The Beer List: Nice Weather, Better Beer

Last week’s Flight Night at the Cloverleaf was a pretty cosmic experience.  The days leading up to it had been sort of gross – rainy and cold – but things were clearing up and, by Thursday, the forecast looked fantastic.  Likewise, in my own little brewniverse, the week had started out dull with a couple rye beers that were probably past their prime.  Luckily once I hit the Leaf, the beer finally started to mimic the weather.

This week I was copilot with my friend, Emily.  The genius of our “flight plan” was to start with the Spring beers (pungent, flowery, flavorful) and move on to summer (a lot brighter and lighter).  Check out the progression below, with what little notes I managed to scribble onto my bar napkin:  Continue reading

NY’s First Homegrown Beer…TODAY!

VanGlad with his homegrown hops. Photo credit: Donna Wessel, NYTimes

If you’re anywhere near Union Square today, drop by the farmers’ market and pick up a 6-pack of Ma-Pale, the first beer made entirely from ingredients grown in New York. It’s brewed by Mark VanGlad of Tundra Brewery. Apparently, VanGlad’s used to slinging goods at the farmer’s market – he grew up working his family’s maple syrup stand. Now, 25 years old, he’s decided to put his own spin on the family business, following his love for homebrew. Step 1: grow barley and hops on the family farm. Step 2: rig up a makeshift brewery out of a couple old milk tanks. Step 3: have your girlfriend design the logo. Step 4: share your gift with the world.

Driven or not, VanGlad wouldn’t have been able to sell his farm-to-bottle beer at the market if not for some very timely legislation. For the first time in 2009, the state allowed small-scale breweries like Tundra, which would otherwise have no means of distribution, to sell their stuff at farmers’ markets and local fairs. It’s a total Giamatti (read: win win*) – not only does it give boutique operations the freedom to grow at their own pace, it lets the consumer in on some otherwise inaccessible brews.

I’m stuck in Jersey today, so I’m hoping Mark’s going to be back next week with his stuff. But seriously, for anyone within reach, grab one.

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* This will catch on. Trust me.

The Good Stinky

Mmmmm...

“I wouldn’t do that.”  This was the advice of Phil Lee, owner of the Kimchi Taco Truck I visited yesterday in Murray Hill.  He had caught me reaching for the hot sauce – apparently an unnecessary addition to his homemade kimchi.  “It’s stinky.  It’s good stinky.”

Now I’m by no means a kimchi connoisseur.  And, frankly, stinkiness doesn’t usually strike me as a strong selling point.  But there was no arguing with Lee’s conviction.  It had instantly erased the stigma.  Stinky was good.   Continue reading

An Apple a Day…

I was at the supermarket the other day, innocently roaming the produce section, when my attention was seized by a display of candy apples.  They were the good kind – gigantic from layers of chocolate and caramel – and sat fat and gloating under the cardboard mantra, “Healthy never tasted… this good!”  Wait.  I blinked, my neurons struggling to catch up from the cognitive dissonance.  I’d had apples like that.  They were absolutely delicious, but definitely not healthy.  The advertising won as I went in for a closer look.  Continue reading