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October 30, 2009

Beer Saturday Part III - Defiant Brewing Co.

Our next stop was Defiant Brewing Company in Pearl River, NY. This was a bit of a last minute addition after seeing that the reviews for Gaslight Brewery in South Orange, NJ weren't all that great. But we really lucked out with picking this place, because its awesome.

As you walk in there is a VERY long bar that stretches almost to the back of the area. What they've done here is create a shared space between the brewing facility and the imbibing area. Its pretty genius, as it makes you really feel like you're somewhere special as you're drinking the beer that's made a few feet away from where you're seated.

There are about 6-8 "bright tanks", which eliminates the need for kegging their own beer for consumption within the brewery. The beer travels from the fermenters which are located near the back of the brewhouse to the bright tanks which are located directly behind the bar. Need a growler filled? They'll take it and pull it right off the bottom of the bright tanks. Very cool.

They also have the tanks attached to taps that are all lead to this barrel-inspired design you see above. Oh, also worth noting is that ALL OF THE BEER WAS $3.25 for a pint! That is relatively unheard of and a very nice surprise. Especially since its high quality beer. Our favorites were The Horseman's Ale (a pumpkin ale), the O'Defiant Stout and their American Pale Ale, which didn't have a name.


Stay tuned for the finale, Part IV, where we hit Spuyten Duyvil's No Joke Oktoberfest.

October 28, 2009

Beer Saturday Part II - Peekskill Brewery

After the good time we had procuring our bottles of Flaming Fury at Captain Lawrence, we made our way to Peekskill Brewery in Peekskill, NY. It was a rainy day, but that didn't affect the nice little drive to the town beside the Hudson.

This place is only a year or so old, but its already established itself as a solid stop on any craft beer lover's road trip (or boat trip) through the region.

Their menu consists of a majority of craft breweries on tap in addition to 3-4 of their own brews. When we arrived, they had their Paramount Pale Ale, Yeah Peaches and Wee Heavy on tap. Both the Paramount Ale and the Yeah Peaches were solid choices. We only sampled the Wee Heavy, but something seemed off about it. It had a medicinal, almost chloroseptic taste to it. Maybe it was just a bad tap or something like that. The other two beers were much better.

This here is the PB Paramount Pale Ale. The bartender was very friendly and answered all our beer geeky questions about the brewer and the brewery and how they started.

As you walk down the hallway that connects the two portions of the restaurant, you stumble upon windows that look into the (tiny) brewhouse. Honestly, it's microscopic. The brewer cannot possibly be claustrophobic.. I think one person is about the max-cap of that little room.

Definitely a cool place to check out if you're in the area. I don't know if I'd recommend road-tripping specifically for this place, but plan on stopping in as you're passing through.

October 27, 2009

Beer Saturday Part I - Captain Lawrence Flaming Fury Release

This past Saturday, my brewing buddies and I went on a short tour of some of the local breweries and brewpubs. First up was a stop at Captain Lawrence in Pleasantville, NY. They were having a release for their latest barrel-aged sour ale, Flaming Fury.

Here you see the crowd forming the line to get their beers. We arrived there at about 10:30 and waited out the rain before getting on the line. At 12:00, Scott Vaccaro himself emerged and announced that it was time to begin. This was the first time I've been to a release at CL, so it was quite a sight to see person after person emerging from the brewery's doors with the maximum allotted 4 bottles awkwardly carried in their folded arms. No lie, despite being around 80th in line, I still had a nervous feeling that it would all be gone by the time we got to the front.

Once you get inside, you get a sense of how small the brewery still is. Despite its small size, there are tons of barrels stacked to the ceiling labeled with all sorts of delicious future brews. Mouth-watering.

After purchasing our bottles (NOTE to anyone who goes to any future releases, its cash only. Somehow I stupidly didn't realize this), we hung around for a bit to sample some of the beers they had on tap for tasting. We had the new Pumpkin Ale, the Smoked Porter and the Double IPA, all of which were quite good. We also perused the brewhouse and took note of how they did things right. Beer geeks get excited by empty grain bags displayed on the wall.

Above you'll see the aftermath. Click the photo to get a closer look. Some of the empty beers displayed on the wall are among the best in the country. The beer community is so generous, sharing their stashes with all...very cool.

Our next stop was Peekskill Brewery in Peekskill, NY, but i'll save that for Part II.

October 22, 2009

Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA and Red Rocket Ale

Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA - American IPA, 7%

Cloudy amber-orange color, about a finger of head is retained. Nose is malty and citrus. This beer just nails the exact median between malt and citrus, thick but not overwhelming. Hoppy without being too bitter. An excellent example of an IPA.

Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale - American Red Ale, 6.8%

Appearance is a deep dark amber with minimal head that reduces quickly. Nose is a mix of fruity and hoppyness. Hugely malty in the initial taste. As that washes around and away, a dry, burnt bready taste remains. Delicious. Very creamy, very dry.

October 21, 2009

U.S. Senator supports Rock Art in Monster Energy battle

This is awesome. (via
(Burlington, VT) – Dan McLean of the Burlington Free Press reported this morning that Senator, Bernie Sanders, I-VT, has sent a letter to Hansen Beverage Company. The letter, of course, is about Hansen’s threat of legal action against Rock Art Brewery for use of the “Vermonster” name on bottled beer and the confusion it may cause with its own “Monster Energy” brand.

“I am not a trademark attorney, but I believe that any normal person would find your claim preposterous,” Sanders writes. “An energy drink is not a beer, and the word ‘monster’ is not ‘Vermonster.’ Any person who would get confused by these two different products and names should probably slow down a bit, and lay off energy drinks.”

You can see the full text of the letter on the Burlington Free Press website.

The cease and desist letter was the first of three questionable ones that came to light this month. reported on a letter it received concerning a random forum review of Monster Energy Drink from 2007.

An actor from the 2006 film, The Shadow Walkers (rated 2.5 out of 10 on IMDB), also reported that a C&D letter was sent to him for a random candid shot of him holding up a can of Monster Energy Drink during shooting.

Are Hansen shareholders aware of what the company is spending on its legal team?

Meanwhile, the letters have generated a lot of buzz on social media networks within the last week with thousands of messages coming in supporting Rock Art and promoting a boycott of Monster Energy Drink. The buzz has slowed considerably though a few hundred tweets have still come across today.

Trying to plan a NY/NJ Brewery/Brewpub Tour for Saturday

So far the plan is

Captain Lawrence for the Flaming Fury Sour Ale release (Pleasantville, NY)
Peekskill Brewpub (Peekskill, NY)
Defiant Brewing Company (Pearl River, NY)
Gaslight Brewery/U-Brew Homebrew Store (South Orange, NJ)
then back to Brooklyn for the No Joke Octoberfest at Spuyten Duyvil:
In Wooden Barrel:
1. Hoffstetten Original Hochzeitsbier von 1810
2. Schneider Organic Weisen-Edel Weisse

In Gravity Keg:
1. Zehender Mönchsambach Bernstein Lager
2. Spezial Rauchbier
3. Will Schederndorf Landbier
4. Bayer Theinheim Unfiltered Lager
5. Sauer Rosdorf Unfiltered Lager
6. Fischer Greuth Rauchbier
7. Fischer Greuth Lager
8. Löwenbräu Buttenheim Lager
9. Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe Dunkel
10. Mahrs Bräu Pils
11. Kraus Hirschaid Pils
12. Lindenbräu Gräfenberg Vollbier

On Tap:
1. Heller-Trum Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock Unfiltered
2. Hofstetten Kuebelbier Zwickel
3. Hofstetten Honig Bock (honey bock)
4. Mahr's Der Weisse Bock
5. Monchshof Festbier
6. Monchshof Schwarzbier

German Mead:
Steinwaelder Hausbrenneri Schraml's Dry Mean (matured in plum brandy oak barrels, 15.5% alc./vol.)


Should be quite the Saturday. Does anyone have any recommendations for additional breweries and/or brewpubs in the immediate area that are must-visit?

October 20, 2009

I want to do THIS!

To get into kegging homebrew, one either has to buy a (at minimum) $400 kegerator, or do something similar to the video above. I'd really like to be able to make one, but I'm not sure I trust my skills to create a worthy kegerator. Also, another problem is space. Currently, we have none.

October 19, 2009

Captain Lawrence Flaming Fury


Helluva name! This one will be released this Saturday at the brewery and we're hoping to make it up for the event. Here's the info straight from head brewer Scott Vaccaro:
Captain Lawrence Flaming Fury – Barrel Aged Sour Ale with Peaches. This one is for the sour lovers out there, and I mean real sour lovers. I will be very blunt; this one is one of the more intense sour ales we have produced. It sat in the barrels for well over a year, aging with NY grown peaches from a local farm and Brettanomyces. The flavors are fruity and sour, with a very lively carbonation (chill well before opening, like champagne)

Release Date: October 24th – 12pm
Price: $10 – 375ml bottle
Sales: Limit 4 bottle per customer
Production: 750 bottles
Sounds delicious. We're planning a brewpub tour on Saturday that would hopefully include a stop to pick up some bottles of this. We'll see if its doable.

If I get some, maybe I can set up a good trade?

October 16, 2009

Cask Beer Out of a Pumpkin at Barcade's 5th Anniversary Party

Last night was Barcade's 5th Anniversary Party and they spared no beer-expense! Check out what they featured on tap (I've bolded the ones I had):
Allagash Burnham Road - 8.0% ABV - Smoked ale
Avery Sixteen - 7.7% - anniversary Saison
Brooklyn Manhattan Project - 8.5%
Bruery Autumn Maple - 10.5% - Belgian strong ale
Chelsea Tsar's Revenge 2008 - 9.7%
Coney Island "dry hopped" Sword Swallower (cask) - 6.8%
Dogfish Head Theobroma - 10.0%
Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout (served from a pumpkin cask) - 6.8%
Goose Island barrel-aged Imperial Brown - 9.0% - Old Ale
Kelso Newtown Kriek - 4.5% - Local Lambic

Left Hand St. Vrain - 9.0% - Belgian Tripel
McNeill's Organic IPA - 7.5%
Rogue Sequicentennial (cask) - 6.3% - brewed for the 150th anniversary of Oregon
Roosterfish Nut Brown - 5.6%
Sierra Nevada Estate - 6.8%
Sixpoint Hops of Love
Sixpoint Oktoberfest
St. Somewhere Pays du Soleil - 8.0% - Belgian Dark Ale
Victory V-12 - 12.0% - Belgian Quad
Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin - 8.0% - Double Pumpkin Ale

That's a lot of delicious beer. But easily the most interesting thing on the list is the Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout served directly out of a freakin' pumpkin! Here the guys are tapping it:

First of all it's interesting to make a Pumpkin Stout, as most pumpkin infused beers are usually lighter fare. But to add in the idea of having it sit in a pumpkin. Let's just say I want to go pumpkin picking and start doing this for our homebrew.

Here are a few other photos of the evening:

October 15, 2009

Guinness + Cider + Futbol

Some time ago, my good friend Ian (whose birthday it JUST SO HAPPENS TO BE!) got me into English Premier League soccer. We started watching matches in the early morning, often times with either cider and/or Guinness. This was before my 'beer awakening', you see and at the time I would just reach for the whatever was available at the local supermarket.

So the other day when I woke up with just minutes to spare before the start of Manchester United v. Sunderland, I realized it had been quite a long time since I'd had a cider. So I quickly set the DVR to start recording the match and headed out to track some down. My first thought was to grab Magner's Cider, since I remembered that to be one particular cider served at the famous Nevada Smith's, a great place to cram in and watch any and all European Football. Unfortunately, I found that ciders are not exactly easy to come by in my neighborhood and ended up with two Woodchucks and a Guinness, unable to find Magner's.

So, here is my question. What makes a good cider? Is there a cider equivalent to beeradvocate? And also, is Guinness acceptable to buy? I only got it because it was more of a nostalgia factor. Questions, questions!

October 13, 2009

Elm City Brewery & Pub, Keene, NH

This past weekend I visited this little brewpub in southern New Hampshire. Nestled in the Colony Mill Marketplace in the small college town of Keene, this little craft beer oasis is a great stop on any tour through New England.

While there, I had the Modanock Mt. Wild Hop Ale, the Pothole Porter and the Irish Stout. This ended up being a late night visit, so it was somewhat truncated, but I also had an order of their wings, which were top notch. Our good friends over at recommended the Pumpkinfest Ale, unfortunately as you can see above, it was only being brewed now. I probably just missed it. Oh well.

Elm City Irish Stout

A poorly taken photo of the brew tanks from the exterior.

October 12, 2009

Dogfish Head Pangea

Wolaver's Organic India Pale Ale

I never full understood what it means for a beer to be organic. Food is more obvious to me, no pesticides and whatnot. But how does organic beer work? So a quick trip to Wolaver's website clarifies things a bit:
Organic certification is a guarantee that our beer and its ingredients were produced without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or genetic engineering. Decades of evidence demonstrate a wide range of environmental damages caused by these practices. Pesticides find their way into target and non-target species, working their way up the food chain through insects, fish, birds, and mammals, with devastating effects at the individual, species and ecosystem levels. Chemical fertilizers drastically alter the nutrient balance in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, causing soil nutrient depletion, microbial community disruption, invasive species spread, algal blooms, hypoxic aquatic kill-off, trophic collapse, and eutrophication. Furthermore, organic farming is a critical tool in mitigating global warming. Studies show that organic farming practices significantly increase the soil’s carbon sequestration rate by preserving proper nutrient balance. And organic farming is typically less mechanized and less dependent on manufactured inputs, meaning it uses less fossil fuels and emits less greenhouse gas than conventional farming.

Anyways, onto the beer itself! The only other organic beer that has struck a chord with me is the Peak Organic Espresso Amber Ale which is excellent, but that's not to say that the Wolaver's IPA isn't good. That seems to be the problem with the organic beers I've tried so far, most of them are just good.

October 9, 2009

Barleywine #3: Transfer to Secondary

We finally got around to transferring our Number 3 barleywine that we brewed a few weeks ago. It had exploded despite our addition of a blowoff tube, so we really braced ourselves when tasting it. Surprisingly, it tasted GOOD! And right now it's sitting at about 8.5%, which is lower than we tried for with the recipe, but we chalk that up to adding 5lbs of malt that was probably too old. After accounting for those 5lbs, we pretty much hit our mark dead on.

You can see above how much trub ended up all over the primary fermenter. I don't think I've ever seen so much of it on the underside of the lid before.

Can't wait to be drinking this in the winter months!

October 7, 2009

The Bruery Black Tuesday

I don't believe I'm going to get to try this one. Unless someone out there is kind enough to pick me up a bottle. Gosh, it sounds darn good though:
“Created on that now infamously dark Tuesday at The Bruery, using 2,500 pounds of grain, more than double any of the usual recipes, along with several different forms of sugar, Black Tuesday has grown into a massive, flavorful imperial stout that weighs in at a robust 19.5% alcohol. Aged in bourbon barrels for over a year, this midnight black stout is full of flavor: vanilla, burnt caramel, toasted oak, licorice, prunes and sherry-like oxidation.”

On Tuesday, October 27th, the beer will finally be released in bottles. Some has been released for tasting/sampling and it already has a 4.87 average through about 30 reviews at Beer Advocate. Here are the bottle release details from the most recent newsletter:

– Three (3) bottles per person (not including prior allocation purchases)
– $30 per bottle
– Ticket distribution starting at 5:30 PM. If you want 3 bottles, please request 3 tickets.
– The number of tickets will correspond with the number of bottles available. Starting at 6 PM, we will sequentially be calling a range of numbers (will be displayed on the projector, not audible) and those ticketholders will purchase their bottles
– Doors open at 6 PM and close at 10 PM
– Those who purchased allocations will be able to pick up their bottles at this event or on a later date
– Cash and credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover) will be accepted. No checks, please.
– In the event that Black Tuesday does not sell out on the release date, additional bottles can be purchased on Friday, October 30th starting at 4 PM

Special Beers Available:

– Special Cask: Chocolate Rain (Black Tuesday with Cocoa Nibs and Vanilla Beans)
– Black Tuesday will be on tap, as well as our full lineup
– We will also have several other special bottled beers for sale: White Oak and Bourbon Barrel Aged Partridge in a Pear Tree (and possibly Barrel Aged Autumn Maple if it hasn’t sold out already)

Other Details:

– 2010 Bruery Reserve Society memberships will also be for sale at this time. More details coming soon.
– Light complimentary snacks will also be served.

October 5, 2009

Vintage 2007 Bell's Expedition Stout

This one really does well with age. Both photo AND beer provided by Jeff Quinn.

The Bruery Hottenroth Berliner Weisse

Anyone know anything about this beer? It's the first time I've seen it and there doesn't seem to be any reviews on BeerAdvocate (except for this and this which are noted as special July 4th brews).

This beer has a WHOPPING 3.10% ABV and has some nice sour notes. Very sessionable.

Upon further searching, I found this review from yet still regarding the draught version:
From The Bruery - Brewed in memory of my Grandparents (Fred and Sarah Hottenroth), this tart German-style Berliner Weisse is as authentic as it gets. We used lactobacillus and a hint of brettanomyces to sour this very unusual, low gravity wheat beer. To cut the tartness for those with sweeter tastes, raspberry or woodruff syrup is a traditional way to sweeten the beer. Almost an extinct style, we hope to help revive the Berliner Weisse in memory of two great people.

The Bruery – Hottenroth Berliner Weisse – Poured from the growler (Filled at the Source) into a pint glass. Website specifies 3.1 % abv.

Appearance: Cloudy, dull pastel yellow. No head to be found, and just cloudiness in the body.

Aroma: Bretty funk (Brettanomyces).

Taste: Lemon, green apple, and sour funk.

Mouthfeel: Not super thin, a little bit puckering.

Overall: Super refreshing, super sessionable, and something I’d rather drink than lemonade or iced tea on a hot day.
You Might Also Find These Interesting:

* Bruery Briefing – Autumn Maple & More
* Stone Sour Fest 2009
* The Bruery Sour in The Rye
* Review – The Bruery Saison de Lente
* Review – New Glarus Unplugged Berliner Weiss

October 2, 2009

Great American Beer Fest Video

Setup to take-down in 1 minute!

The Great American Beer Festival from Brewers Association on Vimeo.

Dale's Pale Ale from a Firkin with Nugget Hops!

In case you haven't been there lately, Bierkraft in Park Slope Brooklyn has evolved quite a bit in recent months. They now serve sandwiches and draught beer right in the shop! There's picnic style tables that you can sit at and enjoy a few pints. Also new for them, having cask beer! Pictured above is their drawing system that they designed themselves. Last night I was fortunate enough to have a casked pint of Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale that had nugget hops sitting inside the firkin! Dale's is already an excellent beer, so this was a real treat.

Go down there and check it out yourself!

October 1, 2009

2009 Great American Beer Fest Video

I really, really have to go to this next year. Reading everyone's tweets while this was going on was borderline painful. Here's a great little video from our friends at