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Announcing: Wild Wheels—Funky Beer and Cheese in the Old Nassau Brewery

Washing the raw cheese.

Only one side of the cheese is washed each time. The sides are always washed.

What: Wild Wheels: Funky Beer and Cheese in the Old Nassau Brewery Lagering Caves
When: Saturday, December 5, 1 p.m.
Where: Crown Finish Caves (Crown Heights, Brooklyn)
Tickets: $55. Note: Only 75 tickets are available.
Ticket link: Buy them here. Sorry, we’re sold out.

Back in the 19th century, Crown Heights’ old Nassau Brewery made beer, storing its lagers in cool brick tunnels dug 30 feet underground. While beer production has ceased, the building owners have transformed the lagering tunnels into Crown Finish Caves, a facility dedicated to aging cheese deep beneath the Brooklyn streets.

To honor the building’s history, I’ve again partnered with the owners to curate an event dubbed “Wild Wheels.” The idea: With washing, cheese is steadily bathed with brine, wine, spirits or beer that helps keep the cheese moist, encouraging the bacterial growth that supply idiosyncratic flavors and aromas.

The best beers, we’ve discovered, are ones low in hops (the flowers have antimicrobial properties, inhibiting growth) and high in Brettanomyces, a wild, unruly yeast that can supply notes of tropical fruit, or maybe musty earth and barnyard. The Crown Finish Caves team is washing a test cheese made with pasteurized cow’s milk by Andrew Torrens of Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in Manhattan. Two batches were made: one inoculated with cheese ripening cultures and one as a blank slate, both washed with seven different Brettanomyces-dosed beers produced by Other Half, Finback, Threes Brewing, Transmitter Brewing, Right Proper Brewing, KelSo, and Sixpoint.

The cheeses, which are washed thrice weekly for several months, will then be served with the beer, creating a never-before-tasted pairing. And yes, you will be eating the cheese and drinking the beer in the old lagering tunnels, where the temperatures stay right around 50 degrees no matter the weather.

Additionally, brewers will be on hand to discuss the effects of Brettanomyces on beer. Plus: handmade pretzels. Wild Wheels is the delicious intersection of the building’s past and its future. Space is very limited: just 75 tickets. The experience: never to be repeated.

Wash beers for Wild Wheels

Three times a week, the cheeses are bathed with beer using these facial brushes.

Announcing: Homebrew-to-Pro Tour, Brooklyn Edition

A tank-fresh pour at Folksbier.

A tank-fresh pour at Folksbier.

Fine drinkers,

Hope everyone is having a splendid fall. I have a few fun events coming up over the next few months, including another beer washed–cheese event in Crown Finish Caves on December 5. More on that next week, including ticket info.

First up, though, I have…

WHAT: Homebrew-to-Pro Tour: Brooklyn Edition
WHEN: Saturday, November 21, 1 p.m.
TICKETS: $35. They will be available Wednesday, October 14, at 12 p.m. Sorry, we’re sold out.

It often begins with a single batch of homebrewed beer. Your friends like drinking the double IPA, or the coffee stout. More beer is brewed. More accolades. “You should start a brewery,” someone suggests, planting a seed inside your hobbyist head: Could this be a career?

Increasingly these days, the answer for New Yorkers is “yes.” We’re witnessing an unparalleled brewing boom, one flooding the city with great beer. Today, we’re going to celebrate the brewing bounty by taking a walking tour of two of Brooklyn’s newest breweries, plus another homebrewer making marvelous medal-winning beer.

By and large, these spaces are rarely open to the public. But today, today we get to peek behind the brew kettles at Folksbier, hearing how Travis Kauffman went from working in restaurants to turning out terrific, German-inspired lagers. Next, we’ll pop by the backyard of homebrewing savant Simon Tepas, who has a healthy fixation with wild yeast, before finishing at Strong Rope—that is, homebrew-tour veteran Jason Sahler’s in-the-works Gowanus brewery. Expect lots of lovely beers, fromBrettanomyces-dosed experiments to approachable cream ales, flavor-charged brown ales, saisons and lagers aplenty.

Naturally, brewers will be on hand to tell their stories. It’s going to be an excellent afternoon.

Announcing Meat Your Match: When Malaysian Grilling Met Beer


Deep in Brooklyn, not too far from Prospect Park’s southern end, Auria Abraham cooks some of the most complex, fieriest Malaysian food in New York City. Her company, Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen, specializes in spicy sambal, a condiment that’s kind of like the ketchup of Malaysia.

Tonight, we’re taking over Auria’s lush backyard and finished basement–think: wood paneling, full bar, a speakeasy stolen from 1973–for one last grilling blast before summer says goodbye. We’re going to eat homemade shrimp crackers with sweet chill sauce, traditional Malaysian beef and chicken satay (meats are marinated in fresh turmeric, galangal, lemongrass, fennel, cumin, coriander and fresh chillies, then caramelized on the grill) served with homemade chunky peanut sauce and pressed rice cakes, plus rojak– a vibrant fruit and vegetable salad with cucumbers, pineapple, jicama, fried tofu, green papaya and guava.

To drink, we’re sipping cin cao, a cooling beverage made with cubed grass jelly, and beer. So much beer! Drink-wise, what goes best with these gorgeous grilled meats? Is it an IPA? A strong saison? A mead made with durian? To find out, we’ll be serving a Finback IPA, a potent saison from Folksbier, fermented black teas and meads from Mary Izett (author of Speed Brewing) and, drum roll, please, a special appearance by Columbus, Ohio’s never-before-seen Seventh Son, which is toting up a tart saison from the Midwest.

The music will be supplied by Auria’s husband, Mush1, a trumpeter, reggae producer, member of Top Shotta Band and host of WNYU Radio’s Tunnel One (he’s also a former member of Murphy’s Law and ska band the Slackers). The tunes will be choice. The food will be nice. The drinks: endless. Surprises: many! The night: not to be repeated.

WHAT: Meat Your Match—A Malaysian Grilling and Fermented Beverages Pop-Up
WHEN: Saturday, September 12, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Flatbush, Brooklyn
TICKETS: $55. Use the promo code satay for $10 off.

Here’s the early menu.

July Writing: The Round-up

Photo credit: Brooklyn Magazine

Photo credit: Brooklyn Magazine

Fine readers!

Hope everyone is doing well. Over the last few months, I have written words. So many words! So very many words, which I have turned into paychecks that in turn are used to afford life essentials, such as rent, diapers for my daughter and beer. Beer! That’s why you’re here. To read stories about beer. And I will not disappoint. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve been up to, story-wise. P.S. Let me know if any of these tales tickle your fancy.

Imbibe, “Back to the Land”: Farmers, brewers and farmer-brewers are growing a new crop of truly local beers.

Draft, “The Power of One”: In a harried world packed with pairing suggestions, what’s the best multipurpose beer?

Draft, “Riding the (R)ales”: The train’s your ticket to unforgettable beer adventures.

Men’s Journal, “The 10 Best Shandy and Radler Beers”: Don’t get stuck drinking subpar citrus-infused beer.

Men’s Journal, “America’s Most Patriotic Craft Beers”: DRINK UP FREEDOM!

Wine Enthusiast, “Beat the Heat Beers”: You’ll want to sip these all summer long.

Wine Enthusiast, “Meet Your Favorite Warm-Weather Beer”: Hello, kölsch!

Wine Enthusiast, “Is the IPA Trend Losing Steam?”: Short answer: no. Long answer: read ahead.

Brooklyn Magazine, “A Guide to Summer Drinking in Brooklyn”: How, where and what to sip in my home borough. P.S. I did plenty of research., “Love Beer? Of Course You Do. Now It’s Time to Put a Kegerator in Your Kitchen”: Well, that’s a pretty explanatory title.

Eater, “Beer Review: Firestone Walker Pivo Pils Is Pure, Cold Comfort”: Did you know that I write a monthly review column for Eater? Now you do!

Eater, “Beer Review: Ballast Point’s Grapefruit Sculpin Is a Beer All IPA Fans Should Try”:

Eater, “Beer Review: 21st Amendment’s Down to Earth is an Easy-Drinking Modern IPA” 

Eater, “Beer Review: Hopworks’ Totally Radler is the Perfect Low-Alcohol Summer Brew” 

Boston, “Bubbling Up”: My essay on how the Northeast got its brewing mojo back.

Take Part, “Malthouse Rising”: It’s the rise of truly local beer. 

Van Winkle’s, “Just 10,000 Miles to Mongolia”: Spoiler alert: It’s no fun to sleep next to a night-screamer,

Bon Appétit, “March Is a Tricky Time to Drink Beer, so Drink Bière de Mars”: The French farmhouse ale is just the ticket to that time of year.

Bon Appétit, “Better Together: Why Brewers Are Collaborating to Make New Beers”: The answer: creativity.

Bon Appétit, “The Beer for People Who Don’t Think They Like Craft Beer”: It’s time you tried a Munich helles.

Bon Appétit, “Craft Beer Trends to Look Out for in 2015”: Hello, German hops.

Bon Appétit, “For an Extra Caffeine Fix, Try Beer With Coffee”: Uppers and downers, united in the same glass.

Bon Appétit, “Breweries Are the Hot New Spot for Restaurant Pop-Ups”: Some of the best food is now found in breweries.

Bon Appétit, “Breweries Look Beyond the Beer and to… Murals?!”: For artists, brewery walls are the best new canvases for artists.

Bon Appétit, “Pound the Pavement and Some Brews: The Intersection of Running and Beer”: How else are you going to stay in shape?

Announcing: Solstice Session at the Arrogant Swine, Take Two


Last summer, one of my favorite events was a killer pig roast that I helped run at Bushwick’s premier North Carolina-style BBQ joint, Arrogant Swine. Think: 25-plus low-alcohol beers, ciders and meads, combined with more pig than you could ever hope to devour. It was an epic afternoon, so epic that we’ve decided to repeat the event next month. This will likely be my last beer event till the fall, so get in while the getting is good.

Event: Solstice Session at the Arrogant Swine, Take Two
Where: 173 Morgan Avenue, Bushwick, Brooklyn
When: Saturday, June 20, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Tickets: $45.
Ticket link: Here.

Tyson Ho likes swine. Joshua M. Bernstein and Chris Cuzme? They like beer. Today, Pitmaster Ho will slow-roast the finest heritage pig and serve mountains of pulled-pork sandwiches. (Don’t worry: veggies will have food too.) To drink, Cuzme and Bernstein have assembled a line-up of the city’s best session beer, cider and mead–that is, low alcohol but not low in flavor. And perfect for drinking all afternoon.

We’ve enlisted 10 of the city’s best homebrewers to make session beers, then we’ve tabbed NYC’s best and brightest breweries to craft low-alcohol beauties too. That means you’ll be drinking the likes of Transmitter, Finback, Threes,Greenpoint Beer and Ale, Folksbier, SingleCut, Bridge and Tunnel and Big Alice, as well as the brand-new LIC Beer Project. There will be 25 unique, rarely tasted session brews on offer, from oat-driven grisettes to tart sours, refreshing goses, session IPAs and everything under the low-alcohol sun. (And yes, you’ll be able to drink all you want.)

You’ll savor the beverages in more than 3,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor industrial paradise, with picnic tables and plenty of large-scale Jenga. Better still: June 20 is the Summer Solstice, meaning that today is the first, and longest, day of summer. Once again, there’s no better way to kick off the summer.

March Writing Round-up

Colbert_Good Bad Journalism

Fine readers!

What a last month. New York City Beer Week came and went, kicking my butt with so, so much beer. I ran two events (Jimmy’s Homberew Jamboree and Winter’s Grind), wrote numerous stories and still found time to be a good dad to Violet. She’s getting so big, so soon. But anyway, you don’t want to see me get all weepy, shedding tears in my beer. You want to read about beer! Beer! Beer! Here are some of the stories I’ve knocked out over the last six weeks. Happy reading.

Maxim, “How the Pickleback Became the People’s Shot”: Pickle juice + whiskey = awesome.

Maxim, “French Brandy’s Big Break”: Why you should give Cognac a second chance.

First We Feast, “Beer With Baby: Bissell Brothers The Substance”:
A teething toddler is a terrific excuse to drink a hop bomb. P.S. This is my last Beer With Baby column with First We Feast. Who wants to run the column? Hmm!

Bon Appétit, “Why Breweries Are Focusing on Single-Hop Beer”: The power of one is a delicious, delicious thing.

Bon Appétit, “Why Successful Breweries Keep Launching Spin-offs”: The answer: brand expansion as an act of creative freedom.

Wine Enthusiast, “History of Hops in Beer”: A pinpoint primer for the wine-sipping set.

Culture, “Hey, Porter”: Dark, complex, and once beloved around the world, porter is a winter-friendly dark brew that is poised for a comeback

Culture, “In the Wash in the Crown Finish CavesThe scoop on my beer-and-cheese event 30 feet underground, in an ancient Brooklyn lagering cave.

Tickets on Sale: Winter’s Grind at the Arrogant Swine


For my second, and final, event of New York City Beer Week, I’ve cooked up a doozy with Chris Cuzme. Once again, we’re taking over Bushwick’s BBQ-driven Arrogant Swine for an event featuring New York City’s best professional and soon-to-be-pro brewers—none repeated from Jimmy’s Homebrew Jamboree—and loads of wildly inventive sausages. The delicious details…

What: Winter’s Grind at the Arrogant Swine
When: Saturday, February 28, 1 p.m.–4 p.m.
Where: The Arrogant Swine (173 Morgan Ave.), Bushwick, Brooklyn
Tickets: $40 until February 9. $45 afterward. Buy them here. They go on sale today (January 15) at 12 p.m.

Tyson Ho and his fellow chef friends (names to be released soon) will be hand-cranking eight different all-you-can-eat sausages such as oak-smoked bratwurst, northern-Thai turkey and chicken tikki masala. (Don’t worry: vegetarians will be fed too.)

To drink, I’ve worked with Cuzme to hand-select nine of the city’s top homebrewers to make dark and delightful beers. Moreover, we’ve tabbed 14 of NYC’s best and newest breweries to supply drinkers with the finest February-friendly beers. That means you’ll be drinking Other Half, Greenpoint Beer and Ale, Secret Engine, Keg & Lantern, Threes Brewing, Bridge and Tunnel, Rockaway, Gun Hill and so many more. More than 20 unique, rarely tasted brews will be poured, from cedar tip-infused lagers to double IPAs, coffee cream ales, imperial rye ales and everything in between.

Winter’s chill won’t stand a chance.

P.S. That’s also because we’ll have heat lamps galore, making this an indoor-outdoor event. Ever wanted to play lawn-size Jenga while eating sausage and drinking a double IPA? Now’s your chance.