Oh, Hey, What Have You Been Doing?

Drowning in Beer

Ever felt like you’re drowning, sucking in water and grasping for air, any air, just one breath? I have! It’s called writing a book in, oh, 106 days, give or take a few hours.

But instead of water I was guzzling IPAs, so many IPAs, parsing bitterness, pine and tropical fruit, turning impressions into thoughts and words. So many thoughts! So many words! Tens of thousands of words that went on to create Complete IPA, my boozy stab at chronicling the IPA fever sweeping the globe.

Cue up the tiny violins, roll out the golf clap, right? I get it: I’m a lucky duck, able to turn pleasure into a career. But heavens to Betsy, this book just about broke me. Writing is one thing; writing while moving from your apartment of 13 years (thanks for selling the building, landlord!), taking care of a hyper-energetic toddler and making sure that your dog gets enough walks, well, that’s a whole different beast. And totally possible! Provided that you don’t do important things like, say, sleep or see your friends, every other word you utter some variation on “citrusy.”

THERE IS SO MUCH CITRUS IN THE BEER WORLD.

But I finished the project, because that’s what I do when a deadline stares me straight in the eyes. It’s how I’ve stayed afloat for nearly 16 years of freelancing, making the impossible possible—even as it threatens to tear your sanity into tiny little pieces, the IPAs you’re drinking becoming not work but medicine, a weird twisted dance.

Guess what? I’m OK now! I think! The book is winding through edits, set to be published this September by Sterling Epicure, which published Brewed Awakening and The Complete Beer Course. At which point I’ll do some sort of boozy book tour. And drink many, many IPAs.

In between writing the book, I’ve been writing. Words! Lots of them! Mostly about beer. Care to see what I’ve been up to? Behold, a sampling of my words. About beer. Mostly.

Imbibe, “Full Press”:  How American cider is making a mainstream move.

Imbibe, “Gold Standard”: Firestone Walker’s Matt Brynildson is the best brewer no one has heard of. 

Imbibe, “Canned Craft Beer Grows Up”: Brewers are putting the pedal to the metal.

Draft, “Renaissance Maine”: At Funky Bow, rural Maine’s do-it-all man Paul Lorrain has a green thumb for business—and playing host.

Draft, “Content Under Pressure”: Whether he’s custom-building draft systems or growler fillers, Ben Granger is out to prove that carbonation is beer’s crucial fifth ingredient.

Draft, “Getting Cultured”: Be it sprouted grains, honey, apples, cabbage, or barley, Brooklyn’s Mary Izett believes she can ferment it.

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

Men’s Journal, “Take Beer Instagrams That Aren’t Boring”: You can do better.

Wine Enthusiast, “5 Milk Stouts You’ll Fall in Love With”: Truth.

Eater, “This Insulated Dark Lager Will Rekindle Your Love for Brooklyn Brewery

Eater, “Beer Review: Victory Vital IPA, a Contemporary, Crushable Beer

Eater, “Beer Review: Beer Review: SweetWater Hash Session Turns Waste Into Want 

BeerAdvocate Magazine, “Dry Spell”: Brewers are dry-hopped sours to create tart refreshers with IPA aromatics.

Bon Appétit, “Bored by IPA? Here Are the Craft Beer Trends to Crush in 2016”: Once again, you’ll want to try the dry-hopped sour. 

Bon Appétit, “Tropical-Flavored Beers are Vacations in a Bottle”: It’s the islands by way of the beer aisle.

Bon Appétit, “Yes, There Actually Are Oysters in That Oyster Stout”: Drink up the sea.

Culture, “Bitter Cold”: Pairing cheese with the freshest winter IPAs is a total pro move.

Announcing Winter’s Grind at Arrogant Swine: Part II

Winter_Grind_2015

Fine drinkers,

Hope everyone is doing well. For my second and final event of NYC Beer Week, I’m once again partnering with Chris Cuzme and Tyson Ho to throw the second edition of our gluttonous sausage-and-beer extravaganza, Winter’s Grind. The details…

What: Winter’s Grind at the Arrogant Swine: Part II
When: Saturday, February 27, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Arrogant Swine (173 Morgan Avenue at Scholes Street); Bushwick, Brooklyn
Tickets: $45. Includes endless sausage and 25 unique beers.
Buy tickets: Click here! P.S. Use the code SWINE for a special discount.

Tyson Ho likes sausage. Joshua M. Bernstein and Chris Cuzme? They like beer.

To combine two of life’s greatest pleasures, the comrades-in-consumption are once again joining forces for the second edition of Winter’s Grind at the Arrogant Swine, Ho’s Bushwick-based BBQ joint.

Ho and his fellow chef friends will be hand-cranking all-you-can-eat sausages such as Thai green curry and Arrogant’s Swine’s famous sausage ring. (Don’t worry: vegetarians will be have a dining option too.)

On the all-you-can-drink side, Cuzme and Bernstein have hand-selected 10 of the city’s top homebrewers to make dark and delightful beers, including the crew from Bitter & Esters and Mary Izett’s marvelously offbeat speed brews. Moreover, they’ve tabbed 15 of NYC’s best and newest breweries to supply drinkers with the finest February-friendly beers. That means you’ll be drinking BravenThrees, Greenpoint Beer & Ale, Gun Hill, Folksbier, Strong Rope, Keg & Lantern, Finback, Brooklyn Brewery, Rockway Brewing, freshly reopened Chelsea Craft Brewing and so many more surprises. Delicious, delicious surprises. Around 25 unique, rarely tasted brews will be poured.

Winter’s chill won’t stand a chance.

P.S. This year, we’ll have an even larger heated tent to make this a true indoor-outdoor, weather-defying experience.
The working beer list includes:

Threes: Superf*ckingyawn imperial IPA
Folksbier: Echo Maker dark rye ale
Gun Hill: Void of Light Stout
Finback: Crescent Fresh session IPA
Strong Rope: Trip to Burlington oatmeal stout
Cuzett Libations: Grisette
Chelsea Craft Brewery: Frosty’s Winter Wheat
Greenpoint Beer & Ales: Snuggles (dunkel lager with elderberries and cedar)
Keg & Lantern: Hot Gold (golden ale spiced with jalapeños and habaneros)
Flagship: Wee Heavy
Rockaway: Meat in the Middle (made with grains smoked at Meat Hook)
Sixpoint: XPorter
Braven: Black Pale Ale
Brooklyn Brewery: Insulated Dark Lager

Homebrew

BrewHeister: KelSmOak (kettle-soured Berliner weisse with oak)
Dirty Hats Brewing Labs: Shimmy Shimmy Cacao Puff (rye American stout with cinnamon, arbol peppers, vanilla, and locally roasted cacao)
Buddy Brewing: Cold Spice (winter spiced stout)
Brooklyn Brew Shop: Chocolate Maple Porter

Announcing: Jimmy’s Homebrew Jamboree, Take Four

jimmys-homebrew-jamboreeIt’s a fact: Local homebrewers are making some of the best beer in the Big Apple. To celebrate their creations (and drink them too!), we’re taking over every square inch of Jimmy’s No. 43. Again.

For the fourth edition of Jimmy’s Homebrew Jamboree, I’m partnering with homebrewing savant Robert Sherrill to enlist 16 of the city’s finest brewers to make special beers for the event. Expect IPAs, double IPAs, Belgian ales, saisons, stouts and the odd wild beer. The variety will be as endless as the beers are delicious.

In addition to unlimited beer, you’ll be well fed too. Jimmy’s is providing a smorgasbord of goodies including: mini cheeseburger sliders, kielbasa, Sigmund’s soft pretzels, grilled cheese and veggie tacos.

WHAT: Jimmy’s Homebrew Jamboree, Take Four
WHEN: Saturday, February 20, 12 p.m.
WHERE: Jimmy’s No. 43 (43 East Seventh Street, between Second and Third Avenues, Manhattan)
TICKETS: $35. They’ll be available Thursday, January 7, at 12 p.m. Buy them here. 

 

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

Satay

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.
MeatYourMatch_Menu-page-001

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.

Realtor.com, “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?