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September 30, 2010

Get Real NY

photo courtesy

This past weekend, a few of NYC's brightest beer minds, Patrick Donagher (Rattle'n'Hum), Alex Hall (Gotham Imbiber), Mary Izett (Ale Street News) and Chris Cuzme (MBAS/NYCHG) came together to put on what turned out to be one of the largest Cask Ale festivals ever in the United States. That's a pretty tall order. But much to their credit, three sold out yet manageable sessions proved that they pulled it off.

A sampling of the casks available. Wandering Star (bottom right) is Alex Hall & Chris Cuzme's future commercial brewery!

I remember Patrick telling me about this festival a few months ago when it was merely an idea. He had held miniature cask festivals at his bar Rattle'n'Hum a few times already in its first two years of existence, but he was looking for something bigger and better. Patrick knows his stuff, so I knew I'd be attending whatever he ended up planning. Skip ahead to August 21st. One of my two homebrewing partners Jeff runs into Mr. Chris Cuzme at Brooklyn Kitchen, where they have a very good selection of homebrew supplies. They get to talking and Jeff mentions how we'd done well in recent NYC homebrew competitions and Chris invites Jeff to participate in the homebrew section of Get Real NY. Boom! We're in.

what Get Real NY looked like at roughly 8am Saturday morning. About 4 hours later we'd be pouring our first beers. photo courtesy

So we brewed 2 batches that we thought would be suitable for serving via cask, a Smoked Northern English Brown and a Smoked Imperial Brown (we like smoke ales). After discussing with homebrew director Chris Cuzme further, we decided that it would be best to volunteer our time for all of the sessions, which would give us the ability to actually pour our homebrew and get immediate feedback from all the attendees. (Unfortunately our other brewer Tim was at Oktoberfest in Germany, so he could not attend. But I mean, come on. Oktoberfest! That's awesome.)

Patrick taps a firkin of Blue Point. I think he startled a few passersby with his projectile beer. photo courtesy

After getting a ride with our kegs from the generous Mary Izett, we arrived at The Altman Building at exactly 8am on Saturday. We immediately went to work hauling firkins around, putting up signs around the neighborhood and transporting glassware & shirts from Rattle'n'Hum. In what seemed like a blink of an eye, the guys had transformed this beautiful room into a full-fledged cask ale paradise. Granted it didn't quite open at the scheduled 12:00 start time, but it wasn't too much of a delay (and the session went later than 3 to make up for it).

manning my post - photo courtesy

The next 9 hours were a whirlwind. Before we knew it we were donning Get Real shirts and setting up our homebrew kegs-turned-casks. Just as the last firkins were put into place, the first patrons were let through the door. I had never actually poured my own cask ale before, and we weren't really given a tutorial so a few volunteers sprayed themselves with some of the beers that hadn't quite settled yet. I was also a victim myself later on. One thing I did learn however, is that I really enjoy serving people beer. And it was particularly fun when people would come up and ask for whichever one was my favorite, which gave me a good challenge.

pouring a Two Bros Heavy Handed - photo courtesy

pouring one of our homebrews - photo courtesy

Of course, the ultimate experience here was pouring our homebrew for people. And yes, sometimes when people asked for our favorites we gave them ours. How could we not? We got a lot of positive feedback, especially for our Smoked Imperial Brown, or "Bacon Robot beer" as some people were calling it. Two people claimed it was their favorite at the whole festival. Maybe they were drunk or maybe they were just being nice, but either way it was very encouraging. Must. Brew. More!

Jeff pouring our other homebrew - photo courtesy

the tendudes homebrew station

The pouring box on the left was designed and built by Chris Cuzme. The one on the right was actually put together by Jeff and myself (mostly Jeff). He had an old subwoofer lying around that wasn't being used anymore, so we drilled a hole in the top and were able to have music play out of the front at the same time as pouring our beer! It was a bit too loud at the fest to utilize the speaker, but next time we throw our own cask party..

something about having this sign with our names on it makes it so much more real (surreal)

The Aftermath

This is what happens to cask ale that doesn't get drunk. Yeah. Cry time.

After the last session ended at 8:00 on Sunday night. Everyone cleared out and it was obvious that there was still a LOT of beer left. A LOT. But in case you weren't already aware, cask ale doesn't last very long. That's all part of the "real-ness" of it. Especially the ones that were lower in ABV. So the end result was a river of beer unlike anything I've ever seen.

Free street beer. Score!

The smell of beer permeated the block and eventually attracted a few people wondering what was going on. This guy actually ran down the street to get a container to capture some of the beer. Not that I blame him, I would have done the same thing.

Jeff demonstrating his exhaustion at about 11pm on Sunday

It took about 3 hours or so to break everything down and load up all of the firkins. At this point I was a bit delirious from spending around 20 hours on my feet during the 2 day fest. Jeff took the opportunity to show his exhaustion on the newly cleared Altman Building floor.

The last of the firkins are hauled away back to Rattle'n'Hum

Except this last one. That Jeff had to keep on his lap as we drove back to Rattle.

All in all, Get Real was a blast. Tiring as hell? Yes, but it was worth it for the experience. Great people, great atmosphere and of course great beer. Here's to the next one!

Get Real NY organizers (L to R) Alex Hall, Patrick Donagher, Chris Cuzme

September 28, 2010

Beer Blogger Interview

Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed by the infamous Beer Wench! What are you waiting for? Go check it out now!

September 27, 2010

Beer2Garden - Drink For Charity This Wednesday!

This coming Wednesday at DBA Brooklyn, our NY/NJ beer blogger group #BrewYork is presenting its first ever event, Beer2Garden, dreamed up and organized by the brilliant minds behind Hoptopia, Ladies of Craft Beer, Leafygreen and Simply Beer. Everyone loves drinking beer. But it tastes even better when 100% of your dollars go directly to a great charity like East New York Farms. Check out the charity tap list:
Brooklyn Brewery Cookie Jar Porter
Captain Lawrence Birra DeCicco
Sixpoint Apollo Wheat
Southampton North Fork Fresh Hop ESB (cask with fresh wet hops from a local farm)
Greenport Harbor Hopnami Double IPA
Dogfish Head Bitches Brew
Brewery Ommegang BPA
Kelso of Brooklyn Kellerfest
 So come out and support a great charity by abusing your liver!

September 22, 2010

The Village Pourhouse is Not a True Craft Beer Bar

Just for the record, The Village Pourhouse is not a craft beer bar. Yes, it may have a few craft beers on tap and in bottles, but they are not a craft beer bar the way Rattle'n'Hum, Barcade or The Blind Tiger is.

You may already know this, but I didn't know for sure until last night. I had received an invitation for an hour-long open bar at the new Village Pourhouse location in the Theater District (recently converted from the previous "Joshua Tree" but not changed at all on the interior).

Here's what the invitation said:
We would like to extend an invite to all Crossroads Cardholders to join us on Tuesday, September 21st to sample a selection of 100+ craft beers and appetizers.

6:30pm - 7:30pm Open beer bar & appetizers
7:30pm - 8:00pm Extended Happy Hour

Open beer bar & appetizers followed by an Extended Happy Hour just for cardholders in the Upstairs Dugout & Redlight Room until 8:00pm featuring 2 for 1 Vision Vodka Cocktails, 901  Margaritas, Jim Beam Black & Cokes and Cruzan Rum Cocktails.
Okay, so an hour open bar where you get to "sample a selection of 100+ craft beers". Sounds good to me! Guess what we were offered when my coworkers and I got there? Free Bud, Bud Light and Well Drinks only. Nice! Budweiser is craft right? Oh. Well, at least its American, right? Oh wait, nope. Not even American anymore. Damn. Now I know what you're thinking; waaaaaaaaaaah I'm complaining about free drinks. But come on, they advertised sampling over 100+ craft beers! By the way, I don't even know where they keep these supposed craft beers. The crafts on tap were Brooklyn Pilsner, Goose Island 312 and IPA (both distributed by Budweiser /nitpick), Sam Adams and Kelso Nut Brown. There were also a few spotty bottles of craft beers including Smuttynose Robust Porter. But of course, none of those were included in the "Open Beer Bar". Later we discovered that upstairs where the appetizers were disappearing in nanoseconds (nope, didn't get any of those) there were taps of Bud Light and Stella Artois. So I dropped $6 + tip on a Kelso Nut Brown and then had free well drinks for the hour.

I've been to the Village Pourhouse downtown a few times and had similar results. Once for a sampling of Sam Adams Utopias, where they ran out before I got there and was told by the bartender: "that's okay, its disgusting anyway". All in all I probably spent $12 or so after tipping for the well drinks, and I'm okay with that especially since six of my dollars went to Kelso. But it seems to be a new trend in bars (and stores) to advertise yourself as having craft beer but then not really delivering. Its all a little unnerving for those of us trying to advocate craft beer.

September 20, 2010

Get Real NY Craft Beer & Food Festival - This Weekend!

Clear your calendar for this Saturday and Sunday, the first ever Get Real NY Craft Beer & Food Festival is this weekend! With 2 sessions per day, this is bound to be THE beer event of NY Craft Beer Week. Plus, where will you ever be able to find this much cask beer in one place? PLUS! If you buy your ticket TODAY through, you can save 54% off the retail price! CLICK HERE to get your ticket NOW! There's even going to be a homebrewers section, featuring yours truly & the Ten Dudes brewing team! Come check out two of our latest brews, served on cask for the first time ever!

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, how about a few more details? The festival is being put on by some great folks from the NYC beer community: Patrick Donagher - owner of Rattle'n'Hum, Mary Izett - certified Beer Judge & columnist for Ale Street News, Alex Hall - CaskMaster Extraordinaire, Gotham Imbiber and the man who has been educating all of New York on the wonders of Real Ale for over 7 years, and Chris Cuzme - President of the Malted Barley Appreciation Society & Assistant Director of NY Craft Beer Week.

WHEN: (4 separate admission sessions)
Saturday September 25th 12-3pm, 5-8pm
Sunday September 26th 12-3pm, 5-8pm

The Altman Building
135 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011

Tel: (212) 741 3400 

Bear Republic
Cigar City
Coney Island
Great Divide
Southern Tier
Blue Point
Heavy Seas
Heavy Seas
2 Brothers
Green Flash
Sierra Nevada
B- United (assorted firkins)
Six Point
Greenport Harbor
Oskar Blues
Left Hand
Captain Lawrence
Pearl Street
Flying Dog

Phil Leinhart - Brewery Ommegang
Dr. Bill Sysak - Stone Brewing Co.
Scott Vaccaro - Captain Lawrence
Shane Welch of Sixpoint Craft Ales
Jim Carruso of Flying Dog
Chris McGrath of Riverhorse Brewing
David Yarrington of Smuttynose Brewing Co.
Dan Paquette of Pretty Things Brewery
Jeff Jerman of Troegs Brewing Co.
Chris Wilson Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Bill Covalski of Victory Brewing Co.
Brewer TBA of Blue Point
Evan Klein Barrier Brewing Co.

So what the hell are you waiting for? Those $30 tickets go bye-bye tonight at Midnight. Get on it! Get REAL!

September 13, 2010

Best in Beertography

Here's one of the best photos of craft beer I've seen in awhile. It comes to us from Mike Sweeney of, the premiere website for craft beer and homebrewing in the St. Louis area. Definitely check out his site! You'll notice his great photo is now a prominent part of the blog, and rightfully so. Its quite the impressive collection of caps too, mine dwarfs in comparison. Make sure you click on the photo to see the high-res version.

September 10, 2010

NY Craft Beer Week Preview at Brooklyn Brewery

Wednesday Night, the minds behind NY Craft Beer Week threw a Press Preview Party at the Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg. This was a sort of a pre-launch party to get people talking about the week-long celebration of suds where all kinds of craft beer and artisanal food will be served all across the 5 boroughs from September 24th - October 3rd.

Photography help provided by the illustrious Jeff Quinn.

Patrick Donagher, owner of Rattle'n'Hum and founder of the Get Real NY Cask Ale & Real Food Festival talks about his fest as NY Craft Beer Week Director Josh Schaffner and Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster Garrett Oliver look on.

The large crowd packed the brewery's walls and even got a sneak peak into the new facility next door that will soon house an expanded amount of fermentation equipment. For details and photos of this space, check out this post on the great beer blog Brew York, New York.

Brooklyn's offerings for the night, all on tap. Also available that night were beers from Founders, Victory, Allagash, Cigar City, Captain Lawrence, Goose Island and Coney Island brewing companies.

There's me ordering a Detonation Ale and wondering if I'll end up on TV. Both News 12 Brooklyn and CNBC had cameras capturing the evening.

Check out the new design for the Brooklyner Weisse tap handle! Pretty awesome.

Here we have newest Brooklyn Brewery employee Tim Bullock celebrating his first long, hard day of work with a beer. It almost looks like someone else's hand is feeding Tim the beer.

The beer-celebrities were in full force! Here we find Mr. Bill Covaleski, owner of Victory Brewing Co. along with his NY/CT Sales Rep Sean McCain, pouring samples of Saison Du Buff and Prima Pils.

The last few stragglers crowd the bar for one last drink before we were shooed out.

All in all, it was a great time with delicious food and excellent craft beer from all over. The lesson here? GET EXCITED FOR NY CRAFT BEER WEEK! Its only a mere 2 weeks away. Get over to and buy your passport today!

September 8, 2010

Congrats to Tim Bullock, Newest Brooklyn Brewery Employee!

Tim, enjoying his soon-to-be-employer's beer.

Today, one of my best friends for the last 20 years or so TIM BULLOCK began his new job at the Brooklyn Brewery as their Export Coordinator. Tim and I go back to freakin' nursery school and still hang out and homebrew beer together with our other good buddy Jeff Quinn. We've even won awards for our beer!

L to R: Tim, Jeff and John

Tim is going to be an essential asset to the Brooklyn Brewery, and I hope you'll all join me in wishing him the best of luck in his new endeavor! And let's not forget to mention that he's now a part of the industry we all love, CRAFT BEER! And one of the best breweries out there taboot. Congrats Tim!

Tim also loves trains.

September 1, 2010

Maui Brewing Co. - Mana Wheat and Big Swell IPA

You gotta love when out-of-market beers show up at your doorstep! I had already reviewed the Bikini Blonde Lager a few weeks ago, but this one's a bit different. Maui's Mana Wheat is a 5.5% ABV Wheat Beer made with pineapple juice. Sounds good already! It pours a very clear yet dark amber with a sizable foamy head that recedes completely after a few seconds and leaves absolutely no lacing. Sniffing it, there's definitely pineapple in there! A little bit of banana/clove and a bit of wheat smell as well. Down the hatch! More body than you'd expect based on its appearance. Definite yet surprising malty presence that's pretty sweet - you can definitely detect the pineapple juice. There isn't much in the way of hops but there's still an earthy aftertaste. Wheat really takes the backseat.

The Mana Wheat is extremely drinkable and would be great for a fall evening for when you want something more flavorful than a lager or pilsner.

Another night I sat down with Maui's more hoppy offering, the Big Swell. This American IPA from beautiful Lahaina, HI comes in a 12oz can and clocks in at a drinkable 6.2%. As you can see above, it pours a bright orange and has an ever-so-slightly cloudy appearance. Take a whiff of this sucker and you get a lot of malty bitterness with slight hints of citrus. Then you taste it and you're hit with pine and citrus followed by some bready and malty notes. Its super smooth and hop oily. This one really packs a punch!