Tag Archives: bk

BK Pour…a smashing success as usual

14 Oct

It’s 1:30pm, and already people are lined up 100 deep outside the old Williamsburg Bank building, tickets in hand, waiting eagerly for the doors to open. There’s a palpable excitement as friends meet up in line, waiting to taste offerings from some of their favorite craft breweries from around the country at the third annual BK Pour here at Skylight Hanson in Fort Greene.

As the doors open and thirsty festival goers begin to pour in for the VIP hour, they’re greeted with a pamphlet detailing all 66 breweries in attendance, as well as the 125+ beers they’ll be offering and a map to their booth’s location. The venue itself is tremendous, with soaring ceilings and subtle reminders of what used to be one of Brooklyn’s largest banks, including old-school teller windows, wrought iron bars, and massive vault doors separating the different areas of the venue. Some pause to plan a route to their favorite brewers, while many more simply settle for those closest to the door and ready to fill their 2oz. tasting glass.

Most head upstairs to the VIP lounge area, where they can sample complimentary food from brats to pretzels, as well as some rarer offerings from their favorite breweries including Stone, Cigar City, and Harpoon (the Stone 17th Anniversary IPA being a favorite among those who sampled). The lounge is perched in the mezzanine level of the building, overlooking the floor and booths below. For the initial VIP tasting hour the space is filled with a droning buzz of patrons enjoying the relaxed pace of tasting, but as the general admission doors open at 3pm that buzz grows into a roar.

Among the breweries represented, New York breweries made a strong showing at the festival, including established players like Brooklyn Brewery, Sixpoint, Ommegang, and Heartland, as well as up-and-coming NY State brewers like City Island Beer Company in the Bronx, Grimm Artisanal Ales from Brooklyn (technically a nomadic brewery creating one-offs brewed at fellow brewer’s facilities), Three Heads Brewery from Rochester, and 508 Gastrobrewery from downtown Manhattan. Chris Cuzme, head brewer at 508, noted of the festival “It’s not necessarily the beer fest for beer geeks…this is serving a bigger and more important role”. Other brewers seemed to echo that sentiment. Geoff Dale, from Three Heads Brewing, said “This is our first festival here, we’re enjoying it, I love Brooklyn Man…I love the vibe. What I love about Brooklyn, this is an inclusive society, they accept you for who you are, and a beer fest is the same vibe”.

Another NY State brewery in attendance was Barrier Brewing, which was hard hit during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Representative Patrick said “It was tough. We were down for about 4 months, but we’ve recovered and we’re stronger than ever right now”. Despite the challenges of the last year, they were excited to be back out in front if the beer-loving public, saying “It’s a good turnout, it’s my first time at the Brooklyn Pour so this is awesome”. Barrier was arguably serving one of the more unique beers of the afternoon, their seasonal “Saazsquash Butternut Squash Ale”. By their own description “It gives you the pumpkin essence with a little more sweetness, it’s amazing”.

Other than excitement for the festival, a common theme among the NY State brewers (and all brewers in attendance) was plans for expansion moving into 2014. City Island Beer Company, out of the Bronx, opened in February of 2013 and is excited about plans to open a facility on their namesake City Island within the next 12 months. “Right now we have a small system where we do all of our development, and we do our production offsite” said Paul Sciara, president. “We’ve got a site that we’re really interested in…we’re looking for about a 20 barrel system…we’re hoping we can pull this off within the next year”. When asked about plans for 2014, Cuzme of 508 commented “It’s a very exciting week to ask that question. I do have new tanks coming in next week, and we did just get license to sell outside 508…you will start seeing 508 out a little bit…it will probably go to the beer bars that are by beer lovers for beer lovers”. Plans are equally as exciting at Rochester’s Three Heads Brewing. “We are actually going to be doubling up to 10,000 barrels this year, and we have four new beers coming out…baby steps to take over the world” laughed brewer Geoff Dale.

In addition to the copious amounts of beer flowing from the taps (and perhaps to soak it up), attendees could head downstairs into what was formerly the bank’s vault for some bites from Cariño Cantina, Yayo’s of Brooklyn, Los Perros Locos, and Jarlsberg Cheeses. Later in the afternoon the vault played host to a series of discussions ranging from “Urban Homebrewing” (homebrewing within the frequently cramped confines of NYC spaces) to beer photography and apps.

 

By the third hour of the event it had become apparent that beer, even in two ounce increments, will catch up with even the most seasoned drinkers. Many had turned their attention to collecting beer SWAG, from Sam Adams Oktoberfest hats to mysterious fake moustaches that seemed to permeate the crowd. Attendees made their way towards the doors, having had their fill of excellent craft beers and food, and already planning their return trip to BK Pour in 2014.

 

 

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The most memorable of forgotten weekends!…

6 Dec

The most memorable of forgotten weekends!….

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.

             

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