Ski Bar Recap (or Ski-Cap, For You Pun Lovers)

Quick review of last night’s Brooklyn Brewery Event at Ski Bar:

Not as well attended as I expected. In fact, I’d say that Tony and I brought about 80% of the bar’s business for the night. Certainly not a bad thing though – less of a chance of any of the taps kicking early. I’ve been drinking a lot of Blast lately – killed two growlers of it last week, and had it on cask with Tony at lunch – so I stuck to heavy doses of Dark Matter, Buzz Bomb, and an aged version of the East India IPA, which was excellent. I’ve only ever seen the EIPA on tap at the Brewery itself, and since they always have the Blast flowing there as well, I usually opt for the latter imperial version. Last night though, the EIPA took the spotlight and won me over with a previously unnoticed unique hop character and decent malt balance. I might have to pick up a 6er of it this weekend to see how the aging affected the overall flavor.

Buzz Bomb was exactly as I remembered it, and as I’ve said before, its a good, unique beer, but it’s hard for me to justify ordering a pint when there are other superior beers on tap. Like Dark Matter, which was definitely the hit of the night. I remember reading about this elusive Brooklyn brew last year, before it became an official member of the Brewmaster’s Reserve Series. Garrett Oliver would show up at random beer events with a few unmarked bottles (or a small keg) of his whiskey barrel-aged Brown Ale (which I would hear about only after the fact), and people would rave about how amazing the experimental brew was. Brooklyn graciously brewed a larger batch this year and I managed to finally try it (several times), but the run was extremely limited, so having it back on tap last night was a delicious treat. “Wow, this is fucking good” was how my friend Dave, trying it for the first time, described it. I had 3 or 4, which was a BIG mistake; the 8% ABV, which does NOT try to be subtle at all, came back to haunt me at the end of the night, as Tony can attest to.

Tomorrow is the big Craft Beer Festival at MCU Park in Coney Island. Tony, the winner by proxy of the raffle at Ski Bar, is going, but I’m taking the day off. Hopefully he’ll be sober enough to file a report on the festivities.

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Reminder – Brooklyn Brewery Night at Ski Bar

Nothing substantial today, other than the fact that I applied for several jobs within the brewing industry. (By the way, if any brewers are reading this and are looking for a handsome, young, experienced writer/television producer to hire or work with, drop me a line. Not sure why handsome would be their number one requirement, but whatever).

Fueled partly by job apathy, or more accurately, apathy about not having one, and mostly by my love of all things Brooklyn Brewery, I’ll be drinking tonight at Ski Bar in Bay Ridge, where they’ll be tapping The Blast!, Dark Matter, East India IPA, and Buzz Bomb, all for around $3 a pint thanks to Brooklyn Brewery. It’s the second can’t miss event of the year for me, besides the intervention my friends staged for me back in March. Hope to see you there. And if you do, buy this jobless guy a pint, eh?

Dogfish Head Night at Rattle ‘N Hum and Special Private Tour

I’ll usually try to keep this blog Brooklyn-centric, but I have to mention this because it’s such a cool event. Rattle ‘N Hum, probably the best beer bar in Manhattan (sorry Blind Tiger Ale House) is offering a special private tour of the Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware on Saturday July 10th. If you know me, you know that I love Dogfish Head more than I’ll probably ever be able to one day love my first son (ok, that’s not true, but MAYBE the next kid, since 2nd children are usually assholes), so the fact that I’ll be missing this tour because I’ll be in Disney World with my lovely lady hurts almost as much as the slap I’m sure to get from said lovely lady for publicly bemoaning the fact that I can’t make it that day because I’ll be with her in Disney World. Let me re-read that sentence and make sure it makes sense.

Anyway, here are the details: $85 gets you transportation to and from the brewery, plus food and beer, and a R&H T-shirt. Oh and did I mention, a special private tour of the brewery given by Sam Calagione, owner of Dogfish Head?? Holy shit I really hope one of my friends goes and sends me constant pictures and updates so I can live vicariously through them for a day. And if said friend does go, he had better bring me back a bottle of something good and rare. How about a Squall IPA, or some Pangaea?

Speaking of 22oz Dogfish Head bottles, Bitches Brew is their latest creation that I’m really excited about. Brewed in honor of the 40th Anniversary of Miles Davis’ epic album of the same name, this is supposedly a mixture of three parts imperial stout and 1 part honey beer with gesho root. What gesho root is, I have no clue, and because I’m too lazy to Google it right now, I’ll just have to take Sam’s word that it goes well in beer. Ah, who am I kidding, they could have said the beer was made with three parts Chlorine and one part cyanide, and I’d still buy two bottles – one to try and one to age. The bottles are supposed to be shipping to distributors in August, which is around the same time as my roommate’s birthday, so it looks like he won’t be getting a gift this year (priorities, priorities).

UPDATE

– Ok so there really can’t be an update on a blog post that I haven’t even posted yet, but as I was previewing it for publish, I went to Rattle ‘N Hum’s blog and found out that one June 21st, Sam Calagione himself will actually be at Rattle ‘N Hum and he’s bringing pretty much everything Dogfish brews with him, including 120 minute IPA, the aforementioned Squall and Pangaea, Black & Blue, Red & White, and even some Saison Du Buff. Um, is it the 21st yet? Ah screw it, what time does Rattle ‘N Hum open today? You know what they say, it’s never too early to start pre-gaming (they = me).

I Like Beer

Hey Beer fans…

I’m the other guy in Bay Ridge, but not exactly…I’m moving soon.

So for this blog, I’m taking the outside looking in approach to the world of beer.  I’m definitely not someone who can describe each taste or aroma in detail.  I give more of a “Not Bad”, “Thumbs Up”, “Hoppy”, “Not Hoppy”, “AWESOME!!!”, etc. descriptions.  My colleague in the world of beer, Mike G is a total “Beer Nerd”.  He’ll fire all these words at you that even I find hard to comprehend.  It’s like Peanuts…”Womp Womp Womp BEER.  Womp Womp HOPS.  Womp Good!”  My description….”Dude, this is awesome…try it!”  What does this all mean?  Why should I listen to you?  Well you don’t have to…I just love to try beers and it’s my civic duty to help others know there is more to beer than Coors Light or Bud.  When I go to a bar, I’ll may settle for a Stella, Yeungling or Guinness…but what I’m really looking for is Brooklyn, Stone, Victory, Dogfish Head, etc type of beers.  It really is another world of beer.  If you’re a fan of wine, you’ll definitely understand there is more than just Red and White…beer is the same way.

Recently Mike got invited to Brooklyn Brewery’s Summer Release Party.  He was nice enough to take me along (THANK YOU MIKE).  When we got in, we were given a beautiful Brooklyn Brewery Glass and as much beer as we could drink that night…WOW!  Their 2 newest beers were the Sorachi Ace and Buzz Bomb.  The Sorachi Ace is a Saison type Ale (Maybe Mike will elaborate on types of beers) which is pretty light and refreshing.  Pretty much a good Summer beer.  At first…seriously, it taste like lemon scented soap.  Really!  It comes from the special lemon hops created in Japan.  After a few more sips the soap taste went away and it was actually good.  Refreshing, not hoppy…crisp.  Would I spend $15-20 on a bottle?  Naa…but it’s worth trying.  If you like lemon, you will enjoy it.

The Buzz Bomb…I can’t describe it.  I had it 3 times already and I’m still clueless.  This came from a bar’s menu…

Brooklyn Brewmaster’s Reserve – Buzz Bomb – Belgian Yeast, Wildflower Honey, hops, and orange zest.  Bright Gold Color, floral aroma, light crisp and bone dry.

“Really?  What the hell does that mean?  Am I drinking a flower?!?  Hops?  I hope so they used hops”.  That was more of an attack against the beer description than the beer itself.  To me it tasted like nothing.  I didn’t think it was awful or fantastic…Crisp? Yes.  Sweet? A bit.  Dry? Well, it wasn’t a Radeberger dry.  It just never blew me away and that’s saying a lot if you call it a Buzz Bomb.  If you see it on tap and there is nothing else and you’re looking for something new, it’s worth trying, but that’s it.  A Happy Hour, Half-Off beer.

Well I hope you enjoyed my first post.  I’ll try to keep the next one under 500+ words.

-Tony W (From Staten Island…no, I am not a guido!)

Brooklyn Brewery Bonanza

If there’s one thing that I respect about beer, it’s that it always stands by you, through thick and through thin. Your dog could die, you could get arrested for DUI, your girlfriend could leave you for the guy who hit your dog and told you that you looked sober enough to drive home that night (bullshit!), but when you open that fridge, you can bet your sweet ass that beer will be there waiting, like a weathered old war buddy, cold and delicious, and ready to ease the pain inflicted upon you by this cold, cruel world.

I had a far less dramatic experience involving the soothing nature of beer recently, when I was graciously invited by Brooklyn Brewery to attend the exclusive release party for not one, but two beers: The 22oz bottle fermented version of the Sorachi Ace Saison, and their new summer Brewmaster’s Reserve, the Buzz Bomb. How a partially unemployed, relatively-unknown beer lover got so lucky to score two seats to a DOUBLE Brooklyn party, I’ll never know.

Yes I was first in line. You know, in case they ran out.

I’ve been a huge fan of the tap-only Brewmaster’s Reserve Series, starting with my first taste of the Blunderbuss Old Ale, through the Manhattan Project, Dark Matter, Cookie Jar Porter, and my favorite, The Blast! double IPA, so my expectations were high for this rather unusual brew. The Buzz Bomb is named for the ridiculous amount of local upstate honey used in the brewing process – over 25% of the initial fermentable sugar, which technically classifies this golden-orange beer a mead, and more specifically, a Braggot:

Golden Meady Goodness

Braggots, and meads in general, are rare to find at all but the most obscure beer bars in the country, so Tony and I considered this a treat, albeit one we’d have a hard time reviewing, as our knowledge of Braggots holds about as much water as Jordan Van Der Sloot’s alibi.

Since my palate isn’t as refined as your average beer connoisseur, I’ll try to keep the review short and sweet. The first thing that hit me right off the bat was the nose. Huge honey notes shimmied up my nostrils as soon as I put the glass to my lips. Whereas the Local 2, Brooklyn’s other brew made with honey, offers only faint traces of the sweet upstate nectar, the Buzz Bomb’s honey hit me like an A-Rod line drive hit off of a Roger Clemens steroid fastball. The taste, however, was surprisingly well balanced; I was expecting the sweet receptors on my taste buds to go crazy, but the beer was actually quite light, well, light as 8% beers go. The carbonation was higher than I expected, and I wonder if Garrett Oliver should have dialed it back a bit to make it slightly more accessible as a summer quencher. I usually have a hard time deciphering complex beers on my first try, and this beer was very complex to say the least, but I did manage to notice a nice floral tone on the back of my tongue before the extremely dry, cruelly crisp finish. Compared to other Brewmaster Reserves, I give it a B+. Very original, and quite an innovative use of local honey, but the carbonation and lack of a lasting finish left me wanting a something different for the next round.

Which is why I tried the Sorachi Ace next. I’ve had the Brewmaster’s version of the Ace on tap many times before, but I was intrigued to see what a little bottle refermenting would do to this lemony Saison. I gave the original Sorachi Ace an A – it was probably the main beer that got me into my latest Saison kick – and I’m happy to report that the bottle version is just as refreshing and complex as the original Ace. Tony commented that the smell of lemons was overwhelming, like smelling dish soap, but this was never a problem for me. In fact, I think its what makes this beer so unique and so dangerously drinkable (considering it weighs in at a robust 7.5% ABV). The only downside is the price – $12 – $18 per 22oz bottle, depending on where you go in the city (Whole Foods is the cheapest so far – $12/bottle). Of course, we were served free Sorachi Ace to our heart’s content, along with another equally delicious brew, the Intensified Coffee Stout, so we couldn’t complain.

Tony on the left, yours truly on the right

For anyone reading this and kicking themselves in the ass for not finagling their way into the Brooklyn party like Tony and I did – our favorite Bay Ridge bar, Ski Bar on 5th ave b/w 73rd and 74th St. is hosting a Brooklyn Brewery night this Thursday June 10th. Tony and I will be their around 9, and I hear the Brewery will be bringing some Blast!, Buzz Bomb, and Dark Matter, along with other surprises. I also heard a rumor of $2.50 Brooklyn pints, but don’t quote me on that. We’ll be there doing “research” for this blog, which means drinking pretty heavily until one of us either blacks out or they find out we started a tab with some other guy’s credit card.

–Mike

Beer Essentials

Welcome to Beer Essentials, a blog covering all things beer in Brooklyn and Manhattan written by 2 guys in Bay Ridge (ok, actually 1 guy currently in Bay Ridge and 1 guy about to move there from Staten Island). The gist of this blog is simple – great American beer available around Brooklyn and Manhattan – our drinking backyards. We’ll be reviewing some outstanding beers that we’ve recently tried, as well as covering local events that we manage to get graciously invited to (or sneak in). If you love beer, and want to know where to find the best craft brews in Brooklyn, check out this blog everyday. (At least I’ll TRY to update everyday)

Tomorrow I’ll be writing up my long-delayed review of the Brooklyn Buzz Bomb (and subsequent release party at the Brewery). Today, however, I’ll leave you with a small beer scoop that probably won’t last very long, if til the end of the night. If you’re a fan of Saisons, especially experimental brew, head on over to Fourth Avenue Pub off of Baltic St and (you guessed it) 4th Avenue in Park Slope to get an exclusive taste of the outstanding Saison Du Buff, a collaboration between three of my favorite breweries – Stone, Dogfish Head, and Victory. Word is they received a very limited amount (I’m talking one keg) of the Stone-brewed version of this Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme infused beer and tapped it yesterday afternoon. I haven’t heard of any other beer bars in Brooklyn (or even Manhattan for that matter) having this deliciously rare brew on tap, so this might be your only opportunity outside of paying $5.50 per 12oz bottle to try this extremely limited specialty brew.

–Mike G (the guy currently in Bay Ridge)

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