Its'a Me! Liz! As we all know, Ryan split and is on the West Coast exercising and playing golf. I am holding down the hedonistic fort over here in New York by drinking beers and eating pizza. Yesterday, I accomplished this by laying on the couch with the pizza box on the table, a 6-pack next to the couch, and my PJs on. Today, I got dressed and left the house. But it's all the same.
This post may ramble and be super beer-filled (like me!), but I'm going to do my best to describe my evening without putting you all to sleep.
In Park Slope there is an awesome place called Bierkraft. This place has an amazing by-the-bottle beer selection, a great 10-15 taps for filling growlers, and the best sandwiches in the world (which are made with their incredible selection of artisan meats, cheeses, and spreads). Recently, they added the rule that made it so you can buy the beers and drink them there at their picnic tables. So, a great date is picking 2 bottles of beer, 2 sandwiches, and then getting a growler (or two) filled to go. It's a nice walk and super yummy.
Today, however, I had no sandwich. I got there at 6:30 and got a Sly Fox IPA. It was very good, and for $2.80 to sit with my book and hang out, it beats any bar in the area. At 7:00, the fun began.
On Tuesdays at 7pm, Bierkraft has a tasting. Generally, (like tonight) they are hosted by a brewery who sends a representative to talk about the beers and then they hope you'll buy their beers. Other times they choose a type of beer (Double IPAs or something) and do a cross-brewery tasting of that style with a discussion led by a staff member from Bierkraft.
Today's tasting was led by the founder and owner of Shmaltz Brewery. Going in, I knew very little about them. I see them around, but had honestly only had three of their beers before, none of which really impressed me. Shmaltz is known for two lines of beer: The HE'BREW beers and the Coney Island beers.
(FACT: Shmaltz is a contract brewery. A contract brewery means that someone designs the beers, markets/packages them, etc. but does not do the actual brewing. The owner of the company hired a tiny brewery in California to actually make the beers. The Coney Island line will soon be brewed in Coney Island starting this weekend at their very own brewery, meaning it won't be a complete contract brewery anymore. ADDITIONAL FACT: Sam Adams started the same way.)
Anywho, prior to this tasting, I had had Genesis (a fine tasting ale of the HE'BREW line), the Coney Island Lager (again, a decent lager, but nothing better than Brooklyn Brewery's lager, so when choosing I usually went with Brooklyn's), and the Albino Python (which is actually good - the world's only White Lager and has a bit more of a kick than more White/Wit beers for sure).
Today I tasted 5 beers and was really impressed with them. Let's talk about them, shall we?
1. Albino Python - This is in the Coney Island line of beers. It is named after Serpentian, the snake charmer and contortionist at the Coney Island Sideshow. It's a White Lager that heavily features fennel, orange peel, and ginger. It has a higher carbonation rate too. It has a good bite while being incredible refreshing at the same time. Of the beers of theirs that I had had before this tasting, it was the only one I really enjoyed. Awesomely enough, it was the least interesting of the other beers I tasted tonight.
2. Rejewvenator - This is in an awesome series of beers featuring the Sacred Species. In the old testament, there were many foods that had to grow in order for it to be seen as the Land of Israel. Deut. 8:8 describes the Land of Israel as a "land of wheat and barley, of (grape) vines, figs, and pomegranates, and land of olives for oil and date for honey." This series of beers features different items off this list. This Rejewvenator features Concort Grapes. It's a half Dopplebock and half Belgian Syle Dubbel. It had a very sweet yet full-bodied taste. It's 8% abv and really drinkable.
3. Human Blockhead - This beer was incredible. Firstly, the Human Blockhead is the dude who hosts the Coney Island Freakshow. In olden days, he would hammer nails into his head. While the current host still does this, he also power drills into his head as well. Ok! Beer time, again. This beer is as close to a barley wine as you can get while still just being a lager. It has a great seasoning to it, a 10% alcohol content, and a very thick mouth-feel. The owner said he enjoys taking the 22 oz. bottle, pouring it into 4 small glasses, drinking 2 immediately and putting the other 2 into the fridge. After a few hours, he sets the two glasses on the counter until they are room temperature and then drinks them. He says it's almost an after-dinner cordial taste at that time. I am not a barley wine fan, but I really enjoyed this beer.
4. 8 Jewbelation - This beer barely exists now, since it was made in their 8th year, and they are now on their 13th year. In each year they up the numbers by one to match their age. We got a taste of their Jewbelation from 5 years ago. This meant that it had 8 types of hops, 8 types of malts, and was 8% abv. I haven't had their 13 Jewbelation (happy Bar Mitzvah!) but it would have 13 of those 3 things. yikes. I think this beer was good, but I liked the gimmick more than the beer.
5. Bittersweet Lenny's R.IPA - This is a Rye IPA named after Lenny Bruce and has an "obscene amount of malts and hops" according to its tagline. It was very drinkable - which is bad since it's 10% abv. It's listed as a "Radical Beer", which the owner said meant it did not brew to any specific style but more to his taste. I really enjoyed this beer. BUT it got better! We then got to try it aged in Rye barrels and man, it was delicious. I really enjoyed being able to try them back-to-back to see how they changed. And which the cost of the 22oz bottle of the R.IPA nearly doubles to that of the Barrel Aged R. IPA, I understand why. A small brewery takes on a lot of costs - they literally drive down south to get Sazerac barrels and fill the back of a van and then drive them back. They then fill the barrels by hand to age the beer.
Anyway, that was my evening. I walked out with bottles of the last 4 on that list to try again with Ryan when he returns. I am a fact-loving person, and this 2 hour talk was great. I am an easy sell if you appear passionate about what you're doing and you do that thing well. I walked in knowing that the brewery simply existed, and now I am a fan. Check them out if you get the chance.