Category Archives: Beer

Beer of the British Isles

Happy 2010!

Join us to toast again with suds on January 21 from 6:30-9:30 pm while we explore beer from the British Isles as well as some domestic styles inspired by them.  Hobgoblin, Skull Splitter and stout – oh, my!

Click here for more info and to sign up.

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“Taking the ale train”

If you’re in NYC this weekend and free from office parties and the glorious mess of holiday shopping, you should drink beer. 

My friends over at Tasting Table put together an article on easily accessible (but not as obvious as the 2 in Brooklyn) breweries to visit.  I visited Blue Point over the summer and they had an incredibly gracious tasting program.  I enjoyed a Captain Lawrence Pale Ale with my meal last night at Back Forty – crisp, refreshing and plenty of pine notes to get you in the holiday spirit.

All Aboard!

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Advent calendar of beverages

Happy December!  As opposed to sharing a poem, part of the nativity story or chocolate, I thought I’d count down to Christmas with tasty beverages. 

I was surprised to learn that advent calendars were used by the German Lutherans as early as the beginning of the 19th century.  It’s not surprising that they’ve been altered by merchandisers to cash in on Christmas sales. 

I had a delicious beer over the weekend that we can use to kick things off.

The Hop Warrior Imperial IPA clocks in at 8.7% alcohol with an IBU of 120.2, but was incredibly well-balanced, with the right amount of hoppy bite.  It was citrus-y, with notes of orange and grapefruit and had a nice malty overtone.

The beer is made at Roosterfish Brewery in Watkins Glen, NY.  What started as a restaurant called Wildflower in 1990, expanded into a brewpub in 2004.  Starting in 2006, they began distribution to some parts of New York State.  They’re not in the city yet, but there are expansion rumors that include a bottling line.  My favorite part was being able to see the brewing equipment right in the middle of the dining room.

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Taste of the tropics

You gotta love a hotel that has a beer drinking contest as one of its activities.  Nestled among feeding the iguana, water aerobics and parents’ night off, it was the one item on the activity board that really caught my eye.

balashi beer logoIt wasn’t a simple chugging contest.  The local beer of Aruba, Balashi, was poured into 8 oz. cups and we were given straws (stirrers, really) and instructed to set our cups on the table, to put our hands behind our backs and to slurp from our straws as quickly as possible.  Sadly, I’m out of practice when it comes to drinking games and I tied for second, losing to the guy who everybody would’ve put their money on had this contest drawn any bettors.

The prize was a 6-pack of Balashi and the winner graciously shared his bounty with his fellow contestants.  There are a few interesting tidbits worth mentioning about Balashi.  It’s only available in Aruba, Holland, Curaçao and Bonaire and it’s made from desalinated water in a factory that can bottle 15,000 bottles per hour.  This same factory also manufactures and bottles Malta, Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite and Tropical cherry, pineapple, grape and orange sodas.

While pretty much everything tastes good when you get away for a couple days, this is the beer that I’m still thinking about:

Amstel BrightAlso with limited availability, Amstel Bright is crisp, clean, refreshing and citrus-y – a zippier, tastier Corona.  Salu!


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One of my beer heroes…

…is coming to teach at my school!

brooklyn-breweryGarrett Oliver, the brewmaster from Brooklyn Brewery and award-winning author of The Brewmaster’s Table, will be leading a beer-tasting and hands-on cooking class on Friday, October 23 from 6-10 pm. 

You’ll sample 5 Brooklyn brews, including Local 1 and Local 2 and get to try your hand at a few dishes such as Spicy Curried Crab Cakes and Fettuccine with Lobster, Chorizo and Peas. 

You all know I’m a wine nerd, but sometimes a beer is just better.  After taking this class, you’ll be able to explain why.  Sign up now.

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First taste of Germany

Lufthansa beerMy first taste of Germany was on Lufthansa airlines last night.  I know this is a wine trip, but they were serving wines from Australia, so I thought a German beer would be the proper way to kick things off.

The Warsteiner Premium Verum is a crisp, clean, refreshing pilsner-style beer – the perfect thing when you’re packed like a sardine into a stuffy plane.

What I love about this shot though is the bag of crackers with a picture of a German vineyard on the front.  These folks are going to be serious.

The flight attendants mistakenly equated my blond hair and blue eyes with an understanding of German, but sadly at this point in time I’m not much past guten tag.


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Maybe not so divertida

A few additional oddities to share:

san miguel apple

Apple flavored beer? With no alcohol?

beer with tequila

I prefer to follow tequila with beer, rather than mix the two.

cannabis absinthe

Turns out that "hemp" is one of the ingredients.


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Hold the sausage, pass the beer


photo courtesy of B. United International

I tried a mustard beer last night with my dinner at JoeDoe.  It hails from the Regenboog Brewery in Belgium (Brouwerij De Regenboog or Brouwerij ‘t Smisje in Dutch).  Specifically, the brewery’s located in the West Flanders municipality of Assebroek, a suberb of Bruges.  For a native English speaker, there’s a lot of unfortunate sounding words here. 

Regenboog means rainbow in Flemish and they’ve been brewing beer since 1995.  Despite its small production of less than 800 gallons per year (making it Belgium’s smallest craft brewery), Regenboog puts out six beers as part of its regular production as well as many seasonal brews, featuring both traditional Belgian styles as well as some more funky stuff – raisins, honey, vanilla.  I’m happy to report that Wostyntje is part of their regular production. 

Clocking in at 7% abv, it’s a strong, spicy golden ale with munich and pilsner malts, Kent Goldings and Challenger hops, candy sugar and mustard seeds from a nearby village called Tourhout.  This beer undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle, adding to its complexity.  The beer is surprisingly versatile – I enjoyed it with fried chickpeas, pickled onion rings, a salad of radish and spring garlic, duck egg and farro, Tasmanian trout and more – hey, there were 2 of us.  It has the full-bodied, citrus-y, spicy and floral qualities often associated with Belgian beer with a unique bitter finish from the crushed mustard seeds.

For a list of bars in NYC that carry it, click here.

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The Rockies strike again

check out those dames

check out those dames

I tried a perfect summer beer today from Avery Brewing Company – their Sixteenth Anniversay Saison Ale.  Those foxy chicks on the front represent the three major ingredients in the brew – jasmine, peach and honey.  These three are combined with Rocky Mountain water, malted barley, Belgian candy sugar, hops and Belgian yeast. 

French for season, the name saison was given to low-alcohol pale ale styles brewed in the French-speaking region of Belgium.  The name came about because the beer was brewed in the fall or winter so that the hardworking farm hands could have some summer refreshment – now they’re brewed year-round.  Historically, they had low alcohol (around 3% abv) and were often a safer choice than water for the farmers (most commerical brews today clock in at 5-8% abv – the Avery in question is 7.69% abv).  Extra hops were added to help preserve the ales through the summer since the low level of alcohol wouldn’t provide too much protection from spoilage.

My all-time favorite is Saison Dupont from Basserie Dupont in Tourpes, Belgium – it’s full-bodied, fruity and spicy with a nice dose of funk.  It’s a little much for summer and that’s where Avery comes in.  The Sixteen Saison has light spice and a touch of sweetness from the peaches, but it’s very clean with a super dry finish. 

Op uw gezondheid or maybe a votre sante!

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Check out the stein on that seal

Good Beer SealThe Good Beer Seal was formed to recognize establishments serving artisan suds and to promote NYC as a beer lover’s destination.  It was started by the proprietors of some incredible beer bars: Gary Gillis (Burp Castle and Standings), Ray Deter (DBA and DBA Brooklyn) and Jimmy Carbone (Jimmy’s No. 43).  In order for the bar to feature this thirsty seal of approval, the list must contain at least 80% craft or special imported beers, a good percentage of the beer served must come from a draft or cask system, the bar must have a strong community presence as well as a good “pub” vibe, and last but not least, serving good beer should be central to the bar’s operating philosophy.

The list of good beer bars includes the usual players – Blind Tiger, Spuyten Duyvil, Against the Grain, etc. – for a full list, click here.  The founders wrote a letter to Mayor Mike Bloomberg describing their efforts and he issued a proclamation that July 2009 is “NYC Good Beer Month”.   Two major events are lined up so far – a grill-off featuring amateur chefs at Water Taxi Beach in Long Island City to benefit Slow Food NYC and “Good Beer at BAM” in collaboration with Edible Brooklyn and Manhattan Magazines (for tickets, click here).  There’s a blog about the project as well and it lists what the good beer bars are serving up in July.

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