Tag Archives: brooklyn brewery

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.

NYC Beer Week Continues: Part 2

5 Mar

Part 2

After a week of great beer events (including the amazing Brewer’s Choice at City Winery on Wednesday) it was time to complete our mission.  After all, it was the second-to-last day of craft beer week and therefore our time was limited. 

Our first stop was Queens, to collect the only stamp from that borough at Sunswick 35/35.  It’s a long train ride from lower Manhattan but we were ready.  Here, we had a White Aphro, a tasty and refreshing Witbier brewed with lavender and just the thing to kick off another long day of drinking Empire beers.  I would’ve loved to stay here all afternoon—it’s a great craft beer bar and we were surrounded by other beer enthusiasts who were stopping in from Queens craft beer crawls and visits to Singlecut Beersmiths, whose taproom and brewery are close by.

Back into the city via the Q and transferring to the L at 14th street so we could head into Williamsburg and visit Crown Victoria.

This bar is a bit of a hike from the Bedford stop but totally worth it.  Our bartender, Erin, was great and poured us the Empire’s IPA and stamped our card.  The bar has picnic benches outside and must be a great place to hang out during the summer.  We’ll definitely be back.  It was here that we ran into some Empire people, Mike and John, who wished us luck on the rest of our journey.  We were in it to win it!

We were able to catch an elusive yellow cab and headed to Park Slope and 4th Ave Pub, located a couple of blocks from the Barclays Center.  Crazy town!  Another bachelorette party and friendly bartenders who were eager to stamp our card and pour us an Empire Amber Ale

Just a quick walk to Bierkraft as light flurries continues to fall from the sky.  While tempted to stock up on some great craft bottles and a growler or two, it would only slow us down at this point.  Three more bars to go and our mission would be complete! 

On to Washington Commons, a beautiful bar with great taps and a nice, mellow atmosphere.  Here we had our first Cream Ale of the day.  Not too far from the park in Prospect Heights, this would be a good place to grab a beer with a date in this area.  From here we walked a little north to Woodwork (and right past Bitter & Esters on our way which was thankfully closed or we would’ve spent an hour there picking up homebrew supplies).

This seems to be a sports-focused bar with a small food menu and some great brews on tap.  We had an Empire IPA and a quick sandwich and maybe a pickleback shot.  What?  We were almost done and it was time to celebrate.  Thanks to the dudes at Woodwork for just being cool guys—we had a great time.    

So back on to the 2 train and into Manhattan’s Upper West Side.  When you get off at the 72nd street stop you just have to get a Papaya Dog so that’s exactly what we did.  Into packed Dive Bar 75 for our last Cream Ale of the night and our last stamp to complete out journey.  Victory was ours!

So thanks to Empire for making my NYC Beer Week more interesting and of course, challenging.  I visited bars I’d never heard of and walked around neighborhoods I never get to visit.  Those postcards are going in the mail today and hopefully, I’ll be declared a winner.  I already feel like one. 

 

New York City Craft Beer Week!

25 Feb

Friday kicked off the week-long event(s) we’ve been waiting a year and a half for (The last beer week was in September 2011 and was run differently, making 2012 beer-week-less).       

            Why the delay?  Well now “New York City Beer Week” is run by our local brewers and their local sponsors!   The New York City Brewers Guild (NYCBG) is made up of Brooklyn, Bronx, La Birreria at Eataly, Chelsea, Kelso, Heartland, Schmaltz, Sixpoint, City Island, Rockaway, and Gastropub 508.

 In past NYC Beer Weeks, before the unity of our city’s local breweries, the NYC Craft Beer Week was not run by the newly-formed Guild and participants were issued “passports,” (for the affordable fee of $10) that lead them on an adventure of sort where descriptions of participating bars lined the pages and mini-coupons would get one a discounted beer at said bar (1 per customer), along with some other events and discounts that would happen throughout the week.

But this year’s beer week seems to have evolved greatly and is more organized, sans passport, and participants don’t really have to pay anything (except the ticket price of a special event or the price of that delicious beer in your hand), with an emphasis on local and multiple venues are participating complete with beer dinners, pairings, special tap takeovers, musical guests, etc. 

So how will YOU tackle NYC Beer Week this year? A beer week as big is this one is an individualized experience and will require diligence and pre-planning on your part.  But if I can offer some advice, I certainly will.

My first suggestion, which is the most important, is PICK UP A COPY OF “THE VILLAGE VOICE.”  NOW!!  (I said that in my best Arnold voice).  There is a guide in there that lists all of the participating venues across the 5 boroughs as well as the dates they are having special events.  The bar listings are in alphabetical order!  Couldn’t be simpler.  Find you favorite beer bar or restaurant and find out what they are doing for NYC Craft Beer Week. 

I’ve been hoarding giving out copies to my friends since Wednesday morning.  I feel as though it’s my civic duty to inform my friends of what’s going on.  If you can’t seem to find those little plastic red stands all over the city then go to the NYCBG Web site and check out their event page: http://microapp.villagevoice.com/nycbg/eventsFeb22.php.  Here, the events are listed by days of the week (in case you don’t have a favorite bar). 

The“Metro,” (those free papers they give out all over the city) and the great Web site “Thrillist” also have guides.  I love Thrillist’s “choose your own beer-venture” map!  http://images.thrillist.com/files/images/3018152popup.jpg   

Next step, if you really want to get the full experience of this year’s Beer Week, I would suggest (if your budget allows) buying a ticket to Wednesday’s event at City Winery.  The “NYC Brewers’ Choice” is being called the premier event, with 20+ brewers from 20+ breweries pouring beer for you, paired with artisan food prepared by NYC chefs.  It’s really going to be a “Who’s Who” of the NYC brewing world, and you’ll be rubbing elbows with brewing greats like Garrett Oliver and Chris Cuzme.  We bought our tickets this morning and I am SUPER excited about this event.  Seriously, go here now: http://brewerschoice2013.eventbrite.com/ and thank me later!  If you attend one event this week, this is the one.      

Friday, February 22ndThe “Opening Night Bash” being held tonight at 7pm in Brooklyn’s Galapagos Art Space.  Problem is this little party is completely SOLD OUT!  If you didn’t get a ticket (like me), there are plenty of other events happening tonight that you can attend that don’t require a ticket! 

One particular standout is the Singlecut Beersmiths Tap Takeover and dinner at the Alewife Queens.  It’s a $65, five-course meal paired with delicious beers from Queen’s newest brewery.  If you live in Queens or just have a lot of love for the borough, this is your event!

Speaking of Queens, The Queens Kickshaw will be pouring all Queens brews all week, including beers from Bridge and Tunnel Brewery, SingleCut, Rockaway and Beyond Kombucha (ok so not technically beer but still a fermented beverage).  Queens is on the map! 

Sunswick 35/35 has an Empire Brewery night tonight from 7-10 p.m. and The Pony Bar UES has a Hudson Valley Brewers & Distillers night with beers from Newburgh, Rushing Duck (!), and Sloop.

Saturday February 23rd:  While it seems like Queens is getting all the attention these days, let’s not forget where the NYC Craft Beer revolution began: Brooklyn!  A steady (and strong) player in the brewery and craft beer bar field, Brooklyn has many events of its own.  Today (Saturday) take one of Urban Oysters many beer tours like the “Brewed in Brooklyn” tour, which runs from noon-3:30.  Get tickets here:  

Also in Brooklyn, for you “real ale” drinkers, dba Brooklyn in Williamsburg is kicking off their 7th annual “Williamsburg Cask Beer Festival.”  The Festival runs through Tuesday and will feature 16 rare and delicious cask-conditioned beers tapped simultaneously.  There is no entry fee, and the beers are pay-per-drink.  If you enjoy your beer the traditional way, then this is the event for you.

We love 508 Gastrobrewery, and tomorrow they will be releasing “The Revered King,” a double black IPA.  This beer is sure to be delicious.

If you live in the Bronx then you won’t want to miss the Bronx Alehouse event that will feature rare and barrel-aged beers from NY state breweries. 

 

This is just the beginning of NYC Beer Week and there are plenty more events that will be held throughout the week (it’s a bit too much to highlight them all in this blog post).  Later this weekend I will talk about more specialty events to attend and beers to drink but for now enjoy your weekend and the beginning of NYC Beer Week!     

 

 

             

The most memorable of forgotten weekends!…

6 Dec

The most memorable of forgotten weekends!….

The most memorable of forgotten weekends!…

6 Dec

With a focus on Sandy, this past Saturday’s NYC Craft Beer Festival: Winter Harvest was fun-filled and festive—a great way to start off the holiday (beer) season.

While I was able to sneak out and sample a few great brews, I spent most of my time hanging out at our Two Girls One Pint table, chatting with folks that love beer just as much as we do.  As one passerby noted: “Aren’t you guys just a bunch of female beer geeks?”  Well, yes sir, thanks for noticing.

I was impressed by the depth and quality of beers represented—I actually didn’t expect it to be that big! (Shameless “That’s what she said” line follows here).  Upstairs in the Connoisseur lounge, those lucky enough to have access were treated to such fine brews as Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout, always a treat for the tongue, and Dogfish Head’s Theobrama as well as comfy couches where they noshed on cheese from Murray’s and listened to talented singer/songwriter Willy Gantrim.

Downstairs in the common tasting area, local breweries like Brooklyn, Sixpoint, and ACBC (Alphabet City Brewing Company) with their “Easy Blonde” poured recognizable brews next to West Coast Lagunitas and Speakeasy.

One standout was Pennsylvania Brewing Company’s (out of Pittsburgh, PA) Nut Roll Ale, a sweet, festive winter-spiced beer that is perfect for the season.  The Founder’s Breakfast Stout seemed to be a festival favorite.  Another was the “Wookey Jack,” from Firestone Walker Brewing Co., always a producer of solid beers, many of which seem to be popping up a lot more often in our area.

I personally enjoyed sipping on Lagunitas’ Cappuccino Stout—I felt like I was drinking some delicious coffee to keep me going in the long hours spent behind the table at both sessions…but then I reminded myself that the buzz I was getting was from beer!

Unfortunately I was unable to attend any of the seminars, as us girls had work to do!  But I’d love to hear from those who did how they were.  You really can’t go wrong with eating cheese from Murray’s or learning food and beer pairing secrets from beer sommelier Hayley Jensen and Chef Stephen Durley.

The location was great and easily accessible from lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, albeit a bit tricky to navigate with a buzz on.  No matter how many “Watch Your Step” signs and yellow Caution tape outlined the path ways, I still managed to trip more than once.  I blame Sandy for this one.

But as far as music goes, my personal favorite was the selection of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” telling people their session was over and it was time to get the F out, inspiring some pretty sloppy kick-lines that The Rockettes would surely shake their head’s at.

So Sandy may have delayed the fun, but the festival was able to happen anyway, and I think this event reflected the adaptation and perseverance that so many strong-willed New Yorkers have displayed following this devastating storm.  The residents of Breezy Point who have been suffering this past month from Sandy’s effects will have a little bit of a happier holiday thanks to the generosity of festival attendees.

So, “Start Spreading the News,” the NYC Craft Beer Festival was a great time and I can only look forward to their spring event.  Look for our newscast, coming soon to Two Girls One Pint.

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Be Thankful for Craft Beer: What to pair with your meal this Thursday

20 Nov

It’s almost turkey time in America and for each of us that may mean something different.

            Maybe you are traveling across the state or across the country to spend the holiday with family and friends.  Maybe you actually prefer to go out to eat on Thanksgiving because the idea of cooking or spending the day with your family is frightening.

            Or maybe you are the one hosting the Thanksgiving feast this year.  Anyone cooking for Thanksgiving, whether it be for a few friends or your entire family (second cousins included), knows they need to do a lot of planning and preparation for their meal ahead of time.  This year, how about introducing some great craft beer to your table to pair with your home-cooked meal?

            If you are a new home-brewer, maybe this is the time to introduce your family and friends to your hobby—Try pairing your homebrew with different dishes at the table and see what works best.  If you don’t homebrew, or don’t think that experimental ale you made last summer would go too great with your mother’s famous stuffing, there are plenty of American craft beers that would be welcome guests at your dinner table.  

            Let’s start with the meal’s centerpiece: The Turkey.  According to Garret Oliver, one of the most well-respected brewmasters (from Brooklyn Brewery) and an expert on pairing beer with food, turkey and a nice Biere de Garde (a French Farmhouse ale) are a match made in Thanksgiving heaven.  Since Biere de Gardes are not exactly commonplace and may be difficult to find locally, a Belgian-style Saison also makes a lovely pairing with the bird.  The differences between the two styles are subtle: a biere de garde tends to be maltier and hence sweeter while most saisons are lighter and crisper with nice spice notes and a floral aroma.  While both are usually spring/summer seasonals for a lot of breweries, both go great with turkey, no matter how you are preparing it.       

When I think of American-brewed, Belgian-style ales I automatically think of Brewery Ommegang.  Any of their complex beers pair so wonderfully with food!  Plus, their brews are easy to find in the NYC area.  I would suggest their Hennepin, a farmhouse saison, whose peppery, fruity notes would go great with the bird.  Ommegang’s Hennepin is certainly a benchmark version of this style that you should not have any difficulty finding in the city.   

Another beer within the same “farmhouse” family is Brooklyn’s Sorachi Ace.  The buttery flavors and lemony aromas imparted by the Japanese-bred Sorachi hop in this singularly-hopped saison would go great with your turkey dinner.

But for a more versatile and catch-all beer that goes great with more than just turkey, Ommegang’s Abbey Ale would pair well with almost everything else at your dinner table this Thanksgiving.  The Belgian-style dubbel is so complex tasting (plums, cherries, toffee, figs) that it begs to be paired with a rich, hearty meal no matter what cuisine you’ll be serving on Thursday.  Try to find a wine as flavorful or dynamic as this beer—your friends and family will certainly be impressed with its versatility!  You may even convince your wine-loving aunts and uncles that beer too, goes great (or even better) with food.   

Now on to the sides.  Mashed potatoes?  How about a brown ale or a porter.  There are several local examples to choose from including Sixpoint’s Brownstone (although I’d pour it into a nice glass and avoid the odd stares you may get from your family when drinking beer from a can) or Brooklyn Brown Ale?  While these two Brooklyn-based breweries both offer fine brown ales that pair wonderfully with hearty fare like mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing, Smuttynose’s Old Brown Dog Ale or their Robust Porter are also great choices.  There are many more great examples out there so pick your favorite but think hearty, dark, and malty beers for your heavier Thanksgiving fare.

Although you may be a fan of hoppier American beer styles like West Coast IPAs (you and your brother love to compare notes on the latest and greatest plate-wreckers), these will not pair as well with your Thanksgiving dinner.  Unless, of course, you are implementing some major spices or going a non-traditional route with your cuisine.  But if you plan on sticking with the standards this season, I wouldn’t suggest pouring Imperial IPAs at your dinner table.  Save those beer styles for another occasion. 

Last but not least, there’s dessert.  At this point in your meal, you are most likely beyond stuffed but if you’re like me, there’s always room for that last course!  And it just happens to be MY favorite part of the meal as I enjoy doing the baking and of course, the eating.  Pecan, Pumpkin or even sweet potato pies go great with a spiced ale or any kind of flavorful stout.   

Brooklyn’s Black Chocolate Stout is an obvious choice, but I’m thinking that western New York’s Southern Tier has some great beers that would impress your guests.  If many of Ommegang’s delcious Belgian-style beers pair well with your dinner, then I would say that any of Southern Tier’s “Blackwater” beers would go just as lovely with dessert.  Their Choklat, Jah-va, Mokah, and Crème Brulee Stouts practically beg to be drunk with sweet treats.  There’s also the fall seasonal favorite, the pumpkin ale, and you know your cousin loves her spiced beers.  Southern Tier’s Pumking is a favorite of many of my family and friends, and if you can manage to find one this week (or you’ve been hoarding some all season), Thanksgiving would be a lovely time to share it.    

Hey, I may even go for (beer) seconds and skip the pie altogether!  And any of these delicious brews will make shopping on Black Friday that much more bearable…

What will YOU be drinking this Thanksgiving?    

 

  

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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