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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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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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Founders CBS Dilemma

Our deep, deep love for Founders beer has been well documented on this blog (hereherehereherehere … and that’s not even all of the posts). Biased? Maybe. But Founders makes some damn good beer. But when our friend Pete over at Glen Cove Beer Distributor sold us a bottle of the highly anticipated CBS (Canadian Breakfast Stout), we came upon a dilemma: do we drink it? Or do we age it?

We only have the one bottle. We’re lucky to have that one bottle. And we really (really) want to drink it. But as an imperial stout it should age well like its cousin, KBS. Based on our previous breakfast stout and KBS experience, it will mellow out significantly and get smoother.

But it’s just sitting there, taunting us. We know it will be good. But we know it will most likely be better if we wait.  What do you think? Drink it now or let it sit for a few years? Decisions, decisions…

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KBS Update

After a false start on 3/15 in the KBS race, it turns out that NYC was not among the lucky cities to have KBS over the past week. According to the beer stores I’ve visited and now the Founders Blog, we should see KBS beginning 3/26 and bottles in stores starting on 4/2.

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Founders Imperial Stout

In case you don’t know, my favorite style of beer is the imperial stout. Our favorite brewery is Founders Brewing Co. Until this morning, I didn’t realize Founders made an imperial stout. But Giancarlo, being the wonderful man that he is, upon seeing a four-pack at Glen Cove Beer Distributors on Long Island, snapped it up for me us.

I may be biased, because I’m of the opinion that Founders doesn’t make bad beer, but this beer is very good. You can smell the coffee before you take a sip, and though it is bitter, it’s still smooth. The bitterness calms down a bit as you get through the glass. It’s roasty with dark chocolate notes. Really, everything I want in an imperial stout. Nice job, Founders.

We’ve had two beers and are keeping the other two in the aging cabinet. They will be very hard to resist.

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A Visit to Sixpoint

It’s not often that my job and my blogging hobbies (blobbies, if you will) collide. I work for the Brooklyn Eagle family of newspapers and write about green goings-on in Brooklyn. So when I saw that Sixpoint Craft Ales had a rooftop garden, it couldn’t have been more perfect.

I visited the brewery last Monday and checked out the garden, a project of brewery founder Shane Welch. They grow veggies, herbs and hops.

They brewed two beers that day, one was an oatmeal stout. I didn’t get to taste them, but it was pretty cool being in a brewery and not being on a tour. Though it’s a trek out to Red Hook, I’d say it’s definitely worth it to tour this summer.

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