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.
I can’t wait until I’m old enough to steal my dad’s beer!
On November 19, at the stroke of midnight, our daughter, Violet, said hello to the world. I can’t wait until she’s old enough to tell her teachers, classmates, friends and parents of friends that her daddy drinks beer for a living. Perhaps I should start a support group: Drinking Dads of the Craft-Beer Industry? The Pants-less Parents Association? Bring Daddy His Aspirin, He Has a Head Boo-Boo? Now back to figuring out how these newborns work. She seems to have arrived without the instruction manual.
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.
Braven Brewing’s Marshall Thompson (left) and Eric Feldman.
The path to professional brewing often starts on the kitchen stove. As the batches stack up, skills are refined. Recipes are perfected. Friends clamor for another pint of bitter IPA, or maybe it’s a coffee stout. Accolades stack up like poker chips. “You should start a brewery,” someone suggests, planting a seed inside that grows into an all-consuming desire to turn a hobby into a career.
Over the last four years of running my homebrew tour, I’ve watched this journey play out like an endlessly looping film reel. Rich Buceta went on to launch SingleCut. Jonathan Moxey now works for Perennial Artisan Ales. Kevin Stafford and Basil Lee are opening Finback. To the list of homebrew-tour gone pro I will soon add Marshall Thompson and Eric Feldman, a duo formerly known as the East Village Brewing Company.
Back in 2010, I crammed 30 strangers into Feldman’s Manhattan apartment to sample the Avenue A-le and Stuy Town Nut Brown. The beers were delightful. The crowd was impressed. Perhaps these guys have a bright future, I thought, making a mental note to follow their online exploits. But months later, their website went dark. Posts fell off a cliff. Was this another case of a hobby fizzling out?
Hardly. Three years later, the East Village Brewing Company has been reborn as Brooklyn’s Braven. “We want to tap into Bushwick’s brewing tradition,” Feldman says of the brewery, which takes its name from a chimera-like combination of a buck and a raven. Once upon a time, you see, Bushwick got America good and drunk. By 1962, 10 percent of America drank Brooklyn beer, and a dozen-plus brewers dotted the blocks. But by the 20th century’s close, breweries like Rheingold and Schaefer were historical footnotes. Today, there’s nary a brewery in Bushwick.
That’s a void that Braven aims to fill. “We’re hoping to be a destination brewery,” says Feldman, a lawyer who envisions a laid-back taproom where friends, families and their dogs can mingle together. Currently, the twosome are searching for a space, preferably around the Jefferson Avenue stop, and are perfecting their launch brands. Driven by the notion of being bold and crafty (the bold buck + the crafty raven = Braven), the friends are working on a lineup of balanced, approachable beers that are full of flavor, not booze.
“I love IPAs, but many of them hit you with 7 percent ABV,” says Feldman, who will be handling the brewing while Thompson focuses on sales and marketing. “That’s a lot of alcohol. I like having a few beers throughout the evening.”
The crisp, quaffable debut brews will be a white IPA heavy on citrusy, floral hops such as Cascade and Centennial, as well as a black IPA likely dosed with piney, woody Simcoe. While the allure of hoppy beers is undeniable, Braven will also look toward classic styles such as the altbier and pilsner, as well as brews that tie into Bushwick’s Hispanic and Mexican population—hello, Day of the Dead–themed orange habañero chocolate stout. “We’re trying to make a beer that captures the spirit of the neighborhood,” Feldman says.
As for timing to buy these beers, don’t hold your breath. Right now, Braven is running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a pilot brewery. Furthermore, the friends are seeking out a regional brewery where they might be able to contract-brew, or perhaps they’ll set up a smaller brewing system inside an existing restaurant or bar. (Realistically speaking, Braven is still at least 12 to 18 months away from opening, which means the end of 2014 or spring 2015.)
“One of the big problems is trying to find a space,” laments Feldman, who is still cranking out five-gallon batches in his East Village apartment. Though Braven can’t legally sell the beer, Feldman and Thompson are doling out samples at parties and events around Brooklyn. “The first couple times I handed out beer to people and waited for feedback, it was terrifying,” Feldman says. “Alternately, this project will be super-exciting and super-scary, but nothing makes us any happier.”
This post originally appeared on Craft Beer New York. Check it out!
During the Great American Beer Festival, I attended a sour-beer brunch (tough life, I know) at City, O’ City, a terrific vegetarian restaurant. As luck had it, my dining companion was Pete Rowe, a great beer writer from San Diego. Pete was both reporting on the festival and filming it for a local TV station. He asked me to babble on camera about the festival, the future of beer and my book. Here’s the result. You can’t even tell I’m hungover!
Ah, the joys of radio!
When Brewed Awakening came out a few years back, one of my favorite appearances was on the Brewing Network’s Sunday Session. Instead of being relegated to a five-minute spot stuffed with sound bites, I was able to chat with the lovably cantankerous crew for more than an hour, digging deep beneath the hood of craft beer and my life too. It was like a strangely enjoyable therapy session. With beer. So much beer.
So when the Brewing Network crew asked me to come back on the air to chat about The Complete Beer Course, I of course said yes. Then I drank multiple beers, got on the phone (well, Skype) and spent more than an hour discussing everything from my days as a youthful pornographer, 9/11, a broken-down Volvo, my wife’s pregnancy and, eventually, craft beer. And my book.
Care to listen? The episode is now available for download.
It’s tired maxim, but I’ll trot it out again: Today’s homebrewers are tomorrow’s professional brewers, the men and women who will one day craft your favorite new IPA, gose or some other style that has yet to be invented or dredged from the history books.
Getting a taste of these beers typically requires you to be buddies with the brewer. (Or if you’re in New York City, attending my homebrew tour.) But on Saturday, November 2, you’ll have the chance to sample your way the most dizzying—and dizzyingly delicious—collection of homebrew the city has ever seen.
That night, the Brooklyn Brewery will be taken over by the New York City Homebrewers Guild for its 25th anniversary party. (Fun fact: Brooklyn brewmaster Garrett Oliver was a founding member.) To celebrate, the guild has enlisted clubs from across the city to pour their homebrewed creations. From Brooklyn Brewers to Brewstoria (Queens, that is), this event will welcome a stunning array of brewers from across the city—more than 65 different beers and counting.
You’ll be treated to free samples of the homebrews, as well as an unlimited buffet of Brooklyn Brewery beers. But act fast. Tickets are just $25 and they’re going fast. You don’t want to miss out on tasting the future of beer in New York City.
What: NYC Homebrewers Guild 25th Anniversary Party
When: Saturday, November 2, 9 p.m.
Where: Brooklyn Brewery
Tickets: $25. Buy them here.