Tag Archives: craft beer

Abita Brewing Company: One of My Favorite Breweries In ‘Merica

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As you can probably tell by now, I am pretty obsessed with Abita Amber. It is definitely one of my favorite beers, and I was convinced the best Abita product – until a shipment from Abita arrived at my apartment.Came home from dinner @ Kuma Inn (Followed by Drinks at Los Feliz and Spitzers), walked into the mail area and saw a huge box addressed to yours truly, Hedge Fun NY. In a semi-drunken state I ran into the apartment and opened up the box like a kid discovering the awesomeness of Christmas. Cutting through the tape, and throwing packaging peanuts everywhere, I got down to the bottom and found 6 six-packs of three different types of Abita Brews (36 Beers for all you non-mathletes) and a beer koozie. They sent Abita Bock, Abita Restoration Pale Ale, and Abita Wrought Iron IPA. In a burst of excitement I threw them in the fridge, and there they sat getting cold until the right night to give them a try.

A week later, I decided to have my buddy Nick come over and give me his opinion on these Abita beers. Since he works at Brinkley’s, thought it would be a good idea to involve him since he knows beer. Also, similar to my article on Anchor Brewing Company, I had Nicole drink some of the beer to see her comments. The night prior we ordered Mile End Deli, so we figured this was a perfectly good time to order it again and start the drinking process.

In their package to me, and on their website, they have a great display of color/bitterness – ‘Color and Bitterness Comparison Chart’. I put this below so you can check it out as well.

Abita Restoration Pale Ale
Type: American Pale Ale (APA)
Availability: All Year-Round
ABV: 5.2%
Chart: Color 9 / IBU 25

Side Note: Abita’s brewery is located in Abita Springs, LA about 30 miles north of New Orleans. Through their sales of Restoration they have raised over $550,000 for hurricane relief efforts. Round of applause gentlemen, now back to the beer…

The Restoration Pale Ale is brewed with pale, caramel and carapils malts. It is liberally hopped and dry hopped with Cascade hops. Fresh out of the bottle and into a pint glass, the beer pours a cloudy gold color. Nicole mentioned it was more orange, which she may have been right considering I stare at Bloomberg and Excel sheets all day. Picked up some of the floral aromas from the Cascade Hops, and I was ready to drink.

From the initial appearance and reading the ingredients, I was expecting it to be similar to the Anchor Brewing Company Liberty Ale. After tasting I realized they were similar but definitely not the same. Similar to the aroma we all picked up a citrus, piney, hoppy taste on the backend that  left the bitterness of the grapefruit/lemon zest taste in your mouth. Definitely a characteristic of most IPA, but where as some ales overdue it I find the Restoration Pale Ale to be mildly bitter, which left us all with the same conclusion: We can drink 1 or 2, definitely not something we can drink all night. Abita suggests pairing with fish, and different types of cheeses. We had it while eating a ‘Smoked Meat Sandwich‘ on rye bread from Mile End Deli – think the two went well.

Abita Wrought Iron IPA
Type: Indian Pale Ale (IPA)
Availability: All Year-Round
ABV: 6.9%
Chart: Color 9 / IBU 80

Remember back before the weather was below freezing, and their wasn’t snow blanketing the side walks? While walking through Central Park, you would see something called grass. This beer smells like freshly cut grass, so much so I am using it as an air freshener in my apartment because I miss warm weather.

This IPA is forged with the intensity of Apollo, Equinox and Mosaic Hops. Brewed with pale ale malt, the beer pours a golden/copper color, not much different than the Restoration Ale. The name Wrought Iron comes from the color of iron when it’s being forged – thinking outside the box with that one.

One sip in Nicole’s face looks like a little kid eating a Shock Tart for the first time. She hates bitter IPA’s, and with an IBU of 80 safe to say we should have known she was going to  dislike it. But still fun to see her reaction.

Nick seemed not to mind the beer. Being around a multitude of different beers, he has definitely tried his fair share of IPA, i.e. having Ithaca Flower Power  IPA on tap.

For me, this was a one every once in a while type of beer. Abita suggest pairing the Wrought Iron IPA with meats, luckily my diet consist of 98% Red Meat, 2% Bread/Potatoes. As mentioned earlier, we were eating smoked meat from Mile End, and the two definitely went well. The overpowering of the malts by the hops gave the bitterness and piney resin feeling, so biting into smoked brisket and mustard was an awesome mix with it.

Abita Mardi Gras Bock
Type: Bock
Availability: Seasonal (Jan – March)
ABV: 6.5%
Chart: Color 13 / IBU 25

Let me start off by saying, this is one of my new favorite beers – and a contender for my favorite Abita product over Abita Amber. I never thought those words would leave my mouth, but I love this Bock Beer. I also think I might like this as much as Shiner Bock, which is another thing I thought I would never say. When we finished drinking the beers, we all said Abita Mardi Gras Bock was the best of the three.

Once poured into a pint glass we were able to see the amber/auburn color, and with a color of 13 it is just a few shades away from Abita Amber. Abita Bock is brewed with pale, pilsner and caramel malts and German Perle hops. This combination is great, and the beer goes down smooth. I didn’t even realize the size of my gulps until I would be done with a bottle after a minute or two.

From the first taste you pick up the malty sweetness and caramel, a bit of a bread taste – which I thought may have been left over from the rye bread on my sandwich. But once the sandwich was long gone I realized it was part of the beer.

I am a little confused as to why Abita lists this as having an IBU of 25, which is the same as Abita Restoration Pale Ale. I tasted no hoppy bitterness as all, and for Nicole (who hates IPAs) and Nick (knows all things beer) not to notice it further confuses me. From drinking so many IPAs lately, and having my mouth punched with that piney resin everyone loves so much, this was exactly what I needed. Considering my love for Amber, Bock, Brown, and Dark Beers – I think this is the reason I enjoyed this so much.

The only true complaint I have about this beer is that it is not produced all year-round. I wish they would send me over a 6 month supply along with some of the Abita Turbodog that I have been wanting to try that the waitress at Balthazar steered me away from … But that’s a whole different story all together.
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Draught 55: Beer After a Long Day in the Office

Majority of the week, around 4:00PM you are itching to get out of the office and get a drink. Sometimes, you don’t want to go anywhere crazy/bougie, and just want a beer – thats when I goto Draught 55. Located on 55th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, this is a perfect location for majority of finance workers in Midtown. This place has become a bit of a local watering hole for the guys in our office, and with 42 Craft Beers on Draught + an additional few dozen in Bottles/Can – you now know why. Also, they generally rotate the selection and bring in new beers on a regular basis – so the options are pretty endless.

When you eventually get hungry – they also have a pretty awesome food menu. I have drunkenly consumed the Apricot Beer Glazed Soft Pretzel, Slow Roasted Pork Belly, Rogues Chipotle Ale Chili Nachos, Flash Fried Calamari, Wings, Beer Battered Mozzarella Sticks, and some other items – and all have been really delicious on a buzzed stomach.

If you are looking for low-key, beer, talking with co-workers, and eating some bar food – you will definitely like Draught 55.

Here are a few beers I have tried over the past few months:

  • Stone Brewing Company: Arrogant Bastard Ale (7.2% ABV): First time having it on draught, last time at Minetta Tavern I had it out of the bottle. This beer puts the ‘strong’ in American Strong Ale, and definitely has one of the hoppiest bites you will taste. The beer has a nice red/amber color to it with citrus (grapefruit) bitterness. Kind of similar to their Levitation Ale – but more hoppy. Can drink one every once in a while, not an everyday/all night beer.
  • Founders Brewing Co: Founders Black Rye (7.5%): Dark with a tan head, tastes of coffee, rye, chocolate, and some pine hops.  Well balanced and medium body, would drink again – and on draught @ $7.00, that is no brainer.
  • Goose Island Beer Co: Matilda (7.0%): Poured this out of the bottled and into a glass, and was surprised about the color – orange/amber color, which I did not see coming. This is a Belgian Ale, with some complex flavors which I can say are definitely unique. Little to much of that fruit taste – one time was good enough for me.
  • Smuttynose Brewing Company: Imperial Stout (9.8%): chocolate, coffee, roasted taste – with a little sambuca/black licorice taste to it. Good Russian Imperial Stout, and at $8.00, pretty good bang for your buck.
  • Innis & Gun: Oak Aged Beer (6.6%): This UK Export picks up the oak flavor from the aging process with some caramel, vanilla, and toffee. Definitely strange, one time was good for me.
  • River Horse Brewing Co: Tripel Horse (10.0%): Happy to support these guys out of Ewing New Jersey, and to drink local. Not much of a Belgian Style Ale person, but this beer is intriguing – vanilla, clove, citrus, and hops with a little bitterness on the back-end.

Stop in, have a beer, and let me know what you think – as I mentioned they constantly rotate in beers.

Anchor Brewing: America’s First Craft Brewery?

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In 1849 German brewer Gottlieb Brekle (hence Brekle’s Brown Ale) settled in California. Purchasing a saloon a few years later in San Francisco, this later on became the brewery known know as Anchor Brewing – which officially was born in 1896. Over the next couple dozen decades, the brewery witnessed two of it’s founders die in freak accidents, The Great San Fransisco Earthquake, Prohibition, the brink of bankruptcy – and being shipped in a box delivered to the lobby of my apartment. My life is pretty awesome.

I open the fancy box, which was shipped from my friends at Dog and a Duck, and threw the beers right into the fridge. The other night while my fiancé was over, I figured this might be a good time to taste the beers. She isn’t a beer drinker, but on occasions she will order one. Additionally, I will usually make her try my beers sometimes if they are good to see what she thinks. She has been getting pretty good at picking out details of each beer, so I felt like this was a good idea since the Anchor Brews would be something she would probably like.

Anchor Steam Beer
Type: California Common / Steam Beer
First Brew: 1896
Availability: All Year-Round
ABV: 4.9%

This is the flagship beer, and as you can see was first brewed the year Anchor Brewing  was founded. The beer gained early popularity prior to the years of Prohibition, and in fact was the reason the company was saved from the brink of bankruptcy by one of its fans, an Stanford Graduate named Fritz Maytag. By the 1970s, the brewery began pumping out bottles of this recipe out of its newer locations.

The beer pours a golden, almost burnt auburn color with a thick white head. The Anchor Steam Beer has a blend of pale and caramel malts, which provides a bit of malty sweetness with a hint of biscuits. There is also a slight taste of minty, fruity taste (citrus/apricot) however not as much as I tasted in the Liberty Ale. The hops, which are Northern Brewer, which gives mild bitterness but far from overwhelming. Nicole mentioned she tasted something familiar, the only thing she could relate it to was Blue Moon. The smell of the beer is nice, mix of floral and fruit smell, which makes sense due to the taste mentioned above. The beer is finishes extremely crisp, and very refreshing. The carbonation level is almost perfect, and I think this would be a great beer to drink on a hot day. Highly recommend this beer, and after drinking it is no wonder why the company has been around for so long built of the back of this beer.

Liberty Ale
Type: American IPA
First Brew: 1975
Availability: All Year-Round
ABV: 5.9%

Although considered an IPA, this beer is extremely well balanced. The ale is brewed with pale malted barley, cascade hops, and a special top-fermented yeast. Liberty Ale is also goes through the process of dry-hopping which is the practice of adding fresh hops to the brew during aging. During this time period, Anchor Brewing also produced some of their other beers including Anchor Porter, Old Foghorn Barley Wine Ale, and it’s first annual Christmas Ale. For reasons such as this, they believe they are America’s first craft brewery/micro brewery – and to be honest, they are putting up a pretty good argument.

Once we put the glasses up to our mouth, we smelt the citrus, earthy, and pine smells from the cascade hops. The taste, was exactly like the smell – but with less bitterness then I expected considering there was a prevalent aroma of grapefruit and pine. The carbonation, which the company describes as ‘champagne-like bubbles’, makes the beer very drinkable. I recommend this as well, this was Nicole’s favorite due to the lemon-zest and resinous taste. If you girlfriend drinks beer, or is willing to try beer, this is a good beer to have her try.

Anchor IPA
Type: India Pale Ale
First Brew: 2014
Availability: All Year-Round
ABV: 6.5%

This is one of Anchor Brewing’s newest beers, and they included the press release in their package. From reading over the details, you can see the company went out to establish an IPA that stands out from the overcrowded space. According to their Brewmaster, Mark Carpenter,

“Right now a lot of Pas are so hop forward that your palate can only enjoy one because of the high bitterness . Our IPA will have a strong hop flavor so you know you’re drinking an IPA. But, the combination of malts we’re using are strong enough to hold up to the bitterness, allowing you to enjoy more than one.”

Once I poured the beer, I was able to tell there was a huge difference in the color from the other two beers. The first two, poured a golden/auburn color, this more of a bronze caramel color. I think the best way to describe the Anchor IPA is calling it the ‘Liberty Ale on Steroids’. Some of the same characteristics, but more intense – for example the piney hops taste. This is due to Anchor using Cascade hops, like the Liberty Ale, but with some additional hops as well. Also, they use five hops during the dry hopping process. The hops give a bitter bite to the beer, and the strong metallic after taste. Way to much of an IPA for Nicole, however if you are big into IPA’s, this is definitely the beer for you.

Where to Find?

On their website, they have a great Beer Finder App, which shows you where you can finder their products. After searching a 1 mile radius from Soho, I can see this a long list of places where I can find their beers. This includes both restaurants, bars, and stores.

NYC Craft Beer Festival Summer Seasonal: 75 Breweries over Three Days in May

Signup May
By the time this month is over, we will have passed the milestone of Memorial Day, which means it’s time for summer. Break out the Sperry Top-Siders, Cannonball Train Service to the Hamptons, and binge-drinking problems.

For all of those who are not leaving the island of Manhattan, you should check out the NYC Craft Beer Festival Summer Seasonal which is being held at Watermark Cafe on Pier 15. The event is being held over three days, starting Thursday May 28th.

Who will be there? Just some of our favorite breweries like Sixpoint, Ommegang, Great South Bay, Lagunitas, Greenport Harbor, Third Rail Beer, Dogfish Head, Smuttynose… The list goes on and on, with 75 different breweries.

There are different time slots per day, along with different events so make sure you check the website prior to purchasing tickets below is a brief break down. Check out the full website here at: www.handcraftedtasting.com

Thursday May 28th
Brewmaster’s Connoisseur Experience
Time: 7:00 PM – 10:30 PM

Experience stylistic pairings hand-selected from our favorite breweries (for a total of 24 selections). These phenomenal selections will be paired with four small bite size samples of culinary art produced by The Executive Chef Marco Arnold of Industry kitchen These samples will reveal the depths of flavour that can be discovered in creatively executed Stylistic Pairings.

Friday May 29th
Session 1: 3:00PM – 6:30PM
Session 2: 7:00PM – 10:30PM

75 Breweries with 150 Selections

Saturday May 30th
Session 1: 12:00PM – 2:30PM
Session 2: 3:00PM – 6:30PM
Session 3: 7:00PM – 10:30PM

75 Breweries with 150 Selections

Signup May

Brinkley’s: Chicken Pot Pie Awesomeness

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I have been going to Brinkley’s for close to 5 years now. I even moved as close as possible to it, on the same block and a mere 0.1 miles from it. Not only do I love their beer selections, but they have great food as well.

I have had everything from their duck fat fries, to black garlic humus, to the lobster club. I even would say they have one of the best burgers in the neighborhood, along with Randolph’s. Over the thousands of hours drinking local beers, slurring words, and dropping beer on their black and white checkered floor – I never noticed they have a Chicken Pot Pie on the menu.

The Chicken Pot Pie is a special, and only served on Monday – which may cause issues with my current drinking schedule being that Monday is my off day/recovery day.

The CPP is done with Puff Pastry, Poached Chicken & Seasonal Veggies in Béchamel. When it gets to the table, it is still in the hot cast iron skillet and the size of my head. About 10 inches in diameter, I could have used this thing to play Kan Jam. Instead, I poked my fork through the puff pastry into the gooey filling and burnt the fuck out of my mouth. I have been alive for twenty-eight years, and I still have not learned to let things cool down before eating. Although I singed off a good portion of my taste buds, I was able to tell this CPP had some awesome flavors. The mix of the peas and carrots with the butteriness of the roux blended together perfectly. The pie also had generous chunks of chicken, you can tell it was chopped off the breasts of the Kate Upton of chickens. With the meal I decided to drink some Empire Amber Ale, which made a great pairing. The biscuity and caramel sweetness, mixed with the piney/hoppy bitterness on the backend.

Get over your case of the Mondays (next Monday), take the 6 Train down to Spring Street, and get some Chicken Pot Pie. Also, wash it down with an Empire Amber Ale.

Toro NYC: Tapas, Octopus, Paella, and Churros

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I knew from the beginning, it would be extremely hard to beat last years Valentines Day dinner at Carbone. But, I had a good feeling Toro might be able to do it – or at least get close. Toro definitely impressed me, and I already want to go back.

Last summer we went to Boston for a music festival called Boston Calling. This was held on Memorial Day weekend and included bands such as Bastille, The Neighbourhood, Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie, Jack Johnson and Brand New. Before going I spoke to some friends for recommendations – everyone came back mentioning Toro. While eating brunch the next morning at The Beehive (Great Place to check out) the bartender also said “Do not leave Boston until you goto Toro.” So we decided to call up, book a reservation and were told that is not possible. So we decided, let’s go for brunch. While there, we ordered up a storm. We started with the olives, foie gras, patatas bravas, escalivada catalana, and finished the apps up with an order of jamon serrano. We then moved to some egg dishes (since it was around 11:00) and moved to the creme de la creme, duck prosciutto and an order of Asada de Huesos aka Bone Marrow with Oxtail. As you can see from my reviews on Minetta Tavern and Charlie Bird, I hold the marrow from Toro in high regard.

When we got back to Manhattan we all said we need to make it a point to goto Toro over in Chelsea. With everyone’s busy schedules, it seemed difficult to get everyone together to book a reservation. So, I said fuck it – Nicole and I are going for Valentine’s Day. Since the day I made the reservation, I kept thinking about the absurd amount of dishes I would be ordering. Removing the romantic aspects of the day and replacing them with a gluttonous sloppy feast. As we were running around doing errands in the neighborhood, I made us stop at Alidoro to get a sandwich early – and avoid ruining my appetite.

We arrived for our reservation, and once we walked in through the maze of wind-blocking tunnels, I was amazed by the size and decor of the restaurant. There we definitely a nice amount of aspects from their Boston location, such as exposed brick, distressed wood, and open ceilings showing the HVAC system. But, they definitely threw a New York/Meat Packing vibe into the mix, which was beautiful. We spoke with the hostess, which didn’t catch her name, but she was extremely nice and she walked us over to our table. Once we sat down, and looking around, I heard the great soundtrack – some songs of Nas’ Illmatic, some Tribe Called Quest – once again, similar to Charlie Bird, it was awesome to hear some hip-hop with amazing food.

The waiter came over, and we ordered our drinks. Nicole mentioned she was looking for something similar to a Pinot Noir, and he recommended two different ones. Initially she ordered the Bodegas Ponce ‘Pino’ Bobal, which she really enjoyed. After she wet with the Cvne Real, which was a little more Old World and earthy – another winner. I went with the Estrella (couple of Estrella) followed by a Smuttynose ‘Brown Dog Ale’ with dessert.

After the first round of drinks came, we placed our order. I gave the waiter a disclaimer to stop me if ordered to much – but then disregarded it and decided to surpass his ‘rule of thumb’ of 6 plates per two people. Here is our order:

  • Pan Con Tomate: Toasted bread with tomato, garlic, Spanish olive oil and sea salt. This dish was so basic, but the pureness of it brought me back to Barcelona. I highly recommend this as a great way to start, and won’t fill you up to much for the other items on the menu.
  • Tuna Tartare: The most amazing thing about this is the way it is listed on the menu “tuna tartare with stuff that we really like“. I mean, come on – how can you not order that? The tuna is served in a anchovies tin – and was delicious. I wanted to order the Tuna Belly initially, and might go with that next time, but the tartare was good.
  • Jamon de Pato: which is aged duck prosciutto, which was great. Nice mix of fat/meat, and was really nice. Tasted even better when I threw it on my Pan con Tomate ***Make that happen***.
  • ColesBrussels sprouts with olive oil and maldon salt. Probably some of the best brussels I had in a long time.
  • Costilla de Carne: Braised beef rib with pigeon peas, farro, and persimmons. This was one of those dishes you will be scraping the dish with your fork, picking up every last molecule of the items. The ribs were nicely cooked, and went extremely well with the farro and peas. I would suggest this if you want some red-meat, but don’t want to fill up on ordering the Chuleta de Buey – which is the 40 Day Dry Aged Rib-eye. **Order this dish**
  • PulpoGalician octopus with potatoes and charred onions. This was one of the best pieces of octopus I have ever tasted. Additionally, I would like to see the size of the octopus this tentacle was cut off – as I immediately yelled in my head, in Liam Neeson’s voice, “Unleash the Kraken!” If I were to take the time to straighten out the tentacle and measure it, I would say it would be 12 inches, thats what she said. Instead, we began to cut this into chunks and devour the Galician Greatness. At first taste I got a bit of a sweet tangy taste, but once I bit threw the charred outside and into the tender inside, I picked up a smokey taste – possible paprika. The potatoes were delicious, kind of looked like mini caramelized scallops and went nicely with the onions and tentacle. Hard to compare with the pulpo from Charlie Bird Noodle Pudding, Rubirosa, or Peasant – since those are more Italian style. This octopus is extremely unique, and I would definitely say this is some premium pulpo,  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS DISH ****
  • Paella Langostino: Lobster and black summer truffle paella. This was the final item of our order, and since we ordered a lot, and I had full intentions of ordering dessert, I decided to go with the half order. This was a great choice, the pan that comes out is a great size for two people who just ate a ton of tapas. The paella was moist, and full of flavor. I highly recommend ordering the half size, which at $45 isn’t too bad considering it is a large portion with lobster and black truffle.
  • Dessert: The semifreddo was good, however the CHURROS WERE AMAZING. These were by far the best churros I have ever had – better than Barcelona, Madrid, and anywhere in Manhattan. They had the perfect blend of cinnamon-sugar, kind of like taking the bottom of the cereal bag of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It came with a chocolate dipping sauce, which is not even needed. Trust me, Order these Churros.