In addition to another round of enlightenment, I have some pretty cool news in my own little world of beerdom. This week, I was put me in charge of revamping the beer menu of the restaurant where I bartend. It’s very cool to see stuff I’ve been doing for eatinggoodly help me out in life outside the blogosphere – and yes, it exists. For the menu, I’ll be focusing on local New York beers in addition to some selections from Italy, all with seasonality and food-pairing in mind. As a result, you’ll be seeing a little more from local breweries on the beer-list, so please (I mean it) let me know if you come across any good stuff in the city that you think I should try.
Unlike last week, which saw me struggling helplessly against a relentless onslaught of German wheat beer, this one was pretty much as diverse as they come. Definitely a nice change of pace. See the winners after the jump.
The best beer of the week came on the very first day with Sixpoint’s Brownstone Ale. Sixpoint is a very cool local brewery – just over the water in Redhook, Brooklyn. It was founded by Shane Welch in 2004 with one eye on preserving brewing’s rich, often forgotten history and the other on completely rewriting it. Welch’s philosophy comes through in the brewery’s logo: a cross between the six-pointed and nautical stars. The sixpointed star, apparently, has long been used as a symbol for brewers. Likewise, the nautical star has an intimate history with Brooklyn – Redhook especially. The result is a local history lesson that remains interesting, hip, and beautiful. It’s very Brooklyn.
As far as the beer goes, the Brownstone Ale was just awesome. It had a lot of similarities to a couple other Brown Ales I’ve had – Rogue’s Brown Nectar and Ithaca’s Nut Brown – while making key improvements. Like both, the Brownstone has a delicious warm-chocolatey flavor, with aromas of toasted hazelnut riding shotgun. Where the beer leaps ahead is its ability to convey that deep maltiness without coming off as too syrupy and heavy. Thanks to a backbone of crisp hops and a mouthfeel that keeps things bright, the Brownstone is extremely drinkable. It lets you enjoy the rich flavors without growing to resent them.
On to a very different beer – Ommegang’s Three Philosophers. Now, I know I may create some contention with this one – in addition to being critically acclaimed across the board, a lot of people I know have tried and really liked this beer. The thing is, I don’t fall into that group. It’s a total alcohol bomb. It smells like it, it tastes like it, it feels like it. I guess this wouldn’t be all bad – I mean, I’m drinking alcohol… what’s so wrong about tasting it? The thing is, the secondary flavors aren’t so hot either. The beer itself is mixed just a little with cherry ale, and it comes off like cherry cough syrup. If you disagree, let me know. Convince me, because I feel like I should be appreciating this beer, and right now I really don’t get it.
Lastly, the week ended with a cool Dogfish head brew: the Sah-Tea. It’s a take on Sahti, a very old-school Finnish beer that’s basically a combination of all kinds of grains and juniper berries heated over hot rocks and filtered through juniper twigs. Dogfish Head – naturally putting their own spin on it – adds chai tea to the end of the brew. Not only does this give the beer a unique spicy finish, it allows them to make a pun of the title. Sah-Tea. Double score. This beer was very cool – made even more interesting by learning about its offbeat history. I wouldn’t say it was my favorite style, but I like drinking beers like that make me think a little bit.
For the rest of last week, check out the list itself. And until next time, keep an extra eye out for seasonal New York stuff!