KelSo Pilsner Can Misses the Mark

KelSo Beer Co. joined a growing craft beer trend this month with the release of its pilsner in 12 ounce cans. In most cases we think the canning wave has been a good one for craft beer with its protection from light, and the fact that cans don’t weigh as much as bottles. Craft beer cans are also fun conversation starters: “I’ve never had a beer this good out of a can!” So we were pretty excited when we heard that KelSo Pilsner, brewed in Brooklyn, would also be canned at Greenpoint Beerworks in Brooklyn on a mobile canning line from Iron Heart Canning. This past week we picked up a six pack at Prospect Heights Beer Works and hurried home to taste the only beer that’s been canned inside city limits.

The can touts a beer with a “spicy nose, slightly sweet, with a dry finish” but it seemed to be missing the dry finish and was dominated by the sweetness that threw off faint herbal notes from the hops. We were hoping for the clean snappiness of the Pilsner on draft. It might be worth waiting for the Nut Brown Lager and IPA that KelSo plans to can in the months ahead.

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Growing Hops

This is our hop plant. We have named her Eleanor. 

Wednesday evening the Brooklyn Brewery hosted a discussion on hops growing, featuring Jaclyn Van Bourgondien and Andrew Tralka, a husband and wife team who launched Farm to Pint in 2012, a hops farm in Peconic, Long Island.

In the late 1800s, 80 percent of all hops in the US were grown in New York State. It was interesting to hear Bourgondien and Tralka’s take on their desire to join the wave of people who are trying to make New York State the hops producer it once was.

“We’re re-learning the nature of how to do it,” said Van Bourgondien, who noted that the pair have learned the trade from farmers on West Coast and the few that do exist in New York.

Hops are vines that grow vertically and twist as they grow, called bines. To grow them, rhizomes (small pieces of roots that are cut from the root system of other hops) are planted, out of which sprout the new vines. Hops need full sun and can grow up to 12 inches per day. They wrap clockwise around coirs, long lengths of twine that stretch from the ground up to a trellis structure. Hop bines can grow upwards of 18 feet tall. At a hop farm, you’ll see rows and rows of hop bines, all climbing up coirs that are attached to a trellis, kept in place by large wooden posts.

“Our goal is to be as sustainable as possible,” Van Bourgondien continued. She and Tralka accomplish sustainability and eco-consciousness by using untreated wood for the posts and biodegradable coir made of coconut fiber.

Farm to Pint and is part of a movement of farmers and brewers committed to using as many local products as possible, encouraged by the Farm Brewery law, which went into effect this January. By using at least 20 percent of locally grown ingredients, a brewery can get a Farm Brewery license. In 12 years, that percentage will be up to 90.

“So 12 years from now you could choose to buy a New York beer,” said Van Bourgondien. “It’s pretty cool and exciting.”

It really is. But for now, we’re going to plant Eleanor, our Cascade hop plant, and see what happens.

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Brooklyn’s Dry Irish Stout in Bottles

Brooklyn Brewery’s Dry Irish Stout, normally a draft-only beer served from January through March, will be available to take home in a 12oz bottle format. As the brewery states, the roasty and smooth stout is good pairing for oysters, burgers, and of course corned beef and cabbage. The beer is not only a great example of a local dry stout but also one of the closest things to a winter seasonal since it does not become available until January and is gone by spring.


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R.I.P Monster, the Brooklyn Brewery Cat

Today we are saddened to learn that the Brooklyn Brewery’s cat, Monster, a New York beer icon in his own right, died of kidney failure at age 13.

From the brewery’s blog: “Monster quickly became one of the most photographed objects in The Brewery, and aside from possibly Brewmaster Oliver has posed with more Brooklyn fans than any other member of the team.”

We have no doubt that’s true. Every time we went to the brewery (or even walked passed it) we saw and snapped a photo of Monster. He definitely had a unique and memorable personality.

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The Three Best Local Beers to Have This Summer

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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Captain Lawrence Bottles

Some of the most exciting small local breweries often focus their early attention on draft beers. Not much of a problem if your local bar regularly carries them or your favorite beer store has them on tap for growler fills.  But, if you were looking to share that brewery with friends or have one of their beers at home on your couch you were out of luck.

With their expansion into a new brewery in Elmsford NY, Captain Lawrence Brewing Company has added a bottling line. We were excited last month when bottles of Freshchester Pale Ale, Captain’s Kolsch and Liquid Gold started showing up in our local Brooklyn grocery stores. We grabbed some of the pale ale and kolsch to try recently and were pretty impressed. As we expected the beer was noticeably fresh but we were surprised as how close both beers were to the draft versions. The pale ale is well balanced and the kolsch light and refreshing. Both will be great go-to beers this summer.

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New Year’s Eve Barleywine and Cheese Sampling

Over the past few years we’ve collected an assortment of barley wines of various ages. We thought New Year’s might be a good time to crack them open and share with some family as we ring in 2012. To take it a step further we made a trip to BKLYN Larder to pick out some cheeses to try out as pairings. The staff at the store was extremely helpful and excited to aid in picking out cheeses for a pairing.

We settled on several cheeses, most of which we think will stand up well to the strength of the barleywines. We also picked up a more delicate washed rind goat cheese that should be a nice complement to the older barleywines that have had some time to mellow out the intense hop character and hot alcohol flavors. Here are the beers and cheeses we will be trying out:

Brooklyn Monster Ale 2006, 2009, 2010
Dogfish Head Olde School 2006
Southern Tier Back Burner 2008
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale aged in Sherry Casks 2007
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale aged in Port Casks 2008

Morbier-aged at least 60 days (France)
Adelegger (Bavaria, Germany)
Gouda L’Anyse – aged 2 years (Holland)
Contralto Goat Cheese (Andante Dairy, Sonoma)

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Our Guide to Fall Seasonals

We were recently asked to recommend a list of fall seasonals (pumpkin beers in particular) to help some of our readers prepare. Even though summer isn’t technically over, the weather seems to be changing and we thought it would be a good time to share five seasonals we are most excited for:

Founders Breakfast Stout It may not be a pumpkin ale, but it is seasonal and it is delicious. Big, roasty, chocolaty, and full of coffee, this Breakfast Stout sets the standard for us in the style (it is also the base for KBS and CBS). Definitely worth having fresh or stowing away for a fall or winter in the future. We also enjoy the label.

Brooklyn Brewery Post Road Pumpkin Ale A great pumpkin background and some assertivespices make this beer perfect for a chilly fall afternoon. At 5% ABV it is a bit more sessionable than some of the other beers on the list so you won’t have to worry about having a few while roasting root vegetables or watching football.

New Holland Ichabod The appearance and smell of Ichabod immediately makes you think of fall. It’s copper with a fluffy white head. The mix of pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg gives the beer a classic smell that follows through in the taste.

Victory Festbier It isn’t a pumpkin beer but it’s a great American example of the Märzen seasonal brewed for thefamous Oktoberfest celebrated in Germany (and pretty much throughout the beer drinking world) at the end of September. It has a deliciously sweet nutty taste that finishes with some refreshing dryness. A great way to celebrate the harvest season.

Sixpoint Autumnation We haven’t had it yet but since we heard about it on Brew York, New York we have had our ears and eyes open for it. It’s a canned, wet hopped pumpkin ale – what could be more seasonal? (We are in the very short hop harvest season, when fresh or wet-hopped beers can be brewed.)

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Franklin Beer & Grocery: Looking Good So Far

We had read earlier this year on the I Love Franklin Ave. blog that a new bar was coming in on Franklin Avenue in our neighborhood (from the same people who opened Franklin Park and Dutch Boy Burger). Since then we’ve kept an eye on it. Permits were posted, but it didn’t look like there was anything going on, until today. The metal grate was raised and we saw the progress they’ve made on the front. We also peeked in the windows – the inside is coming along as well, with a cool-looking bar. We Googled and found out that Franklin Beer & Grocery applied for a liquor license on May 19. Exciting.

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Stiegl Lager

As some of you may know, we are planning an important two-week trip to Austria this fall (where we will be actively seeking out good beer). Recently my coworker Alison brought in a six-pack of Stiegl lager – a beer from Salzburg, Austria –  for Sarah and I. The beer showed some of what we love about the Austrian/German beers we’ve tasted: clean flavors, attention to detail and balance. It’s a golden straw color, with a slight hoppy grassiness. The malt sweetness is enough to provide a base for the spicy hop flavors. Stiegl was a great way for us to get excited for the beers that we will be trying in November.

– Giancarlo


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