Yesterday we conquered the hardest-to-reach bars on the Good Beer Seal list: Killmeyer’s Old Bavaria Inn and Adobe Blues, both on Staten Island, with the very generous help of our brother/brother-in-law Jake (seen previously in this post). After hours of driving, delicious beer and food, we sat at Adobe Blues, a little worse for wear, deliriously high-fiving each other. Because in week two, when we mapped out a schedule of bar visits, we seriously thought we might not make it. Forty-one bars is a lot of bars to go to in one month.
So. If anyone is crazy enough to want to do this themselves, here is some advice and what we learned along the way:
– Check what time each bar opens BEFORE you go. You’d think this wouldn’t even have to be said, but you’d be surprised how many bars were closed when we got there before we wised up.
– Take days off.
– Don’t judge a bar by its façade. The most special bars we went to have the crappiest-looking exteriors.
– Don’t avoid the outer boroughs. There are really awesome places in hard-to-reach areas.
– When you go to Staten Island, drive. We didn’t want to deal with the public transportation. We saw bus stops everywhere but very few buses, so we were happy we had a car at our disposal.
– Really, though, go to Staten Island. At least the one time. We didn’t want to either and we whined about it. But Killmeyer’s is a hidden gem (it’s really, really hidden. Like, way out there). And it’s worth it.
– Some bars in Manhattan (ok, and Brooklyn) are overrated.
– Bring friends! We can’t emphasize enough how fun it was to have company on this adventure of ours. Thanks so much to everyone who joined us: Fred, Matt, Robert, Emily, Jeff, Craige, Seth, John, Kim and Jake.
If you’re not interested in conducting your own 41-bar adventure (we don’t blame you if you’re not) stay tuned. At the end of the month we’ll be posting a recap of what’s best among the Good Beer Seal bars… and where you don’t need to go.
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Now that summer has officially arrived (in all its hot, humid glory) we thought we would put together a list of three beers we think are best to have this season.
Greenport Harbor Brewing – Summer Ale 5.3% ABV
Super refreshing but still full of flavor, Greenport Summer Ale is brewed with some orange blossom honey and nicely hopped (lending a bright lemony flavor). Crisp and dry, it should be great with fresh summer dishes.
Brooklyn Brewery – Summer Ale (cans) 5% ABV
Brooklyn’s Summer Ale made the jump to cans last year and has been one of our summer go-to beers since. The canned version is extra crisp and snappy and lends itself easily to backyards and patios.
Captain Lawrence Brewing – Kolsch 5% ABV
It’s available year round but the summer is the best time of year for this beer. Light and refreshing with some slight fruitiness. A great local example of a classic German style.
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After the relaxing in the beer bath at Landhotel Moorhof we headed for the museum-packed city of Vienna.
The city’s local brewery Ottakringer produces the standard range of Austrian styles (Pils or Helles, Dunkel, Bock and Weisse) that are available almost everywhere in the city. The Helles, a pale yellow lager, clean and crisp, was great with the sausages and spaetzle at the Christmas markets, especially kasekrainer (a pork sausage filled with cheese).
After two weeks of traditional Austrian/German beer styles we sought out 1516 Brewing Company (left) which was advertised as an American Style brewpub in our guide book.
Their beer list did have some variety but was missing some of their brews, including their harvest ale made with fresh hops and an American Style IPA. Their Christmas beer was an ale brewed with coriander and cardamon. The spice was nice but it became a bit sticky as it warmed. We were impressed by the oatmeal stout which had the velvety mouthfeel and roasted flavors we usually love but also an extra bit of hop bitterness. The hops were a welcome surprise and made the stout especially interesting to drink. We paired them up with a goose burger and frittaten soup (beef broth with slices of thin pancakes).
1516 also served Victory Hop Devil, the only American craft beer we came across in Austria. Compared to Austrian beers the Hop Devil was very bitter and floral. We had recently had Hop Devil in the States, and it was clear that the beer had lost a lot of its hop character and brightness. The experience made us appreciate even more the impact that freshness can have on beers.
After almost two weeks during which the darkest beers we drank were dunkels, it was refreshing (pun intended) to enjoy a stout.
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We can now say we love beer so much we’ve bathed in it. Well, sort of. We bathed in water with hops, malt and yeast – deconstructed beer, basically. More on that later.
We left Innsbruck by train to Salzburg, where we connected with a local train to Lamprechtschausen. We were then picked up and driven to Franking, where the Landhotel Moorhof spa sits among farmland and fields as far as the eye can see. Our 48-hour stay included breakfast, dinners (one of which was a beer dinner) and two spa treatments. A family-owned establishment, our experience was coordinated by Bernhard Bauer.
On our first night, we had a beer dinner, much different than any other we have experienced. Because instead of focusing on how the food and beer would compliment each other, all aspects of this dinner were made with beer. The first course was a beer yeast soup, for example. Sound crazy? But it was delicious. The best soup we’ve ever had. It was creamy, but had no cream. The croutons managed to stay crunchy the whole time we were eating it. It had an herbal taste.
For the second course, we were served broccoli fritters fried in a beer batter. Also delicious. Creamy, crunchy. Accompanied by some sort of dill sauce. Next we had stuffed chicken breast in a beer sauce with potato croquettes and vegetables. The sauce was great and paired well with the chicken, but the star of this course were the croquettes, dipped in the sauce. We were so full at this point but we couldn’t leave any uneaten. Dessert was a crepe made with beer, filled with reduced cranberries. A lovely way to end an amazing meal.
Paired with the meal were three beers from Austrian brewery Schnaitl – the pils, the original and the dunkel. All great beers, all went well with our dinner. But what really shone through was the food.
The next day we were given the beer bath treatment. Basically a hot tub with malt, hops, and yeast bubbling in it. Only instead of an actual hot tub, it looked like a beer barrel. And it smelled like brew day. Sitting in the beer bath, Bernhard brought us each a Schnaitl pils to enjoy (at 11 a.m. No problem in Austria). After about a half hour in the bath, we were wrapped in linens and relaxed on a bed of hay. No joke. This was the most relaxed either of us had ever been. We smelled like brew day, were lying wrapped up like burritos, dozing on hay. Is that the life or what?
The only drawback from this experience was washing off the grains and hops, which we did before we could partake in any more wellness activities. We then enjoyed massages, lounging by the indoor pool gazing out at the Austrian countryside, and another fine meal. We were sorry to leave.
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Well readers, we got married! And we’re on our honeymoon, traveling through Austria.
The first leg of our journey was the Alpine city of Innsbruck. We picked it mostly for the scenery (can you blame us?) but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a great beer scene. A good selection of beer seems to be available pretty much everywhere we go: cafes, restaurants, grocery stores, and even in the Christkindlmarkts. Not only is beer available almost everywhere, but it is mostly high quality and very reasonably priced.
Our first beer stop was the St. Augustiner Bierkeller (beer cellar) in the Altstadt (old city) of Innsbruck. This place was exactly what you’d expect from a Germanic country: everything covered in wood, stick-to-your-ribs type food and top notch beer. We started with an Edelstoff and a Radler. The Edelstoff was a nice pale lager similar to a Pilsner but with more citrus than grassiness in the hop character. The Radler, which we had never heard of before, turns out to be a mixture of beer (in this case a lager) and some kind of citrus (lemon or lime usually). The radler wasn’t our favorite (in fact we thought it was some sort of cider at first) but we can see how people enjoy how refreshing it is. We paired these with some Schweinbraten (pork roast) and Spaetle, turning our tiredness from a day of traveling into a fight to avoid a food coma for just a little longer.
Our second day in Innsbruck featured spectacular vistas from the Alpenzoo, the start of the Christkindlmarkt, and another hearty dinner in the Altstadt. We hung out in a heated stand at the market where we could grab a glass of Stiegl (a beer from nearby Salzburg) to go with our mini brick oven pizza. The Stiegl, poured with a brilliantly fluffy white head, was clean and refreshing (words we seem to be using a lot to describe Austrian beer). It was a delicious way to spend some of the afternoon with views of the river Inn and the mountains that surround Innsbruck. Later that night we stopped in at the Gasthaus Goldens Dachl where we ordered some Goulash and lamb stew that we paired with Zillertal Pils (from Innsbruck’s region of Tirol) and a Gosser Siftsbrau. The local Zillertal Pils has fresh hop grassiness and a clean finish. We both loved the Gosser Siftsbrau, which was brown with delicious caramel sweetness a great pairing with the Goulash.
Today we stopped in at the Theresien brau, a brewpub near the center of Innsbruck. We had the Stammbrau and the Weisse bier. We preferred the Weisse, which had brighter banana and clove flavors than we are used to in a weiss bier. We loved the scenery of the brewpub, copper and stainless steel brewing equipment was everywhere and we even got to sit next to a fermentation tank that was bubbling away.
Stay tuned for the next (and most infamous) leg of our journey: Landhotel Moorhof, also known as the beer spa!
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