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June 30, 2010

Duane Reade Has Craft Beer (signs)!

I was walking by the Duane Reade in Times Square yesterday and noticed a new sign in their window. Of course the word BEER always attracts me so I had to check it out. Hmm: "seasonal, craft, local, import and domestic beer available here". Well that's interesting. I've been inside this particular DR a bunch of times and have never noticed an ample stock of craft beers. I went inside to check it out and (I guess unsurprisingly) nothing had changed at all. The fridges were stocked with nothing but macros and their cousins. I searched more and finally found a small section of room temp beer...

LOOK AT THAT SELECTION! Brooklyn Lager & EIPA, Blue Point Toasted Lager, Sam Adams Light and Saranac Pale Ale. The sign claims local and craft and that is (weakly) accurate. But I don't believe any of these are seasonal. I was briefly excited by the sign, thinking that maybe they were going to be bringing in more craft beers, but so far it seems nothing has changed. At LEAST they have those, I guess.

While I'm talking about Duane Reade, there's another location I pass on my walk up Broadway from the 33rd St. Path Train that has a small stand of Brooklyn Locals 1 and 2, Smuttynose and Lagunitas IPA bombers and a few others in the window. Wait, what was that? The beers are right in the front window. After about 1 or 2pm the sun shines directly in. I almost want to buy one to see just how ridiculously skunked they must be.

June 28, 2010

BrewYork 4 and NY Brewfest

Last weekend was filled to the brim with craft beer goodness. Ridiculously so. Friday evening I joined up with fellow NY/NJ beer bloggers and ventured to NJ Beer Co. in North Bergen, NJ for "BrewYork 4". It was my first time participating in such a wondrous event, but its simple: everyone brings a few bottles to contribute and we all share in the goodness.

the first few beers that were cracked. Troegs Scratch Beer and Simply Beer's Sour Snow Wit (brewed with water from snow and then sour'ed!)

Owner of NJ Beer Co. and our host for the evening, Matt Steinberg talks a little about their new startup brewery.

Matt's first contribution (uh, besides a great place to gather): smoked pork!

Matt's other contributions: NJ Beer Co. Abbey, Pale Ale and Oatmeal Stout! He also had two casks on too!

Andy Z. came up with the idea to present Matt with a plaque after we all signed it. A gracious host.

The beer ring gets bigger and bigger.

The final tally.

A few here: New Glarus Blegian Red, Cigar City Bolita Brown, Cricket Hill Bourbon Barrel Porter

Surly Smoked Lager, Deschutes Jubel 2010, Dark Lord 2010, Dogfish Head Bitches Brew

Hair of the Dog Blue Dot, Ithaca 12, BrewDog Hardcore IPA

The ladies of craft beer (L to R): BeerGoggins, BasicallyRed, TheHopsHoney, MSJernigan, Kim K of Nebraska Brewing Co.

The BrewYork dudes (L to R top): Andy Z, myself, Matt of NJ Beer Co., Greg G., Andrew M.. (bottom): Lee of Hoptopia, David of GrapesandGrains, Paul of Nebraska Brewing Co., Craig of Whole Foods Bowery Beer Room. (floor): Adam.

Some attendees that didn't make the photos: Peter from SimplyBeer, Mike from Bergenation, Warren, Chris of Brew York New York, Joe of beer and joe and John Holl.

Don't worry, we're just pouring from a growler at the light rail station. No big deal.

The imbibing continues on the NJ Light Rail.

The Next Day: NY Brewfest on Governor's Island

the line to get in. we had connoisseur's passes which got us into the event early. best purchase ever. why? you'll see.

extremely short lines EVERYWHERE! Didn't wait for more than a few seconds for any beer. Plus, FREE WATER!

Again, more short lines. Governor's Island is insanely awesome. I can't wait to go back when there aren't thousands of drunk humans stuck on the island.

On the left is the music stage which actually had some good cover bands playing.

We didn't find the VIP tent until after the general ticket holders were let in, but once we did it was an oasis. Tons of great stuff (including this one which was gone but smelled really good) and no lines compared to...

This is what it looked like by about 4:30-5. Yikes. Each line was easily a 25 minute wait. They definitely sold too many tickets to this thing.

The lawn area, that we were kicked off of at 7:00pm because "the island was closing". Despite the fact that the brewfest was going until 8. Makes sense.

The lines for the ferries were nuts afterwards with a near-riot feel as lines were a complete mess. But people were definitely happy anyways, especially once on a boat.

I'd also like to recommend checking out BasicallyRed's post on these events HERE which also includes another event I didn't make it to where Sam Calagione visited Rattle'n'Hum and Toast in Manhattan.

June 18, 2010

Visiting Bell's Eccentric Cafe (again) - Kalamazoo, MI

When my homebrewing buddies and I decided to make the trek all the way to Munster, IN for Dark Lord Day 2010, we also decided that we would HAVE to hit up Bell's Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo, MI as well. We had been there once before in June of 2009, but this time it was undergoing some pretty intense construction in order to expand into its gigantic backyard.

We had made it with just about 30 minutes to spare before the store portion closed. Needless to say we quickly scooped up some Oberon, Third Coast Old Ale and Expedition Stout. Above is a photo of Jeff exploring the depths of the cold storage. Bell's doesn't distribute in NYC so this was sort of like being in a beer wonderland.

We had some of the good paninis that Bell's Cafe makes and sat in the backyard sipping a few of their beers on tap. The only downside to the whole experience was that we were forced to pay a cover for whatever band was playing that night, despite not even listening to them. But whatever man, it's BELL'S!

June 17, 2010

PNW Part VI: Seattle, WA

Our final stop was the wonderful city of Seattle. We had no clue that Seattle was as hilly of a city as it is. Having never been before, we had to do all the touristy things. Luckily our good friends Corey and Jackie housed us and drove us around to practically everything you'd possibly want to see there. In order to not piss off our gracious hosts, I tried not to steer us toward beer THAT much despite being surrounded by some great places. Once we hit the top of the space needle, I was surprised to see they actually offered some craft beer at their bar (more like stand). The beer I had was a Scuttlebutt Amber Ale, which doesn't seem to be well-reviewed. I remembered enjoying it quite a bit but I supposed you could chalk that up to the overall enjoyment of the environment.

As we traveled around Seattle, we decided to stop at a well-reviewed little coffee shop called Fuel in the Wallingford neighborhood. In my beeresearch before getting to Seattle I remember reading on BeerAdvocate that the top rated place in all of town is a place called Bottleworks. When we sat down to drink our coffee, I was quite surprised to look up and see that Bottleworks was directly across the street. It was as if my brain is a craft beer magnet. Or something.

So of course, we went in. As you can see above they have 5 fresh craft selections on tap. I had the Fremont Brewing UniversAle Pale (only $4!) and it was pretty decent. Yet again I was faced with a Russian River draft and forced to pick something else that I'd never had before. They also had a MASSIVE bottle selection. Among the best I've ever seen. I had to buy something to send home, so I picked up a '09 Lost Abbey Angel's Share and a '02 Sierra Nevada Bigfoot. We also had dinner at the Tap House Grill which has 160 beers on tap. Granted a ton of them are BMC owned, but they did have a few fo'real craft selections. Something was just a bit off about this place.

We've come to the end of our 6 part journey. But above you'll see the beers I collected for shipment back to the East Coast. 12 bottles, 1 can. I ended up getting WAY too big of a box (24"x24"x24") and had to use 3 full newspapers to pack it tightly. And it wasn't cheap. Thankfully they all showed up safe and sound the following week. I've only had a few of them so far.

June 9, 2010

PNW Trip Part V: Portland, OR

Our biggest beer destination on this trip was definitely Portland, Oregon. Neither of us had been there before but we knew it'd be chock full of great craft beer. We got there late in the day and had to immediately ready ourselves to see Jónsi at the Roseland Theater. We made it with just enough time to stop somewhere for a pre-show beer. As we were walking to the theater we stumbled upon Bailey's Taproom (rated A on BeerAdvocate). Of course, a beer geek's perception of a beer bar is always relative to the geek's home selection, but immediately my face lit up upon seeing Russian River Pliny the Elder on tap.

Of course, having already been to Russian River AND seeing so many other breweries beers on tap that I had not even heard of, I had to try something different. But luckily, the girlfriend picked up the slack and ordered a Pliny so I could at least have a few sips. I got a Walking Man Imperial Porter (which I can't even find a record of online anywhere) and it was very good.

Russian River Pliny the Elder

Walking Man Imperial Porter

Bailey's had a good selection of bottles too and I could easily have spent a few hours there, but we had to be on our way to the show. The tap selection at the Roseland Theater was pretty decent too and I was excited to find Deschutes Black Butte (which I didn't know what actually pronounced "beaut" as in "beauty" instead of "butt" which is what I asked for) and Mirror Pond. Deschutes is a great brewery and we'll visit its Portland location in a little bit.

The next day we explored The Pearl District of Portland and this is when we realized that you basically can't throw a stone without hitting a brewery or brewpub. Just walking around we passed a bunch. We decided to stop in at Bridgeport Brewing Company for lunch. The interior had a very cool old factory feel and it was pretty gigantic.

I had their IPA and it was a strong example of the style. I wanted to try their barleywine but they were out of it that day.

Just a few blocks away is the Rogue Distillery & Public House. Having just come from Bridgeport, we just took a brief look inside. Seems like a good place and I wish I could have sampled one of their spirits, but we had plenty more to see.

Next up we stopped in at the Whole Foods right down the street and man did my jaw hit the floor when I saw the beer aisle. It was pretty overwhelming seeing SO many beers that I've been dying to try but don't have access to in NYC. I grabbed as many as I could and we brought them back to the hotel to later ship back home.

Our final Portland beer stop was my most anticipated, Deschutes Public House. We came in for a late dinner and a few of the best beers I had on the entire trip. Now, the full production brewery is actually in Bend, OR but here in Portland they do brew small batch brews as well.

The bar here has windows into the small brewing area with copper brew tanks behind it.

Back by the restrooms you can peer into where they create some of this wonderful stuff. Looks a little tight back there.

Sacks of spent grain sit bagged up waiting to be picked up by local farmers to be used as feed. Hooray for sustainability!

Right before you walk into the restrooms you see a bunch of beer medals on the wall. You can't quite tell in this photo, but the medals go ALL THE WAY TO THE CEILING. Crazy.

Hop in the Dark and Mirror Mirror were among the beers had with our dinner. Both were outstanding.

I was even intrigued by the signs in the restroom.

Cheers. Next up is the final installment: Seattle.