Hey Y’all, Check Out These Pictures, Or, Please Don’t Try to Drink This Blog Post…

It’s picture time! I realize I haven’t put up a picture-heavy blog post in a bit, so here’s one coming at’cha!

ALSO: I wrote an article for TigerLyfe Times about Sand City Brewing’s recent Oops! I _____ed My Pants! triple can release! Check that article out over HERE! Thanks for reading!

Radical One from the aforementioned Sand City Brewing. The hop hits keep coming and coming with these guys outta Northport!

#LGM! LIC Beer Project Dutch Kills Kölsch at Citifield! This is my kind of baseball beer! Crisp, malty, fruity and super refreshing!

From Salt House Bar in Galway Ireland! Brouwerij Boon Geuze Mariage Parfait, all the way from Belgium! This beer brought the house down. Tart, funky, dry, and delicious. Absolutely nothing wrong here!

Greenpoint Beer & Ale Co. Particle Pilsner. One of the more hoppy pils’ I’ve had. Bright, crisp citrus is balanced by sweet, cracker like malt. Love it!

A “candid” photograph at Samson’s Birthday party at Greenpoint! Cheers!

Greenpoint Beer & Ale Tremendous. Paired with an, *ahem*, appropriate movie (on VHS, no less!)

My favorite beer of summer, 2017. Carton Brewing Beach, a session Ale with (I believe) Citra hops and orange zest. Bright, beautiful grapefruit and bitter orange, a bit of dankness, but still clean and dry enough and low enough ABV to keep on drinkin’. So, keep on drinkin’!

Also, I’m getting a foot massage whilst I took this photo. So, your opinion is invalid.

Finback x Jacks Abby Spill The Tea IPL. The green tea is a cool addition to the citrus hops and citrus peel, adding a clean, grassy note that’s intriguing. And no need to boil water and risk burning your precious, precious skin. 😘

Singlecut Beersmiths strikes again! Some Cat From Japan Session IPA, and Charlie’s Good Tonight IPA. Both phenomenal beers, and I’m hoping they’ll release them again in the future.

I know, I know, this isn’t beer. But when Holly Kay and I found the Dingle Whiskey Bar tucked away inside Fraunces Tavern down in the Financial District of NYC, we had to stop in and have some Irish Whiskey (at triple the price we paid for it on the Emerald Isle, of course). And it was worth every penny.

Bradco brought this beer back from Michigan. Old Nation Brewing Co. M-43 New England Style IPA. These cats from Williamston, MI have nailed this style, which surprised me. Watch out, New England, Michigan’s coming for you. HARD.

Enjoyed this collaboration by Other Half Brewing and Cloudwater Brewing, Tremendous Ideas. The simple can design also lends this can to take beautiful pictures even when an amateur photographer (me) is behind the camera (iPhone). Also my bed looks super comfy and as I’m writing this, I’m minutes away from hopping into it and drifting into a blissful slumber so, that’s also cool.

This was at Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint. The Hellboy pizza with soppressata picante and Mike’s Hot Honey (yo, MIKE’S HOT HONEY. Who’s this Mike guy? I want to raid his house and take all of his hot honey for my own.). This hot-ass pizza was paired with a Greenpoint Beer & Ale Milk & Honey, a sweet, creamy ale that paired perfectly with the spicy ‘zza, bro.

Threes Brewing SFY (the artist formerly known as SuperF*ckingYawn) IPA, as we prepared for the magical wonder that is the Binky Griptite Orchestra at Threes Greenpoint Location. Binky plays guitar with the Dap Kings, and brought his musician friends to play some amazing 1940s Jazz and R&B and it was absolutely incredible. It was the opposite of SuperF*ckingYawn, but so was this beer, so…

Sometimes, it’s nice to go back to basics. Allagash White, my first Belgian white beer I fell in love with. Simple, refreshing, with notes of orange peel, clove, banana. Sometimes simple is beautiful.

Again, let the hate flow through you. I will combat that hate with Polar Seltzer’s Unicorn Kisses Seltzer. Is it Strawberry Kiwi? We’ll never know. Polar’s been keeping these flavors as mysterious as the mythical beasts on the cans. Damn you, Polar.

Fan favorites Moustache Brewing Co. made this delightful Saison brewed with Lavender, Honey, and Lemon Verbena. They knocked it out of the park, with floral, sweet, banana, and citrus dancing mischievously around the palate, this beer is simply a delight. Love you, Moustache Gang!

Thanks to my dear friend Will Russell, for asking me to be a part of his wedding party. As part of our Groomsmen’s gift, he got us these HEAVY DUTY USS Enterprise Bottle Openers. This is insanely dope and I will use it always. Make it so.

Treehouse Brewing Company, if you don’t know, now you know. Christopher Benedict, if you don’t know, now you know. Get with the times, y’all.

Interboro Spirits & Ales x Pipeworks Brewing Mad Fat! Unicorn. Thanks Bradco for sharing!! Mad Fat! Fluid plus Ninja Vs. Unicorn equals an amazing liquid combo. New York x Chicago, taking over the world.

If you’re not salivating by now, you need to let me know, and I’ll take you out and buy you a beer. So, if you’ve made it this far, and it’s had no effect on you, let me know. The next one’s on me.

Until next time!

Cheers!

New Years Eve, 2016, in Astoria, Or, How We Winced As We Crossed the Threshold Into Our Apartment to Make Sure Our Ceiling Hadn’t Collapsed Again…

Ok, so, December 31st, 2015, Holly Kay and I began our evening at Astoria Bier and Cheese on Ditmars Blvd., and walked over to Singlecut Beersmiths, and had an amazing evening with our dear friends, and fantastic beer.

Cheese.  Bread.  More cheese.  More bread.

Love.

My love, and a lovely stout!

Ryan and I in our Prom pose.

It was a fantastic evening.

At around 1am, January 1st, 2016, we walked into our apartment, and found our kitchen ceiling had an existential crisis and wanted to become one with the floor.

#partymode

We used an app to make this.  Also, Bowie, Prince, and Harambe were still alive when this picture was taken.

So, the hope for New Years Day, January 1st, 2017, was that we would come home, and our kitchen would be the way that we left it on December 31st, 2016.

So we decided to repeat our New Years Eve plans from the previous year.  Let’s call it a mulligan.

I had the day off, and Holly worked until 4pm, so we met at Astoria Bier and Cheese around 5.  I decided to try taking the bus(es), got on the wrong bus, got off a few stops later, and called a Lyft, like an adult.  I got into the cab, and immediately saw an LED sign on the dashboard that lit up with “HAPPY NEW YEAR, PATRICK!!”  What a time to be alive.  I knew I had made the right choice (aka I’m a dummy who can’t get on the right bus).  I was so excited.

I got to AB&C first, because the MTA is amazing and decided they weren’t going to run N trains between 42nd street and Queensboro Plaza.  So Holly ended up taking 3(?) different trains and eventually a cab (like an adult.)

A beautiful glass of Jack’s Abby Kiwi Rising

While I waited for my wonderful wife, I enjoyed a Kiwi Rising from Jack’s Abby, just outside of Boston.  Jack’s Abby only makes Lagers, something I haven’t seen in American craft brewing.

I LOVE IPLs.  America is obsessed with hops.  I’m obsessed with hops.  New Zealand is killing it with their hop production.  What I love about this beer is the sweetness of the malts balances out the bitter citrus from the massive hop presence in this beer.  The result is a delightful burst of citrus, rounded out with sweet strawberries.  Lovely.

Here’s what I did while I waited for Holly to get there…

If you like fun, and also my face, you should click on that link!  🤗

ICONYC Hib Hop, Saison with Hibiscus

Holly had a beautiful, floral, lemon citrus Saison, clocking in at over 8% ABV, which is odd for a saison, but there’s not a hint of booze on this one.

We met Nigel, the beverage manager at Astoria Bier and Cheese Ditmars, and Sean, bartender and all around awesome dude from Singlecut Beersmiths.  Nigel immediately poured us a few small pours of Perennial Artisinal Ales Abraxas, a stout brewed with vanilla beans, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, and ancho chili peppers.  Mexican. Hot.  Chocolate.  Thanks, Nigel, for sharing!  Cheers!

Next up was a ginormous 10% coffee stout from Catskill Brewery.  This was a new beer from a new brewery for me, and only $5 for a 12oz pour.  This tasted like a coffee with sugar and cocoa!  It was creamy as hell and I loved every sip!

Onward, Holly and I walked with Nigel over to Singlecut.  We were meeting up with our friends Bradco and Alex, Kate and Mikayla, and Bryan!  (You’ll remember Brad and Bryan from THIS POST about our adventure in LIC). Nigel was stopping by to have a beer before he headed home for a quiet New Years Eve.  

Singlecut’s beautiful tasting room
I started out with a Jim is Workin’ Hard Session IPA, which bursted with stone fruit and citrus and had a creamy mouthfeel for such a low ABV beer.  They just canned this beer for the first time, and I’ll absolutely be coming back to pick some up next time they can or bottle it.

Next up, Kinky Boots of Lead!  This is Singlecut’s wonderful Heavy Boots of Lead Imperial Stout that they infected with Brettanomyces and Lactobacilus, and let rest for 18 months.  The result is dark cherries and berries, on top of the already creamy cocoa and coffee notes from the original stout.  Absolutely fantastic!

This was the Workers Are Going Home IIPA (YEEEEEAH YEEEEEAH YEEEEEEAH!), named after a lyric from one of my favorite Weezer tunes, explosions of stone fruit, pine, grapefruit.  Crisp and delicious!  Also, LOOK AT BRAD’S FACE!

We played some card games, Exploding Kittens and Cards Against Humanity, and Sean and the rest of the staff at Singlecut played some awesome Rock Concert DVDs (The Band, and The Rolling Stones’ Rock and Roll Circus), which was a lot of fun.  We even threw in a Turkey Dance for good measure, which you can check out HERE!  🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃

Brad and Bryan looking so dang cute!  Cutiez ’16-’17

Three Bearded Beauties!

Here I was enjoying a Heavy Boots of Lead!  Chocolate and coffee dominate, with a little roast and vanilla.  Lovely, lovely imperial stout.

By 11pm, Holly and I were tuckered out.  Holly’d been up since four, and I was still getting over a cold, so we ended up leaving Singlecut before midnight…  Maybe that’s what broke the curse…

We arrived home, and our ceiling was in tact!  Everything was where it was supposed to be!  The ceiling was on the ceiling!  The floor was on the floor!  We celebrated for a moment, before putting on pajamas, collapsing into bed, watching Times Square’s sound engineers drop the ball on Mariah Carey before the ball actually dropped at midnight.

So let’s be good to each other this year, folks.  Love everyone as hard as you can, be nice to people, celebrate and enjoy your time with your friends, family and loved ones.  2016 was a year of loss, hate, and fear.  This year, let’s try and make the good times outweigh the bad.  Combat hate with love!  

Oh, and enjoy a beer or two along the way… 

🤗🍺

Until next time!

Cheers!

A Love Letter to Holly Kay, My Sweet Partner in Adventure, or, Here’s a Bunch of Gorgeous Pictures of my Wife!


This is a blog about beer…

But first, Birthday!

My dear sweet Holly Kay celebrated her birthday yesterday, so I figured this would be an appropriate place to gush and fawn over how special she is to me.  

Without her, I never would have started this blog, and, since starting this blog, we’ve gone on so many different adventures and short trips, which provide some much needed relaxation and a chance to get away and simply be together and enjoy our time together.  

We’re heading to Ireland in 3 weeks to celebrate our 5th (and a half-ish) Anniversary, and each getaway we’ve taken since staring this blog in April, and since booking our trip in late June, has only emphasized how amazing our 8-day, 6-night vacation will be.

So, I would like to celebrate my love, Holly Kay, by showing off how stunningly beautiful she is, with a ton of pictures, some from our adventures, some from our nights out on the town here in NYC.  She’s a special gal, y’all, and you all should let her know how beautiful she is!  I don’t know where I’d be without here!

So, without further ado, let’s get to some pictures…

Holly won this pint glass from Long Ireland Beer Company at a meeting for the Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts, and, why yes, that is Matthew Spitz from Moustache Brewing Co. lurking behind her…  Spooky.

When one flies on a plane, one drinks Woodford Reserve…  It’s just plane delicious!  This is Holly’s go to drink when we’re 30,000 feet in the air.

This is from one of our first visits to Moustache Brewing Co., on July 4th, 2014, before we went to Chris and Caroline’s Wedding!

Our favorite neighborhood sushi restaurant, Happy Kitchen, has hot sake. In tiny cups.  Who wouldn’t want to drink out of a tiny cup?

I’m so sorry for the flash on this picture.  But HK looks super cute, and we’re at another neighborhood favorite, Unidentified Flying Chickens, a wonderful Korean Fried Chicken and Craft Beer Bar in gorgeous Jackson Heights.

If you’re in Midtown Manhattan for a show, and you’re in a rush, don’t go to Bareburger on Restaurant Row.  If you’re not in a rush, go to Bareburger on Restaurant Row.  Have a mimosa.

Holly loves drinking things out of tiny glassware (see: earlier picture of Holly drinking Sake at Happy Kitchen)…  Anyway, here’s a full sized beer mug and a giant.

Sometimes, in the dead of winter, you take a date night to Il Bambino in Astoria, and enjoy paninis, crostinis, beer and wine, and bask in the glow of Holly Kay’s smile.

My stunning wife with a slightly less stunning nitro pour of Keith SW4 Pale Ale from Singlecut Beersmiths…  Go to this brewery!!

Butterbeer!  Frozen is far superior to non-frozen.  Universal Studios, August 2015.

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA at Pony Bar in Hell’s Kitchen.  This is one of Holly’s favorite beers.

Black and White, because we’re artsy.  We began our New Year (’15-’16) at Astoria Bier and Cheese on Ditmars.

Black & Tan, Singlecut 19-33 Pilsner and Singlecut Heavy Boots of Lead Imperial Stout.  Also, ;-).

Love, Love, Love (Love, Love)

Knee Deep Brewing Ole Molé Stout at Bondurants, NYC.  Sweet chocolate with some dry and spicy pepper notes.  Awesome!

Holly Kay rocking a Boat Beer by Carton Brewing Company in Atlantic Highlands, NJ.  That hair!!!

Tommy’s Tap and Tavern, Sea Bright, NJ.
Bahr’s Landing, Highlands, NJ

Two Roads Brewing, Stamford, CT.

Fat 10-er #37 at New England Brewing Co., a delicious, floral saison from this hop-forward brewery.

Two Roads Brewing Co. was the most massive brewery we’ve ever seen.  HK took home a growler of Espressway Stout and a sweet bandana.

Super cool VW Bus decked out in front of Two Roads!  A fantastic way to begin Autumn 2016!
Share the love, y’all!  Let Holly Kay know how beautiful she is!  Happy Birthday Holly!  

Cheers!

Beer Plus Music Vol. II, or How Singlecut Saved Us From Our Ceiling Collapsing on Our Heads…

“Hey you!  Out there in the cold, getting lonely, getting old, can you feel me?

Hey you! Standing in the aisles, with itchy feet and fading smiles, can you feel me?”

If you can’t feel Pink Floyd, you can’t feel feelings.

So last week, I put together some beer and music pairings.  A few days ago, I thought to myself, “How did I make a beer and music post and not mention one of my favorite (and literally the closest to my apartment) breweries, that is as obsessed with music as they are with beer?”

Singlecut Beersmiths.  37th Avenue, Astoria, Queens.  This is a place you should go, definitely.

This is their entrance!

As far as beer and music collaborations are concerned, these guys are the (ZZ) tops!


They’ve taken a warehouse and made it home.

When you walk through the door of the giant warehouse, you’re welcomed in with large wooden tables, a gorgeous bar, complete with a record player and some unbelievable vinyl, beautiful, dark wood paneling, and gorgeous guitars hanging from the wall.  Lining the walls are framed bags of malt, tying in their passion for beer with their passion for music.

The tap handles?  All designed to look like guitar heads.  The beers?  Mostly named after the brewers’ favorite musicians, or song lyrics.

A video of me mouthing the line that Robert Plant shouted in the middle of “Stairway to Heaven” during a live recording for the 1976 concert movie The Song Remains the Same, which, apparently, still makes him cringe and inspired Singlecut’s IIPA of the same name.

Does Anybody Remember Laughter? IPA clocks in at 7.2% ABV, with aromas and flavors of dank, piney resin and citrus, tropical fruit (mango, pineapple) and pine.  The forests truly do echo with laughter.

If you’ll excuse me…  My hedgegrow is bustled, and frankly, I’m a little alarmed.  I’ll be right back…

Ok, much better.  Back to the beer.

Mo’Shuggie Soulbender IPA, found at Little Tibet, an unassuming, fun restaurant in our neighborhood of Jackson Heights, features Singlecut and other Queens breweries like Transmitter Brewing.

Mo’Shuggie weighs in at 7.4% ABV, and is brewed with both New Zealand and Australian hop varietals, and has aromas of tropical mango, pineapple, and orange citrus.  The taste follows, with flavors of grapefruit zest, and white peach, leaving it with a dry finish.  Simply, a world class IPA.  Bright, fruity, aromatic, picks you up and drops you on the beach, the ocean lapping at your toes.  Juice, juice, juice.

Singlecut helped Holly and I kick off our 2016. We were undecided on where we wanted to go to celebrate New Years Eve, but we discussed it with some friends, and decided to spend our evening there (not before a quick stop at the Ditmars location of Astoria Bier and Cheese)!

IMG_0606HK Benny looking super cute and wintery…

Holly started out with an Eric More Cowbell! Milk Stout.  This is a creamy, smooth stout at 6% ABV with bitter bakers cocoa and coffee notes with some sugary sweetness.  Great way to kick off the evening.

I had the Bon TNT Pale Ale, which is a hazy, unfiltered Pale Ale (see glass of orange juice in the picture above), a 5% ABV, juicy, citrus refresher and another great beer to kick off our evening.

Singlecut also has the Bon Bon 2XTNT IIPA, which, in my opinion, is as good as and easier to find than all the “New England Style” IPAs that are sought after and waited in line for.  It’s another juicy, citrus bomb that drinks super easy for its 8.2% ABV.  It’s packed with amazing New Zealand and Australian hops (which is appropriate, as Bon is a reference to the late Bon Scott, frontman for AC/DC).  OI! OI!  OI! OI! OI! OI!  He’s dynamite, and he will win the fight.

IMG_0485Boom!

We continued the evening as our friends trickled in, Ryan (manager of Il Bambino, see my love letter to Il Bambino from a few months ago) and Erica, Rafa, and Alex and Shelbie all came by to spend a relatively quiet New Years Eve chatting and celebrating.  The staff at Singlecut are always so welcoming and friendly, and they threw New Years confetti all over the tables, while we all listened to whatever records were spinning that night (I can’t remember exactly, but I think Rolling Stones and T-Rex were both a part of the night).  It was an awesome evening ( aside from getting home at 1am to find our ceiling collapsed in our kitchen, but you’ve probably already read that post.  If you haven’t, check it out here.)

IMG_0632Beer Plus Music Equals Love

IMG_0624Ryan and Erica.  So happy to have these two in our lives!

IMG_0623Alex and Shelbie having a blast!

A grainy picture of Holly, Rafa and I.  It’s grainy because of all the fun we were having.  Also, you know, artsy.  Beer is art.  Grainy selfies are art, too.

Holly and I decided we were going to start the new year with our favorite beer from Singlecut, a MONSTER Imperial Stout called Heavy Boots of Lead.


Is he live or dead?  Has he thoughts within his head?

Named after a lyric from Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”, this is a heavy hitter, at 11.2% ABV.  It tastes like liquid dark chocolate, with hints of vanilla and coffee.  One of my favorite non-barrel aged Imperial Stouts, whenever I see this around, I have to get it.  I could drink this in the middle of summer.

The moral of the story here is, you should absolutely make the trek up to Northern Astoria (don’t go too far, or you’ll end up on Riker’s Island).  They have amazing sour lagers (ahem, lagrrrs), also, try all of their Billy series IPAs, they range from about 5% ABV to 10%, and are all juicy and delicious.  Their newest juice bomb IPA that I love is…

Breathe…  Breathe in the air…

These guys are making absolute world class beers, and have only been around a few years, so I look forward to seeing what these mad scientists will put out next.  Right on the bottle, it says “Mastery knows no shortcut”.  And they’re not taking any.  You know Holly and I will be there, and you should be too.  Although, their traffic might explode after getting the Benedict Beer Blog Bump!  😉

Thanks for reading.  Don’t sleep on Singlecut!

Cheers!

A love letter to Il Bambino, or, How I Became the Redheaded Tree Monster

On a sunny day in April, 2010 (it might have been late March, but that’s semantics), I put in my resume at a sandwich shop with an unassuming little storefront on 31st Avenue in Astoria.  I was out of a job, and had no other prospects lined up.  My wife (who was my girlfriend at the time) Holly Kay, and I, had been there once before.  We popped our heads in when we were taking a walk, exploring the neighborhood.  We ordered Crostinis to go, and they were unbelievable.  Having lived West of the Subway, near the East River, we never really ventured past 31st Street.

Astoria is very confusing.  As you go from North to South, the streets begin with a number, and end in Avenue, Drive, or Road.  The numbers go up from 1 as you walk South.  If you’re walking West to East, they go up from number 1, and all end in Street.  Why?  According to Internet (I googled “Why are streets numbered the way they are in Astoria?”), Astoria was made up of a number of different communities, who all had different names for the streets and avenues.  This means that the same avenue could change names every few blocks.  So, between 1910 and 1920, there was a massive overhaul, and they changed the names to numbers, going up from 1 starting in the Northwestern part of Queens.

IMG_1501

Wow!  A History Lesson!  Not about beer! Yahoo for School!  Yahoo for me!  (This is my second Billy Madison reference in 3 Blog posts and I ain’t ashamed about it and I ain’t ashamed about my English neither.)

Anyway, I was out of a job, and in desperate need of one, so I walked into Il Bambino, on 31st Avenue in between 34th and 35th Streets.  As you walk in, you look straight ahead into the dining room and outdoor garden.  To your right are 6 stools, three underneath a banquette that looks out onto the street, and three underneath a small wooden bar that looks into the kitchen.  On the wall to the left, there is a giant pig, sectioned off and labeled with different types of cured meats that come from each section (i.e. the head is labeled Sopressatta).  Above the pig, are the words An Tard-Ri, which is Gaelic for “The Great King” (HOW AMAZING IS THAT?!?!?). Holly and I fell in love immediately, so I knew I had to give it a shot.

I spoke with Ryan Keogh, the manager, who said that there weren’t any server positions open, but he did possibly have a Counterperson position opening.  I handed him my resumé, and said I was absolutely interested, and left.

A few days or so went by, and that desperation turned into necessity.  I sincerely needed a job…  So, here’s my side of how this went down.  I decided to walk over to Il Bambino and pop my head in to see if they had made any progress in filling the Counterperson position.  I was unemployed.  I had nothing but time.  So I walked over, and happened to see Ryan, the very manager I had handed my resumé to, walking towards the restaurant.  So I said, “Hey man, remember me?  My name is Patrick, I gave you my resumé a few days ago.  Just wanted to follow up.”  He said that he hadn’t made any decisions yet, but would call me in a few days.

Ryan remembers this differently.  According to him, he was innocently walking to work one day, when an awkward redheaded monster jumped out FROM BEHIND A TREE and said “HEY REMEMBER ME?  YOU GONNA GIVE ME THAT JOB????”

…I’m 90% sure I was NOT behind a tree.

IMG_1128

A reenactment of this incident in front of Il Bambino in 2014.

Needless to say, I nailed it.  I got that job.  I worked behind the Counter, learned the ins and outs of the restaurant, and kept asking if and when any server positions were going to open up.  Apparently I raised my hand like an eager schoolboy at one of our first staff meetings.  Again, I’m 90% sure I didn’t do that.  I’m an adult.

I made myself clear about what I wanted to do as I’d been stuck as a busboy in one of my previous restaurant jobs, with the promise of becoming a waiter.  That never came to fruition, as I was told later I would never be a waiter because I wasn’t a woman.  That was information that I wish they would have brought to my attention YESTERDAYYYY!  (Second Adam Sandler reference in a single blog.  Wordpress gives out badges, right?  I should get a badge for this.)  Also, I visited there about a year ago and there was a dude bartending.  Again, whatevs.  No bad blood, their food is amazing, wine list is on point, and as you’ll see in a few paragraphs, they had some beers that had an impact on me.

At Il Bambino, I became a server after about a month, and Ryan and I became friends pretty quickly.  We worked hard, knew how to talk to people, and had similar tastes in music (although his knowledge far exceeds mine, also you should see his vinyl collection).  Remember my first post about Kanye West’s Runaway?  That’s that dude.

At this point, I didn’t know much about craft beer.  I wasn’t really into IPAs (which, if you know me now, is very surprising) and I wasn’t above drinking a Bud Lite at the bar.  I had been doing Improv Comedy for the last two years or so, and we were able to drink them for free (or really cheap) so that was a thing we did often.  The beers I did know about were the ones served at the aforementioned restaurant where I was a busboy. Three that I remember specifically were:

  1. Reissdorf Kolsch, which is a traditional German Kolsch, with sweet, bready malts, and a grassy hop character.
  2. Rogue Brewing Dead Guy, a Maibock, which is a German-Style Amber Ale, a sweet, balanced beer with earthy hops.
  3. Schneider Weisse (try NOT saying that with a German accent.  You can’t do it.), a peppery, citrusy German Hefeweizen (wheat beer).

I wasn’t much of a beer guy.  I wasn’t picky.  Maybe times were simpler back in early 2010.  Maybe I never shoulda gotten that job at Il Bambino.  Maybe then, Ryan would have never turned me into the redheaded monster that hides behind trees and jumps out to grab the hoppiest IPA or the bourbon barrel-iest Stout he can find, just to scurry back behind his tree and take a sip.

Nah.  It was the best decision Ryan ever made, hiring me.  He knows it.  I know it.  We all know it.  We had fun working inside that little unassuming storefront on 31st Avenue, between 34th and 35th streets in Astoria.  Please go eat there.

My gateway into my love and passion for Craft Beer began here.  Ryan and I would taste these beers together, and I learned that the people who made these beers were not unlike Darren Lawless (Owner and Head Chef at Il Bambino), and Ryan.  They cultivated Il Bambino into the amazing restaurant it is today, and have expanded to a new location in the West Village.  They’ve been working together for years, and are insanely talented, both in their own right, and know what their audience wants.

Beer, at its core, is 4 ingredients: Water, Barley, Hops, and Yeast.  Craft brewers are all about quality ingredients, hard work, and community.  I think it’s this mindset that Darren and Ryan had helped fuel my passion for craft beer and the people who make it.  Sometimes, simpler is better.

Ryan was (and is) a whiz at ordering the right beer (and wine) for the food they serve at Il Bambino.  Darren’s menu of Crostinis, Paninis, Salads, and Tapas, consists of simple ingredients, simple concepts, executed impeccably.  I believe that Ryan has the same mindset when it comes to the beer menu.

The beers Ryan had on the menu when I started were:

  1. Sixpoint Sweet Action, a Cream Ale from Brooklyn, a crisp beer with grassy, citrusy hops, and a toffee-like malt profile.
  2. Smuttynose Finestkind IPA, a malt forward IPA with balanced, citrusy hops.
  3. Allagash White, which, in my opinion, this is the quintessential gateway into Craft Beer.  “You like Blue Moon?  Here, try this.  It’s much better.”
  4. Lagunitas Pils, a traditional, Czech-style Pilsner.  Clean, grassy hops with nice sweetness from the malts (give this to someone who asks for a Bud or Bud Light).
  5. Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale, classic Brown Ale from the UK, with nutty, roasted malts.
  6. Ommegang Hennepin, a peppery, funky, tart lemon zest citrus Farmhouse Saison.
  7. Pacifico, a Mexican style Light Lager.  (Corona’s more awesome primo)

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Chicken Mozzarella Panini accompanied by an Allagash White.

Ryan’s choice of beers listed above are amazing compliments to Darren’s menu.  Simple ingredients, elevated and complimented by the food they’re served with.  The beer menu has changed over the years, but it still contains amazing beers that pair perfectly with the food.

IMG_0133Founders Breakfast Stout, one of Ryan’s weekly specials.  Coffee and chocolate dominate this easily drinkable, 8% Stout.  Ask my Dad!  He loves them!

 

IMG_0256Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Saison.  8.5%ABV, with aromas of citrus, and a little funk.  Taste is crisp, sweet, citrusy, peppery.  Another perfect beer to go with Crostinis.

IMG_0165Puu Puu Platter, a plate of six different Crostinis.

IMG_0319Tröegs Mad Elf, an 11%ABV Ale made with Honey and Cherries.  I like to let this one sit a year, as the flavors mellow out a bit.

IMG_0318Just wanted to throw in this picture of my gorgeous wife enjoying her wine.  As you can see by the Poinsettias and Nutcracker, they decorate for Christmas!  It’s amazing!

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This is not beer.  This is a Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Raspberry Syrup and Homemade Chocolate Frosted Flakes.  Please eat this.

IMG_2279Myself and Ryan at Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor with The Thin White Duke.

Again, I will mention that Il Bambino now has two locations, one in Astoria, and one on 8th Street in the West Village.  Please go eat there now, and I will wait here, so you can come back and finish this blog.

Il Bambino was my first foray into craft beer, and it got me excited to try something new.  I learned how beer and food complimented each other.  Also, I was shown the art of craftsmanship, whether it was Darren with his passion for elevated, simple ingredients, Ryan with his passion for experience (both for his employees and his customers), or craft brewers with their passion for quality, taste, and community.  Often times, you can find complexity in simplicity.

Anyways, until next time!

Cheers!