Brewing with Gun Hill

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Back in February 2014 when our book was published, its release coincided with the opening of Gun Hill Brewing Company in the Bronx. The brewery launched its first beers during NYC Beer Week and participated in our New York beer night at Park Slope’s The Gate.

After finishing up our book tour this fall we thought it would be a great idea to do a collaboration beer with a brewery in the city that could highlight ingredients from New York State. Naturally we thought of Gun Hill (they are one of several brewers in the city with a farm brewery license). Owner Dave Lopez informed us that they were planning to release a beer called Frosted Hop Strong Ale using New York State hops. We decided that I would head up to the Bronx to help Brewmaster Chris Sheehan on brew day and we’d collaborate on a release party to benefit a local charity.

I could barely contain my excitement the night before the brew, that I would be assisting on a commercial brew for the first time. So I didn’t care too much that I had to leave our apartment at 5:30 a.m. or that it was a frigid, damp day. I made it to Gun Hill Brewing. Sheehan would be brewing Frosted Hop Ale using New York State wet hops, mostly from the Catskills and Long Island, and I’d be helping out.

Sheehan generously spent the day showing me the ropes and letting me get involved in almost every step. I got to clean out the mash tun, measure hops, fill and stir the hop jacket (maybe my favorite part). It was a completely satisfying day, even a tough job like cleaning out the mash tun, during which I accidentally soaked myself. As a former homebrewer it was exciting to see the more advanced parts of the process like the intense whirlpool and the use of the large hop jacket that we packed with 80 pounds of frozen New York State wet hops. The best parts of the day were talking with Chris, who seems to have found the perfect fit after experiencing everything from New York City’s brewpub bust in the 90’s to brewing in San Francisco and studying at UC Davis. With Black Metal music echoing through the brewery we tasted beers and I picked Chris’ brain for his treasure trove of information between brewing steps.

Gun Hill will be releasing the beer at the brewery on Saturday January 10, at 6 p.m. The $5 entry fee, along with a portion of every pint of Frosted Hop, and 10% of all the sales from our book Beer Lover’s New York during the event will be donated to Artsmith, a not for profit based in the Bronx. I hope to see you there!

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