Monday, July 25, 2011

Pretty Things In Brooklyn

WFMU's Beer Hear! with Bob W. and B.R. from 7/26/2011

On July 21, 2011 Dann, Martha and Jim of PRETTY THINGS were at BARCADE in Williamsburg to showcase six of their lovely beers. They told us about what it's like to be a brewing company without a brewery, and talked about the "brewing philosophy" of Pretty Things.
Martha, Dann and Sophie at the bar.
The latest PT beer on tap was AMERICAN DARLING (7%abv), a "summer lager" which is made with 100% Weyermann malt from Bamberg, Hallertau-region hops, and three yeast strains, and is lagered for 7 weeks. It was a fresh, clean, malty lager with significant hop bitterness. It definitely had a special something setting it apart from a typical pilsner beer. I'm guessing that the yeasts used contributed a LOT to its uniqueness.

Always an impressive list at Barcade.
We also tried the JACK D'OR saison style beer, which was quite refreshing on what was a blisteringly hot day. It had some assertive hop character and bitterness as well as spiciness, especially when compared side-by-side to the soft and malty FIELD MOUSE'S FAREWELL, which uses Strisselspalt hops from Alsace and Bramling Cross hops from England. (If I ever get pet mice, I'm naming them Strisselspalt and Bramling.)

The American Darling and Baby Tree.
The BABY TREE "quadruple" was also on tap. Made with 40lbs of dried California plums added to the boil, it's a 9%abv dark belgian ale, with delicious candy sugar/brown sugar/toasted caramel flavors -- not too sweet, but sweet enough to mask the high octane nature of this very-glad-it's-served-in-a-10-ounce-glass beer.

They also featured the ST-BOTOLPHS TOWN, which we featured in an earlier post.

Sophie passes on a 9% ale...

...but she won't turn down a 7% lager!
It's not always easy to find many PT's beers on tap in NYC, but you can search for them at BEER MENUS. Also, they'll be at the Cooperstown, NY fest, BELGIUM COMES TO COOPERSTOWN on July 30-31, 2011 and at the STAG'S HEAD in Manhattan on July 27.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ray Deter Is Remembered By Dan Shelton

Ray Deter Is Remembered By Dan Shelton
On Monday July 11, 2011 a huge group of people gathered for a Second Line memorial march for Ray, and on Wednesday July 13 a formal memorial service was held for close friends and family at the beautiful Marble Cemetery, coincidentally located opposite the backyard wall of D.B.A. Manhattan. Ray passed away on July 3 from injuries he suffered when he was hit by a car while biking to work on June 27.

The beautiful, moving service was followed by a reception at D.B.A., with the taps flowing freely, and a most elaborate spread of incredible food, which honored Ray's penchant for enjoying "good stuff." More like great stuff.

The bar was filled with many giants of the East Coast craft beer world, some traveling from afar, paying their respects. One whom was Dan Shelton, who was not only a colleague of Ray, but a close friend as well. The two "beer hunters" took numerous trips to Europe in search of obscure beers and breweries to expose to others. A number of very entertaining videos were made on these trips and will hopefully be made available soon.

In the meantime, we asked Dan to tell us something about Ray. What he said reaffirmed our perception of Ray as a guy who loved life and lived it on his own terms. Ray was a huge presence in the beer world as well as in our local community. Sadly gone, but never forgotten.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Berliner Weisse At The Diamond

There are few beers more refreshing and easy to drink on a hot summer evening than a tart, sour 3% abv BERLINER WEISSE. But good luck finding this all too rare style session beer in any bar anywhere but Berlin, Deutschland. Though luck would be on our side Friday night at Greenpoint's THE DIAMOND bar, where we ventured out to sample some THIRIEZ EXTRA which was recently put on draft. The 4.5%abv French farmhouse ale was a great way to start the weekend, followed by a nice SOUTHAMPTON KELLER PILS, also on draft, and, in bottles, the tantalizing BAYERICHER BAHNHOF Berliner Weisse style sour German ale from the same Leipziger brewery that brings you LEIPZIGER GOSE, GASTHAUS & GOSEBRAUEREI BAYERISCHER BAHNHOF.

Bayricher Bahnhof, Keller Pils and the last gulp of Thiriez.
Bayerischer Bahnhof's 3%abv Berliner Weisse style beer, enjoyed straight (without syrup) had a delicious, quenching sourness, but significantly more subdued than, say, an intense Belgian Gueuze or even some other Berlin-made Berliner Weisse beers. It had a nice graininess and slightly earthy quality as well as a faint honey-like sweetness rounding out the delightful lactic acidity. Somebody's got to get this beer on tap in NYC this summer!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ray Deter's Second Line

We had planned on having more than one podcast this week. But technical issues in recording an interview with one of Ray's close friends set us back a week. But we managed to at least post this podcast in honor of our friend Ray Deter, who passed away on July 3rd as the result of injuries sustained when he was hit by a car while on his bike. It's simply a sound recording, without an intro/outro or narration, from a memorial gathering held in his memory.
Ray's Second Line podcast
I couldn't count the throngs of people who showed up in front of D.B.A. East Village on Monday, July 11, 2011 to join in a New Orleans-style Second Line procession in celebration of the life of Ray Deter, but it was clear that Ray had a lot of fans, friends and admirers.

With a mix of sadness for the loss of a good guy, a good friend and a beer scene icon mixed with the joy of his legacy and happy memories, a colorful band of spirited kindred souls followed an impromptu collection of various horned instruments (sousaphone, trumpets, saxaphones, clarinet), drums, tambourines, washbord, bells, whistles -- even a melodica! -- playing some soulful N'orlans standards, like Basin Street Blues.
The procession began at D.B.A. on 1st Ave. with many carrying candles, hoisting colorful umbrellas and waiving white hankerchiefs. It traveled west on 3rd St., spilling into the street, then south on 2nd Ave., turning east on 2nd Street to Ave. B, making it's way to Ray's home on East 6th Street, where there were repeated cheers of "RAY!" and much whooping it up!
I recorded a nice section of "When the Saints Go Marching In" with some inspired horn solos on my digital recorder. Though the sound quality is iffy, it does catch a bit of the spirit of the march. I don't think anyone will forget this high-spirited, utterly unique (for NYC) celebration, just as none of us will ever forget the high-spirited, utterly unique Ray. In heaven there is only the BEST beer...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blind Tiger: Belgian Specialty Ales

Blind Tiger: Belgian Specialty Ales

For this week, we had hoped to record an interview/beer tasting with one of the craft beer scene's true characters, Dan Shelton of SHELTON BROS. IMPORTERS (of which B.R. is in the employ), but for more reasons than can be listed, that didn't happen, though for no one's fault but fate. Let's put it this way: if you were to go to Wonka's Chocolate Factory, recording an interview wouldn't likely be your top priority. And when you're at a party of a beer importer... suffice to say that I (temporarily) lost the recording device, yet never lost my beer mug!

So, it was off to the BLIND TIGER, which has been the craft beer bar, and in recent years, bistro, of the West Village, and certainly one of the best such bars city wide, for the past 13 years. And it's not enough for owner Dave and company to provide over 30 incredible taps 356 days a year, including cask ale -- they've also had a long standing tradition of supporting the local, regional, national and international craft brewing scene by hosting weekly special events nearly every Wednesday from 3pm onwards.

Detailed descriptions of each special beer of the event.
The Wednesday events almost always feature a large, expansive plate of quality cheeses and bread from Murray's Cheese -- completely for free -- in addition to beer from a selected brewery, or a certain featured beer style or some other beer theme ("Christmas in July") to entice you to this place, which is easier to enter and much more difficult to leave once there.

Click on picture for larger view of the beer list.
In this installment of the podcast we talk with bar manager Katherine, who explains this Wednesday's "Belgian Specialty Ale" theme, and the general concept behind the Wednesday events.

Central Mass. On The 4th Of July

B.R. and I spent a few days over the 4th of July weekend in Belchertown, Mass., the home of SHELTON BROTHERS IMPORTERS. (FULL DISCLOSURE: B.R. is an employee of Shelton Bros.) Yes, a beer importer located in a place called BELCHERtown. And while we thought that we'd be able to get some kind of coherent interview with the notorious founder of one of the most reputed importers of craft beer, Dan Shelton, over the weekend, let me just set the scene for you:
A lake-side Independence Day party; beer flowing from noon till midnight; an endless supply of bottles of the best beers from Germany, Belgium, England and elsewhere; and keg of HIGH AND MIGHTY "BEER OF THE GODS" on the deck, just for good measure.

After numerous sudsy swims (one involving floating about among a dozen beer denizens, beer mugs deftly kept above the waterline and the floating dock acting as the watery supply depot), by the time we got around to hitting the record button on the mini-disc player, it was kind of a lost cause.

To make it even more lost, I forgot my mini-disc recorder when we left.

The worse loss of the weekend, though, was that of RAY DETER, the founder of DBA, who passed away Sunday night after a week unconscious in the hospital following a bike accident -- Ray was toasted a number of times over the weekend.

Adding to everything else, I inadvertently downloaded the "lake app" to my Blackberry (in other words, the phone went for an unscheduled swim). And though we might have lost many things that weekend, all was not lost!

We were pointed in the direction of the very hidden away LADY KILLIGREW pub at the Montague Book Mill.
A Steep Drop to the Mill Stream Below the Lady Killigrew
It's about as beautiful a stream-side woodland setting that you could ever wish for in a secret country pub. I had a dark TRöEGS DOUBLE BOCK, while B.R. opted for the lighter Belgian wit style -- CISCO's LADY GREY. At first the double bock seemed the better choice, with it's fullness and richness, but in the warm summer afternoon air, that gave way more and more to a heavy licorice-like flavor that was hard to finish off. Though we made a new bug-pal who loved it!
We seriously got this bug, which is hard to see, drunk. Please don't tell the A.S.P.C.B(ugs).
The CISCO was perfect, though, with mild tartness, lightness and refreshment. The book shop next to the pub was insane! Anyone who might like to get lost in a maze of new and used books of every subject, strewn about in a creaky old mill building -- you've got to plan a visit.

There were many beer moments at many different locations over a short three days, but one of the best was our first ever taste of local brewing heroes HIGH AND MIGHTY. We were delighted to BEER OF THE GODS, a crisp satisfying Pilsner on draft at THE DIRTY TRUTH in downtown Northampton (the beer bar in town), as well as their full-bodied, flavorful Stout, DOUBLE HEADED BEAST. The next day we got to try their XPA, which is basically a very easy to drink, completely balanced Pale Ale. Want an "extreeeeme!!!" pale ale? Don't order this. This is strictly for simply like well made beer.

We tried the XPA at one of the the most idiosyncratic bars that we've visited in a while, the BRASS CAT in East Hampton, Mass., a place that sports maybe 8 taps and a diverse bottle list, all varied enough to please bikers, townies, tourists, beer geeks, drunks, weirdos, moms, off duty cops and your uncle floyd, all of which could be expected to be seen at the bar on any given afternoon. It's a beautiful bar and should be visited for that reason alone, but the beers and free salted peanuts in the shell from the barrel are added incentive.

Why were we in Easthampton? To meet Peach and to see the (possible) future home of HIGH AND MIGHTY.
Could this be the future site of 20bbl fermenters of Beer of the Gods?

And if so, will they leave the pin-up pictures from a previous tenant from god-knows-which decade?