Galway 2017 Day 1, or “Weren’t You Guys Just in Ireland?”

“Weren’t you just there 6 months ago?” was the question asked by a coworker when he found out Holly Kay and I were traveling to Ireland again.  

“…7.” was my response.

But hey, when one has a chance to spend time with family and amazing craft beer and whiskey friends, one jumps at the chance to go to Ireland again.

Also, there’s beauty everywhere you turn.

Like this…

And this…

Our home base was Galway, where you’ll find pubs like the Oslo Bar (former home of the Galway Bay Brewery), The Salt House (another of GBB’s flagship pubs) and Garavan’s, a world renowned Irish Whiskey bar.

Last time we were in Galway, we met Alan, manager at the Oslo Bar, and Darren, manager at Garavan’s.  (See my previous Galway posts HERE and HERE.). We were so happy to be able to meet up with them again, and bring some more craft beer for them to share as well.

But first, margaritas…

We had some DELICIOUS, PINT-SIZED margaritas at the airport (AKA GOODNIGHT!) and tried out our new fisheye lens clip for the iPhone (it was $10 but it got the job done, wouldn’t ya say?).

These were Blood Orange Margaritas.  I REPEAT. THESE WERE BLOOD ORANGE MARGS.  NIGHT NIGHT.

Shenanigans followed, of course…

Holly Kay’s just plane crazy!


I’m a huge James Carrey fan.

We landed in Shannon airport after an overnight flight having barely slept, and once we got our rental car, we stopped by one of our favorite places from our previous trip, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park.

We had a lovely few hours walking around, chatting with the groundskeepers and recalling our previous trip back in November.  

We had lunch at the Drumoland Castle, which was absolutely incredible….

Yeah.  This place.

It was absolutely unreal.

Yuh-huh…

We had a nice Cuppan Tae and some delicious sandwiches in the most beautiful room with the comfiest couches and chairs we’ve ever sat in.  

Having barely slept a wink, we were both nodding off.  But the chairs were so COMFYYYYY…

We stopped about halfway to Galway to get some beverages and gummy bears to keep us awake, and I was surprised to see that the latest, hazy, juice bomb, New England Style IPA trend had caught on even at gas stations in Ireland…


Because, aren’t all NE IPAs just Cloudy Lemon Sparkling Juice Drinks?  😘

We arrived in Galway and met up with my parents and our relatives, and went straight to our favorite pizza place, Dough Bros!  Alan had suggested this place to us the last time we were in Galway, and again, it did not disappoint.  We had 11 people with us at this point, and we all were able to snag tables around the restaurant, and everyone loved their pies.

Holly Kay and I shared a spicy Nduja sausage pie and a Margherita.  Both were great!  We were STARVING and also VERY tired.  Hi Mom and Dad!


Molly, Kelly and Gerard Powers.


I only know four people in this photograph (Ashleigh, Tim, Sean and Matt Powers) but zoom in on the dude in the background and you won’t be disappointed.

Hold on, isn’t this a beer blog?

This was new!  Dough Bros had Independent Brewing Company of Ireland create a session ale just for their restaurant!  This was a gorgeous, crisp, refreshing pale ale with biscuity malt, and juicy orange citrus hops.  What a perfect beer to compliment any of the Dough Bros pies.  Simple, clean, great stuff!

After dinner, we were all spent (the rest of the family traveled into Galway from Sligo, a few hour drive), so we stopped at the nearest convenience store to pick up some supplies for the week, and opted for a quick cab ride back to the AirB&B as it started to pour (as it does, in Ireland. 🇮🇪)


Makes for an amazing photo, though.  Galway’s so stinking beautiful!


I’m pretty sure Holly Kay and I conked out just after 9pm Ireland time (4pm New York Time) after having spent almost 40 hours without sleep, but this was the view from our bedroom, which was so special, so it was hard to go to bed even though we were so tired.  (Ok, I’m speaking for myself, Holly fell asleep on the chair in the living room 😜)

That’s it for Day 1!  Stay tuned for more fun!

Until next time,

Cheers!

Poconos Weekend Getaway, or, How Brad Has Eaten at Practically Every Restaurant within 10 miles of Camelback Mountain…

Sometimes, a two hour jaunt outside NYC for a few days can be the perfect getaway.

Sometimes, lighting a fire, staying up until 2am, and staying in your pajamas until Noon can be the perfect antidote to hectic NYC living.

This was just what we needed.

Also, this is a blog about beer.

Holly Kay and I last visited the Poconos in July (you can read about our adventure HERE), just the two of us, and had a WONDERFUL few days.  This time, we brought our dear friends Brad (of Bradco Beer!) and Kelsey and Pete!

My aunt Delia and uncle David have a condo (we call it “The Chalet”) at The Villages at Camelback, right next to the slopes of Camelback Mountain in Tannersville, PA.  It’s an awesome place for a weekend getaway.

It’s got a fireplace.

Fireplace.

And it’s got a VHS player.  With Mrs. Doubtfire and Liar, Liar on VHS.

Mrs. Doubtfire and Liar, Liar.  On VHS.

I picked up Brad from Astoria and Holly from her off-site work day in Hackensack, NJ, and we got to Tannersville around 8pm.  We stopped to get some groceries (also beer) and firewood.


A video of me yelling and Holly and I singing about firewood.

We dropped our things at The Chalet and headed to our absolute favorite haunt, Barley Creek Brewing Company.

Barley Creek!  So warm and welcoming, always.

Love!  In the Poconos!

Brad with Larry the Leprechaun!  (It was St. Patrick’s Day)

Larry the Legend

Kelsey and Pete joined us there, and we all shared some amazing soft pretzels with bier cheese and honey mustard, and some flights of Barley Creek beer.

Pete looking THRILLED with his #greenbeer


From L to R:

Citrabellum: A Double IPA brewed with Citra hops.  Nice juicy, grapefruit peel bitterness, with a sweet malt backbone.

Honey Chili Pepper Brown Ale (on Cask): This is their already awesome Antler Brown Ale put into a cask with honey and chili peppers.  The honey adds to the already vanilla, bready sweetness of the base beer, and the chili pepper gives it some 🌶🌶🌶 heat!  This was amazing.  Think of hot honey, in a beer!

Superhop: Triple IPA, with herbal, medicinal hop flavors and some sweet alcohol booziness.

Tommy’s Black IPA: Medicinal/citrus hops with some roasty malt flavors.

Back at the Chalet, we all got into our pyjamas, and Holly and Brad treated us to some music (Holly brought her ukulele, and Brad brought his uke, a melodica, and a tambourine.  We lit our first fire, sang some songs, shared a few beers (and Brad made Rye Old Fashioneds, because why not?), and finished the evening (read: early morning) watching Mrs. Doubtfire.

Stay G-O-L-D from Interboro Spirits & Ales

From our dear friends at Moustache Brewing Co., the amazing Patsy Rides Again, a Coconut Milk Stout with sweet malt and tropical toasted coconut flavor.  Find this if you’re in NY, and drink a hundred of them.

Pete building our first fire 🔥😱👹!

Pete sexy posing in front of our first fire 🔥😱👹!

Grimm Candlepower, a farmhouse ale brewed with sage and pink peppercorns.  The peppercorns added a nice touch of spice to the banana from the Belgian yeast and citrus from the hops, and the sage adds a unique, herbal, savory note.  This stuff was FUN!  It was like a flavor experiment.


Mrs. DoubtFIRE!  🔥🔥🔥🤣  Hey now!!

Kelsey and Holly were in this position basically the entire weekend.  Cuddle Bugs, the two of ’em!

The morning brought a rousing game of Ticket to Ride, which Brad brought, and the rest of us fell in love with…

Holly and Kelsey made breakfast, which was really nice, eggs, bacon and toast.  We all had coffee, and…

Breakfast stout!  Terrapin Beer Co. W&B (Wake & Bake) Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout.  Roast coffee, oatmeal cookie sweetness, with some sweet cocoa.  What a way to wake!  Oh, this also went really well with all the cookies that Kelsey and Pete brought and baked while we played the game.

We knew Camelback was due for snow, so we weren’t surprised when we opened the shades and found…

Snow!

Hopefully, the Last Snow of the season.

Thanks Evan for the “My Family’s in Florida, I’m in New York” beer trade, so the above video would be possible.

Beautiful!  We drank this later in the evening, and all I can say is, it smells like you’ve stepped foot into a Dunkin Donuts (and I mean this in the best way possible).  Coconut and coffee dominate both the smell and taste.  Gorgeous brew.

We had plans to go to the Outlet Mall, but before we did, we headed down for a dip in the pool and the jacuzzi.

There’s something very magical about swimming/hot tubbing while it’s snowing outside.  This is one of our favorite places at the Village at Camelback.  The ceiling itself is stunning.

You know, we spent some time in the sauna after the pool and hot tub, but sometimes you just gotta step into the HOT ZONE!

This is how three handsomemen Outlet shop.  With WINE TASTINGS!  Speaking of HOT ZONE…

We did dinner again at Barley Creek, and I had a POT.  ROAST.  BURGER.

Another game of Ticket to Ride, with a glass of orange juice 🍊 AKA…

Other Half Brewing Double Dry Hopped Mylar Bags…  Straight up JUICE BABAAAY!

Thanks to Brad’s brother in Michigan, we got a fresh bottle of Founders Brewing Company KBS!  Dark roasted coffee and chocolate, with some delightful vanilla caramel sweetness.  A dream, and dangerous at nearly 13% ABV…  My oh my!

We slept in (did I mention that KBS is nearly 13%?) and lit a few more fires before heading to Breakfast(?  It was at noon, so that’s lunch) at Billy’s Pocono Diner, just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Red Lobster that Brad ate at, and stole firewood from (I think there’s a statute of limitations on wood stealing crimes in Pennsylvania, right?).

Me and a bear.  We cool.

We hit the outlets one more time, and then Barley Creek to bookend our awesome, relaxing weekend, before heading back into the city (and Kelsey and Pete to Long Island).

It was a truly incredible weekend with dear friends (WE LOVE YOU KELSEY AND PETE AND BRAD!), and we couldn’t have asked for more (except for, like, another week of the same thing.)

Can’t wait to go back to The Chalet!

Until next time!

Cheers!

 

NYC Craft Beer Week, or, I’m a Hard-Hitting Journalist Who Squeezed All His NYC Craft Beer Week Fun Into One Day and Also Rick Almost Got Attacked/Pooped on by a Pigeon LOL! 🐦💩

After a brief hiatus, we’re back!


I’ve got a ton of pictures from our adventure during NYC Craft Beer Week!  

I didn’t have a chance to participate in many of the events around NYC, so I used my day off and tried to squeeze in as many fun beer events as I could in one day.

Thanks to Ryan, Chris, Brad, Rick, Samson, Annie, and the one and only Holly Kay for being a part of last Thursday’s adventure!

The main goal for the day was to pick up the newest Interboro NYC release, their collaboration with and for the hip hop group Run the Jewels 👉🏻🤛🏻, a 6% ABV juicy IPA called Stay G-O-L-D…

👉🏻🤛🏻 👉🏻🤛🏻 👉🏻🤛🏻 👉🏻🤛🏻 G-O-L-D, G-O-L-D it’s Gold!

My day of adventure started out at Il Bambino‘s 8th street location in the West Village, visiting my dear friend Ryan, the manager, for lunch.  (You’ll remember Il Bambino from THIS POST and THIS POST!). I also met up with Chris, a friend and former coworker, who’s relatively new and super excited about all the amazing beers coming out of the Northeast.  He was at Other Half Brewing the week before, and had picked me up some of their Nummy Nug Nug Imperial IPA, a collaboration with Industrial Arts Brewing, and Citra + Motueka a duel hopped Imperial IPA.

True statement.  Darren Lawless (owner and chef at Il Bambino) got that panini game on LOCK.

Heeeeeere piggy piggy piggy…

Just a few Craft Beer selections, but that’s a fresh keg of Bell’s Two Hearted, which ain’t never bad…  

Smoked Tomato Bisque (not pictured, toasted bread with pesto and toasted bread with spicy mayo…  Also not pictured, Truffle Egg Salad with Speck crostini…  Excuse me, you’re drooling.)

After a nice chat and a walk around Whole Foods with Chris, I was off to Brooklyn to get ready for Interboro’s 5pm opening for their can release.  I got there just after 3, and walked over to the brewery, because, knowing how other can releases go, specifically in Brooklyn (::COUGHHIPSTERSCOUGH::)  I thought there may be a line.  I walked the 5 or so blocks from the train and found the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it warehouse that houses Interboro Brewing.

There’s a brewery/tap room in there!

I walked about 10 minutes from Interboro and found a sports bar that had some decent selection, and hung out there while waiting for Brad and Rick to join me.  We walked back towards Interboro at just about 5pm…

AND ENDED UP IN A GD CRAFT BEER LINEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

If you know me, you know I don’t like waiting in line for things (“Why do you live in New York City, where there’s literally the most people in the smallest amount of space all the time probably?” You may be asking yourself.  “Shut up!  That’s why!” would be my response.). 

We waited about 40 minutes before actually getting our cans.  It was quite chilly outside, and the sun was setting, and about 25-30 minutes of our time was spent outside.  They only had 1 register, and weren’t prepared for the amount of people that would be there, I assume.  

I would have loved to have stayed for a pint or a flight in the tasting room, but it was simply too busy, and we wanted to be able to meet up with Holly Kay after she got out of work at 6pm.  So at 5:40, we got our cans, and had her meet up with us at the Threes Pop Up location in Greenpoint.

Finally at the front door after nearly 30 minutes in the cold.

Brad with Stay G-O-L-D, and Rick with Mad Fat! Fluid

I can tell you, though, that both cans I picked up (pictured above) are phenomenal.  Stay G-O-L-D had beautiful bright citrus hops, with flavors of peach and pineapple, and supa dank hops, with a lovely crisp malty, cracker base.  Mad Fat! Fluid bursts with tropical fruit as well, with a sweeter malt base.  Both dope as hell, though.  

Mad Fat!
Rick’s boyfriend Samson also joined us as we headed to Threes Brewing Pop Up (you’ll remember this place from my LAST POST!)

Holly arrived shortly thereafter, and we all tried a beer that has, quite possibly, the longest name I’ve ever seen.

Two men contemplating life/checking into Untappd/probably still reading the title of the beer I’ve yet to reveal…

We all flipped over the Threes/Evil Twin collaboration, 10% ABV Triple IPA called…  Hold up, this is getting its own paragraph…

“Are We There Yet?  Or Did It Even Start Or Did It End A Long Time Ago, And Where Is There, And Doesn’t Yet Assume A Linear Progression Of Time?  And What’s So Bad About Here, Anyway?”

That’s a mouthful…  But for a beer that packs a 10% punch and smacks you in the face with tropical fruits, strawberry and papaya, and dirty dankZ, it’s fitting.  This beer was 💯🔥🔥🔥.

I also picked up a 4 pack of Threes collaboration with Burial Brewing, a Hoppy Pale Lager called Neither Way, which I hope is available in the summer because it’s literally the perfect beer to drink at the beach.

Next stop, Big Alice Brewing!  Because why wouldn’t we end up with our favorite LIC Beer crew for NYC Craft Beer Week??  (BIG ALICE POST HERE)

From our Sexy Posing in Front of Breweries Series…  Rick, Samson, Brad, and Holly Kay.

As we were walking in, someone shouted out “PATRICK BENEDICT!”  I thought, “Oh hey, cool, people love my Blog and are starting to recognize me at breweries!” And William Joel’s “Big Shot” started playing in my head.  But no!  It was my HIGH SCHOOL CLASSMATE (I graduated in 2001 which is like, 16 years ago or whatever) Max Romer!

Here’s Max with his handsome smile!

Big Alice was having a Beer and Cheese pairing  with Slates & Plates, a MOBILE CHEESE PAIRING BUSINESS WHICH IS PERHAPS THE GREATEST BUSINESS EVER!!  Maxine and Nicole were super friendly, and paired some exquisite cheeses 🧀 with Big Alice’s wonderful beer 🍻.  A match made in heaven.  (Follow Slates & Plates on Facebook and Instagram!)
Patrick: Big Unknown, Big Alice x Destination Unknown collab, 5.4% ABV IPA with Citra and Equinox hops.  Super well balanced IPA with citrus bitterness and beautiful malt sweetness.  Holly Kay and Samson: BIGGIE, a 12% Barleywine monster of a beer, sweet, malty, fruity, gorgeous.  Exclusively for NYC Beer Week.

Rick being a maniac and taking a picture of a maniac (me) taking a picture of him.  Confused?  Me too.

Beer + Cheese + Pictures!

Benedict Beer Blog x Slates & Plates!  Thanks for the awesome Cheese!

😍🧀🍻👌🏻

Our favorite beer, Jalapeño Rye IPA, was not on tap, but it was in the fermenters, so here’s Holly Kay giving a lil’ kiss to her/our favorite bevvie.

Of course our dear friend Annie (see previous Big Alice post linked above!) was slinging beer/being super awesome (we saw Larissa from afar, but we didn’t get to catch up) and she encouraged Holly to talk/sing to the beer because yeast is alive and can hear/feel sound. I’m no scientist, but I think that this will be the best batch of Jalapeño Rye IPA yet.  Holly and I sang and spake (spake?  That’s the past tense of spoke, yeah?) to the beer.  So…  yeah. Science!

Shouts out to Annie, Larissa, Maxine, Nicole, all the Big Alice and Slates &I Plates Crew for all of your hospitality!!  We sincerely appreciate it.

Fun fact: When you spend all day drinking beer, and haven’t had food in hours, you will get the jelly legs quicker than you expect.  So our final stop for the evening was Alewife NYC to nourish our growly tummies/buzzing minds.

Squad.

Brad and I switched hats. 
Two of the most adorable people on this planet, Samson and HK.

Two of the most adorable people on this planet, Patrick and Brad.  Spoiler alert: Brad fell asleep shortly after this photo was taken.

I didn’t get to spend a lot of time out celebrating NYC Craft Beer Week, but this past Thursday was spent with some of the most special people.  Holly and I are so grateful to be able to be where we are and to spend our time with friends, both new and old.

Cheers!

Holly Kay and Patrick’s Brooklyn Beer Adventure with Bradco!  Or, OK, It Was Really Just Greenpoint Which is Basically Southern Queens and Then We Actually Ended Up Back in Queens But Hey, Beer is Awesome!

Holly Kay and Patrick live in Queens.  Our dear Bradco (You’ll remember meeting him HERE and HERE!) also lives in Queens.  Brooklyn is just miles south of Queens.  Yet, the MTA makes it nearly impossible to get to Brooklyn from Queens (or vice versa) without either:

A) Going all the way through Manhattan, or,

B) Taking the G Train (which, according to this New York Times article used to suck but is now cool).

Anyway, it takes nearly an hour to get there, unless you take a car, so we rarely, if ever, find ourselves in Brooklyn.  (Sorry, Brooklyn friends.  We still love you very much.).

We decided to be fancy and took a Gett, cuz we fancy, you know.  Our first stop was the incredible Tørst, in Greenpoint.

Tørst, (pronounced TERST, which is the Danish word for “Thirst”), is owned by Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, owner of Evil Twin Brewing.  It’s a small, modern, dimly lit, clean, sleek space with a marble bar and dark wood tables.  Their beer menu goes from light to dark, and each beer is served at the perfect temperature and with optimal carbonation (which, if I had a craft beer-themed metal band, Optimal Carbonation would absolutely be the name.)

The beautiful taps behind the bar at Tørst.

Holly loves Tørst because when she drinks beer, she either doesn’t want to drink a full pint, or wants to taste a number of different beers.  Tørst offers 5oz, 12oz, and 14 (or perhaps 16)oz pours.  We usually order 5oz pours, so we can taste and share.


My first choice was Hill Farmstead Brewery Citra Single Hop Pale Ale.  If you could animate the aroma, picture giant cartoon pineapples and grapefruits dancing out of the glass and circling your nostrils.  This beer was the bomb, and I believe I had 3 5oz pours.

Holly started with Folksbier Brauerei Glow Up Berliner Weisse with Satsuma Mandarins.  Tart, crisp, refreshing, citrus, which is literally everything you could ever want.  This was a beautiful beer from this new brewery in Brooklyn.

Holly Kay and Bradco having what appears to be a VERY INTENSE conversation as I creepily take candid photos.  TMZ, u hiring?  (As an English major, I have to interject.  Can I interject in my own Blog?  Sure I can!  I know it’s spelled Y-O-U.  I wrote the letter u because I thought it would be funnier.  Ok, carry on.)

 Evil Twin Brewing Aún Más Todo Jésus, a Russian Imperial Stout with cinnamon, cocoa, chili peppers and coffee beans.  The cinnamon dominates, but is rounded by the bitter coffee and cocoa, with some heat from the chili.  My goodness, at 12% ABV this will knock your socks off.  Thank…  Well, thank Jesus for 5oz pours!

I highly recommend this Beer Bar.  The bartenders are super friendly and knowledgeable and will let you taste something before ordering, and they’re serious about beer.  They gave me a list of craft beer spots in and surrounding Greenpoint, which was much appreciated.

After tasting some fantastic beer, it was time to move on.  Bradco suggested we stop at Moe’s Doughs, because he’s a wise, handsome man with exquisite taste.  We each ordered a doughnut and split them up into three. (how do you split a doughnut into three?  Shut up!  That’s how.  I’m sorry.  That was mean.  Please ask Holly Kay.  She told me how to do it.  It’s kind of like a peace sign.)  We shared a salted caramel donut, classic glazed, and banana nut.  They were dope.  Everything is dope.

Like I said, DOPE!

Brad told us about this old movie theater in Greenpoint that turned into a Rite Aid (sad.), so we decided to stop there before heading north to our next stop (it’s like Queens is a magnet and it simply, pulls us back, slowly but surely…)

Behind Bradco and Holly Kay is the former balcony of the theater.  Sad!

Gorgeous dome in the middle of the room.  Sad!

Next stop was Greenpoint Beer & Ale!

Hello!

Greenpoint Beer & Ale occupies a large space in an industrial area of Greenpoint.  I’d tried a few beers from them, thanks to Craft at C’est Cheese (BLOG POST) and Rick Nelson (you’ll remember him from THIS BLOG POST! And check out his blog Rickommended!), and they were awesome, so I was looking forward to visiting the source.

Speaking of Rick Nelson, I texted asking if he wished to join us, but he wasn’t available, and sent me what I can only imagine is an Angry Rick Nelson Emoji…

Yup.

My first choice at Greenpoint Beer & Ale was Vert Mont Double IPA.  An homage to the hazy, Vermontian (is that a word?) IPAs we all know and love.  Balanced citrus, pine, and sweetness.  A solid brew, and, as the kids say, Hazy Ayy Eff.

I’ll have a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice, please.  With extra pulp!
 

Holly posing in front of the cozy fire place in the beautiful industrial tasting room!

Another stand out beer was Catalyst, a saison with Brettanomyces.  Beautiful lemon zest, dry, crisp, amazingly refreshing!

Holly’s favorite beer was Night and Day, a German style Schwarzbier (dark Lager) with roasty coffee notes, but still crisp enough and with a low ABV, this beer suits both cold winter days and hot summer nights, baby!

Please, no butts.  

Our bartenders at Tørst mentioned that Threes Brewing had a pop up shop in the neighborhood, with beer to stay and to go, and merchandise.  Apparently, they took over their friend’s lease after he had to close his restaurant, and were testing the waters to see if a full time restaurant and beer bar would be feasible.

Pop Up Beer Bars?  Where do I sign up??

Gorgeous bar at the Threes Pop Up Shop @ Franklin & Kent in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  Cans and Growlers to go, as well as Merchandise, with draft lines.

Holly Kay and I are drinking Unreliable Narrator IPA, and Bradco is drinking I Hate Myself IPA.

It’s clear that Threes doesn’t take itself too seriously, making juicy, hazy IPAs with self deprecating names like Unreliable Narrator, I Hate Myself, SFY (the beer formerly known as Superf*ckingyawn), and Constant Disappointment.  (Greenpoint made what I can only imagine is a response beer, a juicy, low ABV Pale Ale with oats, called Constant Reassurance…).

The tap list was small, and IPA-heavy (hey, if you’re going to attract people in Brooklyn to an out of the way spot, the same people who line up overnight for Other Half’s hazy juice bombs, this is the way to do it), but I’ve never had a bad beer from Threes.  Their pils, Vliet (pronounced “VLEET”), is not to be missed, and they make some of the best saisons I’ve ever tasted.

Bradco checking his beer into Untappd probably.

As we’d already made our way north through Greenpoint, we figured we’d share a cab to our favorite Long Island City brewery, Big Alice Brewing.

Not sure who was more excited.  Holly Kay?  Bradco?  That lady?  (The correct answer is: That lady.)

Our awesome bartender friend Annie greeted us with a smile, even as the bar was packed!  

We didn’t get our usual spots at the bar, but we snagged a space around a barrel in the brew house and ordered a flight of 6 beers to share…

Look at all the pretty colors!

Highlights:

Smoked Saison!  Beautiful floral and lemon notes, with a nice smokiness.  Bradco said it reminded him of smoked salmon.  Loved the peaty, campfire smoke on the nose and taste.  It’s such a departure of what I usually gravitate towards, and it was a nice refreshing change.
Date Night, Bro?  A stout brewed with Donuts! Sweet, toasty, bitter.

Peppermint Stout.  It was like a liquid Thin Mint.  I ain’t mad.

Lemongrass Kolsch.  People need to make more Kolsch.  It’s so crisp, bright, and citrusy, with some beautiful fruity esters from the yeast.  Lemongrass adds just the right amount of tart.  It makes me want to drink one after I mow my lawn (?  I live in an apartment in Queens…  A man can pretend to have a lawn, can’t he?)

Everyone’s favorite.  Jalapeño Rye IPA.  I’ve written about this one before, but it’s surprising each time I sip it.  The pepper is a wonderful addition to the spice from the rye and citrus from the hops.  Drink this!!!
After Big Alice, we parted ways with Bradco, went and got massages in Astoria at our favorite place, and went home to watch Quantico before bed, because we like to pamper ourselves sometimes.  

We had a wonderful day with Brad, and felt so welcomed everywhere we visited (of course).

All in all, not a bad little Saturday.  Oh, also, watch Quantico.  It’s on Netflix…

Until next time…

Cheers!

Benson’s NYC, or Beer Plus Carolina Reaper Peppers Equals Patrick Drooling on Himself…

Friday night, nearly two weeks ago, just before 6pm, I was picking up Holly Kay from her new (!!!) job.  

We wanted to celebrate her amazing accomplishments in her career, so I stood outside the corporate office at Burberry (which, by the way, is not pronounced Bur-Berry, but BBBBBBBBBHHHHUUUUU-BBBBHHHHHUUUUUUU-EEEEEEE) until Holly was finished, trying to find a place where we could have a celebration drink, before heading off to our friend Brian’s birthday party.

We had a few hours before it was slated to begin, so we decided to kill two birds with one stone, and head down to Benson’s NYC, on Essex St. on the Lower East Side, the venue chosen by our friend Tanya (who just so happens to be MARRIED to Brian), for some dinner and drinks before the official start of the bacchanal (as Tanya described it, “snacks and drinks”) .

We walked through Rockefeller Center, which is always magical, no matter what time of year, over to the downtown F train, and reminisced over her first few weeks on the job.  

One of the best things is, whenever anyone asks about her new job, she gets to tell them she works in Fashion.  It’s super great, you guys.  My wife works in Fashion!  Is there a magazine called In Fashion?  If there isn’t, there should be.

EDIT: There isn’t.  I used Google.  But I have a feeling that if you started a fashion magazine called In Fashion that In Style would be really cheesed off.  But, you know, you do you.

Oh wait…  This is a blog about beer.

Let’s talk about Benson’s NYC.

We arrived just before 7pm, and we were STARVING.  I’d read really good things about their burgers.  We sat down and glance at the drink menu, and lo and behold, Benson’s was having a Flying Dog tap takeover!

We were introduced to Annie, our bartender (also, as it turns out, Manager and Co-Owner of Benson’s!).  We ordered the Classic hamburger and the special Mac and Cheese with bacon.  The food was awesome, the burger was cooked perfectly, with oozing, melty cheese all up on top of it, with grilled onions, and the Mac and Cheese had big, thick chunks of smokey, succulent bacon.

Holly started off drinking the Jalapeño White, a refreshing, crisp white ale, with just a slight bit of heat from the Jalapeño peppers.  She said it got hotter as she drank it, but it still had really beautiful orange citrus, with a nice malt backbone, and the greenness you get from smelling and tasting a fresh Jalapeño.  It was really nicely balanced.

I decided to have a taste of the Carolina Reaper, a Peach 🍑 IPA with Carolina Reaper peppers.  I took one sip, and was completely overwhelmed by the heat.  It was so hot, in fact, as I was trying to chat romantically with my sweetheart, I literally drooled on myself!  Too hot!  Spicy fire bad!!  🔥🔥🔥👹☠️. I love spicy food, and I love pepper in beers, but the heat was completely overpowering, and I couldn’t taste any peach or citrus from the hops.  Straight up hot fire.

I went with one of my favorites from Flying Dog, the Raging Bitch Belgian IPA (excuse my language).

Nice doggy.  This is an old picture, but I love Flying Dog’s bottle art.

What I love about Belgian IPAs is the citrus from the hops does a sexy lil’ tango with the bubblegum, banana, floral esters from the Belgian yeast.  

Esters are the flavors described above that occur during fermentation of a beer.  “Ethanol combines with fatty acids and a molecule called acetyl coenzyme (ACOA) forming ethyl acetate.”  (Thanks for that, Beersmith.com!)

Brian, the birthday boy, arrived a short while later, as did Tanya, Jerry and Vidhya, Shane and Chi, and Arun and Diana.  

How did I capture a picture of Brian that looks like his mouth is in motion but the rest of him is still?  Well, there was candied bacon in that box, so, you do the math…

We chatted with our friends, enjoying the evening, and Holly ordered the Sea Salt Caramel Brown.  It was VERY sweet, with just a touch of salt.  It’s a nice beer to go alongside dessert, but I’d stick with just a few ounces to go along with, say, a chocolate cake with some ice cream (oh man, now I REALLY want chocolate cake and ice cream.)

Brian (left) and Shane!  

I reminisced with Jerry about our beer adventures this past March in Houston for Tanya and Brian’s wedding.  We went to Saint Arnold Brewing Co. and 8th Wonder Brewing.  At Saint Arnold, we won giant Jenga.  How is that possible, you ask?  Well, we removed literally every block without it toppling over.  So it was a win-win-win.

A photo of Jerry and I, faces swapped.

Shane ordered a bottle of Freshie Salt & Pepper Gose from an Nomad Brewing Co. in Australia.  This was a really nice treat, as we don’t see a lot of Australian beer here in the US.  It was bright, tart, salty, with just a hint of smokiness from the black pepper.  Lovely!

And check out the squid on that bottle!!

I was telling Annie about the blog, and she pulled out this fresh Finback IPA from the fridge to share with me!  Thanks, Annie!

Annie was asking me what local breweries Holly Kay and I love, and of course I mentioned Singlecut Beersmiths (They saved our life, REMEMBER??).  Sure enough, about 15 minutes later, they tapped Singlecut Dean Pacific Northwest Mahogany Ale, a delicious amber ale with notes of fresh pine and freshly squeezed oranges.  A delight!

We had a wonderful night with friends, celebrating Holly’s new job, Brian’s birthday, and simply enjoying the company of our dear friends.

Thank you again to Annie and Benson’s NYC for the awesome hospitality, definitely check them out next time you’re in Manhattan!

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!

 

 

 

::GASP:: A Guest Blog Post!  Or, The (Other) Benedict Beer Blog!

We’ve got a special treat this week!
I was texting with the lovely and vivacious Holly Kay (Benedict!!) on Sunday afternoon, and she gave me the most incredible description of the beer she was enjoying (because that’s what you DO on Sunday afternoons!).

What a cutie!!

So, without any further ado, I leave you in the hands of my smart, adventurous, beautiful wife!


2012: How the Beer Journey Began

By Holly Kay Benedict



It was 2012. Patrick and I had been married for a year. We were living on Long Island. I was working a dead end job DJing at a country radio station for pennies. The work itself, I loved. The listeners and the performance aspect of the position were amazing. The misogynists I worked for made the job a living hell for me and the other women working as talent there.

Me and the truck!

That first year was one of the very hardest. We lived with family. We had obnoxious amounts of credit card debt which we were paying down slowly, but surely. We had few friends, but we were able to make some lifelong friends in Moustache brewing’s Lauri and Matt Spitz. At the time, Matt was a coworker of Patrick’s at Fruit Stand.

Matt, and a pint glass I won at Long Ireland Brewing!

Lauri, his wife is one of the absolute coolest people I know. She is a take charge, no nonsense, “Put you big girl panties on and deal with it” kind of woman. I have the utmost respect for her, and have learned from her determination. It was she who invited me to the first LIBME meeting.

Lauri and I, being classy.

LIBME is the Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts. Patrick and I had recently graduated from drinking PBR and Bud Light to drinking real beer. We had discovered local breweries like Blue Point, and that was the location of my first LIBME meeting. BBQ chicken was served with free pours at the meeting. We discussed the upcoming home brewers competition, and I was hooked.
Granted, I was not the real beer drinker. That was Patrick, of course, but I wanted to further the depth of our friendship with Matt and Lauri, meet new people who were like-beer minded and who could open our palates to something more. Honestly, I went to the LIBME meeting for Patrick. His interest in beer inspired me to want to invest time and energy in something other than endless conversations about Fruit Stand customers and bald, Woman-hating bosses (Bless their hearts).

I joined the club for both Patrick and I on the spot.

We were privy to some exclusive beer tastings. There was a bottle share where a rumor went around that I only enjoy high alcohol beers. That’s how the 65% Armageddon by Brewmeister ended up in my hands. Delicious, but dear GOD! 

Bottle share, January 19, 2013.

Lauri posing with Brewmeister Armageddon, the strongest beer in the world.

This same night I had pork with Ghost pepper because another rumor about me circulated which labeled me as a fellow pepper head. (All these rumors are true BTW). It was a pivotal night in our beer journey. We met amazing people like Phil, who works for New Belgium Brewing and previously worked for Great South Bay Brewery, and his wife Katie. I also encouraged Kelsey and Pete Shelly to join us for beer club, and I’ll never forget the meeting where we had Mead, and Kelsey was this close to buying a bee hive.

Kelsey, Pete and I at Moustache Brewing’s Friends and Family preview!  April 13, 2014.

The most exciting part of our Beer journey was seeing Matt and Lauri leave their jobs and pursue their home brewing full time. Matt and Lauri own and brew at Moustache Brewing Co. in Riverhead. They have now begun distributing to New York City and can be found at Alewife in Long Island City, which is one of my fav beer bars.

April 13th, 2014.  Moustache Brewing Friends and Family preview!

Bradco and I enjoying Moustache Brewing Co. Everyman’s Porter at Alewife NYC!  October, 2016.

I like all the tasting rooms I’ve been to, but for me I will always love the beer bars like Alewife, the Jeffery, Barcade, and C’est Cheese. Dedicated to craft beer, of course, but also dedicated to the foods that enhance and define why craft beer should be paired with amazing food.

Speaking of C’est Cheese. About a year ago, they began their Beer Club program. I encouraged Patrick to join, of course, but said I would wait for the next time, thinking I could join the next week. Sadly, I missed the opportunity since they limited the club to 200 people.

A new year is upon us, and I am happy to announce that I am finally a member of the C’est Beer club. The beer journey continues, and I love being a part of it with my amazing writer, beer connoisseur husband.

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!

Galway Pt. II, or, I’m Not a Creep But I Did Facebook Friend Our Waiter at Blakes Because He Was Awesome…

**HELLO!  Before we begin, you can still donate to Galway Hospice HERE (We talked about it last week), Alan and the Galway Bay Brewery boys have raised nearly 10,000 Euro total!!  Click the link and donate!**

When last we left you, dear, sweet readers, Holly Kay and I had just tapped out after our ___th Murphy’s Irish Stout, and headed back to our B&B for a long winter’s nap…  (See Galway Bay Brewery Pt. I if you haven’t read it, then head on back here!)

Our next morning, we had our full Irish Breakfast and drove into Galway on our quest for Irish Sweaters!  We’d been looking in each town for the perfect sweaters (because ya have to!!) and we stumbled upon the Galway Woollen Market, a quaint little shop with two floors of many different styles of Aran Islands Knitwear.  Holly ended up with two sweaters, one purple, and one green, which make her look really cute and Irish, and I ended up with a lovely navy blue sweater with big brown wooden buttons that, in my humble opinion, makes me look like Paddington Bear, which is also cute (but not Irish) (but still cute.  I’m cute.)img_2379This picture also made it into last week’s blog, but Holly’s too cute for me to just post it once, and also, it’s right in front of the Galway Woollen Market!!

img_2381HK Drinking a Latte at Coffeewerk + Press in Galway City!

img_2396Coffeewerk was such a cool space!

After our morning shopping in Galway, and because we were spending two nights, we planned an afternoon SPA DAY (!!!) at the Shore Island Spa at the Loughrea Hotel and Spa, just outside of Galway City.  We decided on a Couples Afternoon package, which included a massage, facial, the Rasul Mud Chamber (which is something I never need to do, ever again), and 90 minutes in the Thermal Relaxation Suite, which had saunas, steam rooms, a jacuzzi, and two relaxation rooms, one dark, with color lights all over the ceiling, and one light, overlooking the gorgeous Lough Rea.

It was a wonderful few hours, and a nice period where we could stop, breathe, and reflect on our beautiful vacation.

When we got back to Galway, we parked our car back at the B&B and walked the 10 minutes into Galway City.  Our new friend Darren (the Irish Whiskey aficionado) recommended we visit Garavan’s, the bar he manages.  We ran into our OTHER new friend Sjef, behind the bar, who recommended a few places to eat.  Both Sjef and the other bartender recommended a pub called Blakes Bar, a lovely little pub attached to a restaurant called Brasserie on the Corner, with a small, artisanal menu.  Holly and I shared everything, Chili and Sesame chicken wings (which came in a giant bowl and the wings were covered in the sweet, spicy chili and sesame sauce), an Irish Cheese Board (BECAUSE WHY NOT?) and a Beef Burger.  We figured if our night was going to be anything like the night before (beer emoji beer emoji beer emoji winking face emoji) we wanted to make sure our bellies were full.

The food was great, but our experience was made perfect by our server, James.  He was just as knowledgeable as Darren (and had been to some whiskey conferences with him) and well versed in all the Irish Whiskeys on the menu.  He made some suggestions, and we ordered the Powers John’s Lane, a 12 year old Single Pot Still, aged in both bourbon and sherry casks which is named after the address of the original Powers distillery.  It was smooth, with dark fruits, caramel, vanilla and toffee.  Here’s how it went down…  Holly Kay: “I’d like that on the rocks.”  James: “Nooooooooo…”  So he brought them out neat, and we enjoyed them neat, and it was an absolutely lovely accompaniment to our full meal.

Our expectations on this trip were to experience some of the quintessential Irish hospitality, and James at Blake’s Bar went above and beyond our expectations, chatting with us about whiskey (as Darren had the night before), and what we’d done on our trip so far.  He turned what was an already good meal into a wonderful experience.  And now we’re friends on Facebook (I’m not creepy!!)  Cheers, James!

We then headed back to Garavan’s, and went with one of Darren and Alan’s suggestions from the night before, Green Spot, another Single Pot Still, with flavors of vanilla, citrus, and mint.  We caught the end of some live music, which was great Craic!

Live Music at Garavans! (apologies for the vertical video, it was a Facebook Live)

img_2385Christmas came early in Galway!

img_2384It was cold outside, but it was Nut Hot in here!

After Garavans, we went to the Salt House, Galway Bay Brewery‘s other pub in Galway City, and met up again with Alan…img_2394You all remember Alan from last week’s post…  This no-longer-bearded beauty and his GBB family raised nearly 10,000 Euro for Galway Hospice, and you can still donate HERE!

We met up with Alan and his wife Danielle, and Laurien (whose husband Will is the head brewer for GBB)…  Laurien and Will are transplants from Georgia, and it was fun that my Mississippi gal got to hang out with another southerner!

img_2393‘Allo Harvey!  This little gal belongs to Alan and Danielle!  What a face!!

Wait, so, this is a blog about beer?

Alright, let’s get to it…

As soon as we arrived, Alan greeted us, and said to Holly Kay, “I know more than anybody when you hit that wall…  And last night, at around 11pm, I noticed that you’d hit that wall.  And when I woke up this morning, I felt kind of bad for ya…”  Holly said “Don’t feel bad!  We had an amazing time!”  Apparently, Alan, Darren, and Sjef left Lonergan’s and headed to…  Where else?  The Casino!  These guys are professionals, and have way more stamina than I do…

I was handed a glass of Galway Bay Brewery’s Full Sail IPA (which I spoke about in last week’s post), which is a balanced, citrusy wonderland of Irish fun…

img_2387I drank x2 of these…  Trolltunga by Buxton Brewing from England, in collaboration with Lervig Brewery in Norway.  This was a sour IPA, with tart, tropical peach, grapefruit, and pine.  Absolutely unreal stuff.  Alan was so excited about it (he was drinking it when we got there) and it was wonderful.

img_2386My Dad’s favorite beer!  So nice to see some US craft on draught!

img_2388Holly ordered the Buxton Brewery Extra Porter, brewed with Guatemalan Coffee…  Super bitter, roasty chocolate, coffee, dark cherries, floral, smokey.  Another fantastic brew.  We’ve got to find our way to England to try more of their beer!

We were so happy to be able to spend time with our new friend, Alan, and to have met Danielle and Laurien.  Galway is a magical city, and that was only emphasized by all the hospitality we experienced while we were there.  We’ll absolutely be back (Alan, you got a spare room?)

Until next time!

Cheers!