Tag Archives: craft

East vs West Coast Craft Beer Tour!

13 Mar

 

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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)

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This weekend you don’t want to miss this! The Winter Harvest in NYC

28 Nov

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a month now since Sandy barraged our city with her high winds and flooding, causing massive damage to several New York City neighborhoods, taking down people’s houses and closing businesses, and bringing our city to a standstill. 

            While most things seem to be getting back to “normal,” there are millions of people who have been affected by the storm and continue to suffer from her devastation. 

            That is why the rescheduled NYC Craft Beer Festival: Winter Harvest, originally to be held on November 10th, but postponed to this Saturday, December 1st, has a new emphasis placed on Sandy Relief.  Hand Crafted Tasting Co., the production company hosting the beer festival is asking people to bring things like batteries, flashlights, work gloves, tools, cleaning supplies, and even holiday gifts, which will then be donated to those who need it most in Breezy Point, Queens—just one of the many NYC neighborhoods hurt by the storm.   

            Additionally, the location of the event has changed as well.  This Saturday’s event is being held at Basketball City, which is at 299 South Street in lower Manhattan, easily accessible via the F train.       

            There will be two sessions on Saturday: The first is from 12:30-4:00 PM and the second is from 6:00-9:30 PM for the VIP/Connoisseur tickets and 1:30-4:00 PM and 7:00-9:30PM for General Admission ticket-holders. The Connoisseur tickets include access to a special designated lounge with rare beers and hors d’oeuvres that will not be available in the General Admission area.  Those tickets are $125, but go up to $135 if you wait until the day of to purchase them.
            VIP ticket holders get an extra hour of sampling for the $75 ticket price ($85 for the day of).  While General Admission tickets will cost you $55 (or $65 if you wait until Saturday).

            All ticket holders will have the option of attending three seminars including one hosted by Chris Gallant, General Manager and Co-Founder of The Bronx Brewery, about starting your own small business. 

There will also be a seminar on pairing food and beer for your holiday parties, hosted by Chef Stephen Durley and Beer Sommelier Hayley Jensen, and a cheese-and-beer-pairing seminar hosted by Aaron Foster of Murray’s Cheeses. 

            And of course, there’s the beer!  There will be approximately 150 Craft Beers from 75 breweries.  If you’ve been to a beer festival before, you know how this works: You get your 4 oz. tasting glass and try as many beers as you can within the time constraints!  Think of it as a beer-drinker’s marathon…   

            I’d recommend trying beers you’ve never had before or visiting a brewery you are unfamiliar with.  Brooklyn Brewery will have their newest Brewmaster’s Reserve, “There Will Be Black,” on tap.  This Winter seasonal (an American black ale) is made with a blend of German and American dark malts and hopped with New Zealand Pacific Gems and Motuekas and well as American Willamette hops.  I haven’t had it yet, but I’m really looking forward to trying this one on Saturday!

            You can compare Blue Point’s White IPA to the same style from Saranac.  Which one do you like better?  And why?  Or you can try Winter seasonals from your favorite breweries like Captain Lawrence and Abita.  There will surely be a style and type of beer for everyone at this Saturday’s festival. 

            And Connoisseurs will have access to specialty beers like Allagash’s Hugh Malone, a Belgian style IPA, Magic Hat’s Graupel, a wheat wine from their small batch “Humdinger” series, and even the ever-popular Goose Island Bourbon County Stout—a favorite this time of year.  If you were considering splurging on a Connoisseur ticket, these beers are just a few reasons why you should!     

            And last but not least, Two Girls One Pint will be all over this Fest!  Jennifer Wood and I will be hanging out at our table, modeling our T-shirts and talking about craft beer, while our own Josh Schwartz, Szoke Schaeffer, and Stevie Ann Nance (from the Sassy Beer Sisters) will be covering the event. 

            We’ve been waiting months for this beer festival and even Sandy couldn’t stop it.  If you are coming on Saturday, please don’t forget to bring an item to donate and stop by our table.  We can’t wait to see you there!

             

Looking for something to spice up your weekend? Go to the Staten Island Yankee Craft Beer fest! Not in NYC? Why not host your own tasting party?

15 Oct

I’m sure you’ve been to a beer-tasting event, whether held at your local beer shop or bar or at a beer festival, where hundreds of different beers are at your fingertips, and you most likely don’t have the time (or physical endurance) to taste them all.

But what about hosting your own?  Maybe you’ve acquired unique bottles on your summer travels and haven’t had the opportunity to try them.  Or you pick up a rare bottle one day because you are feeling adventurous and are “saving it for a special occasion” (like my bottle of ‘Hops N’ Roses’ from Captain Lawrence that I haven’t gotten around to opening yet).

Trying new beers is always exciting, especially for us beer geeks, but sharing them with other craft beer connoisseurs is even better.

Recently we were invited to our friends’ apartments to put a dent in their pretty impressive beer selection.  What was even better: Many of these beers (or rather, most) aren’t even available for purchase in the NYC area.

So how do find a community of fellow craft beer lovers to share your beer with?  If you’re as lucky as me, then all your friends have good taste (in beer at least) and it’s not hard, but joining a local craft beer appreciation society (like my local Richmond County Beer Club) or joining your local craft beer bar’s beer club is a good start.

Also, in past years, I’ve turned birthday parties into beer tastings.  Put some records on (yes I have a vinyl player) and put some snacks out—along with a bunch of your favorite brews.  Give your guests a glass and taste away.  Sure beats pizza, soda and cake (ok, well don’t skip the cake if it’s a birthday party).

And cheese pairs beautifully with beers—pick up some stilton and some brie from a local dairy and you’ve got yourself a party.  Crusty bread and crackers are necessary too.  Use some of your beer to whip up some beer cheese or mustard and serve with pretzels.

At this recent tasting I was lucky enough to sample Kentucky Dark Star, an Imperial, bourbon-barrel aged oatmeal stout from Fremont Brewing Co. in Seattle (where my friends hail from).  It was an impressive bourbon barrel aged beer, creamy and oaky, with hints of vanilla, chocolate balancing with a roasted bitterness.

We compared this to an Imperial Schwarzbier also aged in bourbon barrels, from restaurant/brewery Flossmoor station outside of Chicago.

The nice thing about hosting your own tasting party as you can try any beer you want at any time, but to really enjoy all flavors you’re experiencing, it’s good to start with lighter styles (we started with some sours) and move from there.  Save the palate-wrecking IPAs for last.

Or maybe you just want to stick with one style: Everyone seems to be really into sours these days but perhaps have not tasted a lot or even found one they like.  Have everyone bring one or two examples of their favorite sour beer and drink away.

You can make your upcoming Halloween party a pumpkin beer party.  Have your guests bring their favorite pumpkin beer (you could even include some ciders in here since its cider season and drinking it is more fun than bobbing for apples).  Offer some sweet treats and pair them with your pumpkin beers—even better than trick-or-treating.

Hosting (or attending) a beer tasting party can make your usual weekend plans a little more exciting.  Watching the alumni football game with the guys this weekend?  Bring a six-pack or a growler of your current favorite session beer.  Sure beats choking down “The King of Beers,” in the back of your buddy’s fridge.

And if you want to get fancy, you can make your next dinner party revolve around beer and food pairings.  Your guests will be impressed.

 

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Coming this October: Staten Island Yankees Brewfest and “Two Girls One Pint:” A match made in Beer Heaven

29 Sep

The forgotten Borough is no longer forgotten by beer aficionados.

That’s right, Staten Island will host not one, but two beer festivals this October.  The Richmond County Beer Festival on Sunday October 7th will take place at Killmeyer’s Old Bavarian Inn, located on the Island’s south shore, while the north shore will host the Staten Island Yankees Brewfest two weeks later at the Richmond County Ballpark, home of the SI Yankees.

Eat that, Brooklyn!

Ok, I still love you Brooklyn, but it’s time for another borough to shine.

What’s even better is that “Two Girls, One Pint” will be hanging out at the Yankees Brewfest, offering up some swag and drinking along with the locals at the Saturday October 20th event.

Don’t let the location deter you—Richmond County Ballpark is conveniently located mere steps from the St. George ferry terminal, where a big orange boat will offer you a free ride to and from the Island’s north shore and lower Manhattan. If you needed a reason to come to Staten Island, well now you have several.

This thoughtfully planned fall beer festival will feature a homebrewing competition, tasty bites from local restaurants, music by Island bands, artisanal vendors, raffles, a VIP ticket option, a Sam Adams stein-hoisting competition (it’s harder than it looks, kids) a corn hole tournament (get your mind out of the gutter) and of course, beer.

Tickets are $30 for advance purchase and $40 for the day of.   The General Admission session will run from 1:00-5:00 p.m.

There is also a $60 VIP ticket option which will include an extra hour of imbibing (from noon-1:00), access to a special section where wine and spirits can be sampled, a Staten Island Yankees cinch bag, souvenir pint glass, an event T-shirt, and a selection of unique and specialty beers that will not be available to the general admission ticket holders.

Around 20 breweries will be represented, offering pours for all ticket holders, including Empire, Ithaca, Stone, Harpoon, and Founders, giving beer-drinkers a chance to revisit favorites as well as maybe try a few unfamiliar ones.

“We want this to be a festival for everyone.  We want everyone to enjoy the homebrews, enjoy the craft beer, and get a great view of the New York City skyline,” says Kerry Haley, manager of sponsor services for the team.

I was able to sit down at the scenic stadium with both Haley and Jillian Wright and discuss the upcoming Brewfest.  Both are managers of sponsor services for the SI Yankees who have been working hard to organize this event.

“We want to involve the community,” Haley added.

And they’re doing so by reaching out to local restaurants and inviting them to set up a table with tastings for the Brewfest guests.  Forget footlongs and Cracker Jacks–Island restaurants such as Pier 76, Jimmy Max, Daddy O’s BBQ and about a dozen others will provide samples of their food to hungry beer-drinkers and represent the best the borough has to offer.

“The food is an additive and I hope that people take advantage of it,” Wright told me.  The samples offered to festival-goers are included in the price of the ticket.

In addition to local eats, homebrewers will be offering their unique brews for both festival attendees and a judging panel to sample, all while competing for a first and second place cash prize.  This component makes the festival different from other fall beer fests, in that it is both a craft beer festival and homebrewing competition.  I can’t wait to taste what my neighbors have brewed up for us!

The soundtrack to your afternoon beer drinking will be provided by The Bandulos and Man Down, two local bands I am genuinely fond of and who always provide some sweet tunes.

The ladies also emphasized that a portion of all the revenue generated from the Brewfest will be donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, so you will be drinking for a cause.

If you like music, food, fun, and of course, beer, come hang out with us on October 20th at the Staten Island Yankees Brewfest.  And if you don’t like any of these things, than I am not sure we can be friends.  Would “Two Girls, One Pint” ever steer you wrong?

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