Saturday, January 30, 2010

C is For Cookie

That handsome man is Garrett Oliver, brewmaster for Brooklyn Brewery. For everyone on the West Coast, Brooklyn Brewery is one of the top 3 greatest American breweries, and I'm terribly sorry they do not distribute out there yet. Fortunately for me, I live (relatively) right down the street from this great place. I went there last night for the Liz and Larry birthday spectacular. While the party was great, I think today I want to write about something that has been so far short changed in this space: The beer.

When I say that Brooklyn Brewery is one of the top 3 breweries in the nation, I don't mean to short change other breweries. For instance, if you asked me which American brewery made the best Belgian ales, I would say Ommegang. Best IPAs? That's probably Dogfish Head. But the thing about Brooklyn Brewery is that do EVERYTHING well. From their basic lager to their Brewmaster's Reserve series, any type of beer you can think of, they have an excellent take on that beer. I mean they aren't like Saranac, who makes a million styles of beer, each one as mediocre as the next. These guys do a million styles of beer and they do them all right (as in each beer is done right, not in the "How was the movie?" "It was all right," sense of all right).

Each weekend, the brewery opens itself up for customers (it's not really a bar, they just clear out part of the brewery and set up a bunch of card tables). They generally have about eight of their beers on tap on any given weekend, and at 3 bucks a beer, you're not going to find a better bang for your buck. Given the price and the selection, it's the perfect place to make some headway on drinking 1000 beers in a year, you know, if that was a goal of yours. So at the party I decided I was going to do just that. I drank *SPOILER ALERT* six different types of beer for a total of eight beers last night. Here's the list:

1 Cookie Jar Porter: A porter (who would have guessed??!!) that sort of tastes like an oatmeal cookie. I say "sort of" only to temper your expectations, should you ever drink one. Brooklyn Brewery just came out with this beer about two weeks ago, and all the reviews I read said that it tastes like drinking a cookie. Well that's not how it tastes. It tastes like an excellent porter that has some cookie overtones. I also just noticed that it's hard to think you're writing about beer in a serious manner when you use the phrase "cookie overtones." Anyway, at 8.something ABV, it'll get the job done, assuming your job is getting drunk.

2 Backbreakers: An English Strong Ale, whatever those are. I know a lot about beer and this one is new to me. has Fuller's 1845 listed as the most popular beer in that style, describing the style as "bigger than a pale ale yet smaller than a barleywine," which seems about right. And come to think of it, if someone asked me to describe Backbreaker to them, I probably would have said, "It's sort of a strong ale, not super hoppy, but pretty heavy on the alcohol," so I suppose calling the genre English Strong Ale is pretty apropos, though I'm still not sure where the English part comes in. Whatever it was, it was delicious. And at 7.0 ABV, it will also get the job done.

2 Blasts: Blast is Brooklyn's take on one of my favorite styles of beer, the Double IPA. If you like being punched in the face by a beer, then this is the beer for you. It's a hops explosion (that's something people say, right?). It's also about 9.0 ABV, so that's also pretty great. Perhaps watching this video will explain this beer better than I can:

The remaining beers I had are as follows: 1 Lager, 1 Weisse, and 1 Pilsner, all excellent instantiations of those types of beer. If you want reviews on those, I would check out They'll set you straight there.

I guess as one final note on the evening, during the course of the party I ended up hugging some random guy, as will happen when everyone has been drinking for about 6 hours. I only mention this because a game that I like to play that annoys Liz is "Do you think I could..." One time I asked her if she thought I could hug a different stranger a day, everyday, for a year, you know, just to see if I could. She said she didn't think I could. Well I showed her, I showed her good.* But I don't think I'd want to do that. You ever see those dorks wearing signs or shirts saying "Free Hugs"? I hate those people! 1) No one would pay you for a hug, so how is a free one some kind of discount? 2) The people wearing these shirts and signs act like they're doing you a favor by offering a hug, as if everyone out there just needs your gross hairy arms around them to make their day. You're not doing anyone a favor! You just like touching strangers! Don't try to act like this isn't just a ploy to get some girl to think you're "whimsical" and jokingly let you hug her, thereby making YOUR day. I hate you hug-offering skeeves so much.

Total Beers: 92 Where I should be: 79.452

*No I didn't. You astute mathematicians out there probably figured out that one hug does not equal 365 hugs. You think you're so clever.

1 comment:

  1. Well, my first impression was that the "English" in English Strong Ale is intended to differentiate the beer from the type of beer known as Belgian Strong Ale. Belgian Strong Ale encompasses beers that label themselves as Quadruples as well as other similar beers (like Three Philosophers, for instance).

    I just reviewed the BJCP Style Guidelines (available here: and it appears that in addition to being a specific type of beer originating in Belgium, Strong Ale is also a category of beer that includes Old Ale, English Barleywine, and American Barleywine. So if Garret Oliver was entering it into a competition, I guess it'd be under an Old Ale, but then again he's known for making beers that aren't "technically" to style. I put technically in quotes because at a NYC Homebrewers Guild meeting, people were talking shit on his Pilsener and his IPA, saying they weren't specific to a style, but I agree with your assessment that Brooklyn beers are all great examples of their respective styles. Go Brooklyn Brewery!