Ireland Day 2, or, “In The Midnight Hour, We Cried Moher, Moher, Moher.”

It’s not a bad thing to wake up with this view of Galway Bay…

Absolutely breathtaking.

I brought some beer over to Ireland for our Galway friends Alan and Darren, who we had met last November, and Will, who we were supposed to meet but it didn’t align on our last trip.  Why not do a photo shoot over Galway Bay with some amazing American Craft Beer?

Singlecut Beersmiths Heavy Boots of Lead (Rye Barrel Aged) and Jenny Said.

I haven’t had a chance to try the Rye Barrel version of the Heavy Boots, but this imperial stout boasts flavors of vanilla, toasted marshmallow, coffee, and chocolate.

Jenny Said is a beautifully hopped IIPA with notes of tropical and stone fruit, with some dank pine and some sweetness.

Interboro Spirits & Ales may be a newer brewery, but they’re pumping out some of the finest liquids in NYC.  I’ve written about these before, so I’ll spare you the details, but if you’ve had ’em, you know I’m spitting truth, and if you haven’t, you’ll just have to take my word for it.  Hopefully they’ll pump out another batch of Stay G-O-L-D, and I know they release Mad Fat! Fluid on the regz.  Get ’em.

Funky Buddha Last Snow, a coffee coconut Porter that smells like walking into a Dunkin Donuts, and tastes like a delicious cup of coconut coffee.  This is amazing stuff!

After a light breakfast, we headed out on the beautiful scenic drive up to the Cliffs of Moher.  We decided we would eat lunch before walking along the cliffs, so we stopped at Vaughans Anchor Inn, in Liscannor, for a bite and a pint.  

Quaint!

My first pint, and Holly’s first glass, of Guinness! What’s great about Ireland is that EVERY pub offers glasses of beer (half pints), which are perfectly sized for Miss Holly Kay!

I ordered mussels in white wine sauce, and we had some amazing soda bread.  As I went outside to take a photo, I noticed some local beer on the shelf and asked the barkeep about it.  

They were bottles from Western Herd Brewing Co., brewed only about 25 minutes from Liscannor.

I ordered the Blue Jumper IPA, which was nicely balanced, with more herbal, medicinal hop character than the citrus bombs here in the Northeastern US.  This is more of a traditionally styled IPA.  I shared this one with my Uncle Gerard!

And the Cliffs?  Well…

They were gorgeous…

And we’re not so bad ourselves!

Don’t push my Dad, ‘cuz he’s close to the…  EEEEDGE!

Oh, you want Moher?

I’ll give you Moher.  We spent nearly 2 hours walking along the cliffs (close enough to get some great pictures but far enough away that nobody fell off a Cliff of Moher), and stopped for some chocolate at Hazel Mountain Chocolate 🍫!

For dinner, we found ourselves (all 15 of us!) at The Brasserie on the Corner in Galway, which shares its space with Blake’s Bar (which you’ll remember from THIS post). I ate steak (because why wouldn’t you?) and paired it with…

Independent Brewing Connemara IPA.  Another well balanced beer with flavors of citrusy black tea!  Delightful!

And, when in Rome…  Drink Galway Bay Brewery beer!

This was a delightful milk stout with roasted coffee and chocolate.  Another amazing brew from Will and the gang!

After our amazing dinner we made our first visit to The Salt House, another Galway Bay Brewery bar right in Galway City, with views of the Claddagh river (see above photo), and boasting an amazing beer menu with fine liquids from all over the world.

I enjoyed the Hexed IPA, and it put a spell on me (🤣😉) with it’s dank, citrus hop notes and just a bit of sweetness.  This was AMAZING, and also not the last one I drank during our vacay.

What happened next was one of the greatest stumble (and I mean STUMBLE) upons EVER!  We found a pub with a 15-piece big band playing some AMAZING jazz.  It was stunning.

Click this for the amazing video (THANK YOU HOLLY KAY!)
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Sometimes, you gotta end your night with some JAAAAAAZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!  It was another absolutely wonderful day with my love, Holly and my family!

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!

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is their entrance!

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


They’ve taken a warehouse and made it home.

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

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

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

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

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

Ok, much better.  Back to the beer.

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

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

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

IMG_0606HK Benny looking super cute and wintery…

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

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

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

IMG_0485Boom!

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

IMG_0632Beer Plus Music Equals Love

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

IMG_0623Alex and Shelbie having a blast!

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

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


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

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

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

Breathe…  Breathe in the air…

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

Thanks for reading.  Don’t sleep on Singlecut!

Cheers!

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!