Thursday, January 28, 2010

Beer in a can, tk 2

A few weeks past we had our first guest post on canned beers, and the quality thereof. Bon Appetit Magazine must've read that post, as evidenced by this article sent me by a deaconite on the trend of craft brewing in a can:

For this skeptic, tasting was believing. I confess that while I've been a fan of Dale's Pale Ale for several years, I'd mentally filed the beer under the novelty category. (Wow! A great beer in a can!) My true conversion came when my favorite Fat Tire Amber Ale from New Belgium, which had previously only been available in brown bottles, came out in a can two summers ago. Here is where things get crazy. Taste the can and the bottle—side by side—and judge for yourself. The beer from the can tastes rich, toasty, and creamy. By comparison, the same beer in the bottle tastes a little flat, less fresh. Turns out there's a reason why. New Belgium adds a slurry of active live yeast to its Fat Tire cans just before sealing to take up oxygen and prevent stale off-flavors. The result is a fresher, more complex beer. Think of it as a mini keg.

Sure, sure, sure. But is there any reason why craft breweries couldn't add live yeast to bottled beer? Allagash certainly does (pour, swirl, pour again!). There's no question that craft breweries ARE putting good beer in a can, and that it's cheaper and easier than bottling. But a brown bottle and metal can of the same beer side-by-side? I'll reach for the bottle 100% of the time. Call me old-fashioned, I guess.

Garrett Marrero at Maui Brewing Co. adds, "Even the large domestic breweries will tell you that cans are a better package for the beer. The myth of the metallic taste goes back to 50 years ago when tin cans were soldered with lead." Today's aluminum cans feature a water-based polymer lining that eliminates any metallic contamination. That is, the beer never comes in contact with the aluminum. "You'd have to bite the can while you were drinking from it," Marrero jokes. "Coors has done the best job of marketing cans with the Frost Brew Liner to seal in freshness. That's the same liner that has been in cans for more than 20 years now, and it does exactly what Coors says it does."

Coors comparisons? Meh. I wonder where the block quotes are from all the craft brewers who still mass market exclusively (at greater cost and MUCH greater annoyance) with bottles? Not that I'm skeptic or anything. I'll drink a schmidts anytime of day. Generally around noon, though, when I'm a beer or two off my limit. It goes great with Floyd's beer cheese.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hitachino round-up

BGH had Hitachino Nest ale in the hub last night, the products of the Kiuchi Brewery in Naka, Japan. According to wiki, Kiuchi "products combine European beer-making technology with traditional Japanese brewing techniques; for example, its XH Hitachino Nest Beer is matured in shochu [rice liquor, not to be confused with sake] casks."

I was psyched for this because not only are these beers almost completely unavailable in the states (you won't see any but the White and maybe the Ginger on tap, certainly not on the east coast) but I <3 spicy beers like a 13 year old <3s Edward, and who uses Ginger like the Japanese? So needless to say: excitement

Unfortunately the promised XH ale did not make the trip, but the bar did have these five on tap:

Hitachino Commemorative Ale / Japan / 9% / 12oz / $6

[Relevant BGH notes: "Rare as eff"]

Hitachino Espresso Stout / Japan / 7.5% / 12oz / $6

[Relevant BGH notes: "A near perfect, dark warming beer."]

Hitachino Real Ginger Ale / Japan / 7% / 12oz / $6

Hitachino White Ale / Japan / 5% / 12oz / $6

Hitachino Red Rice Ale / Japan / 7% / 12oz / $6

I had three beers: the Commemorative, the Espresso Stout, and the Real Ginger, with my favorite a toss-up between the first two. The Commemorative was a rich, strong winter ale, not to dark, well-spiced with fruit and earthy notes, something quite different and delicious. I want to say there was something of a Belgian beer to it, but that could just be my experience of "otherness": a classic American winter ale it was not, but it was rich, light, tasty as all get out and surprisingly and un-noticeably strong (9%). The Espresso Stout was a deep, rich dark ale with balanced notes of chocolate and burnt coffee bean, with (again) a subtle pleasant spicy kick that I couldn't attribute to anything. It wasn't as thick as I'd peg a 7.5% stout or porter to be. If you're curious, the snobs at BA give the first a B+ and the second an A-.

The ginger was an odd thing, but I enjoyed it. I've often said if you love ginger in beer you can't use too much of it, and this puts it to the taste. It was almost soda tasting, like a 7up or sparkling iced tea, and I can guarantee Sam wouldn't like it. But it went down ea-zy. Waaaaay too easy for a 7% alcohol beer.

All in all, a fantastic, well-attended event, with the usual plates of free cheese and prosciutto. I've been reading a lot about Japanese beer culture recently, and I mean to make a post of it soon.

One last thought: As rare as these are, it was pretty cool of BGH to make them available for $6. What a church of beer.

Growlers Are Mainstream in NYC

It appears drinking out of a growler isn't reserved for brewery visiting beer junkies and home brewers anymore.... Check out The New Old Way to Tote Your Beer

To put it bluntly: "“In the beginning we tried to figure out, ‘Who’s going to be our market?’ ” said Ben Granger, 32, an owner of Bierkraft, which began filling growlers in spring 2006. “We thought, mullet-heads and beer-bellied dudes. But the first run was ladies with strollers. They will tell you they’re buying them for their husbands. Three weeks later, they’ve got two. One’s his and one’s hers. The next one that caught me by surprise was dads coming in with their kids. Then there’s the beer crowd who’ll rush in to get on this or that before it’s gone. There’s no age limit.”

Also important to note is that our friends at Sixpoints really do know what they're talking about and continue push we drink our beer ASAP: “There’s always the possibility that someone may not fill the growler properly,” said Shane Welch, founder of Sixpoint Craft Ales brewery in Brooklyn, which sells its products in stores in growler form. Most stores and bars run the beer straight from the tap to the bottle. “If you don’t fill it to the top, if you don’t purge the air out of there, when you close the container it will be stale beer,” Mr. Welch said. “You probably have to drink it that night.”"

Thanks to the Times for putting together this excellent list of New York's growler refill stations.

AMERICAN BEER DISTRIBUTING COMPANY 256 Court Street (Kane Street). Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, (718) 875-0226,

BIERKRAFT 191 Fifth Avenue (Berkeley Place), Park Slope, Brooklyn, (718) 230-7600,

BROOKLYN BEER & SODA 648 Washington Avenue (Dean Street), Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, (718) 622-8800.

THE BRAZEN HEAD 228 Atlantic Avenue (Court Street), Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, (718) 488-0430,

THE GINGER MAN 11 East 36th Street, Midtown, (212) 532-3740,

RATTLE ‘N’ HUM 14 East 33rd Street, Midtown, (212) 481-1586,

WHOLE FOODS 95 East Houston Street (The Bowery), (212) 420-1320,

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Most Micro of Brews - NYC Homebrew Shops

Thanks to Jana for sending this along from

The Most Micro of Brews

New home-brew suppliers and classes make fermenting a keg-quality IPA in your closet that much simpler.

By Joshua M. Bernstein
Published Jan 10, 2010

Brewing beer at home has always been tricky for New Yorkers, and not just because of the cramped-apartment situation. There was also the matter of procuring the necessary hardware—fermentation vessels, cappers, air locks, siphons, not to mention fresh hops and grains—locally. That’s all changing. This week, Benjamin Stutz and Danielle Cefaro will move their DIY-beer business Brooklyn Homebrew out of their Sunset Park apartment and into a 1,000-square-foot former karate studio in Gowanus (163 8th St., nr. Third Ave.; 718-309-4267). They’ll sell $115 starter kits, bulk malts, refillable kegs, and books like The Complete Joy of Homebrewing. Another mom-and-pop outfit, Stephen Valand and Erica Shea’s Brooklyn Brew Shop, has been hawking one-gallon brewing kits fit for any apartment—and experience level—since July at Brooklyn Flea. “If you can cook oatmeal, you can brew beer,” insists Valand, who leads brewing workshops with Shea at Jimmy’s No. 43 in the East Village. (Cefaro and Stutz will teach a home-brew class at Whole Foods Market on the Bowery on January 28.) At Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Kitchen (100 Frost St., nr. Leonard St.; 718-389-2982), which sells supplies including malts and hops, veteran brewer Dan Pizzillo leads a workshop that sends students home with a starter brewing kit and a six-pack of home brew concocted by the previous class. Need a brewing buddy? The New York City Homebrewers Guild, which saw its membership double to 70 in 2009, meets the third Tuesday of the month at the East Village beer bar Burp Castle.

Read more: Where to Find New Home-Brew Suppliers and Classes -- New York Magazine

Mission Dolores to open soon

Thanks Brownstoner, never would've found it

The Deacon's roomie tips off that the long-awaited opening of Mission Dolores (which my co-blogger will recall: we unsuccessfully tried to attend during NYC craft beer week) will occur in late January or early February. Mission Dolares is the second bar to be opened by BGH brothers Mike and Ben Wiley, who led the Six Point brewery tour through freezing snow and are therefore heroes. It'll be at Carroll St and 4th Ave.

Mike describes the space as "bizarre" and as "a huge Vol de Nuit," the excellent partially covered Belgian beer garden in the west village, which makes me hum with happiness. The list will be Bar Great Harry + more Belgian/German beers on tap. Oh and meet pies. Field trip soon, get excited.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Prohibition fact of the day

Fact: In Ancient China, "laws against making wine were enacted and repealed forty-one times between 1,100 B.C. and A.D. 1,400."

An anonymous Chinese historian writing in 650 B.C. (!) wisely commented that "[the people] will not do without beer. To prohibit it and secure total abstinence from it is beyond the power even of sages. Hence, therefore, we have warnings on the abuse of it."

America: still doing things wrong 2500 years after the Chinese. And we wonder why they're taking over the world.

Heronimous Homebrew

was actually my God given name, as a child. Beer Deacon comes off the tongue much easier, don't you agree? Anyhoo I brewed a beer yesterday. I call it "Anola's gingernut ale" after my grandmother, because the spices used were ripped from my grandma's famous norwegian christmas cookie recipe. yes, famous, they're known throughout the Blue Earth MN nursing home community. It's a dark brown ale lightened with honey and spiced with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and dried orange peal. I also used whole hops (vs. pellets) for the first time and they are naaaaasty. They actually smell very nice when balanced with so much malt, but naaaaasty to clean-up. Yuck, that's a lot of wet flowers.

But enough about me. Today is the "official" opening of the first homebrew shop in New York City!! Ave Maria, it's about time. For the last few months Brooklyn Homebrew has been operating out of Danielle and Benjamin's apt in South Brooklyn, and after quickly building a reliable customer base (we're a creative and thirsty city, after all) they're ready to open a permanent storefront. The store opens at 12 PM today, at 163 8th St. in Gowanus (just east of 3rd Ave) conveniently located near the R/M/F/G stop at 4th and 9th. Which if you're keeping track (and I am) is only two subway stops past my apt...

Buy today and you get 5% off all purchases of $10 or more (hey that's not bad...they ain't exactly Sam's Club!) and the first 50 buyers geta free gift bag thrown in for good measure. Sharpen up those recipes, beer cooks...