Archive for the ‘ Beer ’ Category

Braving Brooklyn

  The first time I set foot in Brooklyn was just this past spring when I did the Five Borough Bike Tour. I’d always heard great things about the NYC borough with its cultural treasures, cute shops and eclectic collection of peoples. Though my visit was brief, it left me wanting to go back to see what the fuss of Brooklyn was all about.

Yesterday, my girlfriend and I decided to kick off the three day weekend with a visit to Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Museum of Art participates in the Target sponsored “First Saturdays” where entry is free after 5pm and features a cash bar, music, and other special events. I’d been to a free Saturday event before at the MoMA and it’s wonderful. A community of people coming together to celebrate the arts and mingle with each other.

We decided to plan our day around the museum visit and headed into town early to walk around the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Fortunately, we had a perfect, sunny day to tour the gardens. We meandered through the Japanese Tea Gardens, past rosebushes and ornate fountains with other visitors of like mind. I snapped a bunch of great photos and got to see a huge sculpture made of living roots and vines that reminded me of something out of Star Wars.

After the gardens we ate lunch at a tasty vegan restaurant with a great ambiance called Dao Palate. Our meals were creative without being pretentious and I had the best ginger ale (made with real ginger) I’ve ever tasted. From there we journeyed north to hit up the Brooklyn Brewery to continue our quest to visit as many breweries around the globe that we can. As one of the first microbreweries in the states it became one of the forerunners in a growing trend of breweries around the country and remains as such today. We waded among the hipsters to snag a pint glass and jump on the last tour of the day. While the tour was one of the more interesting with stories of robberies and mafia and eccentric logo designers it was held in a cramped room packed to the gills with people who don’t appreciate personal space. Yikes!

By the time we crossed the brewery off our checklist and wandered around a bit (stumbling upon a hipster hive and barely escaping with our uncool lives), it was past five so we made our way back toward Prospect Heights and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Apparently first Saturdays are THE event and while we enjoyed our museum tour, we spent most of our time sitting outside on a low wall eating frozen yogurt and people watching. As the sun set, illuminating the sky in a brilliance of color and the lights of Brooklyn twinkled on, we both basked in the beauty of our lovely day in Brooklyn.

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Brew Fun

I love visiting new and different breweries. It’s fun to see the behind-the-scenes process of how beers are made and distributed. Each brewery has their own unique methodology and recipe, many of which are decades old and passed down through the generations. There’s just something about the blend of history and science and creativity that makes each brewery special.

To top off my interest in visiting breweries is that I collect pint glasses. I’ve gotten some as swag at a couple races which has been incredibly cool as well as from around the world. Each glass is emblazoned with a logo that reminds of where I’ve been and the memories I’ve gathered.

As soon as my girlfriend and I drove into Boston this past Saturday, we headed to the historic Sam Adam’s Brewery. Tours were free – the best kind – and informative. We learned all about the process and the history and were able to see the facility where many of the beers originate. Including their utopia ales which are sold in a small golden cask and are 25% alcohol!!! (A lot of beers, even microbrews, are only around 5% alcohol.) After the tour we were led into the tasting room where we were given complimentary 4 oz glasses emblazoned with the Sam Adam’s logo and were provided with samples of different beers. The guide was friendly and relaxed, the beer tasty, and the brew tour interesting. I made sure to purchase the unique Sam Adam’s pint glass (see pic below) which was designed to enhance the flavor of their well-known Boston Lager. (Side note: Like wine or cocktail glasses, several beers and breweries have their own unique glass for similar reasons – one of the better known ones being Stella Artois.)

Another great brewery memory and pint glass to add to my collection. 🙂

(Please remember to drink responsibly and always have a designated driver.)

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Summer Beers

Ahhhhh, the taste of summer… barbeques and pool parties and dinners on restaurant patios and playing in the sun. While the official start of summer isn’t here yet, summer brews are pouring into a pint glass near you. My favorite beers of the summer are crisp, clean, and fresh. Light but filled with flavor. There’s no reason anyone should be made to drink a Coors light at their buddy’s barbeque with so many more palatable options at their fingertips.

  Summerfest 2011 by Sierra Nevada – This pilsner-style lager is everything I look for in a summer beer. Crisp and refreshing with great flavor. It has a hint of those hops that makes Sierra Nevada unique, but it’s not overwhelming. It’s easy to drink this with a heavy meal and not feel too full. A perfect addition to any barbeque!

  Pyramid Apricot Ale by Pyramid Breweries –  When I first started drinking beers with more flavor, this was the one I gravitated to the most. It’s a great wheat beer that’s doesn’t sit to heavy on your palate. The apricot hints aren’t overwhelming and add a nice twist to a classic wheat beer. Don’t worry, it’s not a “fruity” drink by any stretch and is sure to be a crowd pleaser at any gathering.

  Sweaty Betty by Boulder Beer Company – This blonde wheat ale that has tones of citrus that make this beer a bright addition to any meal. Lighter than other wheat beers, Sweaty Betty is the perfect compliment to that smoked salmon on the grill or to enjoy with friends after work. And the name rocks!

Tire Bite by Flying Dog – I’m a big, big fan of Flying Dog beers. They seem to hit a perfect note with each of their beers. Their golden ale is no exception. This is a mild pilsner, straw-colored that has a combination of malt and German hops destined to make any party a hit. Perfect with white fish, tempura or sushi.

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Spring Beers

Spring is in the air and that means spring beer!

While I don’t (quite) mark the changing seasons through the new beer selections, I do make a point of visiting my favorite breweries and local beer stores to stock up on what’s new.

Some of my favorite beers aren’t the ones distributed but the ones found at the breweries around my home. Iron Hill Brewery is by far my favorite because not only do they have a frequently rotating beer selection (I’ve never had one I didn’t like), their food is delicious. And, after wanting to take me forever, I’m finally going with my brother to Victory Brewing Company. I’m excited to check out another local brewery and test their wares. We’re having dinner at their brewpub as well.

So while my first recommendation is to find a local brewery/brewpub to sample some tasty seasonal ales, here are some of my other recommendations (hopefully you can find them!):

Garde Dog Biere de Guard by Flying Dog

This is one of my all-time favorite beers. Unfortunately for me, I rarely can find it! It’s a farmhouse ale which means has fuller flavor with a lighter color. It has notes of honey and that wheat taste that accompanies some hefeweizens. It’s a perfect spring beer because it reminds of warm days and beers at a barbecue.

 

Glissade by Sierra Nevada

This is the perfect winter transitioning into spring beer. This golden bock is smooth and crisp with subtle malt flavors. Just like the name suggests, this beer reminds me of the spring thaw. It’s refreshing and reminds you that spring is on its way!

 

St. Victorious by Victory Brewing Company

A tradition doppelbock, this dark-colored beer has a rich malt taste that’s smooth to the palate. A perfect beer to warm you up on a chilly night.

And because the beer seasonal releases don’t quite coincide with our actual seasons, you might miss out on the stream of bocks and doppelbocks but check out their brother – maibock!

A maibock is malty like its brothers, but has stronger hops notes to it. And if you love the hops, this is a great dark beer for you.

These are a few of my favorites. Hope you enjoy them! As always, please drink responsibly.

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