Sunday, May 26, 2013

De Struise At De Ciccos

What could lure five jaded New Yorkers on to a commuter train headed towards suburban Brewster, N.Y. on a Friday at rush-hour of a holiday weekend? And the destination: a supermarket?!? BEER --  that's what! Six rare De Struise brews on draught, to be more precise, offered in the spacious tap room of the DeCiccos gourmet supermarket in a woodsy Putnam County hamlet.
The trip started at "Beer Central Station" aka Beer Table Pantry -- Beer Table's pop-up-shop-like bottle and growler closet of a store, located in the Graybar Passage of Grand Central Station. The Pantry is one of those things that makes NYC so beautifully absurd. Surely, there's nowhere on earth that has, in such a small place, so concentrated a selection of top notch, and stylistically varied, craft beers in bottles -- and also on tap, for growler fills!

For the 80 minute train ride, B.R. got a Victory Prima Pils, Jimmy B. got the same, and I picked up a bottle of Mönschof Schwartz Bier, which was utterly delicious, with it's mild, YooHoo-like coco flavor. Joel and Ninonne didn't plan ahead (or just weren't thirsty).
A fraction of De Cicco's cold bottle selection.
We were met at the Metro North train station by Andrew and Chris of DeCiccos, who drove us up a short hill from the station, to their mind-blowing épicerie, which is kind of like Whole Foods but with Key Food prices, and with no crowds or lines. Maybe it's Brewster that's beautifully absurd! Their beer case was a thing of immense wondrous joy -- all of our gasts were completely flabbered.
We knew that we'd be hitting that seemingly infinite cold case before we got back on the train home. And we did, taking back a not-so-easy-to-find bottle of Weyerbacher Riserva 2012, along with some more modest beverages to enjoy on the return journey.
After the tour of the beer section of the supermarket, it was on to the main event -- De Struise!
Most people would laugh at the idea of a craft beer bar -- a full service bar, with food, tables, etc. -- inside of a grocery store. It sounds like some kooky West Coast concept, like a bar in the laundromat. Well... many kooky West Coast concepts are actually pretty awesome -- like a bar in a laundromat or grocery store! And what better way to get your spouse to handle the shopping chores?! "I'll run out for the groceries!" "NO! I'll run out for the groceries!" And the joint was packed and jumpin' on this Friday after work, heading into Memorial Day weekend.
Good luck finding these beauties on tap all together!
We ordered one sampler for the five of us, to figure out what to focus on. With all six beers clocking in at 10% and above, this was a smart way to go. Everyone seemed to agree that the Jaded, a collaboration with Stillwater, and the Old Monk's Ale (a Pannepøt beer) were the two most quaffable. Both were heavily malty, almost viscous, but very approachable, despite the 10% strength they each carried.

A description of all the De Struise draughts on tap.
The Black Albert Imperial Stout was very strong in all respects -- super roasty, bitter and with a K.O. a.b.v. of 13%.  The version of Black Albert aged in Four Roses bourbon barrels, Cuvée Delphine, was a just a bit smoother and rounder, the smokey notes it imparted being subtle, having to push through the dominating roast character of the beer.
The Rio Reserva 2008 was the most difficult to peg, and most complex in flavor and aroma. Brewed in collaboration with Rio Brewing, this quadrupel (11% a.b.v.) had some dark aged fruit qualities melding with vanilla oak notes. Pannepot Reserva 2009 was also quite involved, but the darker roast characteristics took front seat to any subtleties imparted by its aging in French oak barrels. Another 10-percenter, it was clearly a 10 oz. sipping beer.

 After enjoying some tasty pizza and other snacks, and sampling some of the other taps, we set our minds at conspiring about future visits to the "grocery store" during the warm months, perhaps coupled with a bicycle tour of the quiet, leafy, muggy, lazy country roads winding around the ponds, lakes and reservoirs scattered throughout this bucolic county. Yes, I think that we're quite eager to go "grocery shopping" again.
Back: Jim, Chris DeCicco, B.R., Bob. Front: Ninnone, Joel.
Order for here, or in a growler to go.

A few of the 12 beer taps, in addition to s number of wines on tap, as well.
Andrew of DeCiccos at far right.
Peekskill Simple Sour.
All the draughts available.

DeCiccos pizza, with the Jaded in the foreground, Simple Sour in the back.


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