rings that my drinking buddy and I shared.  The onion rings were good, but the beer was even better, and I admire a beer that can both coat my onion rings and remind me of home.  Ahhhh, comfort food.

            In addition to these two draft offerings, there were four more including a red ale and a double IPA.  The Double IPA wasn’t overly hoppy, despite it’s claim as a double, and it’s balanced flavor hid the 9% ABV.  Draft prices range from $7-$8 and tasting flights are available.  You can also take your favorite beer home, as 508 now offers growlers.  There were also eight more varieties offered in bottles, including the Greenwich Gueze, which kind of tasted like eating sour apple candies or drinking sparkling cider.  It was tart, crisp and delicious, and also the most expensive beer that day, costing $13, but we couldn’t resist trying it.  The beer selection is subject to change, and frequently, as Sant’anna de Lima continues to experiment in his downstairs brew-laboratory.   

            Speaking of the bottles, 508’s labels stand out as they are artfully adorned with St. George, the patron saint of Sant’anna de Lima’s favorite Brazilian soccer team, and contain a Latin phrase which translates to “It’s a new day, keep drinking.”  And that’s exactly what I’m going to do…

 

 

Side note: I hope to visit Gastropub 508 again soon, and maybe even score an interview with Anderson Santa’anna de Lima to see firsthand where the magic happens.       

 

          

 

 Image

Image