Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Tiger Turns 20 Interview with Dave Brodrick and Catherine Kyle of Blind Tiger Non-Flash version of the podcast

New York-born Dave Brodrick grew up in Fairfield County, CT and moved back to NYC over 20 years ago to make a go of working in journalism. He worked for a few different outlets, including Geraldo Rivera's "Now It Can Be Told", while bartending at Tribeca's Riverrun. But after finding journalism not entirely to his liking, and wanting to do more than just bartend, Dave decided to open his own joint somewhere in Manhattan -- a cosy neighborhood bar with good beer.
Bob, Dave, Catherine and B.R.
In 1994 there weren't many places focusing on good beer in NYC. Two years earlier Eddie Berestecki established Mug's in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, thought of by many as the first real "beer bar" in New York. Dave and his business partners were looking to open a beer bar in Manhattan. At the same time Ray Deiter and Dennis Zentek (both sadly lost to tragic circumstances in 2011 and 2014 respectively) were also looking to do the same thing and, in fact, both sets of partners bumped into each other at 41 1st Ave. while scouting locations. Ray and Dennis took that space and opened D.B.A., and Dave kept searching, finally settling on a West Village space at Hudson and W. 10th St. Thus was born The Blind Tiger. A few months later, The Gingerman would open, bringing the number of good beer bars in New York City in 1996 to four!

In 1996 New York, "good beer" meant imports like Guinness, Hoegaarden, Newcastle, Boddingtons, and Paulaner Hefeweizen, and domestics such as Brooklyn Lager, Sierra Nevada, Pete's Wicked Ale, and Wild Goose IPA. And those were some of the best sellers, Dave recalls, when he first opened. About 10 years later when the Tiger lost their lease (to a Starbucks!) in in Dec. 2005, they relocated a block east of 7th Ave, on Bleecker at Jones St., in March 2007. With the move, the bar left all the imported beer behind. The 28 regular draught lines are almost exclusively American craft. Though they do make an exception for the occasional treat from, say, Cantillon or Dieu du Ciel.

The Blind Tiger has been recognized not only as a pioneer for craft beer bars in New York, but appreciated by locals as just a damn good bar with damn good beer. It's a must-visit pub on any beer lover's trip to NYC. In addition to the exalted Tiger, Dave has opened up two beer-centric bistros in Vermont, Worthy Burger and Worthy Kitchen, and is behind Beanery Brewing, a beer company that focuses on making coffee beer, and will be brewing at a new contract brewery located just outside of Boston and run by former Smuttynose Head Brewer Dave Yarrington. Here's to another 20 years of the Tiger!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

1001 Nights: Ayad Asha of the Brooklyn Brewery Interview with Ayad Asha of the Brooklyn Brewery Non-Flash version of the podcast

Iraqi-born Ayad Asha came to New York in 2013, leaving behind Baghdad's "car bombs, militias fighting, and dead bodies in the street." He spoke no English when he arrived. After a time working in computer networking and IT, he landed a job on the packaging line at the Brooklyn Brewery. And after two years spent working hard and learning much, as well as earning the friendship and respect of his brewery co-workers, he was given the opportunity to brew a beer of his own creation, as part of the Worshipful Company of Brewers program. Thus was born 1001 Nights

B.R., Ayad, and Bob.
The beer, named for the famed collection of Arabic and Persian stories from the Islamic Golden Age, is a 5.7% ABV Saison style beer, enhanced by some Middle Eastern influences. Alluring Cardamom evokes a camphorous aroma and flavor, transporting one back into to enchanted stories of Sinbad, genies, and the like. Dark dried lemon contributes a sultry, smoky, citrus tinged quality, made all the more tantalizing by the use of raw honey in the brew. These three unique additions make this beer soar like a flying carpet, perfectly complimenting the ale's backbone of 2-row American malt, Perle and Styrian Golding hops, and Brooklyn's Belgian house yeast.

Ayad and Cellarman Eric Brown.
Ayad said that he drew inspiration for the recipe from cooking, notably the use of Cardamom with rice, and the dried lemon from making tea. He thought that the spice and citrus could work well in a wheat beer. Brooklyn Head Brewer Al Duvall agreed, as he praised Ayad's creation, saying that he had never experienced Cardamom in a beer like this before.

Ayad surrounded by Iraqi friends. 

Master Brewer Garrett Oliver heaped praise on to Ayad for not only his matchless work ethic and loyal character, but his creative, inspired recipe, which led to this unique, delicious, Most Worshipful worthy brew. This beer is in limited supply, served only at the Brewery tasting room (we believe), and you'll want to get to the brewery before it's gone. Because unlike the genie in the story of The Fisherman and the Jinni, once the beer is out of the keg, there will be no three wishes to make more of it!

Bob, beer colleague Seth, and B.R.

1001 Pints.
Ayad, brewery co-founder Steve Hindy, and an old friend from Iraq.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Jopen Interview with Erwin and Michel of the Jopen brewery -- Part 1 of 2 Interview with Erwin and Michel of the Jopen brewery -- Part 2 of 2 Non-Flash ENTIRE podcast (Part 1 and 2)

The Jopen brewery in Haarlem, Netherlands began simply as one component of many festivities celebrating the 750th anniversary of the founding of the historic city of Haarlem, the namesake of another historic district, if not quite as established, in old New Amsterdam. Brewery manager Erwin and brewer Michel explained that, along with ideas of a jousting contest, culinary exhibitions, and other cultural events, a group of about 10 Haarlemers thought that brewing an old beer recipe was an excellent idea to honor the town.

Brewer Michel and B.R.

After all, beer and the taxes raised from its sale were a significant source of revenue for the city dating back to its founding. Popular Haarlem gruit beer, transported in 112L wooden barrels called Jopen, was sold all throughout the Lowlands. So, after some digging in the city archives, recipes for two beers were unearthed -- one from 1407 name Koyt which was in the gruit style, and another from 1501 called Hoppenbier, which was one of the earliest documentations of hops being used in beer brewing in Holland!

Lydian and her husband Michel at Spuyten Duyvil.
Though it was only meant to exist for the year long celebration, the people of Haarlem loved the beer and the demand justified the establishment of an ongoing commercial enterprise. The initial project began in 1992, and by 1996 Jopen became a regularly functioning brewing company. They started as a contract brewer and bounced around a few breweries, including Halve Maan (Half Moon) and La Trappe in the Netherlands, and De Proef in Belgium. Eventually, in 2010, they took over a decomissioned church and built their own brewhouse there, right in Haarlem.

Michel and Andy of Spuyten Duyvil.

The brewery has a wide range of ales in the portfolio, and continues to brew its original two beers. They try to work in some historic angle to all the beers that they produce. One thing that do is brew a lot of beers with oats, in addition to wheat malt and barley malt, which was a traditional Dutch brewing technique, giving the beer a nice, round, full body and mouthfeel.

Erwin at a foodtruck in East Williamsburg.
Jopen will be available in the United States beginning in March of 2016, starting with the Koyt (1407 recipe), Hoppenbier (which will be labeled "Haarlem 1501" in the US), Doubting Thomas, a 10% quad hopped with American hops, and the Adriaan Wit, which was created as a benefit to help renovate an old historic windmill of the same name. We don't know about you, but we're "jopen" to trying them all!

The brewhouse in Haarlem.
Glasses filled with Jopen collaboration Disco Bitch.

Jopen Librije's Bier.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Les Trois Mousquetaires Interview with Christian Marcil of Les Trois Mousquetaires Non-Flash podcast

Les Trois Mousquetaires (LTM) was founded in 2004 by three partners who had been co-workers at Canada's Imperial Tobacco company. When that company closed the plant, the three decided to band together and strike out as a team to form a brewery. They started by acquiring a brewhouse from a brewery which had just closed, Express Broue in St-Eustache, QC. They established their operation on the South Shore of the St-Laurent river, in Brossard, just south of Montréal, nearby where they lived.

Bob, Christian, and B.R.
Over time, the brewery expanded their offerings from simple pale ales and red ales to exciting European styles, such as Bocks, Baltic Porters, Hefeweizens, and a host of specialty barrel aged beers. They brew about 12 regular styles year round, and six to seven seasonal offerings. They package their beers in 12oz, 750ml, and 3 liter (Jeroboam) bottles, and in 30 liter PETainers and stainless steel half-barrels.

Brewer Alex.
With their 15hl brewhouse (about 12bbls) they're able to brew four batches per day, and it takes seven brewing sessions to fill their largest fermentor, a 10,000hl vessel! Some brews skip the stainless tanks and go directly into oak barrels for primary fermentation, such as the Saison Brett, which gets a dose of wild yeast following the first fermentation, and ferments and conditions in Chardonnay wine barrels.
The bottling line.
In 2011 the brewery moved into a new facility down the road in Brossard, three times the size of the original building. They needed the space to keep up with their ever expanding production and their growing barrel aging program. They're currently working with about 140 various barrels, mostly oak bourbon barrels, but also brandy barrels and different wine barrels.
B.R. stakes her claim for the USA!
LTM is the largest brewery using 100% Quebec-made malts for their main production beers, sourcing the grain from Frontenac and Maltbroue malteries. Those suppliers are located in Thetford Mines and Temiscouata-sur-le-Lac respectively. Of course, they use some specialty malts from outside of Quebec -- malts that simply aren't available in the provence, such as smoked malt and torrified malt. They'd be interested in using more Quebec hops, too, but the supply just isn't available at this point in time, and the price is also a bit prohibitive. Hopefully that will change, with the demand for hops growing globally, as well as the demand for local grown ingredients possibly making hops a viable crop for QC farmers.

Quebec malted barley.
The brewery had an output of about 4,000hl (about 3,300bbls) in 2015, and looks to grow that in 2016. They currently sell their beer all over Canada, in the USA, Germany, France, Belgium, Australia, and recently began exporting to Brazil. Keep an eye out for their brandy barrel aged Old Bruin, set to hit the States in 2016!

Jack Daniels barrel.
Heaven Hill bourbon barrel from 1978.

In the grain room above the brew house.
Grain room.
Grain room.
The brew house.
Mash tun.
Mash tun.

Bottling line.

End of bottling line.
View of bottling line from above.

Numerous awards.