Friday, August 24, 2012

Beer Here Museum Exhibit

Yes, they have t-shirts!
[link to podcast page]
WFMU's Beer Hear! with Bob W. and B.R. from 8/27/2012

You'd expect the NY Historical Society Museum to put together exhibits on things like the socioeconomic impact of the Erie Canal on NY State in the late 1800s,  the transition of New York City from the Dutch to the British in colonial times, and other such subjects which, while definitely interesting, can be a bit academic and dry.
A 1779 ledger of Wm Faulker's brewery, showing no discrimination
between Revolutionary and Redcoat customers.
Well, this is the last week of an exhibit that opened in May at the NYHS that is anything but dry! "Beer Here: brewing New York's history" will have its last-call on Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012.

B.R. and I sat down with one of the exhibit's curators, Nina Nazionale (notice the "ale" in her name!), who put together the exhibit with Debra Schmidt Bach (sounds a lot like "bock"!). Nina told us how they conducted research and acquired materials to display for this extensive, educational, in depth, visually stimulating and extremely entertaining exhibit.
BR and Nina in the exhibit's beer hall.
Anyone who is a fan of beer, brewing culture and history mustn't miss this! And if a pure "museum experience" isn't your thing, there is an functioning bar/beer hall as part of the exhibit! Yes -- you can buy a beer and enjoy it there with some pretzels, after getting your thirst whetted while learning about the history of beer in New York! There is also one last beer event, featuring Greenport Harbor, this Saturday Aug. 25, 2012 -- one session starting at 2pm and another at 4pm.
That's what museums have been lacking -- beer!
As you might expect, there's lots of beer memorabilia on display -- old photos of beer halls and breweries, vintage bottles and cans, and beer artwork. There are also plenty of antique implements and brewing equipment on display. You can even listen to classic radio commercials for beer and view vintage TV beer ads, including a hilarious Piels animated ad from the 60s featuring cartoon hucksters Bert and Harry Piel (voiced by radio legends Bob and Ray). The audio and visual quality at the exhibit is of "broadcast quality", unlike the youtube clip linked just prior. We only posted 1/4 of the photos we took, and we only photographed a fraction of the countless, wide-ranging items on display.
Bert and Harry Piel, with Philippe Dupré at MSG -- lost in translation, or found in inebriation?
We have a few special passes offering 2-for-1 admission to the exhibit ($15 for two people, as opposed to $15 each). Email us if you would like one, and we'll snail-mail you the discount pass, or we'll arrange a drop off at a NYC location, as long as supplies last. The museum hours are listed on their website, and on Fridays it's "pay-as-much-as-you-like" from 6pm-8pm. Also, there are some very swank exhibit-related items for sale, should you care to exit through the gift shop.

Early 1700s license for a tavern to sell beer in NYC.
1700s ad -- not too similar to the Spuds McKenzie campaign some years later.
Tavern sign from 1700s.
A huge brewing complex near 110th St. and 10th Ave. in the 1800s.
This Bowery beer hall could serve 1,000 volks at a time!

That's an awful lot like Kulmbacher...

Box o'hops.
The Schaefer brewery on Kent St. in Williamsburg.
Vintage bottle capper.

During Prohibition, Schaefer sold .5% abv "near beer".
A Staten Island brewery.
The exhibit's bar.
The museum beer hall.
Gift shop!
At first I thought that they misspelled "Beer Hear!"

The President Of Homebrew?

You may have recently seen a feature on CNN about the White House's homebrewed beers. The NY Times and DesMoines Register also covered the news that Pres. Obama is the first US President to have brewed beer in the White House.

From the Times article:

"The honey ale is brewed with honey from the White House beehive and is one of three types of beer produced at the White House, in addition to a blonde ale and a honey porter. (According to the blog Obama Foodorama, Sam Kass, the assistant White House chef, says the porter is “unbelievably good.”) The first family foots the bill for the brewing equipment and production.

President Obama made history last year as the first president to brew beer in the White House. Since then, the beer has been made mostly in small batches for special occasions (or campaign trips), and the recipe has been kept secret."

He's probably the first president since Jefferson to have brewed beer! Check the links above for more about the White House Ales.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Funky 8 Belgian Style American Beers

[link to podcast page]

For eight years, NYC beer-scenester Warren Becker has, with friends Bill and Glen, organized a unique beer party for Warren's inner circle of beer buddies. "The Funky" was created to disprove the incorrect assumption by one unnamed, misinformed Belgian brewer that American craft breweries weren't so great. With his friends' help, Warren decided to collect together a horde of great Belgian style beers made by American brewers from coast to coast, and celebrate the knowledge ability, technical skill and creativity of our country's accomplished brewers -- USA! USA!

Last year's Funky 7 was featured on the blog/podcast.
Jason, Brian, Bob & B.R. (photo by Lefty)
In this week's podcast, we speak to the President of Funky, Warren, as well as 8-time Funky veteran Glen, and Funky participant Leighton, who came all the way from London, England!

Barcade owner Paul with Warren.
If there were a substantial number of great American craft brewers eight years ago who were tackling Belgian styles, then today the number is astronomical. But the growth trend is really a recent development, which began to significantly increase after 1990. To put the modern American brewing industry's growth, decline and rebirth into perspective (according to the Economic History Assn.):

-- in 1870 there were 3,286 brewers each producing an average of 2,009 barrels/year, meaning incredible variety, and many local breweries
-- in 1980 there were about 101 breweries in the US brewing an average of 188 million barrels/year, meaning no real variety, and almost no small local breweries
-- in 2011 there were about 1,900 breweries, more breweries in the US than at any time since 1890
BR and Warren... what pair of mugs!
With American breweries like New Belgium, Jolly Pumpkin, Stillwater -- even Brooklyn Brewery -- making some of the finest Belgian style beer anywhere, I think that the point has been proven that Americans make some kick ass biere. And with that point decisively made, another raison d'etre has emerged for the annual Funky. In recent years it has evolved into a fundraiser for the The Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition (BARC), with participants donating cash to the animal shelter, and even some "graduates" of the organization participating.
Bill's alumni of BARC, Sophie and Otto.
This year I live-Tweeted every single beer that I sampled -- 39 of 'em! Some were amazing, most were pretty good, some not so great, and at least 3 were, to put it politely, "not to my liking" (you'll have to dig through the Tweets to figure out which ones). As the day wore on, the unrefrigerated bottles didn't benefit from the gradual warming, eventually all reaching room temperature. Some held up better than others. The Blanche de Brooklyn and Hanger 24 Belgian Summer Ale both showed no flaws at room temp. Though others presented as oxidized and imperfect when they were no longer cold. And if Coors Light commercials tells us anything about beer, temperature -- specifically being "cold"--  is the most important characteristic of a beer (especially for beer that tastes bad, or has no taste at all).
Not sure where to start with over 150 beers? Just ask John! "This one!"
Out of the 39 I tasted, I'd list my top 8 favorite categories and standouts as:

-- White Birch "Cooper's Dilemma" ale aged in birchwood for being so unique and extremely tasty (you could really taste the birch flavor!)
-- "Blanche de Brooklyn" for freshness and for being true to style
-- Hanger 24 "Belgian Summer Ale" for being clean, simple and refreshing
-- Dogfish Head "Festina Lente" for its wonderful sourness (with Smuttynose "Brett and I" also worth mentioning in this regard)
-- New Holland "Farmhouse Hatter" IPA for its subtlety, and curious tea-like flavor
-- Iron Fist "Spice of Life" for its well balanced use of orange peel and coriander
-- homebrewer Peter's "Sour Flanders Red" made with cherry juice, for an excellent, homemade version of this uncommon style
-- Boulevard's "Nommo" dubble made with molasses & spices for its richness and complexity
Too funky for you, Bob?
Further below are listed all 157 different brews that the attendees brought and shared with one another -- 22 more than last year. And yet even further below that are a slew of photos from the Funky. Some more pictures of the Funky 8 are available at Glen's photo page, and at Lefty's photo page. Some photos posted here are courtesy of Glen and Lefty, and we thank them most wholeheartedly !

The 11am troopers.
Paul and Bill.

BR, Glen and Mary.
Purple shirt, purple shirt.
Mike and interview subject Leighton.

Paul and Warren.
Waffeletierre Mary.
List 1 of 4.

List 2 of 4.
List 3 of 4.

List 4 of 4.



BR's homemade Belgian White Cheese, made from scratch.

Pour Warren.