Category Archives: Beer

How Did Bend, Oregon, Become a Craft Beer Powerhouse?

Bend, Oregon_Imbibe

Photo: My Instagram feed!

For the latest issue of Imbibe magazine, I attempt to suss out just how Bend became such a national player on the craft-beer scene. Back in 1988, the town’s timber industry had collapsed. The population hovered around 18,000. Downtown was a ghost town.

Then along came Deschutes, which helped jumpstart a stunning revitalization. A quarter-century later, the brewpub has blossomed into America’s fifth-largest brewery, and Bend has undergone a night-and-day revitalization. The town has swelled to around 80,000 residents, who have been lured by a family-friendly lifestyle highlighted by outdoor recreation, a thriving walkable downtown, an abundance of sunshine—and boatloads of craft beer.

Today, there are 17 breweries in Bend (and another half dozen in neighboring towns), each one unique, and together offering an impressive range of beers. If you favor hop bombs, then try Boneyard10 Barrel and Below Grade. For wood-aged elixirs, tryAle Apothecary’s funky fermentations, while Crux Fermentation crafts a kaleidoscope of styles, from an unfiltered pilsner to a peaty Scotch ale. Bend Brewing Company pairs pub grub with medal-winning porters and sour ales, and GoodLife and Worthy Brewing specialize in that crucial companion to hiking and fishing: canned beers.

Care to read the story? Check out “Around the Bend” over at Imbibe.

Drinking Beer While Parenting: The Primer

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These days, my identity is a bit muddled. Professionally, I’m a beer journalist and author, but I’m also a parent to my newborn, Violet. How do I reconcile drinking with caring for my daughter? You want to do, uh, research, but you also don’t want to have Jell-O arms and end up dropping your daughter. That’ll merit a house call from the department of children’s services, that’s for certain. So what’s the solution? To find out the answer, check out my article on First We Feast. It’s a fun read, even if you don’t have kids.

 

The New York City Homebrew Tour on Chop & Brew

With only 30 or so spots on my homebrew tours, it’s tough to accommodate everyone that would like to attend. And that is where Chip Walton comes in play. Walton, who runs the excellent online show Chop & Brew (homebrew lovers, check it out), was on hand to chronicle a Brooklyn tour that took place in September. Settle in with a good beer and check it out.

Seven of the Most Anticipated New Craft Breweries in NYC in 2014

4th-of-july-beer

New York’s craft-beer scene is booming, with breweries popping up from the Bronx to Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and even Staten Island. (Not to mention the scores of homebrewers perfecting their recipes, eager to take them to the next level.) Travel around town, and you’ll find world-class double IPAs, snifter-worthy barrel-aged imperial stouts and lip-puckering sour ales. Here are the breweries I’m excited about in 2014.

Other Half Brewing (195 Centre St., Gowanus, Brooklyn)
Do you love KelSo’s IPA and Industrial IPA? Then you dig the beers of brewer Sam Richardson, who has gone solo with this outfit in Carroll Gardens. Expect heaps of hop-forward ales, most notably the West Coast–style Other Half IPA and souped-up Green Diamonds Imperial IPA, which is dosed with heaps of Australia’s melon-y Galaxy hops.
Status: Other Half beers are currently on tap around town, and the tasting room should soon follow suit.

Dirck the Norseman (7 N. 15th St., Greenpoint, Brooklyn)
Ever since Park Slope Brewery shuttered more than a decade earlier, Brooklyn has been brewpub-deprived, a drought set to end with this Greenpoint brewpub named after the neighborhood’s first Scandinavian settler. Ed Raven, who founded importer Raven Brands and Greenpoint growler shop Brouwerij Lane, has transformed a plastic-bag factory abutting the East River into a roomy beer hall that will pour both his imported European brews (including Jever Pilser and Gaffel Kölsch) and in-house ales. Head brewer Chris Prout, who honed his skills at South Carolina’s Outer Banks Brewing Station, will craft creative riffs on Belgian and American classics, such as a rhubarb saison and an IPA spiked with Tupelo honey.
Status: Set to open early 2014

Finback Brewery (78-01 77th Ave., Glendale, Queens)
For several years, Kevin Stafford and Basil Lee were a key stop on my homebrew tour, crafting dry stouts, ginger-and-Szechuan peppercorn session ales and IPAs that were a step above the average kitchen-crafted beer. After a yearlong search for a home for Finback, named after a whale that washed ashore in Breezy Point, they found a headquarters in Glendale, Queens, not far from the Lutheran Cemetery. The duo will also use the 13,000-square-foot space for an extensive barrel-aging and sour-beer program.
Status: Opening in January 2014—fingers crossed.

Transmitter Brewing (52-03 11th St., Long Island City, Queens)
This winter, the Long Island City beer scene will welcome Transmitter, the brainchild of longtime buddies and amateur bicycle racers Rob Kolb and Anthony Accardi. The duo will focus on farmhouse-inspired Belgian and French beers fueled by funky fermentations. The friends have spent years carefully sourcing unique strains of Brettanomyces yeast and Lactobacillus and Pediococcus cultures. They’re going to be a local game-changer.
Status: Aiming for a March 2014 opening

Flagship Brewing Company
 (215 Bay St., St. George, Staten Island)
Here’s one more reason to ride the Staten Island Ferry: Not far from the terminal you’ll find Flagship, which is slated to be the borough’s first brewery since Brooklyn brand Piels closed its R&H plant in 1963. Co-owner and head brewer Jay Sykes hopes to use locally grown hops in his beers.
Status: Opening early 2014

The Bronx Brewery
 (856 E. 136th St., Port Morris, The Bronx)
At last, the Bronx crew will start making beer in its namesake borough. (The brews were previously produced in Connecticut.) The team is hard at work outfitting an 8,000 square-foot space with a tasting room, a 20-barrel brewhouse and an outdoor space suited for food trucks.
Status: Opening spring 2014

Gun Hill Brewing Company (3227 Laconia Ave., Williamsbridge, The Bronx)
Bronx’s brewing boom continues with Gun Hill, named after a battle site during the Revolutionary War. The brewmaster is Chris Sheehan, the former chief beer maker at both Chelsea Brewing Company and Newark, New Jersey’s short-lived Port 44 Brewpub. The 30-barrel brewhouse plans to take advantage of New York’s Farm Brewery License, which allows breweries to be run like a bar—provided they use a certain percentage of New York–grown ingredients. Expect several stouts, an IPA, a golden ale and loads of seasonal releases.
Status: Opening early winter 2014

Win the United States of Beer Poster

MAP_OVERALL_1024x1024Win me!

As of this moment in time, there are more than 2,500 breweries in America, with a thousand more (and counting) in planning. It’s a dizzying, yet delicious time be a beer drinker in this nation. It’s tough to keep track of what you drank and where you drank it—until now.

This fall, the typographic geniuses behind 33 Bottles of Beer debuted The United States of Beer, a coast-to-coast beer-tasting map for your wall. Measuring 39 inches from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans and 25 inches from north to south, the wall-chomping gold-ink poster allows you to inscribe your favorite beer from each state, complete with its tasting profile. Consider it the world’s best interactive art.

What’s it cost, you wonder? Why, the average layman must pay $30. (Click here to peruse and perhaps purchase.) It’s a steal, let me tell you. Know what’s an even better deal? Free! And that’s where the contest comes into play.

WHAT: Win the United States of Beer poster
HOW: When traveling across the country, what’s your favorite memory of drinking beer? Tell me in 250 words or less at: josh.bernstein@gmail.com. In the subject line, write POSTER GIVEAWAY.
WHEN: The contest is open until Monday, December 9, at 11:59 p.m.
FINE PRINT: The winner will be announced on Wednesday, December 11. Then I will hurry to the Post Office in time for Christmas delivery.

The Complete Beer Course Holiday Sale

hoorayyyyyyyyyyyyyWhat a deal!

Now that December is here and we’re ticking down the days until Christmas, I’ve decided to put autographed copies of The Complete Beer Course on sale. I’ll sign anything. Anything! And include a limited-edition button with each order. Grab books right over…here. Yeah, they’ll be a couple bucks more than Amazon. However, it’s not like Jeff Bezos is walking down to the Post Office and personally mailing everything you buy online. Plus: a portion of every sale is earmarked for diapers for my daughter. She has an insatiable Huggies demand.

The Rise of Culinary Brewing

stout_5Photography: Jon Edwards

Do these pictures make you hungry? That’s the point! For this month’s issue of Draft magazine, I investigate the growing trend of culinary in brewing. In a simpler era, brewers mainly relied on hops, grain, water and yeast to create an endless range of ales and lagers. But for modern brewers, the power of four tends to bore.

Seeking out new flavors, brewers are digging into their pantries and refrigerators. Though you can add edibles to nearly any beer style (Ballast Point’s Habañero Sculpin IPA, Elysian’s Super Fuzz blood orange pale ale, Sam Adams’ beef-heart-fueled, Oktoberfest-inspired Burke in a Bottle), the most popular platforms are the stout and porter. Typically, brewers played up their roasty, cocoalike characteristics by incorporating coffee or chocolate. Now they’re turning to bacon, peanut butter, pretzels and even oysters to devise dark beers as curious as they are curiously delicious.

Care to read the full story? Check it out over at Draft.

October Beer-Story Roundup

Writing+drunk+high_

Fine drinkers! The last month has been a tilt-a-whirl of travel for The Complete Beer Course. Over the course of 12 hours, I consumed beer in both Brooklyn and San Diego—and at 30,000 feet too—to kickstart a book tour that has not quite ended yet.  In between drinking more than my recommended daily allowance of beer, as well as preparing for the impending birth of my daughter next month, I’ve been writing. Oh, have I been writing! So many words! So many, many words!

This dichotomy suits me like Savile Row’s finest. I’m able to get out in the world and chitchat with folks, then retreat to my hermit cave and crank out stories like one of those monkeys tethered to a typewriter. Anyway, I digress. Which is sort of the point of writing on your own website, right? No editors to request that you turn your stories into a clickable slideshow or knock out a trend-driven story on, say, pumpkin beers or football season. It’s tough being a writer in this attention-deficit Internet age. But you know what? There are far, far worse jobs out there in the world. Actually, that’s a lie: newspaper reporter is the worst job.

So why do I do it? I like writing. And I like drinking beer. And I like investigating their delicious intersections. Without further hullabaloo, here are some of the stories I’ve penned over the last month. You’ll want to crack a beer first.

First We Feast, “20 Beer Terms You Secretly Can’t Explain”Or can you? That would really defeat this article’s purpose.

Bon Appétit, “The Complete College Guide to Drinking Beer”: Malt liquor and keg stands are nothing but a distant memory.

Bon Appétit, “Ten Great American Farmhouse Breweries”: From Hill Farmstead to Ruhstaller, Old MacDonald most definitely had a beer.

Bon Appétit, “How the 10 Most Important Grains in Beer Affect Flavor”: From oats to rye, here’s why your beer drinks smooth and tastes spicy.

Imbibe, “The United States of Beer”: My cover story this month is a state-by-state sampling of the nation’s craft beers. P.S. It’s only in the magazine.

Imbibe, “Average Joe”: RateBeer’s Joe Tucker has built a beer-review website for—and of—the people

The Denver Post, “Scouting GABF 2013″: I report on the Northeast’s best breweries to travel to Denver this year.

New York Post, “10 Brew-tiful Ways to Rock Oktoberfest”: You’re hungry for sausage, aren’t you?

Maxim, “Seven Things Every Man Should Know About Oktoberfest”: For starters, it actually begins in September.

Meet RateBeer’s Joe Tucker

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For this month’s issue of Imbibe, I was lucky enough to profile Joe Tucker, the brains behind RateBeer. Since the site was founded in 2000, Tucker has cultivated the site into one of the world’s largest and most influential beer communities, a sudsy safe haven where kinship matters as much as sampling rare imperial stout. Each month more than 1 million RateBeerians from around the world pen reviews of beer, cider, mead and saké; chitchat on forums; and often meet up to share pints, treasured bottles and conversation.

My story is a peek behind the curtains of one of the world’s most popular beer websites. Check it out right…here. 

 

Tickets on Sale: Carroll Gardens Homebrew Tour

Homebrew

What time is it? Homebrew time! Here are the details on my latest tour. Hurry up: Tickets are going fast.

WHAT: Carroll Gardens Homebrew Tour
WHEN: Sunday, September 22, 1 p.m.
WHERE: Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
TICKETS: $30.
TICKET LINK: Buy them here. Sorry, we already sold out. Please stay tuned for the next tour.

On today’s walking tour, we’re starting off by visiting Jason Sahler, who is planning the forthcoming Strong Rope Brewery. In time for hop-harvest season, he’ll be brewing a few fresh-hop beers–most likely a session white IPA with local wheat and a few other treats.

Next, we’re headed down the road to meet Isaac Deutsch, who will be pouring a smoky Rauchbier, pale ale and perhaps a coffee stout.

Lastly, we’re going to finish up in Simon Tepas’ backyard. At this year’s National Homebrew Competition, Simon won a silver medal for his rye-fueled double IPA. Today, he’ll be serving a red IPA, hoppy wheat beer and tastes of his sour beers and burly aged Belgian quads.

The Best New Imported Beers to Try

BernsteinThat light-up disco dance floor at Bubba’s sure is sweet.

Back in June, I traveled to Portland, Maine, to drink beer. This is pretty common. The seafaring city is one of my favorite on the East Coast, the land where I married my wife and spent far too many hours shaking my tail father on this light-up disco dance floor at Bubba’s Sulky Lounge. (Bonus: can you spot me in this video?)

But this trip was different. Over the weekend in a cavernous boatyard in Portland, ME, beer importers Shelton Brothers and 12 Percent combined forces to create The Festival, a humble name for a wildly ambitious notion: to bring more than 70 of the world’s best breweries together under one roof, with the brewers on hand to discuss their creations.

“You never see all these breweries in one place,” said Joel Shelton, gesturing to the sprawling room lined with brewers from Japan, Norway, Spain, England–basically, everywhere that better craft beer is brewed. And increasingly, it is everywhere. Craft beer is a global phenomenon, but you need not book a plane ticket to savor the best new breweries.

I spent the weekend sampling (and sampling and sampling) the latest crop of imports to touch down on American shores. For Bon Appétit, I reported on the best new international breweries to seek out. Check out my story right…here.  

Announcing: The Complete Beer Course Release Party

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On September 10 at 7:30 p.m., come join drinkers and thinkers at the Brooklyn Brewery as we proudly host the release party for The Complete Beer Course, Brooklyn author Joshua M. Bernstein’s comprehensive guide to enjoying and understanding mankind’s greatest beverage—in our humble opinion, at least.

To celebrate, Brooklyn Brewery will be opening up 10 draft lines and popping bottles of its award-winning Belgian-style beers. Snacks will be served to keep hunger at bay. Josh will be on hand to sign books and drink his body weight in beer.

Tickets will be available in two tiers:

* If you’re just down to drink, the $15 ticket will get you unlimited Brooklyn Brewery beer.

* The $30 ticket will get you unlimited Brooklyn Brewery beer and a copy of The Complete Beer Course (a $25 value).

To purchase tickets, please visit Brown Paper Tickets. Unfortunately, we are sold out.