KCBC Tiger Thunder, or, Benedict Beer Blog’s Beer of the Week #2!  

“Such a blunder sometimes, it makes me wonder why I even bring the Thunder (Why he even brings the Thunder)…”

Daveed Diggs, as Thomas Jefferson, paying homage to Grandmaster Flash, in the hit Broadway smash musical Hamilton, invokes the essence of this beer…

Pow!  Bam!  Zap!  Zing!  Kings County Brewers Collective (KCBC) Tiger Thunder IIPA!

Thanks to Rick (check out his amazing food blog, Rickommended, right HERE!), for picking this up for me from Carmine Street Beers!

The smell is super dank, earthy, herbal with some citrus notes hiding behind.  The first sip lowers the electric BOOM!  A blast of pineapple 🍍 (ooh Mama!) , lemon 🍋 (hey now!), juicy melon 🍈 (watch out!), with bursts of strawberry 🍓 (hello!), bready 🍞 malt sweetness (sweet!) and sticky, oily resinous character (sticky!).  This beer is all about balance.  It clocks in at 8% ABV, so it’s a nice sipping beer while relaxing on our beautiful, comfy couch.

It pours a beautiful amber, with a pillowy, off-white foam.  It’s gorgeous to look at in between sips.

The can art is dope.  The bright, almost neon yellows, greens, blues, and reds in the folk-art inspired tiger mask are a nice compliment to the crisp, citrus hops in the beer.  It seems like a lot of care and consideration went into not only the beer itself, but also the art.  It’s amazing.

Beautifully balanced from start to finish, this beer’s great and you should definitely pick it up if you find it (aka those who live in the tri-state area).

Also, I can’t wait to open the other KCBC can that Rick picked up for me, Look Ma, No Hands, a gose with pineapple and lemon zest, to share with the lovely Holly Kay!  Look on our Instagram soon for that beautiful can art as well!

Thanks for checking us out!  You like beer?  Share this with all those you love!

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 fiancée 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 🌶 ❗️, 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!

Other Half Double Dry Hopped Space Diamonds, Or, Here’s Something Pretty to Tide You Over Until the Next Blog Post (Tomorrow, Probably)

Yo, Fam, SMASH that m’f’in PLAY BUTTON to see a real pretty (I would almost say it’s perfect, but clearly, I spilled a drop, because I’m terrible) pour of the amazing Other Half Brewing Double Dry Hopped Space Diamonds…  


She’s gorgeous.

She pours a hazy, light golden color, and pine, Grapefruit, and berries rise from the glass upon first smell, taste follows, with super grapefruit and pineapple with a surprisingly dry, earthy finish, begging you to take another sip.  I obliged, because who am I to deny another sip of a #milkshake #hazy #northeaststyle #ipa #juicebomb #whale #hype


I shared the non-dry hopped Space Diamonds with my dear friend Ryan (manager at Il Bambino) a few months ago, and it was very special.

Yeah, this double dry Hopped version is ALSO VERY SPECIAL.  And I didn’t have to wait 8 hours in line.  Because Haymaker Bar and Grill has been selling Other Half, and other cans, to go (WHICH IS AMAZING AND SO SUPER CONVENIENT!). And that, folks, will be my next blog post, about our evening at Haymaker, which should be up in the next day or two!  So, check- ch- check- check- check- ch- check it out!

Until next time (TOMORROW PROBABLY)!

Cheers!

Beer Plus Music Vol. III, Or, How You Should Spend Your Next Four Nights…

I was chatting with my dear friend Pete (a funny, talented writer and human being, and his website is HERE!) yesterday about Sturgill Simpson.  If you haven’t yet, please check out his SNL Performances right HERE.  I had watched these earlier in the day and was so blown away, I downloaded the newest Sturgill Simpson album, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, on Apple Music, and listened to it twice through before the end of the day.  It’s country, folk, funk, Joe Cocker, and David Bowie, all combined.  I played it for Holly Kay, and she was shocked.  She’d been a DJ at the Country Music station out on Long Island when we were living there (see her previous post HERE), and she was completely surprised by the genre-bending this multi talented musician pulls off with ease.

Listening to that album got me so excited, and I realize that, not too often anymore do I get excited about new music.  (Everybody’s also been doing this “Post 10 albums that shaped you as a Teenager” thing on Facebook, and that inspired me as well)

So this week, I decided to go through and pick out some new music that I DID get excited about this past year, and place each album with a different beer that I think pairs perfectly.  Maybe you’ll be inspired, and post some of your favorite beer and music pairing in the comments below!  Let me know what you all think!

Alright, let’s start!

Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth (April 15, 2016)

I’m sad that it took me this long to discover this album.  It’s an ethereal (reminded me of a lot of David Bowie), beautiful, heartfelt alt-country-funk-classic rock album that clocks in at only 9 songs, and 39 minutes (which reads more like a punk rock album than a country album).  Pete told me that he themed the album as a letter to his son, (see Keep it Between The Lines), and he even fits a song in for his wife (Oh Sarah).  I’m loving it more with each listen, especially his mellowed-out cover of Nirvana’s In Bloom.

Oh right, this is a blog about beer…

Ok, my pairing!

I decided to pair this bad boy with another genre-bending (read: booze-bending) beer from Queens finest brewery Singlecut Beersmiths, their Rum-Barrel Aged Heavy Boots of Lead, aged for one year in oak barrels, and infused with whiskey-marinated maple syrup.

A heavy hitter, clocking in at around 12% ABV, this stout hits hard, but sneaks up on you, and is mellowed out with notes of sweet cocoa, coffee, and vanilla.  While Simpson blends funk with country and ages it in Bowie barrels, this combination of rum barrels and whiskey marinated maple syrup (Simpson is from Kentucky, so I had to pick something that had some kind of whisky involved, right?) is enough to make anyone’s head spin, but for some reason, it all comes together in boozy perfection, and when one finishes the album (or the beer), one wants to go back for more, y’all.

Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love (December 2nd, 2016)

I’ve only heard a few random songs from Donald Glover’s Childish Gambino, but my friend AJ (subscribe to Jorel Blu on YouTube for Movie Reviews, Music, and much more!) was playing Redbone (if you click that link, you WILL see Donald Glover shirtless), from his newest R&B-throwback-yet-still-fresh-sounding Awaken, My Love, and I was immediately hooked.  AJ (JOREL BLU) encouraged me to listen to the album from start to finish, and while it hearkens back to Jimi Hendrix, and Otis Redding, it fits in quite well as an album released in 2016.  Glover is multi-talented, as an actor, rapper, and singer, but his guttural screams on Me And Your Mama (“You know that I love you / So let me in to your heart”) with a full gospel choir singing behind him hooked me immediately.  I thought about Hendrix, but also the song Hard Times/Our Times by Portugal, The Man.  Glover seems, just like Sturgill Simpson, to blend genres together to create something new, yet, so familiar.

Which led me to pick my beer…

And how could I write an article without mentioning Matt and Lauri from Moustache Brewing Co.? I can’t.  So I picked their undeniably un-milkshake IPA, Awkward Conversations.

I picked this beer because, they’ve created something brand new, like Glover, that hearkens back to the pre-milkshake IPA days.  Now, if you read this blog, you know I LOVE unfiltered, orange juice looking, milkshake lookin’, pulpy-ass IPAs!  But this beer.  This beer is crystal clear, amber in color, super well balanced, sweet melon paired with bitter citrus.  It’s perfect.  This beer blew my mind (not surprisingly) and sits up there with my favorite New England style IPAs, as Childish Gambino sits at the top of my new music list.  Also, if someone walks in on you listening to Childish Gambino’s California, you might end up having an awkward conversation.

Here’s me, drinking an Awkward Conversations, and my brother Chris, drinking an Anderson Valley Blood Orange Gose, having what is more than likely an awkward conversation.  Smash that M’F’in like button on his Instagram page, @suckball.  Hello.

A Tribe Called Quest – We Got it From Here, Thank You 4 Your Service (November 11th, 2016)

I got into A Tribe Called Quest in college, starting with Midnight Marauders, and they were my first real foray into hip-hop (thanks to college friends Mike and Evan).  Their newest album, which showcases Q-Tip, Jarobi white, and the late Phife Dawg, with features from Busta Rhymes, André 3000, Kendrick Lamar, Talib Kweli, Elton John, Jack White, and a TON more, this whole album is a giant middle finger to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, (see We The People, and the final album track The Donald).  Q-Tip has spoken about how he had to take breaks while mastering the record, hearing Phife Dawg, and his emotion comes through in both his verses and his production of this album.  It’s a beautiful statement, but doesn’t take itself too seriously.

I paired this album with an old classic.  Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

With a lack of craft selection, one can always find Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.  Case in point, a hotel in Palm Coast, FL, June 20th, 2014.

Simply put, Sierra Nevada was one of my first introductions to craft beer.  Many of the world’s greatest brewers have attributed Sierra Nevada Pale Ale as an inspiration to start their own breweries, just as Tribe has influenced so many in hip hop.  (Sierra Nevada began in 1979, Tribe in 1985)  Sierra Nevada is still looked up to as one of the world’s best breweries, even after 37 years.  Each time I take a sip of Pale Ale, I taste a super balanced sweetness from the malt, and juicy orange, and orange peel bitterness (insert DJT orange joke here.).

The Dear Hunter – Act V: Hymns With The Devil In Confessional (September 16th, 2016)

I’ve been listening to Casey Crescenzo’s insane, progressive rock, orchestral wonderland since 2006, when Act I: The Lake South, The River North was released.  Casey is a self-taught musical mastermind, and I finally had the chance to see The Dear Hunter live with Holly Kay back in October, and it was everything I could have hoped for.  This album, and Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise, were both recorded at the same time with the Awesöme Orchestra in San Francisco.  There’s a story arc throughout the Acts, and will culminate in some form or another with Act VI (Casey has said that Act V is the last “Rock Album” and Act VI will take on a different form altogether), but to have followed this story for 11 years, I’m anticipating whatever concept he comes up with.  Stand out tracks from this album include Gloria and The Revival.  It’s a lot darker than the rest of the Acts, but has moments of peace, beauty, followed by chaos.

Final beer pairing…

Peak Organic – The Juice

The first time I tried this beer was right after the album was released (can’t you see my nice pumpkin?)

Why pick such a lightly colored, low ABV, hoppy, pale ale, to pair with such a dark album?  Well, The Juice snuck up on me.  You take a sip, and it’s clean, bright, refreshing, and then, WHAM!  You’re smacked in the face with dank, citrus, and pine.  Can this really only be 5% ABV?  You keep sipping, and keep getting surprised with the flavor.  WHAP!  BAM!  BLAM!  POW!  With every musical surprise on Act V, you get another wave of flavor from The Juice.  In fact, I just finished a can of this while writing this article, it was canned on October 24th, nearly 3 months ago, and it’s got every ounce of hop bitterness, citrus, and pine as the first time I drank it.  And I’m listening to Act V as I write this, and it’s just as intense as when I first heard it in September.  The beer, like the album, is something I can return to when I can’t think of anything else to drink/listen to.  Unbelievably crafted, super thought out, and nearly perfect.  This combo makes more sense each time I think about it.  In fact, it makes me giggle.

That’s all I’ve got!  Again, write in the comments below if you’ve got any beer/music pairings for me, and I’ll check them out and maybe even feature them in another blog post!

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!

2016, The Year In Beer Pt. II, Or, Hey!  Come Salivate Over These Pictures Before We Set This Past Year On Fire!!

A generic complaint about how terrible 2016 was.

This year had some pretty terrible moments.

But guess what?  Holly Kay and I also had so many wonderful, positive, beautiful experiences in 2016.  I started THIS BLOG (which I couldn’t have done without the support of my wonderful, loving wife, Holly Kay!!!), traveled for the first time to Houston, and to Ireland (see HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE), visited some amazing Breweries, and took fantastic beer adventures with Holly.

I also drank some beer.  Weird, right?

Let’s get to them pictures, shall we?

August 7th: I will drink Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout no matter what time of year it is.  The barrel gives it wonderful vanilla and caramel notes to compliment the smooth chocolate from the malts.  Don’t stare at this too long, you might start drooling…

August 11th: I found Jesus in my fridge…  And he tasted like chocolate fudge!  Sorry, that’s blasphemous, but it’s ok, the J-Man and I are cool like that.  Also, Hi, Matt and Lauri from Moustache Brewing Co.!

August 19th: Holly Kay found a mysterious source to get me Other Half beer without having to wait in line at the brewery…  So this won’t be the last OH you’ll see here.  I drank this while watching Money Monster, so I thought it was appropriate.  This ish was LIQUID PINEAPPLE. 💵💵💵

August 29th: We met up with our dear friends Rafa and Stefanie at Bondurants on the Upper East Side.  It was wonderful to catch up with them, and have some tasty food and bevvies as well!  Highlights: Sloop Brewing Simcoe Bomb, a citrusy, juicy, hazy wonderland, and Olé Molé from Knee Deep, chocolate with just a hint of chili on the end to keep you interested.

September 4th: A gorgeous poolside Beverage, Almanac Beer Co. Saison Dolores, clocks in at 5.5%, floral, spice, citrus, and a clean finish.  Dive in!

September 10th: Holly Kay and I won tickets to see Holiday Inn on Broadway (which was absolutely spectacular), and had dinner at Bareburger!  I drank a Billy 18-Watt IPA from Singlecut Beersmiths, a sessionable, hazy, hoppy beauty that, even with a low ABV, packs in a ton of flavor.

September 15th: I know I have a whole post dedicated to this beer, but it was so incredible and Lauri and Matt worked so hard to can it, and now they’re cranking out cans like crazy.  I’m just so full of love for them and for Moustache!  MANGOOOOOOO!! (There’s no mango emoji or that would go right here.

September 16th: Citra Ass Down from Against the Grain Brewery in Lexington, KY.  I love citra hops, and this is a superbly balanced IPA, with lovely sweetness from the malt and juicy orange and bitter orange zest from the hop.  Nice stuff.  Also, these dudes can’t be beat with their labeling (see the can art for The Brown Note, but not while you’re eating.)

September 16th: Samson and “his” beers at our bottle share.  Two Roads Brewing Workers Comp. Saison, and Perennial Suburban Beverage, a beautiful, tart Gose.

September 20th: My first visit to LIC Beer Project.  I picked up a 4 pack of cans of their Backjump IPA, and had to try it on draft!  Beautiful citrus, melon, a little pine.  The hops shine.  Never had a bad beer from these guys.

October 5th: Holly Kay and I had the day off together, did some shopping at the Danbury Fair Mall for waterproof boots for our upcoming Ireland trip, and headed down through Connecticut, first to New England Brewing, then to Two Roads, where they have these awesome flight paddles!  Holly got a tee shirt and I got a hoodie from these guys, and the highlights of this flight were the Espressway Stout, brewed with Espresso beans, and the Jalapeño Pils, a refreshing pilsner, clean, with grass, hay, and a little sweetness, and a jalapeño bite to make it extra caliente, baby!

October 10th: Happy Birthday Holly Kay!!  This Kolsch was an amazing way to start off the evening, low ABV, with bready and cracker malts, some spice and citrus from the Bavarian hops, and the addition of Mosaic hops (oh myyyy) gave this a floral, crisp citrus kick.  Loved loved loved this beer!  Thanks to our friend Joe for giving me this!

October 12: Hoppy Halloween!  I’d heard amazing things about Other Half Brewing Mylar Bags, and it did not disappoint.  Deep orange in color, with bursting with citrus (orange, mango, grapefruit).  IF A MYLAR BAG WAS FILLED WITH HOPS I WOULD WANT IT TO BE MY HOME.  SHRINK ME DOWN AND PUT ME INSIDE DAT BAG, BABY!

October 21st: WELCOME MOUSTACHE BREWING TO NYC!  Bradco, Holly Kay and I finished off our evening at Alewife NYC with some Everyman’s Porter.  A toasty, roasty, dark as night porter with notes of roasted coffee and chocolate.  Delicious, and another win for Lauri and Matt!

October 24th: Beer share with Will and Sarah!  We shared a wide array of delightful brews, including Barrier Daddy Warbucks 💰 IPA, Stone Xocoveza (pronounced Shock-oh-veza, because when you drink it you get a shock to your veza 😘), Stillwater Artisinal Whole-icious Sour Mango IPA (yowza!), a Whole Foods exclusive beer, and a few Other Half brews, including the lovely Mosaic single hop IPA.

November 1st: Time to open Moustache Brewing Co. Seasonal Creep!  This beer is the definition of fall.  On a crisp evening, the pumpkin, spice, and notes of caramel with some boozy heat, warm your mind, body, and soul.  This helped Holly and I ease our travel stress while we packed for IRELAND!!!

November 1st: One of the best beers of the year.  From Peak Organic Brewing Company, The Juice is a superb hoppy Pale Ale, with zesty citrus hops accentuated by a cracker-like malt, with a dry finish that leaves you wanting another sip.  Seriously, stop drooling! 🤤 

November 6th: I had to throw some pictures in here from Ireland!  I enjoyed a Franciscan Well IPA with Holly Kay at P-Mac’s Bar at the Bunratty Castle and Folk Park.  This location was absolutely gorgeous, and we sat next to a fireplace and chatted about our favorite parts of the Ireland trip so far, and looked at pictures from the Dingle Peninsula.  One of the highlights of our trip, and one of my favorite moments spent with Holly Kay this year.

November 20th: Happy Birthday, Patrick!  I celebrated with a Singlecut Bon Bon 2x TNT IPA, which, as expected, was Dy-no-MITE!!

November 23rd:  Unfortunately, my Grandfather passed away the day after my birthday.  Thanks to our work benefits, Holly and I were able to take time off and spend a week on Long Island with my family, celebrating my Grandfather, Deacon William J. Powers, the only way we knew how.  We ate, drank, cried, laughed, sang, and celebrated.  His light shone in each and every one of us that week, and it was as joyful a celebration as it could have been.  We miss you, Gramp!

November 23rd: My brother Chris found a taste for Sours (yahoo!), and this Grimm Cube Cuveé #2 was tart, with orange citrus flavors from its time spent in Orange Bitters Barrels.  This was superb.

November 24th: Thanksgiving Day!  A new Moustache Brewing Co. can!  A beautifully balanced 6.0% ABV IPA.  Nice, crisp citrus, balanced with a nice bready malt backbone.  They’re just cranking out the hits.  🎶💯

November 24th: Half Acre Goneaway IPA.  Bright, floral, citrus, with beautiful colorful 8-bit looking can art.  I love when a gorgeous beer comes in a beautiful can!

November 25th-26th: Sand City Brewing Co. Mofosaic and Even Mo Mofo.  Both are hopped only with Mosaic.  Mofosaic bursts with grapefruit, mango, floral notes, and caramel, the Even Mo dominates with liquid pineapple 🍍 and beautiful sweetness.  I like to CHEW on my IPAs, and the mouthfeel on both of these was incredible.
November 29th: Dinner at Kelsey and Pete’s, drinking Holly Kay’s favorite, Anchor Brewing Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2016.  Notes of caramel, plum, and spice, makes for a wonderful little Christmas treat!
December 2nd: Other Half Mosaic Dream IIPA at As Is, NYC.  Everybody Loves Raym…  errr…  Mosaic!  Juicy, juicy, juicy Lucy!  Passionfruit, mango, grapefruit, creamy mouthfeel!
December 9th: Singlecut Beersmith’s first can release!  Softly Spoken Magic Spells, a world class IIPA bursting with citrus and pine, and Workers Are Going Home, IIPA with flavors of stone fruit and lovely sweetness.  I also got some tastes while at the brewery, and the highlight was Kinky Boots of Lead, a sour version of their Heavy Boots of Lead Imperial Stout.  

December 11th: Sand City Brewing Co. Oops!  I Mangoed My Pants IIPA!  They took the recipe from their Oops!  I Hopped My Pants IPA, and added 450 pounds of mangoes to it, because why wouldn’t you?  These are the guys to watch for in 2017.

December 22nd: Back out on Long Island for Christmas!  If you thought Oskar Blues Ten Fidy was amazing, the Barrel brought out some boozy vanilla, and caramel to this already heavy hitter.  My Dad, the Stout Monster, certainly approved!
December 23rd: Awkward Conversations.  Appropriate for the Holidays, eh?  Another amazing IIPA from our dear friends at Moustache Brewing Co., pours a clear, amber color, and bursts with melon and citrus!  Keep it up, friends!!

December 24th: As Chris put it, “Benedict Beer Bloods.  I’m drinking an Awkward Conversations and Chris is drinking an Anderson Valley Briney Melon Gose.  (Autocorrect always tries to change Briney to Britney, maybe next time I’ll leave it.)
December 25th: Christmas!  Drinking a budweiser.  It’s the king of beers, I’ve heard.  Actually, it’s just a lil’ Goose Island Bourbon County for fun for your mouth.
That’s a lot of pictures.  

This year has had its ups and downs, for certain, but let’s celebrate the ups, let’s all be kind and caring and love one another, let’s get together, let’s spend time with those we love. 
Keep loving, keep living!
Cheers!

Big Alice, or How I Managed to Get a GIF of Tim Curry Smiling Into a Blog Post

img_1842

I wanted to give a huge shout out this week to Big Alice Brewing in Long Island City.

Last week, I wrote about Craft at C’est Cheese in Port Jefferson, and spoke about their hospitality.  The Craft Beer industry is all about friendship, community, hospitality, and supporting each other.

I want to thank Larissa and Annie, our awesome bartenders on a rainy Saturday evening in early October.  Our experience at a brewery is as important as the taste of the beer, in my opinion.  I was joined by my wife, Holly Kay, who had a rehearsal nearby, and our friend Brad, of Bradco Brew (@itsbradco on Instagram!)

It was my first time visiting the brewery, although I’d tried a few Big Alice beers at Astoria Bier and Cheese (the most notable being Salted Caramel, a tart, salty, sweet brown ale which is pretty mind boggling to think about…), and at The Jeffrey (Queens Honey Brown, a sweet, malty, subtle brown ale that perfectly compliments the amazing, salty pretzels The Jeffrey serves).

img_1991LIC Native White Stout, at Olivers in Astoria

What I love about Big Alice is their ability to offer a beer for any type of palate.  (Insert diatribe about how the IPA market is saturated, how hops are ruining beer, whine, whine, whine, complain, complain, complain, etc.)  I love IPAs, I will seek out the juicy, 0 IBU milkshake beer, and the palate destroying, 100 IBU, dank, bitter IPA.  But I love variety every once in a while.  So, when I stepped foot out of the rain, soaking wet, and into the brewery and, out of 13 taps, only two were IPAs, my smile grew ear to ear.

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Me, upon entering the Tap Room…

 

A White Stout?  A Jalapeño Rye?  Multiple different sours?  This place is cray cray (that’s what the kids say nowadays, yeah?)  I knew I was in for a trip around the beer world on the wings of a Malted Falcon (I just made that up, but it’s my new band name, so…) and I was ready to fly…  (Also I now just realize that Malted Falcon is also a pun on “Maltese Falcon” so I’m smart and funny don’t you think?  Anyone?  Anyone?  )

The first beer I tried was Peach Gose (pronounced Gose-uhhhhhh).  This was the perfect start to my flight, tart, dry, crisp, and salty.  Summertime in a glass.  Next, when Bradco arrived, I tried the Hibiskas Goes-uh.  The floral notes added a nice balance to this salty, tart Gose.  Another fantastic, wildly imaginative brew.

The tap room was nearly filled with large groups of people, which rotated about every 15 minutes.  I asked Larissa, the first bartender I met, if anyone ever stumbles upon the tap room (Big Alice is located deep in an industrial section of Long Island City, so for me, it seemed like a destination).  They said they get a lot of runners and bikers who see the large sign on Vernon Avenue, which runs along the East River.

img_1841The Brewhouse!

I then met the other bartender, Annie, who was just as friendly as Larissa.  I started talking about the blog, and how my last post was about Moustache Brewing Company and how I visited them when they canned their first beer.  Larissa said, “That’s funny, because my boyfriend helped them can as well!”  TURNS OUT, that JAY, from that very blog post, was Larissa’s boyfriend!  The Craft Beer world is smaller than you think!

432e77ba8d987b006f93d18a68edbd34IIIIIT’S A SMALL WORLD AAAAAFTER ALLLLLLL (I’m so, so sorry….)

Jay came by later in the evening for a beer.  And, since this is a beer blog, I will talk about that beer.

Our unanimous favorite beer of the night was the Jalapeño Rye.  Untappd classifies this as a Black IPA, or Cascadian Dark Ale.  The beautiful citrus from the hops is balanced by some spice from the rye, and Annie explained that they take all the seeds out of the jalapeño, so you get all the sweet, pepper flavor, without too much spice, but enough of a bite to intrigue you into another sip…  And then another.  And then another.  It leaves you wanting more, and at 6.3% ABV, you can have another and still be even keel to enjoy the rest of your evening.  Go to Big Alice right now (well, Wednesday through Sunday) and TRY THIS BEER!

Some other favorites from the evening were: the Sweet Potato Farmhouse Ale, a dry, sweet saison brewed with sweet potatoes, with bold sweetness from the potatoes, and some peppery notes from the saison yeast, and Sour One (named for it’s bitterness at 1 IBU).  At 5.2% ABV, it’s a little higher than the two Goses I had earlier in the evening, but I loved the tart, acidic, fruit, and a little bit of funk, baby!  I wanted to get all James Brown up in the tap room but it might have been too lit.  I apologize for that last sentence.

In summary, Larissa and Annie treated Holly Kay, Bradco and I like we were family, and we really appreciated chatting with them and spending the evening in the gorgeous brewery/tap room.  Holly picked up a tee shirt (she’s been collecting shirts from her favorite breweries we’ve visited throughout the year, so, Big Alice, you guys rank!)  We stayed as long as we could, right until 10pm as they were closing.  Thanks again for the great evening!  We’re definitely going back, and you should go too!

Follow Big Alice on Social Media!

Facebook: Big Alice Brewing

Instagram: @bigalicebrewing

Twitter: @BigAliceBrewing

Until next time, Cheers!

 

As Is NYC, or, How to Stumble Upon a Modern Times Tap Takeover…

Hello, Handsome and Beautiful Creatures of Earth!

I wanted to do a quick shout out this week to As Is, a cool new Craft Beer bar on 50th St. and 10th Ave. in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC.

I was invited here by my awesome (also craft beer fanatic) friends, led by Brandon, who had been telling me about this place for a while and texting pictures of their beer menu each time he showed up there, as a reminder that he was cooler than I was because he was at a new Craft Beer bar and I wasn’t (how dare he?).

I got there a little earlier than Brandon, Clint, Rick, and Samson, who all came in a cab from Brooklyn (plus it was raining), and I ordered an Other Half Equinox/Topaz, a bright, citrusy Double IPA, dried off from the stormy weather outside (I didn’t have an umbrella) and made a Facebook Live video talking about beer and general silliness.

Thinking of tropical islands while watching seas of umbrellas and glistening city streets…

Facebook Live From As Is NYC!

Someone had their eyes closed in nearly every picture I took of humans this evening…

Clint flipped because they still had a keg of Tröegs Brewing Company Nimble Giant, a super nicely balanced Double IPA, with notes of pine, orange citrus, and cherry sweetness from the malt.  I’ve dubbed this beer the “Heady Topper of Pennsylvania” (please don’t be triggered by this.  I’m silly.)

Brandon flipped because they had a Modern Times takeover, featuring some awesome hop-forward IPAs and Pale Ales, and a few roasty, toasty Imperial Stouts.  The highlight for me was the Orderville IPA, hopped with Mosaic (I WILL SING MOSAIC’S SWEET, SWEET SONG FROM ON MOUNTAIN HIGH!) and Simcoe (DITTO!).  It was like sipping on tropical punch.  Also try: Blazing World, a Red IPA, and Fruitlands Gose (my favorite one is the Apricot variant!).

The boys!

I did one more Facebook Live video (THE FUTURE) interviewing the boys and again, being generally silly…  Check that out HERE!

Brandon, one of the owners, was behind the bar that evening, and was super hospitable, and very excited about what a great fit they were for Hell’s Kitchen (they’re practically neighbors with Pony Bar, and just a few blocks from Beer Culture, two heavy hitters in Hell’s Kitchen and in the NYC Craft Beer scene).  I think these guys will do just fine.

I didn’t have a chance to eat anything on my first visit, but I’ll absolutely come back and eat   from their menu of small plates and sandwiches (if the words “Burrata with 18 month Prosciutto” don’t make you salivate, then you’re a robot).

Brandon brought us some Modern Times SWAG, and Samson decided he should make it rain…

Absolutely check this place out (great for stopping by for amazing craft beer, food, and cocktails after a Broadway show!)

I’ll leave you with a really cool photo that Clint took, check him out, he’s @bktexan on Instagram!

Cheers!

As Is on Instagram: @asisnyc

This Post Sucks!  Or, Does It?

Do you have a beer that constantly surprises you?

Do you have a beer that, with each taste, a smile creeps across that sweet mug of yours, and you chuckle to yourself about how damn good that last sip was?

Do you have a beer that inspires you?

I took a sip of beer a few nights ago and stopped in my tracks.  I was overwhelmed with thoughts of my (in retrospect, very short) craft beer journey.

This was the first IPA that blew me away.  Holly Kay and I were at Tap and Barrel in Smithtown to see our dear friend Matthew Spitz (from the absolutely unbelievable Moustache Brewing Co.) and his band Royal City Riot, whose sole mission was to groove our mind, body and spirit with their reggae/ska/dancehall jamz, and groove our mind, body and spirit they did.  My goodness.  (Please refer to my Love Letter to Moustache Brewing Co. to learn more about Matt and Lauri Spitz, their baby, Moustache, and how amazing they are.).

I saw they had Lagunitas Sucks IPA on tap, and I was drawn to it, of course, because of the name.  I was still naive about IPAs at that point (please refer to This Blog Post in which I have my brother Chris, who’s new to beer, try 3 >100 IBU IPAs, and the results are as expected!), and wanted to try something new.  

I took one sip, and thought “THIS is the reason I got into craft beer.”  I was overwhelmed with brown sugar (which is interesting when you hear the story about this beer), plum sweetness, and toasted caramel from the malts, balanced with a blast of lemon and orange zest citrus from the hops.  One of the most flavorful, balanced IPAs I had ever drank.


Lagunitas Sucks!  Also, my foot!

We could talk about how Heinekin purchased a 50% stake in Lagunitas, which would lead us down the wormhole to AB InBev and their acquisition of multiple Craft Breweries in an attempt to conquer the Craft Beer market.

But we’re not here to talk about that.

I want to talk about the time I didn’t get that promotion I had been working so hard for, and Holly came and picked me up from work (because she’s amazing) and surprised me with a 32oz bottle of Lagunitas Sucks (because she’s incredible.  Also, beautiful.  She has unbelievable brown eyes.  Have you seen those eyes?  My goodness.). She handed it to me, gave me a big old bear hug, and said “Honey, that sucks.” I drew myself a hot bath, popped open that bad boy, enjoyed the sweet, citrusy blend of magic, went to work the next day as cheery and chipper as ever, and got the promotion a week later.  Boom. 

Ok, so, the beer name.  Here’s the story.  Lagunitas has a beer called Brown Shugga.  Due to their capacity issues in 2010, that particular beer, a strong ale with tons and tons of, you guessed it, brown sugar, took a long time to make.  They were trying to expand, but the giant lauter tun (the vessel used to separate the liquid wort from the grain) they were going to used got damaged, so they couldn’t brew Brown Shugga.  They called the IPA they brewed instead Lagunitas Sucks, as a consolation to all the Brown Shugga fans, and a comical, self-deprecating nod to staying humble in the face of success, even when something goes wrong.  It used to be brewed only around Christmastime, but it’s become a year round brew for them, and for good reason.

Every time I come back to this beer, I’m blown away.  Periods of time will go by, and it will disappear from my grocery store, and will show up again months later, and remind me again why I love craft beer so much.  It reminds me of Spitzy, and Holly Kay, and all the adventures we’ve been on since I started getting into craft beer over 5 years ago.  

My Dad’s go-to, Founders Breakfast Stout, and mineD Lagunitas Sucks.

It’s all about love, friendship, and great beer.  And this is a great beer.

Until next time!

Cheers!

P.S. Huge shout out to my dude Brandon (@itsb_ran on the Instagramz) for helping me come up with the second half of my title this week!  Thanks, buddy!

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 Øl 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 Øl 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¢?) 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!