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!

Happy Fathers Day! Or, How I Turned My Dad Into a Stout Monster!

Happy Father’s Day!  I’m temporarily changing the name of this blog to the Benedict DAD Blog, so I can talk about my DAD.

10517553_846067222815_7651413625099699257_nLook at these handsome fellas!

11885195_966783616195_6710537173623158056_nSilliness on Journey Into Imagination in Epcot, Walt Disney World

11927488_10153666328678793_3504356497854311776_oDad and Holly intensely trying to defeat the evil Emperor Zurg on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin in Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World.

My Dad, Chris “MusicDktr” Benedict, is simply a fantastic human being.  He’s a quiet guy, until you get to know him.  He’s funny as hell, and sometimes you’ll only hear it if you’re sitting right next to him.  My Uncle Rod says he’s the funniest person he knows, and I can’t dispute that.  

My Grandma Dottie, on the left, Uncle Rod in the middle, and my Dad, with a Walkman, on the right.

He’s a natural comedian (I believe that having taught music to elementary school-aged children for 35 years sort of forces you to be a comedian), and I think I wouldn’t have been half as good at Improv if I didn’t get my humor from my parents.

Sometimes, I’ll walk around my apartment making strange noises with my mouth, and I’ll wonder to myself how I got so…  Special (read: Weird).  Then, I think back to when I was a child, and my sister Jessica and I would have back to back music lessons, Jess was learning the violin and I was learning to play cello (it never panned out for me, unfortunately, because Little Cello Boy Patrick had tiny hands, not unlike Presidential Candidate Donald Trump.  Ooh, check it out!  I just used topical, political humor!).  We would sit with my Dad while we waited for the other to be done with their lesson, and my Dad brought this notebook with him and would doodle all over it, and if I recall correctly, on most pages, would write “EKI EKI EKI EKI EKI ZUM PANG!  ZOO WOMB PANG NIWOOMB!!”  This is his favorite nonsensical phrase from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, his favorite movie.

(I texted my Dad to make sure that I was correct about Monty Python and the Holy Grail being his favorite movie, and this was our exchange…)

IMG_0599What can I say, we’re students of comedy.

So yeah, I get my weird humor from my Dad (My Mom, Eileen absolutely contributes to this, as well!). 

But, this is a blog about beer, right?

My Dad’s been a wine drinker, for as long as I’ve known him (which, if my calculations are correct, is forever).  My parents used to host wine tastings at our house, they have a wine club, Wine By Joe, where they order wine in bulk at a discount from their friend (the aforementioned Joe), so their wine rack is always stocked up.  Holly and I always try and find wine-specific gifts for them for Anniversaries, Birthdays, etc. and I think the present that gets the most use is a small wine fridge we bought that they keep in their living room, which they keep stocked with delicious white wines.

So, for all the time I’ve known him, my Dad had always been a wine drinker.  The first instance I remember seeing the little “stout sparkle” in his eyes was at the Third Avenue Ale House, about two years or so ago.  We were out with my Uncle Rod (you know, that shirtless guy in the picture above?), who lives right around the corner (sucks to live around the corner from a delicious craft beer bar with amazing food, doesn’t it, Rod?).  Dad ordered a Founders Brewing Company Breakfast Stout, 8.3% ABV, brewed with flaked oats, bitter chocolate, and coffee.  He was hooked!  The monster was growing inside him…  A chocolate-y, coffee-y, roasty, sweet, delicious monster.

I don’t think any of us thought Dad would turn into a beer man, but he got a taste for the Breakfast Stout, and found out that his local Beer Distributer, Port Jeff Beverage, thanks to owner Bruce Bezner, had enough stocked away to last for quite a while (Founders releases Breakfast Stout only from September-December, but I still see it on shelves around NYC and on Long Island).  He now enjoys a Breakfast Stout (or similar) instead of a glass of wine.

He sends pictures, too, like this:


Or this

Check out that Cantaloupe!

And if I happen to be enjoying a stout, I’ll text him back…

Evil Twin Brewing Imperial Biscotti Break, in my top 2 Non-Barrel-Aged Imperial Stouts (Alesmith Speedway Stout is my #1).  This is bursting with flavors of chocolate, coffee, but also vanilla, and almond.  It’s like drinking coffee after you’ve dunked a biscotti into it.  Unreal.

One night, I was over at Uncle Rod’s (on the rare occasion I visit him on the Upper East Side and we DON’T go to the Third Avenue Ale House) and, we just so happened to be drinking some Breakfast Stout, so I texted him this.

A glorious sight!

What have I created??!?!?!!  A monster!

I’m actually thrilled.  I’m thrilled because, I started this blog to write about my experiences with beer.  Sometimes, the beer itself steps aside and you focus on what’s in front of you; where you are, who you’re with, and you’re living in the experience.  I’m so glad that this simple, amazing tasting brew brought my Dad into the world of Craft Beer.

I look forward to our Lunches and Dinners at C’est Cheese in Port Jefferson, because Joe Ciardullo (who is also a Dad!  Look at me, keeping with the theme!)  has such a passion for not only cheese (which is absolutely our favorite food), but for Craft Beer.  Joe’s always got Breakfast Stout on the menu (thanks, Joe!), but Dad’s branching out and will often try something new.  He loves dark beers.  He’ll always try a sip of whatever IPA, Saison, or Sour  Holly and I are drinking, but he’s got a taste for the coffee and chocolate bitterness offered by Porters or Stouts.  My Mom, too, will try a sip of any beer I give her, and share in the experience.  From what she’s tasted, she loves the flavors of Saisons, Lambics and sour Goses, or anything with fruit in it!  I’m so glad to be able to share these beer experiences with my family and friends.

I never really knew the difference between a Porter and a Stout.  I looked it up a few months ago, and found this article.

http://allaboutbeer.com/whats-the-difference-between-porter-and-stout/

Most people say it’s the type of barley used, but this is a fascinating read into why it’s more complicated than that.  From the article, “All stouts are types of porter.  But not all porters are stouts.  Only the stronger ones.”

When I was out in California, I stopped in a little unassuming liquor store on the way to dinner with my roommate Ali.  We were browsing the shelves and fridges, when I saw two bottles of Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout with a shiny beacon of light behind them, as if sent down from the heavens above.  This is a Bourbon Barrel Aged version of their Breakfast Stout.  At 12% ABV, it picks up flavors from the bourbon barrel, like oak, caramel, and vanilla.  It’s smooth as hell, with not a lot of heat even though the ABV is so high.

My friend Justin had requested I bring back a Russian River Brewing Pliny the Elder back with me, as he had done when he went to California.  I didn’t have the chance to make it up to Russian River, and missed out on the bottles distributed near the hotel I stayed in.  I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to pick up one for Justin, and one for my Dad.

Gorgeous!

Long story short, Dad’s hooked on Bourbon Barrel Aged Stouts now!  As rare as the KBS was, I couldn’t find any more here in NY.  I suggested New Holland Brewing Company Dragon’s Milk Stout, as it’s one of the best readily available Bourbon Barrel Stouts, and Port Jeff Beverage is stocked up on them.

What my parents’ fridge looks like now…

Look at this guy!  Boulder Brewing Company Shake Chocolate Porter.  Like father, like son!

I texted him this a couple of weeks ago.  Cheers to Moustache Brewing Company for the awesome teku glass!

Last weekend, we brought him two cans of the Awake Coffee Porter we picked up from Night Shift Brewing Company in Everett, Massachusetts.  A lower ABV porter packed with unbelievable coffee, chocolate, and malt sweetness.  This is an unbelievable beer.

The label art is gorgeous, as well.

What Sunday dinners usually look like now.

It’s so cool to see my Dad so into craft beer, and I’m so happy he likes to share his experiences with me even when we’re not together.  I’m glad I was able to be a part of his craft beer story, and look forward to what beer he’s going to fall in love with next!

Happy Fathers Day, to The Stout Monster himself, Chris “MusicDktr” Benedict, and all the other Fathers out there!


Cheers!

Smooth as Tennessee Whiskey…

“Of emotions, of love, of breakup, of love and hate and death and dying, mama, apple pie, and the whole thing. It covers a lot of territory, country music does.” -Johnny Cash

Holly and I took a quick trip down to Nashville, TN to attend the wedding of our dear friend, and Holly’s former roommate, Sara, and her fiancé JP.

We hadn’t seen Sara in a few years, as she moved to Nashville shortly after we got married (March of 2011), and then down to Dallas, TX.  I had met JP only once (I believe), but when we first got to chatting, it was like we were old friends.

Reflecting back on our short time there, it seems the city of Nashville is like that, as well.  Everyone we met, from our AirB&B hosts, to boot store salespeople (you bet Holly got a pair of boots!), to Sara and JP’s friends, and even friends we haven’t seen in several years, welcomed us with open arms.

Mister Hat’s Boots!

Look at those cute little boots!

We arrived on Saturday afternoon, and took a Lyft ($5 off coupon, babaaaaaay!) to our AirB&B in East Nashville.  We met Kat, one of the owners of the house, who was lovely, and got us acquainted with the space.  As we unpacked, and realized that our idea of Lyfting around town all weekend was going to be way more expensive than we realized (it was $20 to get from the airport to the B&B, even with the coupon), we looked into renting a car, and found a deal for a compact car for $35.  So, we Lyfted right back to the airport, and still spent less money than we would have if we relied on Uber and Lyft.  I don’t regret our rides to and fro the airport, though, as our drivers were very knowledgeable and friendly, offering advice on where to go and specifically, where to eat.  We did NOT starve.

First thing we did once we got our car (which, by the way, they upgraded to a pretty SWEET SUV.  Holly kept referring to it as her “Truck”, which is super cute), was head over to Centennial Park, in Downtown Nashville, to meet up with Sara and catch some free music.  We found a parking spot, got out of the Truck (That’s what I’m gonna call it from now on, too) and were taken aback by this massive stone building in the middle of the park.


WHAT EVEN IS THIS THING???

I texted my coworker, David (who grew up in Nashville and had sent me a number of recommendations of things to do there).  He said “The Parthenon!  I love that place!”  Living in Queens, we have a lot of old buildings/structures that have been abandoned since the World’s Fair, so I thought this was similar.

We walked up the large steps in the front of the building, and the large brass doors were locked, so we shrugged, and continued our walk around the park.  It was beautiful from the outside, and Sara and Jenna (one of Holly’s classmates from AMDA, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy here in NYC) were meeting us shortly, so we decided to move on.

A smart man once said, “Good things are often stumbled upon, when in search of the nearest restroom…”  And I am that smart man.

There were restrooms underneath The Parthenon, and nature was calling, so we both stepped inside, only to find that the restrooms were at the entrance to the MUSEUM(!!!)!  We love museums!  We answered nature’s call, paid our admission fee, and stepped into the museum.  As it turns out, The Parthenon in Nashville is a full-scale replica of The Parthenon in Athens, and was built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition.  Inside are paintings from 19th and 20th Century Artists, as well as photographs from the Exposition, the building of The Parthenon, etc.  This is why Nashville is called “The Athens of The South”, but you probably already knew that.

Oh yeah, also inside the museum?  AN UNBELIEVABLY HUGE REPLICA OF THE STATUE OF ATHENA HOLDING A TINY STATUE OF NIKE (god of Victory, also, I’m legally obliged to write “Just Do It” each time I write the word Nike “Just Do It”) AND HOLDING A GIANT SHIELD WITH A WACKY FACE ON IT AND ALSO A GIANT SERPENT.  It’s WILD.  And I’m sorry for all the caps.  But just look at this thing.

Athena and Nike “Just Do It”
A massive shield with a wacky face

A normal-sized Holly for scale.

It was WILD.

After our walk through the park and the museum, we had built up a powerful thirst.  And, this is a Beer Blog, lest ye forget (and by “lest ye forget” I mean “I should probably write about beer…”), so the only provision that could quench our thirst was a fine local ale!  David had told me about Yazoo Brewery, located right in Downtown Nashville.  They had a booth set up outside the free concert, so we grabbed two of their Hop Perfect IPAs, and sat down at a picnic table just off the side of the stage.  A band called The Mowglis was playing (I think I had heard one or two of their songs), and we weren’t terribly interested in them, but wanted to just relax and enjoy the warm weather and cool beers.

Yazoo Brewing Hop Perfect IPA, 5.7% ABV, malt forward, with some citrus from the hops. I gave it 3.5/5 on Untapped.  Totally refreshing!

We ended up meeting and chatting with a local retired couple who usually walk to Centennial Park for the music, beer and wine, and the food trucks.  They were so excited to talk about their city, and find out where we were from and what we were doing.  We chatted with them for about 15 minutes before Sara and Jenna joined us.  We decided to drive over to The Pharmacy, a burger and craft beer bar in East Nashville (just a mile or 2 from our AirB&B).  As we waited for our table, I enjoyed an Against The Grain 35k Milk Stout. At 7%, this is a higher ABV milk stout (they usually hit between 4 and 5%), and I got notes of chocolate and coffee, with a sweetness from the milk.  

An artsy photograph of my Against The Grain 35k Milk Stout

Against the Grain is from Louisville, KY, but are distributed in New York, and I’d had their fantastic Citra Ass Down (amazing name) IPA. These guys are making great beer and don’t take themselves seriously.  Check them out!

We met JP’s sister Emily and her daughter (and flower girl) Kayleigh, and sat down for dinner.  This is what I ate.

Heart attack?  More like fart attack! Holy moly, the bathroom didn’t know what it had coming!  Gross.

This was a beef stroganoff burger with tots.  It was out of control.  David had warned me that he didn’t like the bun, as it is doughy, and it didn’t bother me much, but it was quite soggy from all the juice and the sour cream.  Real messy, but real good.  The tots were ok, I’m totally spoiled with the amazing Tetris Tots at Barcade in Chelsea, NYC, so these don’t compare.  The beer!  Founders Brewing Company Rubaeus, a tart, sweet, low ABV raspberry ale, which was a lovely complement to the heavy, creamy, meatburger.  We definitely didn’t starve.

We headed over to 3 Crow Bar, one of the 3 bars in Nashville that still allow smoking indoors.  I had a Coffee IPA from New Heights Brewing Company, which was tasty (like an espresso with lemon peel twist), but it was really hard to enjoy in a cloud of cigarette smoke.  On a side note, the bouncer looked like a young Marc Maron, so it had that going for it!

After an amazing night’s sleep on the soft AirB&B bed, Holly and I decided on Breakfast at Barista Parlor!  This is a small coffee chain around Nashville that David touted as having one of the best biscuit sandwiches in Nashville, also amazing coffee!  I had El Eden, which had flavors of dried pineapple and plums.  It was fantastic.  The biscuit sandwiches were absolutely unreal (we didn’t starve), and Holly said it was the best biscuit sandwich she’s ever eaten.

Dat biscuit tho.
Gorgeous, warehouse-like open space with cool table markers!
Delicious coffee.

After breakfast, it was off to Broadway, which, as my Mom described it, consists of bar, bar, boot store.  Bar, bar, boot store.  She wasn’t kidding.

Bar, bar, boot store!

It was time to get Holly some boots!  As some of you know, Holly Kay used to be a DJ on a Country Music Radio Station on Long Island.  She was laid off, as they told her the station was moving in a different direction.  (They now have all male DJs.).  Holly was 100% the best thing about that radio station.  She had a huge following of listeners who would come to her live events just to spend time with her.  (You should see her line dance!). Anyway, Holly had a few pairs of boots, and threw them away out of spite (which she regrets now, and I regret not stopping her), but if there’s any place to get boots, it’s gotta be in Nashville!  (See above picture of those cute boots!)

We stopped at a bar (because bar, bar, boot store!) called Rippy’s for some live country music, and a beer, before heading back to get ready for the wedding.

I drank a Falls City Beer Hipster Repellant IPA, outta Louisville, KY.  Another easy drinking, malt forward IPA.  I’m spoiled with the hop forward IPAs from New York and New England, but it says something about your beer if you can make a nicely balanced IPA, because not everyone loves being punched in the face with every sip.  

Holly had a Yazoo Brewing Hefeweizen, which was outrageously refreshing, with flavors of citrus, banana, and clove, and went down “smooth as Tennessee Whiskey”, which, coincidentally, was being sung as she drank it.

​​
​Tennessee Whiskey…

We headed back to the AirB&B, got ready, and headed to Sara and JP’s wedding, at the Buchanan Log House, a gorgeous, outdoor location just a few miles from the airport.  It was an absolutely gorgeous, intimate, celebration of their love for one another.  We had a great time seeing Raj again (after about 7 years), and meeting Glenna, Tripp and Amy, and Alan and Jolinda.  It was a small wedding, so to be able to meet and share stories about Sara and JP, how everybody knew each other, made the evening even more special.

 And the icing on the cake?  JP’s Groomsman Nate works for Fanatic Brewing Company, in Knoxville, TN.  He provided the beer for the reception!  The first I tried was the Tennessee Blonde.

Definitely a warm weather brew, 5% ABV, light, with grassy and citrus hops with a sugary sweet malt backbone.  You got a lawn to mow?  Peep this ish.
I also got to try the Fanatic Pale Ale.  This was a classic pale, malt forward with some orange citrus from the hops, another crushable, outdoor drinking brew, that paired perfectly with the food, provided by Edley’s BBQ, and the dance floor grooves from Sara and JP’s wedding playlist (Which ranged from Queen Bey to Luke Bryan).  

If you ever find yourself in Knoxville (and we certainly will now that Sara and JP are moving there!), stop by Fanatic Brewing Company!

We stayed until the bitter end of the wedding, chatting with our new friends and helping with clean-up, and we decided to join Raj and Glenna at The Basement East, a music venue in East Nashville (read: Brooklyn) where Raj’s friend Emma was hanging out after performing.  We walked into the venue to the sweet, sweet sounds of a drone metal band, so we ordered our beer and headed outside.  Both Raj and I had let our bow ties down (as one does not have a full range of dance moves if one’s bow tie is still tied), and Holly and Glenna wanted to wear them, so Emma snapped this amazing shot…

Those damn hipsters.

I enjoyed a Mayday Brewery Old Salem, a kettle sour.  5.4% ABV, made with rye, which gave it a sweet, spicy flavor in addition to the tart sour.  Hopped with Falconer’s Flight.  Funky as hell, and I loved it!

We had all decided on Brunch the next morning at AMOT – A Matter of Taste, a completely gluten free spot that had KILLER food, and a great, local beer list, and also, our new friend Tripp works there!  I had chicken with cornbread waffles, and a jalapeño maple syrup (you heard that right).  

We didn’t starve.
I paired this amazing brunch with Southern Prohibition Brewing Co. Soul Glo Saison, fresh on draft from their brewery in Hattiesburg, MS.  This is a delicious, 8.4%ABV (well masked), saison, with notes of fresh squeezed lemon and orange juice, banana, and spices.  Great substitute for a Mimosa!  (Although, they did have 3 dollar Mimosas…  You should go there.)

From there, we walked around some shops with Sara and JP, and Raj and Glenna, and headed back to the airport.  

I would love to come back to this city and explore some more, and I used that Johnny Cash quote in the beginning of this post, because, like Country music, I felt that Nashville also covers a lot of territory, and we only just scratched the surface.  This city had such personality, and the folks we met (or reconnected with) treated us with such love and hospitality, I won’t think twice before going back.  Thanks so much to Sara and JP for allowing us the opportunity to share in your love, we truly appreciated it.

Until next time!

Cheers!