Tag Archives: ipa

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.

 

 

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.

Want to become a master brewer? Start practicing Italian!

21 Oct

Aaah-the coveted master brewer program. When it comes to advanced degrees in brewing sciences, there’s no doubt that UC Davis and Seibel are right at the top of the list. But, if you ‘re not a fan of waiting two and a half years to get into UC Davis’s brewing program or Seibel’s WBA Master Brewer’s Program (not to mention the $16,000 tuition fee which doesn’t include room or board), fear not friends! The University of Gastronomic Sciences- (the university morphing ordinary people into gastronomes* since its inception in 2004 )has unveiled a new 15 month artisan apprenticeship program in either: bread making, cheesemaking, or…drum roll please… brewing.

 

Craft brewing, of course. None of that liquid adjunct crap here. After all, the University is sponsored by Slow Food. Slow Food, for those of you who don’t know, is a more intense version of ‘farm to table.’ It’s an organization of passionate foodies placing a strong emphasis on: sustainable farming practices, natural ingredients, social consciousness and awareness, and minimal processing. Needless to say, corn syrup has no place here.

 

This is the first year for the apprenticeship program and the curriculum encompasses five months of classes (biology, chemistry, agriculture etc.) and then a ten month apprenticeship in the chosen field of study. The best part? The price. At only a fraction of what it costs to attend Seibel or UC Davis, the $9500 you save can go towards room and board. That’s right, you’ll save $9500 on tuition because the cost of the 15 month apprenticeship program is a mere $5500 (or 4000EU). Not bad considering that you’re in Italy’s Piedmonte region and just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Teo Musso’s Baladin. If that name sounds familiar, that’s because he’s one of the founders of Eataly’s Birreria (along with Sam Calagione and Leonardo Di Vincenzo) Baladin is one of Italy’s first craft breweries opening its doors in 1996 and brewing unique beers with ‘strong personalities.’ Now it’s one of 400 craft breweries in the country (a number that’s nearly doubled since 2011 when there were 220).

 

Oh, yeah. Did I mention that the cafeteria (also new this year) was a Michelin starred restaurant up until last year. Currently, it is manned by four culinary students, one staff chef, and guest chefs every two weeks. Since the University is sponsored by Slow Food, the gourmet lunch also employs responsible eating practices. Local products are used and the menu is designed to be wallet friendly. 5 EU will get you a healthy soup, salad, bread, cheese, and a gourmet pasta. Students are also required to order their meal online beforehand in an effort to minimize waste.

 

Okay, here’s the catch. The apprenticeship program is in Italian. Wah-wah-wah. But the rest of the curriculum (the master’s degrees and undergraduate degrees) are in English.

 

Well, I guess it’s time to head to Eataly, grab a Almond ’22 Pink Peppercorn IPA, and get friendly with a Rosetta Stone.

 

Ciao!

 

 

for more information on the University and its programs visit: http://www.unisg.it/en/1

 

 

* the disgusting sounding term “gastronome” is not to be confused with the famous marketing icon of Expedia. Rather, it is a fancy word for food snob. But not just any food snob. Gastronomes are equipped with superbly heightened senses and trained to connect the inextricable link between food and drink.  

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University of Gastronomic Sciences

21 Oct

University of Gastronomic Sciences

Some common beer myths…

29 Apr

A guy walks into a bar and asks to try the IPA they currently have on tap.  For this example let’s just say it is Harpoon’s (this may or may not be a true story).  Bartender pours a taste and the customer begins to comment on the beer. 

“This beer is too light in color to be an IPA, and it’s not hoppy enough.  Also, it doesn’t seem to be high enough in alcohol content.”  Bartender smirks. 

“So what would you like?” She asks.

“A Sam Adams lager.”  The bartender nods her head and pours the beer.  End scene.

This may or may not be a true story, but the point I’m getting to is that these days, a lot of people consider themselves to be beer experts—now that craft beer is becomes   mainstream and it’s popularity grows even greater everyday, the average beer drinker at any given bar probably knows what an IPA is.  Or at least they think they know. 

I’m a big fan of healthy debates and I’m definitely not a “know-it-all,” when it comes to beer.  There’s always more we can learn and I don’t consider myself to be an expert yet.  Michael Jackson and Garrett Oliver?  Maybe.  But, definitely not me.  At the same time I have worked (and do everyday) to expand my beer knowledge by reading books (like Randy Mosher’s “Tasting Beer” or Charlie Papazian’s “The Homebrewer’s Companion”), becoming a Certified Server through the Cicerone program (the lowest of the 3 tiers although I’d love to become Certified Cicerone or even a Master), and of course, drinking a lot of beer (or as I like to say “expanding my palate”). 

So there are two beer-related matters this week that I’ve been pondering about and would like to share MY opinion of.  The first one is more of a “myth,” while the second one is a style debate. 

#1) Beers light in color tend to be lighter in alcohol content while beers darker in color tend to have a higher ABV.  In general. 

Someone said this to me the other day.  I didn’t really know how to respond.  (Yes it was the same guy who “sampled” the Harpoon and ordered a Sam Adams.  And I’m the bartender.  Hence my idea for this post).  This guy has obviously never had a Belgian Tripel before (and that’s perfectly fine—I’m totally not a snob). 

As you may know, beer color in the United States is measured by the Standard Reference Method or degrees SRM, the standard determined by the American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC).  So, your typical American Light Lager is going to be a 1.5 on this scale (pale straw) and your Imperial Stout is going to go above 40 SRM’s (more like 50-80).  A “typical” IPA can fall anywhere between 5 and 12 SRM’s aka “deep gold,” to “medium amber.”  A typical IPA also falls between 4.5-7.5% ABV, while some American Imperial IPA’s are much higher than this (Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA, for example, is way above that designation).  So I guess what I’m trying to say here is, there is no such thing as a “typical IPA.” Unless, maybe, you’re a certified Beer Judge through the BJCP, and you’re judging a homebrew competition based on the best example of that style…but let’s face it, we’re all judges sometimes.  That’s why Beer Advocate exists, right? You can’t really judge a beer by it’s color and know what the ABV is going to be based on that alone.  A dry Irish stout will be extremely high on the SRM scale (40+) but should be lower in alcohol (4.5-5.0% ABV).  And what about Barley Wines or American Strong Ales?!  Those mofos can be very misleading.  Barley Wines can range anywhere from 11 SRM’s (“pale amber” to “medium amber”) to 21 SRM’s (straight up “brown”).  But their ABV’s are always on the high side: 8-12%: Not your typical session beer.  You can, however, blind taste a bunch of beers (both ales and lagers) and based on how they appear to you (color-wise), guess what kind of style it may be.  But outright determining the ABV?!  I’m not sure if that’s probable.  Because when it comes to tasting beer, we really need all of our senses, and sight and taste are just two of them.  Hearing and touch may not be the most important senses when it comes to beer sampling, but sight, smell and taste are definitely important.  And tasting beer involves more than just swallowing it.  In conclusion: Can you judge a beer by it’s color?  Maybe a little bit—but it’s color won’t really tell you too much about it’s ABV… so, don’t judge a beer by its color!  Give it a chance…

 

 

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!