The NY Beer Guide for Thanksgiving

As you get ready for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday here are some New York beers to pick up that will make spending time with family and friends that much more enjoyable.

Ithaca Cold Front – Ithaca’s Fall seasonal combines a Belgian yeast strain with roasted grains for a deep brown color and sweetness that balances the spice character of the yeast. Pair this one with stuffing (particularly if there is sausage in it) or roasted vegetables.

Rockaway ESB – This is a good example of a traditional English style that would be easily accessible for family and friends that you’re introducing to craft beer. The moderate hop bitterness is kept in balance by toasted and toffee malt flavors, making the brew easy to pair with most dishes on a traditional Thanksgiving table.

Ommegang Rare Vos – We suggest bringing large bottles of Rare Vos with you. Champagne-like bottles capture the attention of those who who aren’t familiar with craft beer, and are definitely a crowd pleaser when you pop the cork. Rare Vos has a medium body and considerable carbonation to help keep things light on the palate. The use of orange peel and coriander combined with the Belgian yeast character give a spiciness that should go well with your turkey and sweet potatoes.

Sixpoint Autumnation – Though Sixpoint is a fall seasonal, you’ll still be able to find cans on beer store shelves. The intense resinous hop flavors will keep the hop heads you know happy, and the beer suits the season.

Captain Lawrence Golden Delicious – The Westchester brewery aged its tripel in apple brandy barrels, giving the beer a well rounded fruitiness with sometart apple flavors underneath. Pair this with your deserts especially your pies: apple, pumpkin and pecan.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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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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Beer and Fig Pairing

For Labor Day we visited the Annese parents home on Long Island and went foraging in their garden. We came back to Brooklyn with a bountiful harvest of figs, tomatoes and cucumbers. The figs, when plucked from the tree and eaten right away essentially tasted like juicy candy, and we immediately wanted to try out a beer and fig pairing. We were inspired by last week’s beer and cheese event at the Brooklyn Brewery to go outside the box when thinking about matching beer with food. Instead of choosing something sweet like a Belgian Quad (we thought about a Rochefort or one of the Harpoon Leviathan Quads that we have in the fridge) we went with a Boon Geuze Mariage Parfait from Belgium and an 8 Wired Saison Sauvin from New Zealand to accompany the fruit.

Both beers are delicious in their own right. The gueze was a surprisingly mellow version of a normally intense sour style. The saison was a subtle combination of citrus and tropical fruit from the hops with the slightly funky and earthy yeast flavors. We thought that they would each would give a nice contrast to the super-sweetness of the figs. The saison worked well with the fruit; it had just enough bitterness and effervescence to accompany the sweet figs and not overpower them. We missed on the geuze pairing, however. Despite being mellow for its style, the beer is still bracingly tart and ended up blowing the fig taste off our palates. We saved the geuze for after the experiment; it worked quite nicely as a finisher for the evening.

Have you had any impromptu pairings that either worked well or disappointed you? What were they?

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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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Surprise Visit to the Barley Creek Brewing Company

This past weekend we road-tripped up to Binghamton University to see our brother/brother-in-law graduate from college. Can everyone pause for a minute to appreciate the coolness of that sentence? He graduated from college!

Ahem. So on the way back, while driving through Pennsylvania looking for a place to eat dinner, we happened upon the Barley Creek Brewing Company.

We enjoyed a flight of beers, which included a Copper Top Ale, Rescue IPA, Cocoa Porter, and Spring Hop IPL (India Pale Lager). The Spring Hop IPL was our favorite of the bunch with a bright snappy hop character that was quite refreshing. Weighing in at 4.5% ABV the Spring Hop is a great session beer for the summer heat. The Cocoa Porter was dominated by sweetness and cocoa, definitely more appropriate for a cold, damp day. Both the Copper Top and the Rescue were well balance malt forward beers that would be easy to pair with the pub style fare served at the brewery.

A great place to enjoy beer and food while passing through the area.

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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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A very beery holiday

If you follow us on Twitter you may have noticed that we made out like bandits on Christmas with beer gifts. Family members, secret santas, and friends from far away places showered us with beer for the holidays. We got some old favorites like Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout and some local brews like Ommegang Seduction. Thanks to our friend Hanna we received some great Midwest beers, brews we long for but cannot partake of in NYC.

We were very happy to get the beer, but were also impressed at how much  thoughtfulness was put into each gift. None were a random assortment. If you know a craft beer lover, think about giving them beer for your next exchange.

Here’s what we came home with:

From the Midwest

Bell’s Brewery – Christmas Ale
Bell’s Brewery – Special Double Cream Stout
Half Acre Beer Company – Daisy Cutter Pale Ale
New Glarus Brewing Company – Fat Squirrel
Two Brothers Brewing Company – The Bitter End (not pictured because we drank them!)

From Secret Santa

Brewery Ommegang – Seduction
Allagash Brewing Company – Four
Brouwerij Het Anker – Cuvee Van De Keizer Blauw
Damm S.A. – Estrella Damm Inedit

From Our Cousin in Virginia

Highland Brewing Company – Gaelic Ale

From Dad/Father-in-Law

Two four packs of Samuel Smith – Oatmeal Stout

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Notes on Beer Selection in Austria


We’ll begin by saying that Austrian beer is good. Very good. First of all, there seemed to be no time of day that was unacceptable for a beer. Old men sipped beers in cafes at 11 a.m. and people were always enjoying beers during lunch. We even saw someone drinking a beer at 8:30 a.m. at the airport. Each restaurant, bar and cafe served beer in pristine proper glassware, in various sizes, and almost always with a lusciously fluffy head.

Much like German beer, Austrian breweries tend to stick to traditional styles. They are generally brewed with a precision and consistency that we rarely find in American small breweries. Pilsners are always clean but flavorful and dunkels always slightly sweet but in balance. With the exception of bocks, most of the beers were sessionable. The most variety that you can easily find is in the yeast flavors of heffeweizens. Generally, bars and restaurants carried about three or four beers on tap from one brewery along with several different bottles. This makes sessions of the same beer the normal practice. You simply can not compare two different pilsners or dunkels from different breweries back to back at the same bar. Trying more than three styles in a night or finding a big American IPA or imperial stout would be a difficult task.

We felt the need to discuss the beer selection in Austria, because, while quite good, it stands in stark contrast to the craft beer culture in the United States. Most bars we frequent carry at least six to eight craft beers on tap and some boast more than 20. Craft beer stores like Bierkraft or New Beer Distributor have selections of hundreds of bottles representing dozens of styles. We realized, over the two weeks that we were abroad, just how lucky we are to be participating in the craft beer culture here – in the experimentation breweries conduct, and the variety and access we have to fine beer.

And yet, there is something to be said for doing only a few things, but doing them really well.

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Honeymoon in Austria: Third Stop, Vienna

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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Thanksgiving Beer Guide

We’re not going to be in the U.S. for Thanksgiving, but we thought it would be nice to put together a guide ahead of time for some great beers that would be perfect for this fall holiday. (Beer spa post is forthcoming!)

Many of the beers from our Fall Guide would be great for Thanksgiving but are disappearing from shelves. Here are a few beers easily available in NYC beer stores:

Ommegang BPA – This Belgian Pale Ale gets rave reviews with good reason. Ommegang’s Belgian yeast gives a distinct spice note to go alongside the solid hop character. There is enough subtly to the beer that it won’t overpower some moist turkey. The nice dryness should help lift some  heaviness of traditional Thanksgiving dishes like stuffing and mashed potatoes off the palate.

The Breuery Autumn Maple – This beer has some of the spice that pumpkin ales tend to have (allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg) but uses yams instead of pumpkin. The yams end up giving a more subtle flavor that lets the maple and molasses shine through. We were impressed that The Breuery was able to keep this beer from being too sticky sweet (we give credit to the Belgian yeast).

Founders Brewing Co. Porter – Founders Porter is one hell of an easy drinking, chocolately, roasty porter year round but it gets even better when the weather becomes chilly. It won’t overpower your meal and at 6.5% ABV it can warm you up a little without it being too noticeable for your family.

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