Tag Archives: beer

Widmer Brothers Beer Dinner at the National

26 Feb

Check out a visual description here!

Food and wine is like Ethyl and Lucy. Old-but classic. Beer and food is like having HBOgo on your iPad. Ever changing and never boring.

 

So it’s not surprise that laid back beer dinners are replacing what was once stuffy black tie affairs held in sterile dining establishments filled with people using their “library voices.” Jeans and t-shirts are replacing lapels and cufflinks, the atmosphere is light and fun, and the pairings are seemingly made in heaven.

 

Even at an establishment as upscale as Geoffrey Zakarian’s The National (located in Midtown East on Lexington Avenue), with a little beer flowing, everything seems relaxed.

 

On February 1, 2G1P was cordially invited to such an event at restaurant at the Midtown hotspot where a four course dinner was designed around four of Widmer Brother’s award winning brews.

 

To begin the evening, we were greeted with a pint of Widmer’s Columbia Common, a ‘steam’ beer made with Columbia hops. Not a bad way to start. The slight sweetness of the malt and the low abv (4.7%) made for a great palette teaser. Hors d’oeuvres served to us were mini reuben sandwiches which complemented the slight sweetness of the beer perfectly.

 

After imbibing and chatting with fellow beer kin, we were seated in the grand dining room. Our first course consisted of house-cured salmon with tangerines, lentils, and a carrot vinaigrette paired with Widmer’s flagship Hefeweizen. The clean, citrusy beer balanced the acidity of the tangerine while bringing out the tanginess of the vinaigrette.

 

Next up: grilled quail with pork fried rice and a apricot ginger glaze. Accompanying the dish was Widmer’s Alchemy Ale. This sweet smelling ale is made with a proprietary blend of hops which yields a brew both aromatic and slightly bitter. The caramel backbone of beer mixed beautifully with the slight spiciness of the pork fried rice, as well as downplayed the gaminess of the quail.

 

For our main course, we were treated to a tender, juicy pork loin with roasted brussel sprouts, speckle pear, and cheddar grits. As if things couldn’t get any better, we were privy to one of the best Russian Imperial Stouts I have ever had: Widmer’s 2013 Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout. Made with real raspberries, the result is a chocolaty, aromatic, berry smelling, plum colored stout with a creamy brown head. The saltiness of the pork was balanced perfectly by the slight sweetness of the beer. The berry notes meshed well with the brussels as well which were coated in a sweet apple glaze.

 

To finish the evening, as if we needed more to eat or drink, we were treated to two grand finales: Chocolate whiskey mousse and Widmer’s Gentleman’s Club Ale. The Gentleman’s Club is a collaboration ale made with Cigar City. The concept behind the beer is to mimic the classic cocktail, the Old Fashioned. In order to do this, the mad geniuses decided to age an Old Ale in rye whiskey barrels, then add cherries from Oregon and whole oranges from Florida (get it? Cigar City and Widmer Brother’s home states). The result is a beautiful burnt sienna colored beer with multiple levels of complexity. On the nose there’s the oak and sweet smell that only aging in barrels gives to beer. On the palette there’s coconut, oak, cherry, slight booze, and citrusy notes.

 

Our night ended at a reasonable time considering the amount of beer we’d consumed! There was no dancing on table tops, no unanimous singing of Journey songs, no raising of voices. Surely a dinner involving beer would involve more debauchery, one might think. I left the National with nary a stain on my light dress and all of my belongings securely affixed to me. As I boarded the 6 train back to Brooklyn at 9:15, I couldn’t help but worry that maybe in fact beer was the new wine.

 

Nah…beer is way more fun.

 

 

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There must be something in the water!

31 Oct

If you were one of the lucky few, you may have gotten an invite to participate in Bitter and Esters’s Mystery Brew event held this past Tuesday at their Brooklyn-based homebrew supply store. (Want a visual of the store? Check out our instructional video that we shot for them back in March here.)

A mystery brew event? Sounds about right for this time of year with the changing colors, the cooler temperatures, and Halloween just around the corner. Why not? I love mysteries. The game was simple: name the style and guess the mystery ingredient.  Upon arriving at the shop, we were greeted with a 2 oz.  pour of what appeared to be some sort of fall or autumn ale. Then we were told to guess what it was. My guess was way off: from the lingering crispness I assumed it was a lager (though not very likely considering the timeframe and the fact that it was done with first time brewers). The lack of Pacific Northwest hops led me to believe it was something like a maibock. Wrong. After a few more samples (to validate my choice, of course) it was revealed to us that the beer was in fact, an Irish Red ale. The mystery ingredient? …It was something in the water. Okay, okay, I’ll tell you. The mystery ingredient was… Perrier Mineral Water. 

Out of twelve well trained palettes, not a single person guessed correctly? Why not? Because the mineral content of the water affected the taste of the beer. Perrier is carbonated water from France. Because of the makeup of the soil, the atmospheric gas CO2, and the topography of the landscape, the water has calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, sulphate, fluoride, and nitrate in it.

These minerals, in turn, affect the chemistry of the beer. The water becomes more alkaline (or hard) which gives alpha-acid rich hops an unpleasant astringency unless dark malts (which are acidic themselves) are also used.  The taste is most favorable too, when hop levels are kept down. This is how styles such as the Irish Stout and Munich’s Dunkel Lager came about in the first place. 

Beer styles all around the world developed because of the water that was readily available. For example, the Czech Pilsner came about because the water in the town of Plzen is very soft. English brewers found that the calcium sulphate in their well water was perfect for brewing a crisp, dry, hoppy beer called Pale Ale.  It wasn’t until around 1900 that brewers learned to alter the chemistry of the water. Classic beer styles, as a result, developed for this reason. 

(reference: Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher a.k.a. part of the New Testament)

The Great Beer Hunter himself, Michael Jackson also dedicates nearly an entire book to water in “Whiskey,” specifically talking about how Scotland’s landscape and mountains effect the minerality  of the water, which in turn effects the chemistry of the mash, which in turn effects the taste.  And  Mike Miyamoto (formerly of Hakashu in Japan Bowmore in Islay) has said that their team experimented with water and when Scottish water was used to produce Japanese whiskey, the result tasted like Scotch. 

So now back to our little experiment. The Irish Red Ale that we had certainly tasted differently than an Irish Red Ale brewed here in New York. How does it compare to an Irish Red Ale brewed in Killnenny (the town it originated in)? Well I was unable to get the mineral content of the water there but I’m going out on a limb here and saying that the original style was brewed with softer water-hence the fooling of the BJCP palettes.

So now all this talk about water is making me thirsty for a beer. I think I’ll have an Irish Red-hold the minerals.

Being Brewer for a Day at Empire Brewpub in Syracuse!

19 Apr

 

Last month (yes it’s been awhile since I’ve updated my blog!) I wrote about Empire Brewery’s “12 Pack Challenge,” that my bf and I completed during New York City Craft Beer Week back at the end of February.   So it turns out, we won! (Ok so he technically won but I’m sharing the credit since it was definitely a joint effort!).

Next thing I know, we’re being whisked off to Syracuse (in an Amtrak train) and put up in a sweet hotel so that we can spend the day brewing with Empire at their brewpub located in Armory Square, a trendy neighborhood in downtown Syracuse. 

Being at the brewpub is like hanging out with your family: the cooks, servers, and bartenders, and the staff in general are all just a great group of people who seem to really enjoy their work.  The pub serves up great grub as well as their signature beers and is definitely worth a visit (or 2) if you happen to be in the area. 

While Empire brews their beer both on premise at the brewpub (where we brewed) and on contract at Greenpoint Beer Works in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn (a brewery where Kelso and the Heartland chain also brew their beer), they are about to break ground for their own farm-house brewery in Cazenovia, New York, a town about 30 minutes southeast of the city of Syracuse.

David Katleski, owner of Empire Brewing Co., and president of the New York State Brewers Association, has been super-busy with this project but was still able to spend some time with us during our upstate visit.

 He was most recently awarded the F.X. Matt “Defender of the Industry,” award at this year’s Craft Brewers Conference and it is a well-deserved title for this pioneer who has had a heavy hand in aiding with the passing of some new brewer-friendly laws that were recently approved in New York state.  Plus, he’s just a really nice guy who acted as a gracious host during our brief visit up there last week.  I can’t wait to follow the progress of this new brewery, sure to be a state-of-art facility with an emphasis on local ingredients and resources. 

So what was it like to brew at Syracuse’s Empire Brewpub?  Amazing, of course.  After a hearty Monday dinner at Dinosaur Barbeque (you can not visit Syracuse without eating here—it’s a definite must!) and a few beers afterward at the brewpub, Brewmaster Tim Butler reminded us to get a good night’s rest (aka don’t be too hung-over tomorrow) since we would meet him bright and early the next morning to start the brewing process.

Thank goodness for the hearty breakfast served up at our hotel, The Jefferson Clinton, conveniently located a stone’s throw away from the Empire Brewpub.

We entered the brewery (a pretty small space) and were greeted by Tim as he searched for the recipe we’d be making that day.  He had a special surprise in store for us and while some home-brewers and brewmasters may scoff at the idea of brewing a simple pale ale, I believe it’s a benchmark brew that every great brewer should master.  Empire does not currently have a Pale Ale on tap and brews the style seasonally (at harvest time using fresh hops from local Central New York farmers).

Nat, the assistant brewer, showed us to their storage room (where they keep their grain), requiring a walk through the kitchen.  We helped him left 10 bags of malt, each weighing in at 55 lbs. (those bags were heavy!) and wheeled them back to the brewing room. 

The brewing room is located behind the bar and adjacent to the dining room, so if you are having lunch or an afternoon beer at the pub, you can watch the brewers at work. 

We (kind of) helped Nat empty the grain bags into the mill where a long black pipe carried the grains into the mash tun.  Tim stood above the tun making sure the mash temperature was correct and stirring in the grains.  While we were there to brew, I have never worked on commercial equipment before (just a stove in my kitchen) so Nat and Tim pulled the levers and set the temps while explaining the process to us.

Next we helped empty one of the fermenters, which was full of their delicious coffee Scotch Ale, Local Grind, and was probably the last of the batch for this year, since the beer is more of a winter seasonal.  The fermenter yields about 12 barrels which are then stored into the cooler or driven down to NYC.  The brewpub serves 10-12 of their house-made beers at any given time, but they only brew about twice a week on a regular basis. 

Throughout the hours-long brewing process we watched Nat work his butt off, making sure everything stays clean and sanitized at each step along the way.  The brewing room felt like a sauna, and we were told it becomes unbearably hot in the summer time. 

Brewing beer is tedious and physically challenging as I discovered that day, and although the process is essentially the same as it is home-brewing in our kitchen, it is of course on a much larger scale.  Time for a beer break (because we were there to drink as well as brew): I went for their seasonal maibock, Empire Strikes Bock, which seemed an appropriate beer to drink during a long day of brewing. 

After mashing, the wort is piped into the brew kettle where it has to reach a boiling point.  This is the fun part: adding the hops!  We added a series of hops every 15 minutes or so, finishing off with Chinook (for aroma) and after 60 minutes, the brew is cooled before being blasted off into the fermenter where the hungry yeasties lie dormant, waiting for their meal. 

Overall, it was a simple process, and we did a lot more watching than brewing but we enjoyed the experience fully.  Nat talked us through the entire process, letting us know exactly what he was doing with every pull of the lever and every hose that he hooked up. 

In a few weeks, we hope to drink our beer with the Empire crew on their next visit down to New York City! 

After lunch and brewing, we went across the street to the Blue Tusk, which seems to be the spot the Empire crew hangs out at while not working at the pub and it’s easy to see why!  The “Tusk,” as it is fondly referred to by the natives, has an amazing tap selection that ranges from local to rare to imports.  Certainly a well-curated collection, as the owner, Mike, truly knows his beer. 

Knowledgeable Brewmaster, Tim Butler, gave us a mini-tour of the surrounding area, describing a scene on the Armory’s grassy lawn where he revived a man during his days former to being a brewer. A native of Syracuse, Tim told us about the history and the architecture in the neighborhood and made a great tour guide.

After a nap (completely necessary after a day of brewing and imbibing some brews), we were treated to a lovely dinner at the brewpub and plenty of Empire schwag to take home with us, including a couple of growlers filled with their well-balanced and easily quaffable IPA and one of my personal favorites, Deep Purple.

I can’t wait until their new brewery is up and running, and the building of it is a process I will be following closely.  Thanks to Tim, Dave, Nat and all the crew at Empire for showing us a good time and letting us brew at their facility!  I can’t wait to try our beer…
                 

 

East vs West Coast Craft Beer Tour!

13 Mar

 

                                        Image

Many of the craft beer events in my life are built around tradition.  The monthly meetings I attend, like my local, Staten Island group of beer enthusiasts, The Richmond County Beer Club (RCBC) who meet the last Wednesday of every month for over 3 years now, my ‘ventures into home-brewing with the great crew of Pour Standards, our local home-brew club that meets the second Tuesday of every month.  Everything from local beer festivals (this will be third year attending Sixpoint’s Beers for Beasts) or beer events like our NYC Craft Beer Week that just went by—these have all become a big part of my life.  And now, this Wednesday night, I’m more than just excited about another tradition: East Coast VS. West Coast!!

This year’s event (this is the third year now) has doubled in capacity!  Where there were once only four breweries (Smuttynose and Victory representing the East, and Ballast Point and Lagunitas reppin’ the West), the event has now expanded to 8 breweries (with the addition of Sixpoint, Oskar Blues, and Sierra Nevada)!  Holy Sh**t!  I can’t wait!  Why?

            Because this is an event that brings the craft beer community together: From the brewers to the reps to the craft beer fans and enthusiasts (aka drinkers).  Plus it allows us to taste an amazing line-up of beers and compare/contrast styles.  For example, it was two years ago that I first tasted Ballast Point’s Sculpin.  My life was forever changed.  And what’s as fun as tasting all these great beers like Lagunita’s “Sucks,” Smuttynose’s “Finest Kind IPA,” and Sixpoint’s “3 Beans,” is the punk rock music that will be accompanying the tasting.  Beer + Punk Rock= A wonderful pairing.

            If you can’t make it to tonight’s event at 120 Bay Café, located just a few block from the Staten Island ferry, check out the East Coast Vs. West Coast Facebook page for more dates. 

This year the “tour” is hitting cities like Buffalo, Rochester, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Providence.  If you live in NYC though you will have several chances to attend one of these tour dates as the ‘reps will be hitting places like Greenwood Park in Brooklyn, and the Bronx Ale House in where else, but the Bronx!  Not only will I be there tonight at my local watering hole, I hope to hit maybe 1 or 2 other tour dates along the way.  Obsessed?  Maybe—but this is one of the coolest beer events I’ve ever been to!  Hope to see you there and can’t wait to try all the great beer that will be poured this year.     

 

(cover art by Brian Profilio, artist, teacher and drummer for the Budos Band)

Not sure what to do this year for V-day? How about incorporate BEER into the plan!?

7 Feb

I don’t know about you but there’s something about a heart-shaped Russell Stover’s box of chocolates that makes me cringe a little bit.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a “Valentine-hater,” though I’ve had my share of single girl V-days where I had to drown my sorrows in a craft brew…or two.  No, it’s just that in particular, RS chocolate isn’t very GOOD (sorry Grandma—I know you love that stuff!).  The strawberry nougats and marshmallow crèmes…eh not really my thing.  But chocolate in my beer?  Well, I can get down with that. 

            So maybe for Valentine’s Day this year try something a little different.  We have some ideas for those of you with someone special in their life and for those of you who are hoping to find someone special..at least for the night.  For the beer lov-ahs: 

 

❤ On Tuesday, February 12th, Erica and Stephen of “The Brooklyn Brewshop,” aka purveyors of those great little self-contained 1 gallon beer-making kits you see at “Smorgasburg” and various holiday markets, are hosting a Valentine’s Beer Making Class in Dumbo.  What a fun activity for you and your loved one to take part in.  The $100 ticket includes a class for two and one “Everyday IPA,” beer-making kit.  Don’t fret singles—for $70 you can get the same deal and also possibly meet the man/woman of your dreams.  Who said beer-making isn’t sexy?  Not us.  Check out http://brooklynbrewshop.com/beer-making-class for tix before they sell out!

 

❤ Hop Plants vs. Flowers.  Hmmm, this may be a hard sell, but consider this: Flowers die.  Sorry girls (and guys), but how about something that flowers and has a more practical purpose?!  AKA get your loved one a rhizome, which will sprout roots once planted and then soon take off into a wonderful, winding hop plant.

 So, this may be hard to get away with in a NYC apartment but maybe you have access to a backyard or stoop.  Sure, right now is not the time to plant but spring is coming soon.  This is seriously a gift that will keep on giving, and having access to their own homegrown hops is a dream of any homebrewer. 

If this is impossible due to your living space (or commitment issues) how about buying some dried hop flowers from your local homebrew shop and writing “I Love You,” or framing a bottle of his/her favorite IPA with a heart-shaped hop wreath?  It may be crazy, but serious craft beer drinkers really love their hops!  Nothing says “I Love You,” like a handful of Citra’s.    

 

❤ Ok, so she loves chocolate—who doesn’t?!  But on Valentine’s Day, not any old heart-shaped box will do.  How about chocolate that’s been lucky enough to be have been selected to be brewed in a beer?  The best chocolate beers I’ve tasted are usually brewed from a combination of chocolate malts (which impart a roasted, bitter dark chocolate flavor and are not only limited to chocolate stouts) and actual cocoa nibs. 

A no brainer (the name alone screams “Valentine’s Day”) is Ommegang’s Seduction.  Brewed with five different dark barley malts and most importantly, authentic Belgian chocolate (duh!) it is then blended with Liefmans Cuvee Brut, to give it a “chocolate-covered cherry,” kind of taste.  So much better than a box of chocolates, no? 

There’s also Southern Tier’s Chokolat, which I’ve recommended in the past as a great dessert beer, but if you really like your beer to taste like chocolate, you can’t get much better than this.  Warning: It is 11% ABV and if you are actually planning more than just drinking beer on this V-Day (wink wink), then make sure you limit your intake.  

Other great chocolate beers I would recommend are Harpoon’s Chocolate Stout and Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout.  There are lots of other great chocolate beers out there, but these four are readily available in NYC and the immediate outside areas and are also from four breweries I happen to be a big fan of.  Love your local brewery and love their local beer.  What are some of your favorite chocolate or dessert beers?  Share them with your loved one this Valentine’s Day.

 

❤ If the “Dinner & Drinks” thing is more your style, why not visit one of your favorite “Beer Restaurants”?  I would recommend Gastropub 508 or Jimmy’s No. 43, as both will have specialty beers and food as well as entertainment next Thursday night.  I even heard a rumor that 508’s newest brewmaster, Chris Cuzme, may do a little V-Day serenading with his saxophone.  No promises, but who wouldn’t want a little table-side jazz music to pair with your meal and house-brewed beer?  Reservations are recommended for both spots, as they can certainly get crowded and no one wants to fight for a table on V-Day. 

❤ Ok, so you’re Single—no biggie—maybe you just went through a rough break-up or have been holding out for that special someone.  Any good beer bar in NYC may become a popular destination for the unattached next Thursday night, but I think that if you like pairing good whiskey with your beer, you should probably check out Idle Hands.  Why?  Because they’re breaking out the Pappy Van Winkle most likely set to an eclectic heavy rock soundtrack and paired with some great draft beers. 

  

Those are just a few suggestions—we’ll share some more in the coming week. 

 

 

            

I don’t know about you but there’s something about a heart-shaped Russell Stover’s box of chocolates that makes me cringe a little bit.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a “Valentine-hater,” though I’ve had my share of single girl V-days where I had to drown my sorrows in a craft brew…or two.  No, it’s just that in particular, RS chocolate isn’t very GOOD (sorry Grandma—I know you love that stuff!).  The strawberry nougats and marshmallow crèmes…eh not really my thing.  But chocolate in my beer?  Well, I can get down with that. 

            So maybe for Valentine’s Day this year try something a little different.  We have some ideas for those of you with someone special in their life and for those of you who are hoping to find someone special..at least for the night.  For the beer lov-ahs: 

 

❤ On Tuesday, February 12th, Erica and Stephen of “The Brooklyn Brewshop,” aka purveyors of those great little self-contained 1 gallon beer-making kits you see at “Smorgasburg” and various holiday markets, are hosting a Valentine’s Beer Making Class in Dumbo.  What a fun activity for you and your loved one to take part in.  The $100 ticket includes a class for two and one “Everyday IPA,” beer-making kit.  Don’t fret singles—for $70 you can get the same deal and also possibly meet the man/woman of your dreams.  Who said beer-making isn’t sexy?  Not us.  Check out http://brooklynbrewshop.com/beer-making-class for tix before they sell out!

 

❤ Hop Plants vs. Flowers.  Hmmm, this may be a hard sell, but consider this: Flowers die.  Sorry girls (and guys), but how about something that flowers and has a more practical purpose?!  AKA get your loved one a rhizome, which will sprout roots once planted and then soon take off into a wonderful, winding hop plant.

 So, this may be hard to get away with in a NYC apartment but maybe you have access to a backyard or stoop.  Sure, right now is not the time to plant but spring is coming soon.  This is seriously a gift that will keep on giving, and having access to their own homegrown hops is a dream of any homebrewer. 

If this is impossible due to your living space (or commitment issues) how about buying some dried hop flowers from your local homebrew shop and writing “I Love You,” or framing a bottle of his/her favorite IPA with a heart-shaped hop wreath?  It may be crazy, but serious craft beer drinkers really love their hops!  Nothing says “I Love You,” like a handful of Citra’s.    

 

❤ Ok, so she loves chocolate—who doesn’t?!  But on Valentine’s Day, not any old heart-shaped box will do.  How about chocolate that’s been lucky enough to be have been selected to be brewed in a beer?  The best chocolate beers I’ve tasted are usually brewed from a combination of chocolate malts (which impart a roasted, bitter dark chocolate flavor and are not only limited to chocolate stouts) and actual cocoa nibs. 

A no brainer (the name alone screams “Valentine’s Day”) is Ommegang’s Seduction.  Brewed with five different dark barley malts and most importantly, authentic Belgian chocolate (duh!) it is then blended with Liefmans Cuvee Brut, to give it a “chocolate-covered cherry,” kind of taste.  So much better than a box of chocolates, no? 

There’s also Southern Tier’s Chokolat, which I’ve recommended in the past as a great dessert beer, but if you really like your beer to taste like chocolate, you can’t get much better than this.  Warning: It is 11% ABV and if you are actually planning more than just drinking beer on this V-Day (wink wink), then make sure you limit your intake.  

Other great chocolate beers I would recommend are Harpoon’s Chocolate Stout and Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout.  There are lots of other great chocolate beers out there, but these four are readily available in NYC and the immediate outside areas and are also from four breweries I happen to be a big fan of.  Love your local brewery and love their local beer.  What are some of your favorite chocolate or dessert beers?  Share them with your loved one this Valentine’s Day.

 

❤ If the “Dinner & Drinks” thing is more your style, why not visit one of your favorite “Beer Restaurants”?  I would recommend Gastropub 508 or Jimmy’s No. 43, as both will have specialty beers and food as well as entertainment next Thursday night.  I even heard a rumor that 508’s newest brewmaster, Chris Cuzme, may do a little V-Day serenading with his saxophone.  No promises, but who wouldn’t want a little table-side jazz music to pair with your meal and house-brewed beer?  Reservations are recommended for both spots, as they can certainly get crowded and no one wants to fight for a table on V-Day. 

❤ Ok, so you’re Single—no biggie—maybe you just went through a rough break-up or have been holding out for that special someone.  Any good beer bar in NYC may become a popular destination for the unattached next Thursday night, but I think that if you like pairing good whiskey with your beer, you should probably check out Idle Hands.  Why?  Because they’re breaking out the Pappy Van Winkle most likely set to an eclectic heavy rock soundtrack and paired with some great draft beers. 

  

Those are just a few suggestions—we’ll share some more in the coming week. 

 

 

            

Good beer and merry cheer

25 Dec

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There’s nothing like good ‘ole charitable events and thoughtless generosity right around the holidays to remind us what it’s really all about: Beer.  Wait, I meant hope, peace and love.  Ok, maybe some beer too.

            That’s exactly what the “Pour to Restore” event held over the weekend on Staten Island was all about—giving back to the community.  And thanks to the creativity and commraderie of a bunch of local home-brewers, the event was a success and raised close to 3K for the employees of Staten Island University Hospital who were affected by Super storm Sandy. 

            Sean Torres, President of the Pour Standards Home-brew Club on Staten Island organized the event along with other members of the club, Philip Gardner and Doug Williams. 

On Sunday at 120 Bay Café on the North Shore of the borough that was greatly impacted by October’s storm, about 20 home-brewers from around New York City and even New Jersey, offered attendees pours of their brews.  Raffle tickets were sold with the chance to win an introductory home-brewing kit from Brooklyn Homebrew or an introductory home-brewing class from Brooklyn’s Bitter & Esters. 

The brews ranged from standard American Pale Ales and IPA’s to more experimental brews like a “Belgian Patersbier,” and a Spearmint Chocolate Stout. Some brewers even got a little cheeky with their names, like Terrence O’Brien and Dave Haber whose “Filthy Little Birch,” a Birch Ale, had a label of “Sandy” from Grease.  The home-brewers at the event didn’t mind giving a little sucker punch to the storm and embodied the spirit of perseverance.  It’s amazing what a little home-brew can do! 

Check out our photos from the event and go to http://www.pourtorestore.com/ to see a list of participating home-brewers and what they made.  

Harpoon pt. 1…

12 Dec

Well, there’s the rivalry—Yankees vs. Red Sox, Giants vs. Pats, Bruins vs. Rangers, Celtics vs. Knicks (and add the ‘Nets to that now), but we’re talking about sports, not beer here.  And when it comes to Harpoon, well, maybe we can try to compete a local New York brewery against them, but why would you want to?

NYC already embraces Harpoon:  We see their flagship IPA at a number of local bars with its signature orange tap, and I can’t help but want to be whisked away to Boston’s “hah-bah,” drinking their beers on a sail boat, possibly whale watching…

But there’s much more to Harpoon than just their IPA.  I’m sure you’ve seen their UFO’s (UnFiltered Offering for all of you neophytes) and most likely their seasonals.  You may have even been privileged enough to pick up a recent 100 Barrel Series at your local great craft beer store.  But if you’ve never been to Boston and visited their brewery, well you don’t know beans (apparently beans are a big thing up there).

Two Girls One Pint (along with StevieAnn from Sassy Beer) were fortunate to venture up there last Monday and experience it for ourselves—this place is the real deal, with great, drinkable beer.  They should know good beer—they have been around since 1986.  And Harpoon doesn’t need fancy commercials to get its point across…the beer speaks for itself.

The brewery was the first company to obtain a permit to manufacture and sell alcohol in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in over 25 years.  This is thanks to their founders, fondly referred to as “Rich & Dan,” who attended Harvard and after traveling Europe, were inspired enough to start their own brewery.   For us, it’s hard to believe that Harpoon is “that old” (ok so 26 is not old by any means but in the craft beer world, it’s ancient).

Upon visiting the brewery, one is greeted with a metal gate displaying the four essential ingredients: Water, grains, hops, and yeast.  The tasting room is warm and friendly—samples are offered two times a day (at 2 pm and 4 pm) and full brewery tours are offered on the weekend.  We were surprised not only by the warm greetings from our tasting room hostesses, but also but the diverse offerings.

Aside from their signature IPA complete with its orange tap handle, also available were the UFO (and its raspberry version), 3 current Leviathan offerings (more on them later), some experimental beers from their 400 gallon series (basically a home-brewer’s wet dream), their current seasonals (Winter Warmer and Chocolate Stout), their newest 100 Barrel Series brew (El Triunfo Coffee Porter), their amazing cider, their Dark (formally called Munich dark) and their new all-round Rye IPA.  The selection is overwhelming, especially on a Monday afternoon.

Without leaving the room, guests are lucky enough to be poured samples of any beer they desire (it’s really hard to choose one) then given a story behind the beers and the brewery between swallows.  Twenty-first birthdays are celebrated, old friends reunited while new friends are made.  The tasting room becomes a meeting place for a bunch of strangers with one thing in common: Their love of great beer.

If you haven’t tried it yet, the not-even-one-year-old Rye IPA is a highly enjoyable beer for those of us who lean toward an everyday IPA (not overly bitter or hoppy).  The citrus notes from the hops are balanced by the spiciness of the rye.  I’ve been drinking this baby all week like it’s my life support!

The Chocolate Stout is solid (I’m ashamed to say this was my first introduction to it).  Now that I’ve had it, I’m not quite sure how I went without for so long—it’s dark and roasty but sweet enough without being too dessert-y.  Chocolate milk for grown-ups!  And what girl (or boy) doesn’t love chocolate?  It’s also perfect for this time of year (it is a seasonal, after all).

For those of you who’ve never enjoyed a Harpoon Cider, you’re in for a real treat.  It’s extremely natural tasting (from an apple orchard 40 miles away) and employs their signature yeast so it doesn’t just taste like you’re drinking a sparkling apple juice.

Try it mixed with a Winter Warmer.  While I normally don’t advise mixing beer, we can make an exception with this, a concoction called “Apple Pie.”  The sweetness of the cider paired with the spices of their winter seasonal creates a perfect treat for a cold day.

Their Leviathan series are the high ABV ones (Imperials).  All of them are great but strong—approach with caution!  On tap currently in their tasting room was their Imperial IPA (sooo good), a Russian Imperial Stout (one to take home and age), and a Baltic Porter.

Their Dark (formally called Munich Dark, but the name seemed to intimidate people) is a perfect example of the kind of beer I am really into drinking right now—A Dunkel, the dark color is a ruse to the light-bodied, velvety textured beer disguised behind its cloudy brown (mahogany, for you fans of wood) color.  This seems to be the favorite in the Harpoon world, amongst staff and fans alike.

So what other beers did we try?  And what was it like being taken on a one-of-a-kind brewery tour by Harpoon’s Chief of Brewing Operations, Al Marzi?  What does Harpoon have in store for 2013?  For answers to all of those questions, stop by later this week for the Second Part of our series on Boston’s Harpoon Brewery!

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