Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What's been Brewing?

I've been a little neglectful of this blog for the past few weeks, but fear not, theres been plenty of Beer, Brewing, and Breweries going on.

About two weeks ago I kegged and carbonated up my Witbier I brewed way back in January. It turned out pretty good and I'm going to be entering it into our homebrew club annual competition! (More on this to come)

My Newest Brew!

With my fermenters empty, I figured that it was about time I make my next batch of beer. Going on with this years Belgian theme, I printed out my recipe and started heating my water. A Belgian Blonde Ale was to be brewed!

Belgian Blonde 
The recipe was fairly simple, 80% Pilsner malt with a dash of Aromatic and White Wheat, plus a pound of Cane Sugar to dry out the finish. The brew day went great, though it seemed to ferment out pretty quickly. Hopefully that shouldn't be too big of a deal, because I had a Leffe Blonde last night, so I'm really excited to give this homebrew a try!

Have any of you been getting up to any brewing now that the weather has started to break a little bit? Let us know about them in the comments or drop me a note!


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Having a Beer or Two in the City that Never Sleeps!

It's been a couple of week since my last blog post, but don't worry, there's a good reason, we were in New York City.

Sky Bar at our Hotel
My wife had some pressing work to do in the big apple, so we decided that I'd tag along and then we would have a nice long weekend together in NYC. We haven't been for a little over a year, and it was great to go back.

I didn't have many big plans as far as beer was concerned but there were a few places on my radar. Unfortunately, I didn't make it to any of the breweries in Brooklyn, but I need to keep a few things aside for next time! Luckily, there was great beer to be had a few blocks away.

The Pony Bar

We stopped at the Pony Bar after having dinner with some of the wife's work colleagues. (Luckily, they like great beer too!)

The Pony was a great little bar. Lots of great craft beer available, including two on cask, which is what I started with. A strong ale from Chelsea Brewing Co. This high gravity American Brown Ale was perfectly suited to being served on cask. Chocolate and slightly nutty, smooth from the low carbonation. I also enjoyed a Lembeek 86 from Other Half Brewing. A blonde ale fermented with 100% Brett yeast. It was interesting and slightly off-putting at first, but I think that was due to the drastic change from the strong ale. It grew on me quite a bit as I drank it and I hope to get another taste of it someday.

Pony Bar
The next day, the wife was off bright and early to go to the trade show that brought her to NYC, which meant that I had the afternoon to myself, and what better way to spend a Wednesday afternoon in Manhattan than on the corner of 41st and 8th 

Heartland Brewery

I have actually been to this brewery on a previous trip to New York, but this time was different. Last time we were in the heart of Santa-Con, a huge Christmas themed bar crawl that takes thousands of costumed Santas through the city. This time, it was nice and quiet as I got there right after opening time.  I ordered a reuben (my favorite) and a flight.

My flight included:

Indian River Light Ale
Cornhusker Lager
Harvest Wheat
Red Rooster
Indiana Pale Ale
Farmer Jon's Oatmeal Stout
Empire Premium Beer
Not Tonight Honey Porter

Of the flight, I enjoyed the Oatmeal stout the best. It was served on nitro and gave it that smooth creamy mouthfeel and it had a silky sweetness to it that I really enjoyed. The Empire Premium was probably the best made beer of the breweries though. It was a great example of an American Adjunct Lager, a style that many of us beer lovers love to hate, but that doesn't take away the fact that this was a well done example of a beer that's hard to do right.

After my flight, there were three more beers on the board. Our hotel was close, and no reason to drive, I  ordered the next. A good pour of their Full Moon Barley Wine. It was surprisingly great. It was loaded with a balanced complexity and sweetness. I finished off the board with two more sample pours, their Sorachi Wheat and Kelly's Irish Red Ale. After those two it was time to go to the hotel and take a nap!

After a way too short of a nap, my wife returned from her trade show to wake me up and tell me they were heading Heartland Brewery. Oh well, back on the horse, besides that oatmeal stout was pretty great!

The Ginger Man and The Blind Tiger

There were two more really great beer stops to be made on our trip, the first being The Ginger Man. Just a few blocks from the Empire State Building, this bar was stocked full of young professionals enjoying a pint after work. One of these young professional types was my wife's cousin, Tim! We'd met up with him after he finished work and I got to enjoy some really great and interesting beers. First up was their house beer, Ginger Man Ale, an American amber ale brewed by Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.

After my pint of the house beer, I rolled the dice and asked our waitress if I could grab a flight of some of their draft beers. The menu said that it may not be available during their peak hours, which by all indications we were currently in, but she was awesome and said of course! Then she was really awesome when she said that I could get the cask beers as part of my flight!! Thanks Ginger Man!

Special Double Cream Stout by Bell's Brewery
Baciami Lipsia by Birrificio Del Ducato
Mango Habanero IPA by Flying Dog Brewery
The Hammer and The Sickle by Greenport Harbor Brewing

The next day we were wandering from the Chelsea Market to Little Italy, and our path took us down Bleecker St and to the Blind Tiger. The Blind Tiger is one of those bars that always ends up on the "Best Of" lists, and it's easy to see why. The first time I was in this pub I was amazed by the selection they had. Great beers from NY of course, but also all over the country, and several of them are on cask. I went with a He'Brew Messiah Nut Brown Ale by Schmaltz Brewing Company. It was served on cask w/ cocoa nibs and was fantastic! 

After all the running around, sightseeing, eating multiple slices of pizza, and a lot more walking than I was used to, it was time to head back to Rochester. It was a great trip with some great brews, hopefully more to come from this great city in the future!