Monday, April 29, 2013

Dieu Du Ciel At Spuyten Duyvil

The Wallonade Belgian blonde and the Symbiose 4 sour.

[link to podcast page]
Dieu Du Ciel At Spuyten Duyvil podcast

For the past few years NYC has been the very lucky, and unique, beneficiary of a tap take-over by Montréal's Dieu Du Ciel brewery. Usually DDC invades the Blind Tiger sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, though it wasn't possible this past fall. So, they made up for it by coming in April, with some 22 different beers! Six of them were exclusively featured at Spuyten Duyvil.

The brewery began in September of 1998 with a modest, but busy, 4-barrel brewpub in the Mile End neighborhood of Montréal (kind of like their Brooklyn?), but the success of and demand for their beers created the need for more capacity. So, in the fall of 2007 a 20-barrel production facility was built in St-Jerôme, about 30 minutes up the highway from the city, in the foothills of the Laurentian Mountains. There, their flagship beers are brewed, bottled and kegged for domestic distribution and export.

We met up with co-founders Stephan Ostiguy and Jean-François Gravel at Spuyten, where they told us that, while it's nearly impossible to find such a wide array of their beers on tap anywhere outside of their brewpub on Laurier and St-Laurent, it's completely commonplace to find 18 different beers pouring at the brewpub on any given day.

While that may be true, we've never seen so many of their rare and special beers up at once at the brewpub. Purgatoire old-style porter aged in red wine barrels, a collaboration with Trou du Diable (10.2%), Péché Mortel Bourbon aged in bourbon barrels (9.5%), Equinoxe du Printemps cask scotch ale with maple syrup (8%), Symbiose 4 sour beer aged in oak barrels (6%) -- ALL at once? You best travel to NYC if you want that experience!
They explained that it's a huge benefit to the microbrewery to have the brewpub to test out new beers or tweak old recipes. Aside from it being easier to experiment on the smaller system, they can immediately gauge public reaction to the beers through the brewpub patrons. The smaller brewpub system also allows them to create very challenging, unique and unusual beers, if they choose, without having to sacrifice resources and tank space.

The Dieu Du Ciel brewpub is a certified beer geek travel destination. And it's great to have some of their beers available in places like New Beer and the Whole Foods Beer Store in New York. But it's also nice to know that once a year, Dieu blesses us by descending from the heavens to baptize us with some of their choicest creations that they save up all year long, with which to sanctify the New York faithful!

Friday, April 26, 2013

First Round Of Nationals: Sours

[link to podcast page]
First Round of the Nationals (Sours) podcast

The American Homebrewers Association organizes the worlds largest international homebrew contest each year -- The National Homebrew Competition. On Saturday April 6, 2013, the North East Regional, which is the first round of competition for our area, was conducted at Alewife beer bistro in Long Island City, Queens, one of 11 such contests across the country which determine the award winning beers that will compete in the national contest in June at the National Homebrewers Conference, held this year in Philly.
When drinking beer becomes serious work.
Most of the judges evaluating the beers have completed the Beer Judge Certification Program, and are ranked from Novice to Grand Master. There's lots more on the topic in a previous blog post.
Often homebrew contests are divided into a morning session and afternoon session, with lunch served in between, and this contest was no exception. For the morning session B.R. judged hybrid lagers, and I judged stouts. Alewife served a hearty, tasty complimentary lunch which included a pint of Rockaway Brewing beer. Then it was off to the afternoon session.

Luck would place B.R. and I together, which is great in itself. But to make a good thing even better, we were assigned Sours -- one of our favorite styles! We judged Kreiks, Flanders Reds, Oud Bruins, Berliner Weisse, etc.  Some of the beers were stand outs, some were not that good, and most were just o.k.  We were very much in agreement on all the beers save for one, which made the judging that much easier. Luckily, there were plenty of beers that we both thought were far superior to the contested beer, so we didn't have to battle over points for that one entry in the ranking placement.

Most of the time spent judging an entry is done in silence, each judge making their own evaluation and writing down as many notes and comments as they can before discussing the entry with their judging partner. In this podcast you can hear us discussing three different entries. The discussions are fairly short, because we agreed on most everything about the beers, and our score sheet comments and scores were so much in accord. In the background you can hear the other judging panel that shared our table, and it gives you a feel for how challenging it is to evaluate beers carefully and with focus when there is so much going on all around you.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dieu Du Ciel Visits 508 Gastrobrewery

Dieu Du Ciel has planned a busy visit to NYC this week, starting with a Canadiens game in Newark last night (which could have ended more satisfyingly), directly followed by making an impromptu visit to Chris Cuzme at 508 GastroBrewery, where he was serving up his Hamber (smoked amber), a deliciously sour Berliner Weisse, a tasty gentle Wit, and a hearty Black IPA.
Berliner Weisse, Dark IPA, and on the far right, Wit.
On the official DDC itinerary:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013, Blind Tiger:
  • Grande Noirceur - imperial stout, 9%
  • Fortunella - kumquat ipa, 7.2% 
  • Pionnière - imperial black ipa, 9.5%
  • Chaman - imperial pale ale, 9%
  • Basse Messe - kölsch, 5%
  • Péché Mortel - imperial coffee stout, 9.5%
  • Péché Mortel Bourbon - aged in bourbon barrels, 9.5%
  • Solstice d'Hiver - barleywine, 10.2% 
  • Neuvaine - amber ale brewed with and wormwood and fennel, 8%
  Pénombre - black ipa, 6.5%  
  • Mea Culpa - india cream ale, 6%
  • Purgatoire - porter aged in red wine barrels; collaboration w/ Trou du Diable, 10.2%
  • Isseki Nicho - imperial dark saison, 9.5%
  • Cornemuse - scotch ale, 8%
  • Equinoxe du Printemps cask - scotch ale with maple syrup, 8%
  • Grande Noirceur cask

Thursday April 25, 2013, Spuyten Duyvil:
  • Morality - American-style IPA, 7.2%  
  • Péché Mortel 11th Anniversary - imperial coffee stout brewed with special coffees, 9.5%  
  • Symbiose 4 - sour beer aged in oak barrels, 6%  
  • Solstice d'Hiver Bourbon - barleywine aged in bourbon barrels, 10.2%  
  • Revenante - smoked porter, 6%
  • Wallonade - Belgian blonde, 4.2%
Those are two very impressive lists of beers! You won't even find such an amazing tap list of Dieu Du Ciel beers in Montréal -- don't miss this very special opportunity!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Brooklyn Brewery: Hot and Hotter

[link to podcast page]
Brooklyn Brewery's Hot and Hotter podcast

On Friday April 12, 2013, Brooklyn Brewery's Worshipful Company of Brewers released it's latest in the series, which are unique beers formulated and brewed by a rotating host of the numerous assistant brewers working under Garrett.
Garrett with cut out of Andrew, who was otherwise motorcyclicly engaged.
Brooklyn's Assistant Brewmaster, Andrew Ety, created a split batch of golden ale, a 6.2% ABV beer made with British Pale Malt, Crystal Malt, Caramel Malt and hopped with Summit, Willamette, East Kent Golding, Cascade, and Citra hops.

Half of the batch was dry hopped with Citra hops which were kilned at 130 degrees (HOT), and the other half dry hopped with Citra hops kilned at 150 degrees (HOTTER). This was an experiment to present to the recently convened Craft Brewers Conference, to illustrate how great a difference this variation in kilning affects the characteristics of the hops.
I asked the tap masters for a small sample of both beers to compare. The aromas were very similar. I might not have detected much of a difference, if I weren't looking for it. The Hotter seemed a bit more pronounced in hop aroma -- bolder, sharper --  than the Hot.

But when it came to flavor, it was very easy to pick up the differences. The Hot had a smooth, round, somewhat soft hop flavor, though still quite assertive. The Hotter, by comparison, had a brisk, bold, sharp, aggressive hop flavor, that was a bit wild and skunky, like fresh marijuana (so I'm told). The Hotter put hops front and center in the beer. Though it probably had the same IBUs, it seemed a bit more bitter than the Hot.
Garrett with cutout of Andrew.
Garrett explained that hop growers report that West Coast brewers prefer their Citra to have characteristics akin to garlic, onion, and "weed" (hotter), while East Coast brewers are looking for more of a citrus quality.

He said that brewer Andrew was working closely on this hop topic directly with suppliers and growers, to make sure that the brewery is able to get hops that provide the bittering, flavor and aroma profiles that they're looking for. He mentioned that there is a new hop under development, which is planned for the next special Brooklyn brew: Hop 366 grown on Loftus Ranches by Patrick Smith and Perrault Farms by Jason Perrault, which has twice as much hop oil as other hops. 

This particular experiment -- Hot vs. Hotter -- definitely made its point. And, while I'm happy to be a beer guinea pig, being a more malt-centric individual, I wasn't really jazzed on this particular beer as a complete package. There was certainly a malt backbone, but I'm just not excited to have more hops than anything else in a beer. It's personal taste. So, I got my malt on at Tørst directly afterwards, with some dark, malty concoctions that soothed by bittered tongue!
Andrew, the man of the hour.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Bruery At Good Beer

Every Tuesday Good Beer on E. 9th Street in the East Village hosts a craft beer event, usually featuring a number of beers from one particular brewery. On April 16, 2013, The Bruery of Orange Country, CA was the guest of honor, with six of their unique barrel aged beers on tap. 

The Bruery (named for owners the Rue family) was founded in 2008, and is one of the largest producers of barrel aged craft beer in America. Having so many of their beers on tap in one place at one time is very special -- most associate them with their bottle conditioned offerings.

Good Beer was packed at 6:30pm on a Tuesday with people thirsty for a taste of the often hard to find and generally expensive American sours. Those lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time also got a taste of bottle conditioned Papier, the Bruery's 1-year anniversary brew. Four years down the road, it was dark, rich, deep, complex, nicely oxidized, and was a welcome additional surprise! Thanks to Mike of Union and David of Good Beer for sharing!

Full house on a Tuesday!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Port Jeff Brewing

[link to podcast page]
WFMU's Beer Hear! Port Jeff Brewing Podcast

Mike Philbrick, the owner of Port Jeff Brewing of Port Jefferson, NY was the guest of the Malted Barley Appreciation Society on April 10, 2013 at Mugs Alehouse in Williamsburg. He started brewing in college as a homebrewer which eventually lead him to found the 7-barrel Long Island brewery in Sept. of 2011.
Mike of Port Jeff (Photo by Warren Becker)
 Among the many topics covered by Mike was his extensive barrel aging program which he began on day-one of the brewery. He also spoke about his unfiltered bottle conditioned Porter and Pale Ale, the benefits of being self-distributed, and gave some insight into the frustrating red tape involved with starting a small brewery.

The tasting room at Port Jeff.
Hear an edited version of his presentation on this installment of the Beer Hear podcast!

(photo WB)

The entrance to the brew house.

Club prez Felice with Mike. (photo WB)

Clearly happy to have a Salty Dog t-shirt! (photo WB)

(photo WB)