Tag Archives: two

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.




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?


Bourbon Barrel Aged Beers: Some things are worth the wait!…like this post!

20 Sep

What do you get when you mix your bourbon with your beer?  And I’m not talking about a boiler-maker, where one takes a shot of bottom shelf whiskey and pairs it with a Pabst!  No, I’m taking about craft beers aged in used bourbon barrels. 

After spending a week in Kentucky with 100+ other bartenders at Camp Runamok, I learned all about the art of our native distilled spirit, Bourbon.  I also learned a few other things, but those don’t need to be mentioned here.  This is a beer blog, after all.

Even though we were roughing it in cabins, I was able to obtain and sample some native beers.  One of these was the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout from Bluegrass Brewing Company (Clay Street Series).

This particular stout from BBC, a local Louisville brewery, is aged in bourbon barrels for sixty days, and is then mingled with the pre-aged stout to have a consistency of flavor.  In doing this though, I feel that the aged beer may have lost some of the distinctive complexities imparted by the bourbon barrels. 

The aromas of the bourbon were slightly present on the nose where you got the caramel and vanilla notes.  The particular brand of bourbon aged in these barrels was not specified.  For a stout, it was a bit thin or watery, and tasted kind of like an egg cream.  I would’ve liked to taste the bourbon more.  Still, this craft brew was a welcome alternative to cans of Busch in the woods.

Unfortunately, the local bourbon barrel aged beers I was able to sample in Kentucky are not available in NYC.  But for you locals, there are other beers of this style available here, despite our distance from the bluegrass state. 

One exceptional and local example is the Brooklyn Black Ops from the Brooklyn Brewery.  The beer is only released once a year and the bottles sell fast so if you see it this November, get your hands on it.  Black Ops is a Russian Imperial Stout that is aged for four months in bourbon barrels, and then bottle fermented with champagne yeast.  The yeast adds effervescence to the heavy, highly alcoholic beer (11% ABV).  This is probably my favorite of all the bourbon barrel aged beers I’ve ever tasted, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it again this winter.    

Another standout is Allagash’s Curiex, a Belgian Tripel that has been aged in Jim Beam bourbon barrels for eight weeks in a cold cellar.  It pours a golden yellow color.  The result is a boozy, oak-y, vanilla and banana-like tasting beer that is still surprisingly light.  Like the Black Ops, a corked bottle makes it ideal for aging.  If you’ve never tried it, I recommend it, especially for fans of Belgian ales.  The barrel aging adds to the complexity of flavors.

Goose Island has been producing a Bourbon County line for a long time now, with its stout being its most popular.  It is certainly a forefather in the bourbon barrel aged beer category.   

Weyerbacher (*one of the breweries we’ll be visiting on our Brewery Bus Tour*) releases its “Heresy,” in February, a bourbon barrel aged version of their Old Heathen Imperial Stout. 

Beers with a heavier malt background like stouts, porters, bocks, and barleywines, have a roasted coffee, chocolate-y taste, which works well with the oak-y vanilla caramel flavors present in the barrel and what remains of the bourbon (3 gallons of the whiskey automatically soak into the wood, hence the term “Angel’s Share”).   

While barrel aging your beer in bourbon can add wonderful new notes in the nose and layer it with a complexity of flavors, used bourbon barrels are not the only vessels brewers are using.  Different types of wood will impart different flavors, and the barrels may be used or new.  Beer can be aged in barrels previously used for port, sherry, whiskey, rum, wine, etc.  For example, Scotland’s Innis & Gunn have built their brewery’s reputation on aging different styles of beer in different types of barrels.  Michigan’s Jolly Pumpkin is another great brewery that ages their beers in barrels, but with a Belgian twist.

In fact, Belgium brewers have been using this process way before American craft breweries started to do the same thing.  Hence the distinctive Flanders-style beers like Rodenbach that have recently experienced a surge in popularity.  The unique flavors of this beer come from the aging process.

But sours and Belgian styles are a whole other category of barrel aged beers.  Right now, I still have bourbon on the brain.  September is National Bourbon Heritage Month, after all.    

If you are an experienced home brewer and would like to experiment with aging your beer in barrels, my first recommendation would to make friends with a distiller who can hook you up!  Kidding.  Barrels of different types are available in some homebrewing stores, and also available for purchase from distilleries and wineries as well as online. 

Do you have a favorite barrel aged beer?  Have any of you home brewers ever tried making one? 

   And if you ever find yourself in Kentucky, take a break from the bourbon and the horses to sample beers from the local breweries—you won’t be disappointed.