Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Funky Belgian 7

WFMU's Beer Hear! with Bob W. and B.R. from 8/24/2011
Warren offers up one from his personal collection
Over the last seven years our pal Warren Becker has organized an invitation-only beer tasting/fundraiser at BARCADE, and in that time it has raised thousands of dollars for The Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition (BARC). The event is kind of an organized pot-luck tasting, for which everyone brings a big bottle of something special, and everyone helps themselves, and each other, to samples of whatever looks interesting.
Bill's Otto and Sophie are alums of BARC
But it's not  just any beer -- it's specifically Belgian style beer brewed in America. The idea behind it was to showcase the fact that American craft brewers not only can brew the sometimes esoteric and unique (and wonderful!) Belgian Grand Cru, Kreik, Pale Ale, Wit, etc. -- but many kick ass at it!
The invitees let Warren know weeks and days in advance of what they are planning to bring. Warren creates a list and circulates it to the invitees every few days, so that 10 different people don't bring the same exact beer. This year there were about 50 people at the start and about 135 different bottles of various styles from possibly 100 different breweries. A full list of the beers is listed at the bottom.
Additionally, Warren reaches into his own pocket to buy a stack of pizzas from LA NONNAS for everyone, and other participants bring various delicacies (cheeses, mustards, cakes, salads, etc.). But one of the biggest attractions are the mouthwatering Belgian waffles that Mary Izett makes every year -- cooking them on the spot!
Mary waffles as Teddy hopes she drops one
Starting at about 1pm, people begin to gather around the tables, loaded with all manner of Belgian style beers. It's like a gathering of "Warren's Beer Pals", many of whom work in the craft beer business.
 The bottles are loosely arranged alphabetically. Many partakers refer to the list to hunt down a favorite brewery or a rare beer that they've been wanting to try. For many, bringing the most rare, hard-to-come-by bottle is a goal. Beers show up from as far away as Alaska. Some folks bust out prized possessions from their personal beer cellars. Cave-aged Hennepin? Capt. Lawrence Cuvee de Castleton Batch 4? Anchorage Brewing Whiteout Wit? Yes, yes and yes! And how about SEVEN different bottles from New Belgium?
When someone discovers something special on the table, rather than hogging it, they insist that the person next to them try it, and they excitedly search for their pals to make sure that they get a splash, so that they don't miss out. If someone brings something very special, they may open it themselves and then walk around the room with the bottle, trying to find folks who they know will appreciate it.

Over the course of the afternoon, thousands of sips of dozens of styles of beer slowly but steadily empty out the forest of large bottles. And hundreds of dollars are collected for BARC -- $500 this year. And if someone were to get the deposit back on all of the bottles, that in itself could pay for a few bowls of dog chow and meow mix!

The Corkmen get the party poppin'

So, a dachshund walks into a bar(cade)... so why the long face?

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