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January 28, 2010

NYC Homebrew Competition: This Sunday 1/31 at Chelsea Brewing

Hey all! This coming Sunday afternoon, homebrewers and onlookers will converge upon Chelsea Brewing Company in Manhattan for "Homebrew Alley 4", the NYC Homebrew Competition presented by the New York City Homebrewers Guild. The beers in the photo above are the ones my brewing team and I (Ten Dudes Brewing) submitted:

"Number 2" - an English Barleywine that has been bottle-conditioned for 15 months
"Smokey Smoke" - a smoke ale brewed with weyermann and cherrywood smoked malt
"Wedding Wit" - a witbier created for fellow brewmate Tim's wedding
"Kölsch It" - an (unfortunately cloudy) kölsch
"Depressed Umpire IPA" - an American IPA that was just bottled the day before entry

It was $7 per entry with no limit, but since we were splitting the costs three ways we just picked 5 of our homebrews that we enjoy. We were required to submit 2 bottles (12 or 22oz) of each entry which was difficult because we only had a few remaining bottles of the likes of "Number 2" and the "Wedding Wit".

As for our chances? Eh. We could get lucky and place. Our Kölsch turned out too cloudy to win that category. I think our best chances are with our "Number 2" barleywine and "Smokey Smoke Ale". The "Depressed Umpire" could be the dark horse, but having bottled it the day before the dropoff, there's no telling for sure how that will turn out. Even without any wins, it should be a fun time. Hopefully we'll at least get some feedback to improve our future brews.

PS: Don't worry, the homebrews did not stay exposed to the light of that window for more than a few minutes!

January 26, 2010

Trap Rock Brewery & Restaurant, Berkeley Heights, NJ

Last weekend I visited the Trap Rock Brewery & Restaurant in Berkeley Heights, NJ. Here's how their website describes them:
Located in Berkeley Heights, NJ, Trap Rock Restaurant & Brewery opened its doors in 1997 and combines seasonal craft brews with seasonal, American food. Our reputation was shaped early by an “Excellent” rating by the New York Times in October of 1997. Designed by Morris Nathanson, Trap Rock Restaurant offers a working microbrewery and a comfortable European ski lodge atmosphere. Trap Rock Restaurant & Brewery was the first of six current and successful northern New Jersey restaurants run by Harvest Restaurants.
When I realized that they are the brewers behind the beers at Tabor Road Tavern (a new restaurant right down the street from where I grew up), I was disappointed, based on my one-time experience there. But thankfully, Trap Rock was a different story.

I decided to go with the sampler, which provided six 8oz pours of their brews. As I learned from our server, not every beer is made on site, as they have a somewhat limited capacity there. Some of it is contract brewed, although I failed to find out where. In the sampler was the Ghost Pony Helles Lager, Hathor Red, JP Pilsner, Folky Bob's Session Ale, Thorny Rye Pale Ale and Kestrel IPA.

None of the beers were A+s, but all of them were solid Bs. I'd be curious to see them try something a bit more adventurous, but I left wondering if beer was a bit more of a novelty to them. Not meant as an insult, but I just didn't get the feel that they were beer geeks.

All of their brewing is done in a relatively small room with glass windows. We came in on a Saturday so no actual brewing was going on. As a sidenote, the food was excellent. I would definitely go back if I was in the area, but I don't believe its worth a special trip.

January 25, 2010

Smuttynose Night at Barcade

I've been falling a bit behind on my postings lately, so I'll just briefly share these few photos from Thursday January 14th, Smuttynose Night at Barcade in Brooklyn, NY.

Here was the beer list that eve:

Baltic Porter - 8.7% ABV - Baltic style Porter
"oak aged" Big A IPA - 9.2% - Imperial IPA, aged in oak at brewery
Farmhouse Ale - 7.5% - Belgian style Farmhouse Ale
Imperial Stout - 10.0% - Russian style Imperial Stout
IPA - 6.9% - "finest kind", served on cask
Maibock - 6.2% - German style Helles Bock
Strawberry Weisse - 3.0% - German Berliner Weissbier
Terminator G-Bock 2008 - 9.5% - Doppelbock, aged one year
"oak aged" Terminator G-Bock 2008 - 9.5% - Doppelbock, aged in oak at the brewery
Tripel - 9.0% - Belgian style Tripel
Wheat Wine - 10.7% - strong Ale brewed with wheat
Woodward Ale - 5.0% - crisp Ale with hints of Curacao orange

The first and by far most interesting beer I had was the Oak Aged Terminator G-Bock from 2008. I don't think I'd ever had a oak aged doppelbock before, but the oak added a perfect woodiness to what was already a very good beer.

And of course, I left behind a few of my "business cards" aka pieces of thin cardboard i printed a few words on. They're super-informative aren't they? Don't they just want to make you make beertography your home page? heh.

January 22, 2010

Shocker: Goose Island Bourbon County Stout is Awesome

Last week I had the pleasure of attending Goose Island Night at Rattle'n'Hum. I've had (and loved) GI's wonderful Bourbon County Stout from the bottle numerous times, but I believe this is the first time I've had the chance to try it on tap. And yep, you guessed it, it's even better.

This beer actually makes me want to start trying all different types of Bourbon, which I didn't know until recently that I love. At 13% ABV, its certainly a sipper, or perhaps one you should split with a friend. But the 2009 bottled version is now available in 22oz bombers, although I haven't seen any in the NYC area yet. If anyone in the area is interested, you can still pick up 12oz bottles of the 2008 at New Beer Distributors on Chrystie St. in Manhattan. Be advised, they close at 6pm on weekdays and are not open on Sundays.

January 20, 2010

21st Amendment Monk's Blood

21st Amendment Monk's Blood. Described as a Belgian Dark Strong Ale. In a can. IN A CAN! I love love love that canned beer is becoming "cool" for craft beer lovers. There are already SO many great canned craft beers. 21st Amendment has Monk's Blood and Brew Free or Die IPA, Oskar Blues has Dale's Pale Ale, Ten FIDY, Gordon and more...not to mention all of the wonderfulness that Surly Brewing Company cans (which I wish I could get my hands on more of).

While 21st Amendment didn't quite knock this out of the park, they certainly at least doubled. At 8.5% ABV, this does live up to the description of Strong Ale, but you'd never know it. Its sweet, its spicy and its pretty dangerously delicious. Its far too easy to throw back the entire 4 pack.

For my first Belgian in a can, its quite good. But, I feel it can be done better. I think I've just spoiled myself with other dark belgians like Brooklyn Local 2.

January 15, 2010

1st Williamsburg Cask Ale Festival

This past weekend, cask ale master Alex Hall aka The Gotham Imbiber brought his patented real ales to the Brooklyn borough of Williamsburg. The location this time was DBA Brooklyn. I stopped in for Saturday afternoon's session and had a few unfiltered, unpasteurized beers.

Here's the list:

Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA (a blend of 60 and 90)
BrüRm @ BAR 'Aberdeen Ale'
BrüRm @ BAR 'Chocolate Porter'
Erie 'Railbender Ale'
Honest Town 'Capall Dorche Stout'
Honest Town 'IPA'
Olde Burnside 'Ten Penny Ale'
Ridgeway 'Reindeer Droppings'
Sauer Rossdorf 'Rossdorfer Urbräu'
Shawnee 'Vienna Lager'
Shawnee 'Bourbon Barrel-Aged Entire'
Stone 'Sublimely Self Righteous Ale'

The best offering was definitely the Chocolate Porter from BrüRm @ BAR. I had never heard of this before, but apparently its from a brewpub/nightclub in New Haven, CT. Some good reviews on beeradvocate as well.

January 14, 2010

Even More about Tactical Nuclear Penguin

A few closeups of the awesome label description along with the warning.

There were a few posts before Christmas around online about this beer possibly exploding if not kept in the fridge? That's not true...right? Or, I guess it is, look here. Someone remind me to put it in the fridge when I get home.

More about BrewDog's Tactical Nuclear Penguin

32%!!! The world's strongest beer.

Hey all. Just wanted to follow up yesterday's posting with this video. JUST IN CASE anyone doesn't know what Tactical Nuclear Penguin is, here's a cool video that BrewDog produced about it:

January 13, 2010

BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin (has arrived!)

Back on 12/21/09, I had just finished up my online Christmas shopping and I had nearly broken my bank account. But while I was doing some browsing on BeerAdvocate, I came upon a thread that said that BrewDog was now selling its new Tactical Nuclear Penguin, billed the strongest beer in the world, via its website. I must have been in a post-e-commerce haze, because something in my brain told me that I had to buy a bottle. At £35.00 or $56.67 per 12oz bottle, its no cheap beer. Despite my curiosity for Sam Adams Utopias, I've never been able to bite the bullet at ~$180/bottle. So this seemed to make sense to me.

Somehow, the shipping was only $11.33 from SCOTLAND. How does that make any sense? I placed the order pretty much thinking it was a mistake all around and mainly forgot about it. Then, the other day a package showed up at my apartment. I opened it up and this was the first thing I pulled out:

"Yeast Samples For Analysis"! Well, they're not lying! HAH! That's great stuff.

Is that a penguin I see? A Scottish penguin?

Why, yes! Yes it is! So there it is, in all its glory. Now the real question remains. WHEN DO I DRINK IT? I can't imagine aging it, I'm too curious/thirsty to do that. So perhaps a special occasion? Or on the other hand, just a random Friday night? What say you?

January 11, 2010

Collecting Beer Bottles is Dangerous

What am I doing? Why do I have all of these? I love The Bruery, but its really pretty unnecessary. Especially living in an apartment in Brooklyn (aka not much space). And of course, this is only a small portion of my ever-increasing empty bottle collection. I KNOW for a fact that most/all of these are going into the recycling when I move next month, so I took the opportunity to snap a photo for my records.

Why do beer geeks save beer bottles? I guess in a way its like a trophy. Most of the empties I save are rarer beers that are normally hard to get. But these Bruery beers are mostly widely available. I think it started because I REALLY enjoy the labels on all of these bottles. They're very well designed and nice to look at.

January 8, 2010

This is Why I'm Poor: Holiday Beer Haul

I think my wallet imploded after recent trips to Oak Tree Buy Rite ( best beer store in NJ) and New Beer Distributors in Manhattan (best beer store in NYC). Interesting how the two best beer stores in our area both have terrible websites. Someone get them some web developers! Now I can't take 100% full credit for buying all of those beers, I split this up with my friends Jeff and Josh. But here's what is pictured:

4 x 12oz Founders Breakfast Stout
12 x 12oz Founders Imperial Stout (4 cellared)
2 x 750ml Brooklyn Black Ops (1 cellared)
1 x 750ml Unibroue Chambly Noire
1 x 750ml The Bruery
1 x 750ml Captain Lawrence Nor'Easter
1 x 22oz Cricket Hill Nocturne
1 x 12oz Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron (cellared)
1 x 12oz BrewDog/Stone Bashah
2 x 12oz Boaks Monster Mash
1 x 12oz Boaks Two Blind Monks
1 x 12oz Boaks Double BW
1 x 12oz Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2009 (cellared)
1 x 12oz Flying Dog Horn Dog
1 x 12oz Anchor Old Foghorn Ale
1 x 12oz Fuller's ESB
1 x 12oz Philadelphia Walt Wit
1 x 12oz Samuel Adams Imperial Stout

Whew, what a list. Of course, among the stuff that wasn't immediately cellared, a lot of it has already been consumed between Christmas, New Year's and you know...week nights. The standouts among this haul were the Fuller's ESB, the Founders Imperial Stout and the Boaks Monster Mash. Oh yes, and of course the Captain Lawrence Nor'Easter.

Jolly Pumpkin Noel De Calabaza Special Ale

Well well well! Lookee here! It's been a little while, but I'm back! I hope everyone's holidays and new years were memorable. Mine were definitely memorable, but at the same time not easily recalled, as I had a LOT of great craft beer.

As you can see above, one of the beers I cracked open over the holidays (during the biggest snow storm in recent memory) was the Jolly Pumpkin Noel De Calabaza Special Ale. Also you can see that I was having some issues taking a quality photo out in the foot of snow. I think this is clue #2034 that I need an SLR camera. Someday.

Anyway, the BEER! It's fantastic! It's listed as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 9%, but it almost seems like it could be qualified as a Sour Ale. Lots of funk in this one, but not overwhelmingly so. This is was quite possibly my favorite beer I had over the holidays and I highly recommend sharing this one with a friend.