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Night of the Other Half at Brooklyn Brewery

Last night I had the opportunity to attend the Night of the Other Half tasting hosted by Brooklyn Brewery. Last year Other Half hosted Brooklyn Brewery Head Brewer Garrett Oliver for a ghost bottle tasting at the Other Half tap room where a number of unreleased Brooklyn Brewery beers were poured. So this year Oliver returned the favor and hosted Other Half at the Brooklyn Brewery.

Brewmaster Garrett Oliver introducing Other Half

After a quick introduction by Oliver, Other Half’s Head Brewer Sam Richardson stepped up to talk about the beers and the history of Other Half.

Other Half Head Brewer Sam Richardson

The Other Half crew brought seven of their beers with them. While they are well known for their hoppy IPAs, this night they decided to showcase their other styles. Being poured for the night:

Veldrijden Love: A farmhouse saison with rye, oats, raw wheat, spel, and aged in Chardonnay barrels.

Falsa Noctis: A black saison fermented with Brettanomyces and aged in wine barrels.

Kerstperiode: A dark farmhouse saison

In Absentia Luci: An Imperial stout aged in red wine barrels.

Rosso: A Grand Cru aged in red wine barrels with Brett.

Brett Saison: A Golden saison aged in French oak white burgundy barrels with Brett.

Flavor Particles: This was the only IPA served this night. It is brewed with Apollo, Lemon Drop and Calypso hops.

Other Half Crew pouring delicious beers

After sampling Other Half’s beers, the folks from the Brooklyn Brewery opened up a ghost bottle for the crowd. They poured what they called “Galahad”, which is their Local 2 Belgian Dark Abbey ale aged with cider lees. A very nice ale with a slight tartness from the cider.

Good crowd

Overall this was a great event, especially since it was free. It is great to see that Other Half is held in high regard by Garrett Oliver and Brooklyn Brewery. Here’s to hoping they do a collaboration beer!

Smile Anthony!

Cheers!

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Beer Review: Surly Brewing Co. Abrasive Ale

Surly Brewing Co. Abrasive Ale

New York City has its share of great breweries and we also get a good supply of out of state beer from the local distributors. Unfortunately not all beer can make it to NYC. Fortunately there are good people who will bring good beer with back from far away lands. Fellow Beer Advocate buddy John R. surprised me with a beer from the far away land of Minnesota, a can of Surly Brewing Co. Abrasive Ale. Surly Brewing started brewing beer in December of 2005 in Minneapolis and was named Best Brewery in America by Beer Advocate in 2007, only 16 months after they opened. In May of 2011, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed the “Surly Bill” into law, which allowed breweries that produce less than 250,000 barrels each year to sell pints of their beer at their brewery. This was all due to Surly wanting to open a bigger brewery where people could sample their beer. I have heard a lot about this brewery, yet have not had a chance to try them. I am glad I got to sample one of their most famous beers.

What makes this double IPA interesting is that they use oats as an adjunct. Oats add to the body of the beer and help mellow out hop bitterness. I will say this is one smooth tasting beer.

Appearance: Hazy Gold, Light Orange

Aroma: The aroma of the Citra hops comes through first with grapefruit and tangerines.

Taste: Fruit forward from the Citra with a nice earthy bitterness from Warrior hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium Body rounded off by the oats

Overall: A delicious DIPA. Too bad not available in NYC.

Rating: 4/5

Good stuff!

Here’s to hoping that Surly Brewing gets distributed to NYC one day. Until then I’ll have to rely on the kindness of friends!

CHEERS!

2015 NYC Beer Week Opening Bash

Last Friday marked the beginning of NYC’s annual Beer Week in which the city celebrates everything that is New York State beer. This entire week is full of beer filled events showcasing the best New York has to offer (check out brewyorknewyork.com for a list). The NYC Beer Week Opening Bash party officially kicked things off with a great event at the Altman Building in Manhattan.

Over 40 brewers from across New York State occupied two floors of the event space. A wide range of craft brewers were represented. From larger brewers such as Ommegang, Ithaca, and Southern Tier, to smaller craft brewers such as Transmitter, Dyckman, and City Island. There was even one brand new New York brewery there debuting their first beer. Headed by Chris Cuzme and Mary Izett, Cuzett Libations is the result of two well known beer personalities in NYC brewing together. Their first beer is Cuzett Grisette which is a 4.3% ABV session saison.

Other beer highlights for me included Chester, NY’s Rushing Duck Ded Moroz with Coconut Russian Imperial Stout. A very interest stout as you can see by the description:

Rushing Duck Ded Moroz

Brewing out of Lakewood, NY, Southenr Tier brought their Grand Arbor Farmhouse Ale. This one was interesting in that it was brewed with maple syrup. The earthy sweetness of the maple syrup was a nice addition to the tartness.

Southern Tier Grand Arbor

I was happy to see that there was a nice selection of cask beer available at the event as well. NYC’s Radiant Pig brought a lovely dry hopped cask version of their Junior IPA:

Radiant Pig Junior IPA

This Strawberry Blond Cask Ale was brewed by NYC’s Alphabet City Brewing Company:

ABC Beer Strawberry Blonde

In addition to all the beer, the were a number of local restaurants serving up snacks to soak up all that beer. From tacos and chili to ramen burgers and pulled pork sushi rolls. There was also a oyster raw bar and pretzel necklace making table.

Fool’s Gold Tacos and Chili

Blurry oysters

Pretzel Necklaces

Ramen Burger

The Bearded Alchemist was even their to mix up some crazy beer based cocktail:

Overall this was a great event. Very well run and organized with plenty of space to drink and eat. I will definitely be attending next year.

Cheers!

Beer Review: Stone+Baird+Ishii Green Tea IPA

Stone + Baird + Ishii Japanese Green Tea IPA

I love Japanese craft beers. I first visited Japan in September of 2011 and I immediately fell in love with the country. So much so that as soon as I came back home from that trip I immediately purchased another ticket to go back. The craft beer culture in Japan is amazing, albeit very young, having only been legally allowed since 1994. Before 1994, a brewery in Japan had to produce 17,000 barrels of beer (this was no problem for big brewers like Sapporo and Asahi), but a change in the laws that year reduced that to only 500 barrels. This is when “Ji-Biiru” (地ビール) or “Local Beer” started to appear. The term “Ji-Biiru” was eventually was replaced by “Karafuto Biiru” (クラフト ビール) which directly translates to “Craft Beer”.  In the past 21 years the Japanese craft beer has exploded. Nowadays there are small breweries popping up everywhere and new craft beer bars open up almost every week in Tokyo.

Stone Brewing Co. has been brewing since 1996 and now is located in Escondido, CA. They are well known for their hoppy beers which are very popular in Japan. I saw Stone and other various California craft brewers on tap at numerous craft beer bars. Since California is as close to Japan you can get within the continental US, those beers arrive in Japan a bit fresher than anything from the East coast would. I didn’t see any East Coast beers in Japan, besides the occasional Brooklyn Lager. Since green tea and beer are the two most consumed beverages in Japan, it almost makes sense that these two flavor profiles be blended together. It also makes sense that Stone Brewing would team up with one of the most popular Japanese craft brewers, Baird Brewing Company. Owner and Head Brewer Bryan Baird officially opened the brewery in 2001 in the city of Namazu, Japan. Since then they have become one of the most successful Japanese craft beer brands and have opened up several tap rooms across Japan. Ishii Brewing was founded by owner and head brewer Toshiyuki Ishii in 2010 in Tamuning, Guam. Ishii worked for Stone for 4 years before returning to to Japan to work at various breweries. It was Ishii who approached Stone about making this unique beer as a project to benefit the 2011 tsunami relief fund.

I absolutely love this beer. I loved it when I first tried in back in 2011 and I love this version as well. The use of Australian Helga hops masks the 10.1% ABV very well with delicious fruity notes.

Appearance: Golden, but with a lot of sediment. I’m guessing that is from the green tea.

Aroma: Herbal tea smell is at the forefront, but the fruity hops support it nicely.

Taste: This stuff is amazing. The green tea and IPA are perfectly combined. Almost like having green tea ice cream at the end of a Japanese meal. There is definitely a bit of a grassy after taste, but it’s very pleasant.

Mouthfeel: Smooth. Real smooth.

Overall: Dear Stone – please make more of this!

4.5/5

Delicious!

So here’s to hoping that this beer will get a yearly release.

Cheers!

My Favorite Beer Events of 2014

This has a been a crazy year of attending craft beer events. From home brew competitions to huge beer festivals, I got to taste many new beers I have never had before, as well as meet many great fellow craft beer fans. Of all the events that I attending this year, two stand out for me.

BCTC 2014

Belgium Comes to Cooperstown (BCTC) is one of the largest (if not the largest) Belgium beer event in the United States. Nearly 3000 people descend upon Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown, New York the week-end of August 8th and 9th to enjoy hundreds of beers from over 70 different breweries. This was my second year attending this event and I’m glad I came back.

Tent 1

While most of the breweries focus on bringing their Belgian style beers such as saisons, tripels, sours, Belgian IPAs, and Flander reds, many took the opportunity to showcase off their other beers. Some of which were complete one offs available only at this event.

Dogfish Head always thinking weird!

One of those special beers was served by Dogfish Head. They were pouring their Festina Pêche, a Berliner Weiss, through a randall of Sour Patch Kids candy and fresh raspberries. A sugar bomb in a glass, this was actually not so sweet that it wasn’t drinkable. But one taste was enough.

Tent 2

One of the biggest reason this event is always great is that everyone there is nice and respectful of each other. No craft beer assholes trying to trying to drink up all the good stuff and very few annoying drunks stumbling around. There is also plenty of room for all the drinkers on the Ommegang grounds. Good food selection, free bottles of water, and plenty of facilities. Also this event is great because my friend’s father lives close by where half a hog and a giant bonfire were waiting for us to help soak up a day of great beer drinking.

Oink!

Huge fire.

The second event that I had an amazing time at was a Ghost Bottle event hosted by world renown Brewmaster Garrett Oliver at Other Half Brewing. This was a very small event limited to the first 50 people who could get there. So with this bit of information I thought the event would be a crazy madhouse of beer nerds trying to cut in line and hog bottles. To my complete surprise, this event was not crowded at all. Perhaps 40 people were in attendance and everyone was very polite and friendly. The best part of all, the event was completely free!

Ghost Bottles!

For those who don’t know, the term “ghost bottle” is applied to bottled beers that are usually brewing experiments not meant for public release. These beers are reserved for the brewery’s workers consumption, but once in a while they get released into the wild for public tastings.

Garrett Oliver popping bottles

Garrett Oliver brought six different ghost bottles from his own collection in the cellars of the Brooklyn Brewery:

Gambit

– Gambit: This is Brooklyn Brewery’s Sorachi Ace beer that was been aged in Cognac Puncheons with blackberries and wild yeast.

Cuvee De La Crochet Rouge Rose

– Cuvee De La Crochet Rouge Rose: Brooklyn Brewery’s Local 1 aged in bourbon barrels with Pinot Noir lees from the Red Hook Winery.

Gawain

– Gawain: The Local 1 is used here again, aged in bourbon barrels with Sauvignon Blanc lees.

Wild Horse

– Wild Horse Porter: a 100% Brett fermented porter.

K Is For Kriek

– K is for Kriek: This uses Brooklyn Brewery’s Local 2 fermented with 20 lbs of cherries. Then this is bottled conditioned for 2 years. Apparently this beer will be commercially available in 2015.

Hand & Seal

– Hand & Seal: An English style Barley wine that has been aged in Four Roses bourbon wood. Originally a ghost bottle beer, this beer is now part of Brooklyn Brewery’s BQE Series and is available in stores.

Garrett laying down knowledge

I’ve attended many events hosted by Garrett Oliver, but at this event I finally got a chance to talk with him a bit. One of the nicest and funniest guys in the beer industry. Also people brought their own bottles and shared them with the crowd. Other Half is a great place to share bottles with people.

There have been other great events this year such as Barcade’s 10th Anniversary, Brooklyn Pour Fest, the various beer tasting classes at Top Hops, Japanese Craft Beer tasting at Japan Society, and many other blurry nights. I am looking forward to all the great events that await me in 2015!!!

Cheers!!!!