Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Le Trou du Diable

  [link to Le Trou du Diable podcast page]

On June 24 at The Festival in Worchester, Mass., we spoke to Isaac Tremblay of Le Trou du Diable, a Shawinigan, QC based brewpub/brewery.

In the main podcast, we talk about the general details about the brewery, which is located about halfway between Montréal and Quebec City. But in the supplemental podcast, we speak specifically about the "Shawinigan Handshake" story. That short but entertaining podcast is linked directly below.

[link to Shawinigan Handshake podcast page]

Brewer Isaac, second from the left.
The origin of the term comes from an incident in 1996 when Prime Minister Jean Chretien was confronted by a protester. Chretien, who lives in Shawinigan, was likely a bit on edge, his home having been broken into around the same time (his wife chased away the would-be burglar with a piece of Inuit art!), and when the protester got up in Jean's face, Chretrien throttled him and pushed him away. A reporter joked that Chretien simply greeted the protester with a "Shawinigan Handshake", and the legend was born!
Prime Minister Jean Chretien gives Don Cherry a "Shawinigan Handshake"
In 2012 Canada's Junior Hockey championship, the Memorial Cup (the Stanley Cup of for the best 20-and-younger players playing in Canada)m was hosted by the Shawinigan Cataracts , so the brewery did a re-design on the original artwork of the Shawinigan Handshake beer, replacing the devil with Don Cherry. Cherry, an outspoken hockey commentator on the CBC, was the first public figure to support Chretien for standing up for and defending himself when he was confronted. Apparently, Cherry was happy to be depicted in the illustration, which shows, if nothing more, that the guy has a sense of humor. By the way, the hometown Cataracts ended up winning the championship!
Clearly Canadian... ou Canadien!
The Shawinigan Handshake is a 7% top-fermenting wheat beer, inspired by the Brooklyner-Schneider Weisse. They use a German yeast strain and Chinook hops. 

The brewery lists over 60 beers in their repertoire, many with amusing names, such as the La Schieve Tabarnak! Well... amusing if you understand Quebecois!

At The Festival.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Brooklyn Contest Voting Closing!

Apparently, Brooklyn Brewery has a lot of fans in Sweden. So, they decided to send a pile of some of Brooklyn, NY's best indie rockers to Brooklyn, Sweden for a festival over Labor Day weekend, Aug. 31-Sept. 1!

They also created a contest for local independent songwriters, challenging them to write a song about the G-train (also known as "the G-pain", "the gee, there's no train", "the 'G'-is-not-for-go train," etc. You can hear all the submissions and vote for your favorite on the contest Facebook page, helping to send some lucky up-and-comer to the festival with passes, airfare, lodging and more.

There's also a send-off party with some of the Brooklyn-based bands who will perform at the festival in Sweden. The party will be at Rock Shop on Aug. 28 in Brooklyn (New York).

Check out the entries and vote HERE -- but get to it, as voting closes on Aug. 1!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Beer Bloggers Event Southstreet Seaport

Photo courtesy of Juren David.
July, being "Good Beer Month", has seen a great number of different craft beer events take place throughout New York. On Wednesday July 25, a number of beer bloggers, podcasters, writers and film makers assembled on the 5th floor gallery of the South Street Seaport Museum to show their stuff.
Beer Hear mugshot.
 Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy's No. 43 and Beer Sessions Radio™the organizing force behind the event, and his bistro had a table offering pork sandwiches, buttery button biscuits and rich, dense chocolate fudge. Also on hand to feed and water the attendees was Sigmunds Pretzel Shop and Long Trail Brewing.
After party at Jimmy's No. 43.
At our table we conducted two beer tasting challenges for participants. One was "Can You Guess Which Kölsch Is From Köln?" in which challengers were given two unmarked cups of Kölsch-style beer, one containing Gaffel (from Germany) and the other with Captain Lawrence. Out of about 10 challengers, all but one got it right! Some people were pretty certain about their choice, but many others were clearly not so sure.
Jim's new friend.
The other challenge was pretty straight forward. For those willing to play, a cup of beer was poured from a hidden stash under the table and the challenger was asked to either guess the beer style or the main flavor-defining ingredient of the beer. Styles included Rauchbier, Berliner Weisse, Pilsner, Saison, Hefeweizen, Chocolate Stout, British Bitter, and others. Many folks who had never tasted a smoked beer were shocked and mind-blown by the Spezial Rauchbier when tasting it blindly. But, by far, the one beer that stumped everyone was the Bourganel Nougat Beer!
It was the biggest taste tease we could come up with, and, in fact, was the inspiration for the entire idea of a blind taste challenge! But people were further pleasantly tongue-baffled when their Nougat beer was augmented with a splash of Young's Double Chocolate Stout! People seemed to really enjoy the beer tasting games, and Jimmy insisted that we reprise the concept and expand on it during Craft Beer Week!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Farewell To A Monster Of A Cat

We're very sad to learn of the passing of one of our all time favorite brewing personalities, Monster the Brooklyn Brewery's resident greeter and environmentally friendly exterminator. We've enjoyed Monster's company many times over the years, often times sneaking him some high grade homegrown organic catnip!
One of our favorite "Monster moments" was when setting up for a Malted Barley Appreciation Society homebrew contest at the Brooklyn Brewery. We had just finished placing fresh pitchers of water at about 20 tables for the judges, only to turn around and see that Monster had followed behind us, "testing" each pitcher!

Refilling the 20 pitchers would have ecologically imprudent (and a pain in the ass!), so, on that day, there was a little Monster in all of us!

You'll be missed, Monster.

Beer Bloggers Event

This Wednesday July 25, 2012, the South Street Seaport Museum will host a "beer book, blog and video fest" starting at 6:30pm at 12 Fulton Street. As their webpage states, "Join the South Street Seaport Museum to celebrate Good Beer Month! We are hosting a gathering of top authors, beer bloggers and filmmakers - both established and up-and-coming talent. These innovators are changing forever the world of craft beer. Join this historic gathering of Northeast beer media for an evening of discussion, expositions and over two hours of beer tasting in the museum's galleries."

Beer Hear! will be participating with a "guess the style" beer tasting challenge, and will give out our first ever Beer Hear "product" -- a Beer Hear bottle opener -- for free for the first 50 visitors! The exhibit/event has a $15 ticket price (but only $10 for museum members OR if you use the code "Beer725" when purchasing), which, we're told, includes "2 hours of beer tasting". The event is presented in conjunction with Jimmy's No. 43.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Brooklyn On Jet Blue

On the way home from a verrrry relaxing stint on North Caicos, Jet Blue offered something worth paying $7 for on a plane: Brooklyn Summer Ale! You'll find it on the menu between Blue Moon and Bud Lite. Just prior to boarding, it was $7 bottles of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, the 7.5% bitterly delicious brew, at the airport "bar".
 Yeah... we're on a plane... drinking Brooklyn.
 It's a sad statement that you can get better beer on an airplane than you can at Newark's Prudential Center. Well, I guess a sad statement for hockey fans, but a happy statement for travelers!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Turk's Head Lager on Caicos Beach

We don't have much use for certain "beach beers". Clearly, we like some (see the previous podcast). But Corona, Kalik, Sol... nah. Except, of course, in the event that you're in the Bahamas -- then it's perfectly enjoyable to down ice cold Kaliks along with your fresh conch salad at your conch shack on the beach!
Oh, the crowds.
 While vacationing in the Turks & Caicos Islands, we discovered the Islands' own beer, Turk's Head. They make a lager and an amber. The liquor store in Whitby, North Caicos only had the lager. It comes in a twist-off capped clear bottle. The beer has a fairly dark, amber color -- much darker than the previously mentioned light straw golden colored "beach beers".

 Turk's Head Lager has a decidedly sweet flavor, with very little hop characteristics. The body is heavier than other "island beers". There's also a slightly sour tang in the finish -- not off-putting, but a little strange. I think that the colder this one is and the closer to the beach you are when drinking it, the better!
Our bungalow.
By the way, we'd direct you to a website for Turk's Head, but there doesn't appear to be a functional website for the Providenciales-based brewery.
The view from our porch.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Clone Brews: Greenport Harbor & Flying Dog

Recently, I attended the release of two new clone brews that came out of the Brew Like a Pro series at Bitter & Esters. The event took place at the Rye House and, as with other releases, the clones were poured side-by-side with their commercial counterparts.

Greenport Harbor Citrus IPA is the 5th beer in their Project Hoppiness series. This beer is brewed with pale malt and caramalt and hopped with Centennial and Magnum. Whole citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, and tangelos) are added to both the mash and the boil. The clone brew used Nugget and Zythos blend hops and 1 orange, 1/8 grapefruit, 1/4 lemon, and 1/4 lime; it was fermented with California V yeast from a Greenport Harbor yeast cake.

The commercial version had a solid bitterness throughout which came primarily from the citrus. The bitterness was very pleasant and had brewer Greg not told me that the hops only contribute around 20 IBUs, I would have assumed that most of the bitterness came from the hops since the citrus notes were not very fruity.

The clone brew was very different. Aside from pouring very hazy (the photo makes it even hazier than it really was), it had a very tart aroma that was faintly lactic and reminiscent of a witbier. The bitterness was very soft and it had a rather low malt profile which let the citrus character really shine through. If I were judging them blind, I never would have guessed that they were the same beer although the clone was still very tasty and refreshing in its own way. The color of the clone was much lighter and Greg thought that it could be because of greater caramelization of the wort during boil on the GPH system.

Greenport Harbor Citrus IPA and its clone

The second clone was a version of Flying Dog's Raging Bitch, an 8.3% Belgian-style IPA. The brewery version had a low aroma with a hint of hops but the hops were definitely present in the flavor. A huge jolt of citrus and pine hit the palate immediately (from Amarillo, Warrior, and Columbus hops), leaving a puckering astringency in the aftertaste. I found the Belgian character to be fairly subdued, overwhelmed by the hops.

The clone version came in at only 7.4% and, like the GPH clone, was lighter in color than the original. More malt character (from two-row pale and crystal 60L) was able to push through the hops which were much more balanced, making it, in my opinion, a much more rounded and drinkable beer. I still found the Belgian character, from the El Diablo yeast strain, to be fairly tame.

The Clone and the Bitch

Tim Stendahl, mastermind behind the BLAP series, shows us how to properly pour a beer

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Beach Beer

One of the nice things about a beach that's located in a federal park is that you can crack open a beer with no fear. It's completely legit. That's one reason to swim at Fort Tilden rather than Jacob Riis in the Rockaways! But for this trip, we went the distance, all the way out to Fire Island National Seashore.

Beach cat wagon?
Got a seagull problem? Start cartin' in the cats.

You can't get to this part of Fire Island by car. You have to take a boat. And that means bringing provisions, like cats, from the ferry to your beach bungalow in a cart. At the Davis Park area, there are about 100 bungalows, most quite nice and spacious. Further east at Watch Hill, where we end up, there are no commercial buildings, motels, residences or anything, really -- just sand and sea. There's a small convenience store and snack shop/bar where the ferry docks, a changing station, and some camping spots. But that's it.
Cool old telephone pole on Davis' "main street".
We brought four beers with us: Blue Point Summer Ale, Brooklyn Summer Ale, Stevens Point Nude Beach and Harpoon Summer Beer, which we saved for the ferry ride back to Patchogue, where the LIRR train station is.
It was an amazing day! We spent about four hours swimming, sunning and suddsing! The water was extremely warm for this time of year, and about as clear as we've ever seen it in the North Atlantic. We even got visited by a small school of juvenile banded rudderfish, who hung out with us in the shallow water, swimming between our legs, and up to our faces when we dove under the waves!
Beer at the beach!!!

We kind of got a little crazy making beer messages in the sand with colored stones on the beach. At first it was just a simple "BEER!" Which turned into a "BEER HEAR!" And then a drawing of a beer mug was added. Then the mug was colored in with stones. People walking along the beach took notice.

A few people stopped and photographed the "art"! Though some, we believe, thought that it was an advertisement, and that we we're selling beer. It clearly amused and confused.

We saved a can of Harpoon Summer Beer for the 30 minute ferry ride home. Three gals across from us on the ferry had brought their cocktails from the harbor bar on board, but most of the other passengers didn't think to have a nice return trip tipple, and they looked a bit jealous.

Once the ferry docked, we thought that rather than run to catch the next LIRR train back to the city, we'd drop by Harbor Crab, next to the ferry station. We sat by the window in the casual backroom bar overlooking the water, watching the geese float about while a white egret-kind-of-bird picked off small fish swarming in the warm shallow tidal river beneath us.
While the birds were feasting below, we enjoyed pints of Great South Bay (Bayshore, L.I.) Blonde Ambition and Blue Point Summer Ale, along with some raw clams and oysters, and some Italian calamari, which had marinara sauce and ricotta cheese -- very tasty. Then, inevitably, it was the long, sleepy train ride back to the busy city, far from the desolate sand and soothing waves... for now.
It started off simple, making a message in the sand with stones.
Then it got more involved.
And even more involved.
And then we lost control.

This is a mosaic of a beer mug... if you couldn't figure that out.
What other beer could you possibly drink on this beach towel?
Waiting for the ferry back to the main (is)land.

That's right -- we brought beer on this cruise!

Well, they've at least got Blue Point and Great South Bay.

Geese goosing around.