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. ūüėė

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!

Haymaker Bar NYC, or, (Spoiler Alert) This Post Contains a Picture of a Man Called Nelson Drinking a Beer Called Nelson

OK, the above title is misleading (#alternativefacts).  His SURNAME (last name) is Nelson.  His first name is Rick.  So, I present to you, dear readers, a photo of a man called (Rick) Nelson drinking a beer called (Other Half) Nelson, a single hopped, 7.5% ABV, crisp, refreshing IPA, to celebrate his birthday! 

Look at this guy!!

What a time to be a craft beer drinker.

I’ve been saying this a lot lately.  As craft beer drinkers, especially here in NYC and on Long Island, we have access to some of the world’s tastiest most mouth watering (mouth water-iest?) beverages.  I’ve written so much about C’est Cheese and Craft at C’est Cheese, who have provided myself and my family with so much hospitality and world renowned beer, I shed a tear just thinking about it.  They have great relationships throughout LI and NYC and have access to such amazing beer, it’s a blessing to be able to walk in there when Holly and I are out on Sundays, and pick up some world class beer, and spend time with some wonderful people (Joe, Chris, Erin, Lori, Britney and the rest of the staff).

I’m also very lucky to be here in NYC.  Thanks to Clint and Rick (SEE ABOVE PICTURE), we discovered the wonderful Haymaker Bar NYC on 28th Street, just east of 8th Avenue.  Haymaker had followed the Benedict Beer Blog Instagram Page a few months ago, but we hadn’t had a chance to visit (which is very disappointing because *we blew it* because this place is amazing.)

My bearded buddy Will…

*A Photo of Will*

and I had decided to meet here, as Will and his lovely fianc√©e Sarah had recently gotten engaged, and Will asked me to be one of his Groomsmen (!!!).  So, celebratory beers.  Also, Holly Kay recently got a new job, and brought her new work friends, Sedine and Massiel (!!!).  So, celebratory beers.  Also, our dear friend Rick (Nelson) (SEE ABOVE PHOTO) was celebrating his birthday (!!!).  SO, CELEBRATORY BEERS!!!

We were there on a Thursday evening at 7pm, just before a Rangers (the hockey sportsmen) game, so, when I arrived, it was PACKED.  Their tap list is beyond delightful, and Will and I ordered the insanely awesome Interboro Spirits and Ales Premiere, a juicy, refreshing Pale Ale that sits around 6% ABV, has a beautiful pineapple aroma and super smooth, creamy mouthfeel that transports you from a crowded NYC beer bar to a secluded beach, relaxing in a hammock stretched between two palm trees, sipping actual juice from an actual pineapple.  Yup, believe dat hype, yo.

We waited about 40 minutes for a table, which ain’t bad when you’re getting Tropical (see above paragraph), and once the Rangers fans headed to MSG (just a few blocks away) we were able to sit and order food and some more drinks.  We were joined by Rick’s boyfriend, Samson, and Rick shortly thereafter.

A photo of Samson and I, looking real cute!
Samson is enjoying a Prairie Artisan Ales 4th Anniversary, a 6.5% sour ale Aged on Ginger.  Bright, zippy citrus combined with a zing from the Ginger, this was a hit with the table!  Another amazing beer from Prairie!

I myself had a Prairie Christmas Bomb!  10% ABV, brewed with coffee, cocoa, vanilla, chili peppers ūüĆ∂ ‚ĚóÔłŹ, and Christmas Spices.  This giant beverage explodes with flavors of Mexican hot chocolate, with just a hint of chili spice in the back of the throat.  AMAZING.

As we were winding down, after our delicious meal (I had a curried lamb Shepherd’s Pie, which I loved, Holly had the short rib sliders, which were also delightful), they tapped a fresh keg of Maine Beer Co. LUNCH!  When one sees that Maine Lunch has tapped, one does not pass up the opportunity to enjoy Maine Lunch.  Did I mention it was Rick’s Birthday?  Celebratory Beers!

We all had a wonderful time, and I want to extend my sincere thanks to Lou, our server, and the whole staff at Haymaker, for their hospitality and helping us celebrate all our various accomplishments!  

It was a great night with friends, and we’ll absolutely be back.

Until next time!

Cheers!

Irish Whiskey Experience, or The Events That Lead Patrick and Holly Kay to a Denjoe’s at Nearly Midnight

Another from my Sexy Posing in Front of Breweries, Pubs, and Historic Sites series… ¬†Kilkenny Castle.

After spending our afternoon exploring Kilkenny and Kilkenny Castle, we drove nearly 3 hours to check into our first B&B in Killarney, the quaint Windway House.

It was a 7 minute walk to the Downtown area of Killarney, which, even when not decorated for Christmas, looks and feels like it.  We were exhausted, and starving, but we wanted to relax for a few minutes, and had a cup of tea in the shared lobby area, and our host Frank greeted us warmly and recanted stories about his daughter who had moved to New York.  He was the sweetest man, and had exactly the Irish hospitality we were hoping for when we chose to do a B&B heavy vacation.

We took the quick walk into the city, and had read about a restaurant called the Irish Whiskey Experience and Celtic Whiskey Bar and Larder in our research on Trip Advisor.

The entryway to Irish Whiskey Experience, adorned with barrel bottoms!

Irish Whiskey Experience has 5 stars on Trip Advisor, and all the reviews we read said that even without the whiskey, the food is incredible. ¬†So… ¬†Good food? ¬†Check. ¬†Good Whiskey? ¬†Check. ¬†And oh yeah, this is a blog about Beer. ¬†Good craft beer. ¬†Check.

My dear sweet Lord… ¬†Am I in heaven?

We sat at a table for two, with a large collection of Irish Whiskeys behind a glass partition lining one side of the restaurant, across from the bar. ¬†We were told by our server that the Whiskey behind that glass wasn’t for sale, but more of a collection, and there were some pretty rare bottles. ¬†We were handed menus, and greeted by some delicious looking Gastropub style food, and an extensive drinks list.

Holly Kay in front of a drinkable (well, not for us) museum!

Holly had the Dubliner Cocktail, with Powers Three Swallow Whiskey, Carpano Antica, Thyme-infused Grand Marnier (holy lord) and Orange Bitters.  It was out of this world!

I knew that Holly would be ordering Whiskey (because she’s amazing) so I ordered a fantastic India Pale Lager (a massively hopped lager) called Remix, from Trouble Brewing in Kill (yup, real place), Ireland.

India Pale Lagers are growing in popularity here in the US, so I was surprised to see one in Ireland, and this stands up to some of the Northeast style, hopped up beers I’m so lucky to have here in NY (I compared it to an IPL I had recently tried from Singlecut Beersmiths in Astoria). ¬†The fact that it’s a lager makes it a bit smoother around the edges, the sweetness from the malt balances out the amazing citrus (grapefruit, mango, pineapple) from the hops.

Let’s talk food. ¬†First, we shared the Artisinal Cheese Board (because OF COURSE WE DID!). ¬†Didn’t get a picture of this. ¬†We’d been driving for several hours before this and basically inhaled it.

You’re not seeing things. ¬†Pork Belly, garlic-roasted spinach, baked potatoes, apple sauce, and brown gravy.

Holly had an 8oz Fillet Steak (because, I failed to mention, I married a beautiful, female version of Ron Swanson, and I couldn’t be happier), with green beans in a whiskey cream sauce, and frites (that’s french fries. ¬†Eat ’em.)

I was too busy inhaling my pork belly to get a picture of the steak, but it melted in my mouth when I bit into it. ¬†We were told by several people before we left that the food isn’t great in Ireland. ¬†Restaurants like the Celtic Whiskey Bar and Larder¬†are changing this stereotype. ¬†So, get here.

I DID take a picture of the beer I had with my meal… ¬†So, hold up whilst I insert this amazingness into your mind grapes…

img_2236Brouwerij Boon Oude Geuze Boon (2013-2014). ¬†See here¬†for the description, but this is a blend of young and aged sour ales, creating a funky, tart, sour with notes of red wine, citrus, and wood. ¬†This is the closest I’ve ever been to Belgium (hopefully not for long), but it was a perfect compliment to the salty pork belly. ¬†(And you can see Holly’s steak!)

Also, please refer to my post about Sour Beers and pucker up for more fun!

After dinner, we decided to explore more of Killarney, and ended up in a Dunnes, which is like a hybrid Target and Macy’s, with a grocery store. ¬†And, surprise, surprise, Patrick found the beer section!

img_2238Ireland is stepping up its craft beer game!

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After galavanting around Dunnes, we went to Sheehan’s Bar, on the recommendation from Frank, as they have live traditional Irish Music, followed by Danny Mann’s, which had modern Folk music playing.

img_2242Because we couldn’t stay away, we finished off our evening in gorgeous Killarney with a nightcap back at the Irish Whiskey Experience!

Our legs were jelly at this point (you know, Irish Whiskey….), and we hadn’t eaten in a few hours, so, like real adults, we found ourselves at a DenJoes, which is a hybrid pizza and fried chicken joint, and ordered a two piece fried chicken meal with chips, and enjoyed seeing all the late-night locals who had probably more than we’d had to drink, especially the one lad who was sitting at a table and kept gesturing to us and saying “These are reservvvvvved,” and giggling. ¬†He must have said it five times. ¬†When his friends joined him, one of them took one bite of chicken and promptly fell asleep. ¬†We walked the short block back to our awesome B&B and had one hell of a night’s sleep.

YO, IRELAND IS AMAZING. ¬†IF YOU HAVEN’T, Y’ALL SHOULD GO.

And if you go, go to Killarney, and go to Irish Whiskey Experience and Celtic Whiskey Bar and Larder.

Christmas in Killarney.  Irish Whiskey.  Craft Beer.  AMAZING Food.  Adventure.  Love.  This was absolutely the trip of a lifetime.

Until next time, I love you all!

Cheers!

 

 

Date Night! Or, “Is It Weird That This Beer Smells Like Sushi Rice?”

Holly Kay and I have been married for 5 years (!!!) now.  We’ve got a trip to Ireland planned for the first week in November (!!!) which we’re super excited for, but we’re always looking for ways to celebrate our love.

This past Friday, we were both done early from work, so I met Holly down in Soho so we could find a nice Happy Hour (who doesn’t love a good Happy Hour?).  As I waited for her to get out of work, I had a hankering to visit one of our favorite special places here in NYC.  It’s got great food, great beer, and great…  Arcade games?

Yeah.  You got that right, Jack (who is Jack anyways and how did he get that right?), I’m talking about Barcade.

Barcade!

The first Barcade opened in 2004 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, then in Jersey City and Philadelphia in 2011, two Manhattan locations in 2014, and New Haven in 2015.  

Our very special Barcade is located in Chelsea, on 24th street, equidistant from the E and the F trains, which both run express to our neighborhood of Jackson Heights, so, bonus.  We haven’t had a chance to visit the other locations, but we’ve spent numerous occasions here, including our 4th Wedding Anniversary (sandwiched between a massage and a Punch Brothers show at The Beacon Theater).

We all love nostalgia, and Barcade touches all the right, nostalgic-like parts of your brain cavity.  With arcade games such as Tapper, Rampage, and Donkey Kong, you’re transported back to your childhood, except it’s cooler because you’re an adult now and you can do what you want and what you want is an extensive craft beer selection and a menu that features Tetris-shaped tater tots.

In this picture: Grilled chicken sandwich with fried onions, Tetris Tots, and a short rib grilled cheese (!!!!) with spicy mayo, beer, water.

We took two stools at the bar when we arrived (it was just before 5pm), and began perusing the beer list.  We were greeted by Brian, (who we later learned was the beer manager for that location), who was amazingly friendly and helpful, and more than willing to answer any questions we had, or let us sample a few beers before deciding (a sign of a great beer bar).

Holly ordered a Kent Falls Lade √ėl Saison.  This is a “toasted hay grisette”.  Saison?  Grisette?  They’re nearly the same thing.  While a saison was a low ABV beer brewed for farmers to enjoy after (or during) a long day in the fields, a grisette was brewed for miners (Because nothing prevents black lung like a farmhouse ale!).

Lade √ėl is Danish for “barn beer”.  The addition of toasted hay adds notes of grass, vanilla and spice to the funk and citrus of a traditional Farmhouse Ale.

I started with an Evil Twin Erase and Rewind #2 IPA.  Clocking in at 7% ABV, this is a punchy, citrusy IPA bursting with pineapple and orange, pine, and some malty sweetness.  Another hit from Jeppe and crew at Evil Twin.  

Evil Twin Erase and Rewind #2 IPA.  Also, a gorgeous array of taps.
Let’s talk food.  We decided to share a sandwich and some Tetris Tots.  We glanced up at the specials on the chalkboard, and I immediately drooled all over myself.  Why?  Check this monster out…

 Spicy chicken sandwich with shredded lettuce, chipotle aioli, and a pretzel bun.  Also, check out them crispy totz.  We were full.

Holly Kay’s next beer was from the always phenomenal Carton Brewing from Atlantic Highlands, NJ.  It’s called Sakura, and it’s a Gose brewed with sushi rice (!!!???) and cherry blossom.  Weird?  Yup!  But with Augie Carton, you always know he’s going to do you right.  

(Check out This Article about Augie’s philosophy, and you’ll see why I trust this dude with any beer he makes.)

As soon as Holly and I took a sniff of this beer, we glanced sideways at each other.  “Is it weird that this beer smells like sushi rice?”  I asked Holly.  “Yes.”  She responded.  “It’s brewed with sushi rice!”  I said.  She took another sniff…  “That definitely smells like sushi rice.”  The aroma was salty and sweet just like sushi rice, with lemon and floral notes.  Taste was tart lemon peel citrus, floral, and salty.  I’m hoping they have cans of this left when we visit the brewery next week, because this was out of this world.

My next pick was the Stone Farking Wheaton W00tstout.  This is a collaboration beer with everyone’s favorite need Wil Wheaton, and Drew Curtis (who runs the website fark.com).  This year’s iteration was brewed with rye, flaked wheat, and pecans (yummmm) and aged in bourbon barrels.  For a beer brewed by a bunch of nerds, this brew is a bully.  At 13%, it’s dangerous, because the smoothness of vanilla and caramel from the bourbon barrel plus the sweetness of the pecans make for a real easy drinker that’ll shove your head in a toilet and take your lunch money.  I want these dudes to continue making this every year.

Also, can we please all just look at this Star Wars-inspired label?  It’s unfair how cool this beer is.

W00tstout.  My sweet lord.

It was time for video games.  First was Holly Kay’s favorite…

Discs of Tron!  
My wife is amazing.  (Have I mentioned my wife is amazing?).  She always comes on top 10 on this game.  This time, she hit #7.  I thought I had a picture of it, but it turns out, when you get on the top 10, your initials blink on and off on the screen.  Of course, I took the picture when the initials weren’t on the screen.  So, you’ll just have to believe me, or come with us next time we’re at Barcade.

We then hit up Tapper, everyone’s favorite anxiety nightmare Bartending game.  We rock this one out all the damn time, although that probably has something to do with that we downloaded a free version (or was it 99¬Ę?) of Root Beer Tapper for iPhone (the version inside Barcade is completely branded by Budweiser…) and we are now seasoned Tapper veterans.  I think we’re just naturally talented with our hand-eye coordination. 

In summary, you all should head to Barcade.  You’ll have an amazing time regardless, but if you have the pleasure of being served by Brian, prepare to have an elevated Craft Beer experience.  Thanks, Brian!

Until next time!

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 resum√©, 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 resum√© to, walking towards the restaurant.  So I said, “Hey man, remember me?  My name is Patrick, I gave you my resum√© 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_0319Tr√∂egs 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!