Sunday, March 31, 2013

Péché Mortel And 3 Beans

[link to podcast page]
WFMU's Beer Hear! Péché Mortel And 3 Beans Podcast

Not long ago we discovered the Sixpoint 3 Beans beer -- a 10% oak-aged Baltic Porter, with some very special ingredients -- on the shelves of the local shops selling good beer. We were instantly intrigued and quickly addicted to the rich maltiness, alluring coco qualities and dense full body of this big beer in a slender can -- a can not too unlike a can of premium iced coffee.

After enjoying this rich, malty treat, I got to thinking, "I've had something like this before!" I was sure that 3 Beans was echoing another obsession. But what? Then it hit me -- Péché Mortel.

I was certain that Brooklyn's magnificent 3 Beans Baltic Porter had more than a little in common with Montréal's Dieu Du Ciel Péché Mortel. It turns out that there are significant similarities and significant differences. They're close in alcohol percentage (Péché is 9.5%, 3 Beans 10%), they both use coffee (DDC uses Fair Trade beans in copious amounts making it a noticeably stimulating intoxicant, and SP uses Stumptown roasters java). One thing that sets them apart is that 3 Beans use of cacao husks, provided by Brooklyn's Mast Brothers Chocolate, in the mash to impart a dry, dark chocolate flavor and aroma. Also unique to 3 Beans: the third bean in the mix, romano beans, adds more to the fermentables and helps provide fuller body. But it would take a side-by-side tasting to properly evaluate these two coffee brews.
Listen to the podcast to see what we discovered about the taste similarities and differences of these two champions of darkness and malt. And, by the way, if you see either of these beers on the shelf -- buy them! Drink them! Or hold on to them. If none of the above... sell them to me!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bronx Belgian Pale Ale

[link to podcast page]
WFMU's Beer Hear! with Bob W. and B.R. from 3/26/2013

In between sampling Franconian gravity kegs at Jimmy's No. 43
Weissenohe Bock at Jimmy's No. 43.
and joining some street hockey pals at Cadaques tapas bar in Williamsburg,
Cadaques, with the world's smallest water glass, by request.
we dropped by Coopers for the Bronx Brewery's release party for their Bronx Belgian Pale Ale.
Bronx Belgian Pale Ale.
Our pal Sean McCain, Sales Director, was on hand, as expected, along with the brewer, Damian Brown and GM Chris Gallant. We managed to talk to Damian about this new addition to the Bronx Brewery line up, though we had to fight the din of a full bar on a Thursday night.
L-R: Sean, B.R., Damian, Bob and Chris.
Damian told us that he uses two strains of Trappist ale yeast and another Belgian ale yeast in the Bronx Belgian Pale Ale, in order to achieve a beer that's very "yeast-centric". The addition of Belgian candi sugar in the boil ups the fermentables, and helps augment the rich malt flavors created by the use of Beloeil Belgian Pilsner and Biscuit malts, as well as German Vienna malt from Weyermann. One thing that sets the beer apart from most others of this style is the apparent liberal use of spicey American Sterling hops, putting a sharp hop bitterness into the finish of this 6.7% unfiltered beauty of an ale.

Monday, March 25, 2013

George DePiro On Simcoe Hops

[link to podcast page]
WFMU's Beer Hear! with Bob W. and B.R. from 3/25/2013

In January 2013, on our way to Montreal, we stopped by Druthers in Saratoga Springs to see our old pal George DePiro, who recenty made the move from Evans Brewing/The Pump Station in Albany to his new brewpub up the river a bit. We conducted an imprompteau interview with George while sampling some of his beers. And there were plenty of amusing "asides" to the conversation about the new brewpub, including this outtake regarding Simcoe hops.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bridge And Tunnel Brewery

[link to podcast page]
WFMU's Beer Hear! with Bob W. and B.R. from 3/22/2013

Rich Castagna says that his Bridge and Tunnel nano-brewery in Maspeth, Queens is the smallest functioning brewery in New York. Operating a 1.5 barrel (45 gallon) brewing system in a space that's 150 sq. ft., there's possibly a few homebrewers out there with greater capacity! Though Rich is not so interested in making quantities of beer, but rather uses his operation's limited overhead costs to allow him to brew whatever inspires him, without being held hostage by the pressures to produce and sell.

As the guest speaker at a Malted Barley Appreciation Society club meeting recently, he explained his start in brewing, described his brewhouse, talked about the beers he's made so far, and shared his plans for the future. Hear all about it in the podcast.
Rich and his wife Lisa. Photo: Warren Becker.
Rich sampled out growlers of his Angry Amel Dunkelweizen, which has a very funny backstory to its name, explained in the podcast, and his Hazelnut Brown Ale called Tiger Eyes.

Bridge and Tunnel Brewery has a production target of 18 sixtels a month (a sixtel is 1/6 of a barrel, or about 5 gallons), and has released some beers on cask. His beers were featured on cask at D.B.A. Brooklyn recently. Having gotten licensed to brew in September 2012, he's made a lot of headway and gotten some good press in a short time, being featured in Time Out NY and written up on the Brewyork beer blog.

Club members in the back room of Mugs. Photo: W. Becker.

The famous Bill Coleman MBAS shirt! Photo: W. Becker.

Monday, March 18, 2013

People's Brewery Of Israel

[link to podcast page]
WFMU's Beer Hear! with Bob W. and B.R. from 3/19/2013

Beer in the Middle East? Not too likely in the Muslim-majority nations. In fact, Brooklyn Brewery's co-founder Steve Hindy (and, no, they don't pay us to mention them in every single blogpost/podcast -- they're just the biggest, most visible brewery in New York City -- and they kick ass!) started homebrewing as a journalist stationed abroad in the alcohol-free Middle East in the 80s, so as not to be deprived of a beverage that, ironically, originated there (probably in Iraq or Iran) thousands of years earlier.

But in the alcohol-tolerant nation of Israel... cut the schmalz and mash the malts!
B.R., Ariel and Bob, at Proletariat. Thanks to Cory for turning down the punk muzak!
We met up with Ariel Druck, a brewer at The People's Brewery located in Even Yehuda, Israel, not far from Tel Aviv, while he was on an extend tour of the Northeast U.S., starting in New York for NYC Craft Beer Week. We saw him at pretty much every event and bar that we were at, so, clearly, he was well informed!

Side-note: the somewhat tongue-in-cheek socialist-themed logo and name of the brewery was inspired by the fact that the owners of the brewery spent some time on a kibbutz., not because they're Marxists. So don't go there expecting free beer, regardless of your needs and abilities.

Ariel gave us some very general background info on the craft beer scene in Israel. You can always get more from good ol' Wiki. But his basic message was that craft beer was on the rise in Israel, and his brewery is one of the scene's leaders. We first met Ariel two weeks prior to conducting the interview at Proletariat where we sampled a bit of one of his beers -- I can't recall what it was -- and it was very good. It was something along the lines of a Belgian triple or golden ale.
Ariel seems to be one of those fearless brewers who threw himself into the craft beer life, devoted to making interesting, flavorful and challenging creations of the zymurgistic persuasion to test himself and to delight other devotees of good beer. You can hear his take on the current Israeli craft beer scene and find out what caught his attention during his beer trip to America in this week's podcast.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Brooklyn Brewery Grand Cru

[link to podcast page]
WFMU's Beer Hear! with Bob W. and B.R. from 3/7/2013

First released as a Brewmaster's Reserve in 2008, Brooklyn Brewery's Brewmaster Garrett Oliver brought this 8.4% hybrid Belgian Pale Strong Ale/Wit Beer out of retirement, brewing a batch in early January 2013 to send to the Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular (GABS).

GABS showcases craft beer from Australia and New Zealand, with just a handful of breweries represented from elsewhere. Brooklyn Brewery is one of just three breweries invited from America! The festival was started in 2012 by the founders of the reputed Tap House pubs of Sydney and Melbourne.
Though the bulk of the Grand Cru, reluctantly, will travel abroad, Steve Hindy and company were gracious enough to leave a few kegs behind to share with their friends on a Friday night in the bottling room of the brewery during Craft Beer Week. Wow. What a beer! Why this one is not offered regularly in the classic 750ml bottles, with cork and cage, we don't know, but it should be!

Considering what goes into it, it must be a chore to produce.

style: Belgian Pale Strong Ale/Wit Beer Hybrid
abv: 8.4%
color: 7 SRM
bitterness: 20 IBUs
serving glass: goblet
grains: two-row Canadian barley malt and (20%) unmalted Madsen wheat
hops: Hallertauer and Perle
misc. ingredients: 
  -- NY state-produced honey
  -- corn sugar
  -- bitter orange peel
  -- sweet orange peel
  -- Indian coriander
  -- lemon peel
  -- chamomile
yeast strain: Belgian Wit Yeast

Grand Cru is more often used in the world of vinters, but has its place in the realm of beer, as well, most often used by Belgian brewers to indicate a special or limited edition brew. Brooklyn's Grand Cru certainly meets both criteria.
Just looking at the wide range of ingredients tells you that this is a special ale, starting with the large portion of unmalted wheat in the mash bill, which no doubt contributes to the warm, soft, hazy pale yellow color of the beer. The spices and citrus peels cooperatively meld with the residual honey flavors and chamomile flowers to gently push the flavor profile well beyond the sign post of ordinary, yet far back from the cliff of overkill. It would seem easy to make a quite undrinkable beer from that list of flavorings -- but using them well enough to create this deliciously intriguing delight must be anything but easy.

The beer's aroma is a thing of olfactory beauty, with the wonderful Wit yeast esters dancing in step with the spice and citrus additions, the by-products of wheat malt fermentation creating a delightfully effervescent bouquet.
That it's 8.4% abv is a fact not to be overlooked, or under-appreciated, especially because the beer drinks so easily, with the illusion of a harmless lightness of body. You think that you're being refreshed -- and you are -- but after a few small glasses, you're also quickly on your way from being quenched to quashed!
If ever you get the rare opportunity to sample this one-of-a-kind beer, don't waste it! But also, be careful not to let it waste you!

Full house in the bottling room.

Off to the land down under.
Cheers, Garrett!