Brooklyner Weisse

September 23, 2008

5.1% ABV bottled

The other day I went on a date with a girl named Cecilia. She didn’t break my heart, she didn’t shake my confidence (daily!), nor did we make love in the afternoon up in my bedroom (more like 3 AM in her living room.)

This got me to realizing that I’ve dated quite a bit of girls named after famous songs.

There was Desiree who was not very sweet and a diehard feminist. She stormed out of a restaurant mid-meal when I told her that I didn’t like any female musicians. Once she was gone I remembered that I’m a huge Debbie Harry fan. How could I have forgotten my “Sunday Girl”?

Rita wasn’t a meter maid (she worked in securities I believe) nor was she lovely. She kicked me out of an all-Indian Halloween bash she was hosting in her midtown high-rise when I got drunk on some “witches brew” punch and threw an hors d’oeuvre tray out the window and into her courtyard.

Allison never let any of my friends take off her party dress–so far as I know–but she didn’t have a problem with my pals constantly goofing on her. She wasn’t very bright and I don’t think she got their sarcastic jokes.  She’s married now and has two kids last I heard.

And when I finally got to live my lame dream of dating a girl with the last name of Brown, I never got the chance to meet her mother and subtly say in a heavily accented British accent, “Mrs. Brown, you’ve got a luv-ly daughter.” It didn’t make a bloke feel so proud.

There was Eleanor who I met just last week. Gee, I thought she was swell but she thought I was…drunk. Fair enough. She missed out on getting to be my pride and joy, et cetera.

And finally Michelle, who was decidedly not ma belle, but rather one big fucking cunt. McCartney would have struggled to write fawning lyrics about her, I’m certain of it.

If you ever go out with a girl with the same name as a song, especially a super famous one written by Paul & Art, best not to ever bring that up. She’s heard it plenty of times and doesn’t find it amusing. But you can still snicker in your head about it. And, your relationship is going to be nowhere close to as interesting, ideal, and romantic as the eponymous song. Perhaps that’s why there doesn’t seem to be any good songs of recent vintage named after women.  Life’s just more complex now than it was in the 1960s.

Cecilia took me to a party her friends were throwing. People might think it weird that I’d go to a party full of strangers for a first date but I kinda agree with wise Costanza.

GEORGE: I’m going out with her tomorrow, she said she had some errands to run.

JERRY: That’s a date?

GEORGE: What’s the difference?

She’s quite a bit younger than me, as are her friends, so I didn’t think for a second there would be anything decent to drink at the bash. I was quite wrong, and a tear fell from my ear when I saw Brooklyner fully stocked in the fridge.

I’ve never been a huge wheat beer fan as I think they are generally uninteresting, simplistic, and boring, but I’ve always loved this one. And when I see it on tap at NYC bars, I can’t help but grab a few dozen of them. This was my first time to drink it bottled and it was just as swell.

A great smell with a refreshing yeasty taste. Slight banana flavor, citrus esters, and even hints of bubble gum. And, of course, some full-bodied wheat. A slight sour finish but incredibly drinkable though that doesn’t mean it is lacking in potency or complexity. This ain’t no watered-down hefeweizen. I absolutely adore this beer. Have been drinking it for years and will continue to indefinitely.

So in summation…

Jubilation, I loved this beer again.  (I wanted to finish this entry by again paying homage to “Cecilia” by bastardizing its lyrics.  Eh.  That’s the best I could do.)



*”Cecilia,” Simon & Garfunkel from “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Columbia Records 1970
*”Desiree,” Neil Diamond, 1977
*”Lovely Rita,” The Beatles from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” Capitol 1967
*”Allison,” Elvis Costello from “My Aim is True,” Columbia Records 1977
*”Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” Herman’s Hermits, 1965
*”Elenore,” The Turtles from “The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands,” White Whale Records 1968
*”Michelle,” The Beatles from “Rubber Soul,” EMI 1965


Post Road Pumpkin Ale

September 8, 2008

5% ABV

I don’t believe it’s this way in most the rest of the country, but supermarkets in New York allow you to break up six-packs.  This is great because you only have to take a chance on 12 ounces of beer, never getting stuck with a potential 72 ounces of shit.  Here are some Manhattan supermarket beer-buying tips:

Whole Foods is still the king of supermarket beer-buying in New York with an exquisite and plentiful selection.  And at fair prices too.  Aside from the Bowery location, all the other locales allow you to break up sixers and seem to have an unwritten rule of charging exactly $2.50 per beer single.  That’s not a great price for a lot of one-offs, but for some big boys it is remarkable (see:  Ayinger Celebrator).

D’Agostino is located right across the street from me and has a decent enough selection, with the full line of Stone bombers for as cheap as $3.99 per.  They have the most rational single deal, selling looseys for exactly one-sixth of their six-pack price.  Unfortunately, most of their cashiers can’t do the basic math formula:

(6-pack price) / 6 = what I ask the customer to pay me

Often you might find yourself standing in line for an extra fifteen minutes watching the abacus inside the register ringer’s head churn as several co-workers gather around to try and assist.  This will lead to hipsters and surly old people behind you in line getting upset at your for being the guy who couldn’t just act normal and buy a straight six-pack but who instead bought six bottles of six different beers.

This is a prevailing theme at NYC stores, though, and D’Agostino is sadly nowhere close to being the worst offender.

Also, sometimes you can scam D’Ag when it comes to fancier craft breweries that sell their beers in four-packs.  In this scenario instead of doing:

(4-pack price) / 4 = what I ask the customer to pay me

they still divide by six, cutting your price point down a bit.  And I know your next question. Yes I’m a 29-year-old man that gets my jollies out of duping supermarkets out of a buck or two.  Sue me.

Gristedes is far and away the biggest piece of shit store in the entire metro area.  Filthy, messy, product strewn all about, terrible prices, chaos everywhere as if some looterious riot has just occurred, and painfully inattentive employees.  However, they have a pretty darn good brew selection.  Nevertheless, they don’t seem to allow you to break up sixers, though I’m not sure even the managers there know official store policy.

Several times I’ve gone to the register with a bottle or two and had the cashier woman nonchalantly say, “That’ll be $10.99.”  “For a single beer?”  “You get charged the entire six-pack price.”  “So, I get charged $10.99 whether I buy one beer or six beers?”  “Yes.”  “You didn’t think it would be wise to tip me off to this before ringing me up?”

Let’s just say the workers at Gristedes don’t have a lot of horsepower between their ears.  No wonder the store is going bankrupt.

Food Emporium has an adequate beer selection but no sixers remarkable enough to consider breaking apart.  I rarely go there for beer, especially because most of it is not refrigerated.

Morton Williams has a damn fine beer selection but the aisles are incredibly narrow even for Manhattan standards and I simply don’t viscerally like entering the place.  The name alone sounds like a paint store.  Sherwin’s half-brother or something.

I picked up a grab bag of singles at D’Ag over the weekend.  And yes, it took about 25 minutes for the women to figure out how much I owed, and even then she screwed up.

As I’ve mentioned before, when September and October roll around, I will pretty much purchase every single Oktoberfest and pumpkin ale I see on the shelves.  Post Road Pumpkin Ale is Brooklyn Brewery’s offering, and quite frankly, I cannot recall ever trying it, though I’m certain I must have in the past.

Right off that bat I thought I was tasting a simple spiced beer as I was absolutely overwhelmed by nutmeg, cinnamon, and all-spice, I could barely detect any pumpkin flavors at all.  And though I do like a lot of spiciness in my pumpkin ales, the big guy should still be front and center.  Luckily, the pumpkiny tastes do come through eventually though not as much as I like.  I want to be nailed in the face with a nice slab of pumpkin pie, and Brooklyn didn’t quite cut it.

Having said that, Post Road Pumpkin is a very drinkable and oddly refreshing pumpkin beer.  However, I’m starting to realize after having finally tried the brilliant Pumking this season, that most others are just going to seem inferior, dwarfed in comparison.  Wish I’d made Pumking my last pumpkin beer of the autumn instead of my first.


Brooklyn Oktoberfest

August 28, 2008

5.5% ABV bottled

I like to compare Sam Adam’s Oktoberfest to Brooklyn’s every single year. And since they’re usually the absolute first two on the shelves in Manhattan, this is easy.  I must admit, every single year I root for Brooklyn to win my little side-by-side taste test–treating it as a battle between my beloved New York and the despised Boston–however, every single year Sam wins, usually in a landslide. Same goes this year.

I drank this one within minutes of my season’s first Sam Oktoberfest.  That was unfortunate. 

Brooklyn Oktoberfest has a bland, poor smell.

Tastes very much like a cheap cracker. Perhaps a Ritz. Can barely taste any malt at all. No sweetness, not very flavorful.  Maybe a little hint of raisin?  Hard to say.  If that’s not enough, it has a very harsh, carbonated finish. Stings the tongue on the mouthfeel.

Ultimately, doesn’t really taste like an Oktoberfest at all. More like a very good macro lager (assuming such a beer exist).

You know Brooklyn, you’re one of my favorite breweries, I consider you and Captain Lawrence my “home team” breweries, so it pains me when you let me down with one of your brews.  Luckily, that rarely occurs.  As the Brooklyn Dodgers might say, I’ll wait until next year…


Brooklyn Monster Ale

July 10, 2008

10.1% ABV bottle from 2007 (Beer Advocate lists the ABV as 11.8% but my bottle said 10.1%. Hmmm…?)

I still can’t believe that I didn’t realize that one of my favorite breweries, my “home” brewery no less, made my favorite style of beer, barley wine. I could understand if I’d never had it before, but how had I never even heard of it?! Any how, I found a six-pack this weekend and I jumped right on it, fully expecting a masterpiece. Unfortunately, that is not quite the case.

This is far too alcoholic for my tastes. I like high ABV beers with a lot of kick, but the alcoholic taste of this just isn’t well masked. Tastes of sherry, lotta hops, a little fruit, a little chocolate, and a sour finish. Great smell, but not very drinkable. Didn’t stop me from having four from the six-pack, but I would advise amateurs that they might enjoy this more as simply a single after-dinner dessert drink.

Only later did I learn that this wasn’t the kind of barley wine I’m used to. The kind that all my favorite American breweries make and that I adore, but rather Brooklyn Monster is an “English” barley wine. I’ve had countless American barley wines, but I think this is my first English. According to Beer Advocate:

English varieties are quite different from the American efforts, what sets them apart is usually the American versions are insanely hopped to make for a more bitter and hop flavored brew, typically using American high alpha oil hops. English version tend to be more rounded and balanced between malt and hops, with a slightly lower alcohol content, though this is not always the case.

Not what I found at all. I found Brooklyn Monster to be more potent in taste and far less rounded than American barley wines. This is decent and I will have it again, but I don’t find it world-class like, say, a Stone Old Guardian or a Great Divide Old Ruffian.


Brooklyn Brewmasters Reserve Blonde Bock

June 13, 2008

7.7% ABV on draught

Made a specific trip to the great House of Brews on 51st and 8th to try a beer that I have only ever seen there — the Brooklyn Brewmasters Reserve Brooklynator Doppleback, an absolutely magnificent brew. Unfortunately, that beer is now out of rotation until next year and thus my formal review will have to wait. Drats. I nearly cried upon the bartender informing me it was no longer available. I was left speechless, as if somebody died, and was unable to possibly think of anything to say and a beer to order. I almost didn’t want to drink. Yes, I was too depressed about the lack of one certain beer to drink more beers. I almost felt like going home. Fortunately, however, Brooklyn brewmaster Garrett Oliver makes sure that House of Brews always has the latest Brewmasters Reserve on tap and thus I was able to sample their helles bock, a beer with a little less thickness and potency than the dopple, one befitting the summer months — or so they say. I was predictably leery as we all know my thoughts on summer beers.

Quite frankly, I was barely able to enjoy the first half of my pint as I was still so mournful over having missed out on saying goodbye to the dopplebock for the summer. The helles is much lighter and less flavorful, but still refreshing. Which was actually a good thing as it was about 95 degrees in Manhattan at the time. The dopplebock might have felt akin to drinking a cup of coffee.

Eventually I was able to forget about the dopplebock and focus on my beer in hand and slowly but surely I realized that this one was deceptively complex. On the first sip it seemed like nothing more interesting than, say, a Blue Moon but as I continued drinking it I noticed all of the maibock’s brilliant subtleties. It’s very malty, with light fruit flavors and hints of honey. Most impressively, it does an amazing job of hiding the alcohol content. It’s actually quite remarkable that a 7.7% beer can be so light and refreshing. I would have never guessed it was that high. It might be a good beer to sneak into your opponent’s stack if you’re ever both immature and classy enough to have a drinking contest featuring only highly-rare craft brews.

I may not have totally given this beer a fair shake, I will be honest. I don’t think it’s a masterpiece like the dopplebock, but I hope to return soon to confirm this. Nevertheless, it is very good. And, it proved to me that maybe I need to be thankful for what’s in front of me rather than sad about what’s behind me. I think Confucius said that. Or maybe it was the star of some gay gang bang porn film.


Schneider Weiss Hopfen Weiss (Schneider & Brooklyner)

June 4, 2008

8.2% ABV from a bomber

This brew is the result of the long friendship of Brooklyn brewmaster Garrett Oliver and Schneider brewmaster Hans-Peter Drexler. Garrett had always admired the delicate balance of flavors in Schneider Weisse, while Hans-Peter had long enjoyed the effusive hop character of Brooklyn East India Pale Ale and BLAST! Garrett’s concept for the collaboration was that each brewmaster would brew essentially the same pale, hoppy weissbock in the other’s brewery, but with different hopping to reflect the local hop flavor.

Was excited to see this one on the shelf. Had loved the Brooklyn version of this bottling a few months back and this was the first time I’d seen the German version on the shelf. The Brooklyn version was a near masterpiece but I don’t recall it having this high of ABV. Looking through my notes though, I see that indeed it did.

This beer pours a huge head. Or maybe I’m just a drunk asshole who doesn’t know how to transfer from bottle to pint glass. Smells about as good as a beer can smell to me. Very malty.

I feel like I might like this one a tad less than I enjoyed the Brooklyn version, but mind you I’m not doing a side-by-side test and only recall my thoughts from months ago. I will admit that I like the smell of hefes often better than I like the taste. Although this is a great beer, no bones about it. I think from now on I will exclusively drink wheat beers during the hot weather instead of those thin, lemony crap beers most brewery releases under their “summer” line. This brew has a nice amount of hops, especially for a wheat.

This is how you do a hefe, other beermakers take note.


Brooklyn Pilsner

June 4, 2008

5.1% ABV

As mentioned before, I am a huge fan of the Brooklyn Brewery—my “home” brewer—and most of its line. Yet today when I was at the store, I glanced at the Brooklyn Pilsner and I realized that I absolutely never drink it. Hell, I’m not sure I have EVER had it. And that’s weird cause I do like pilsners a whole lot. I think it must have to do with the BP’s label design. Something about it just viscerally rubs me the wrong way. What could it be? The orange color? Surely not, because as a Cuse fan I find it the most regal color in the universe. Alas, maybe I just need to quit judging all things in life by their “covers.” (Except woman of course. Sure you could “get to know them better” and love them for their personality and “what’s inside,” but if their “cover” isn’t hot, then what’s the point?)

Speaking of points, let me get back on point and declare that Brooklyn Pilsner is a good beer. Smells great, very malty. Not amazing or anything, but better than Pilsner Urquell which many consider the standard bearer for the style. Honestly, I like the smell of this beer better than its taste. Which I suppose is a bit of a problem. I spent more time sticking my big Jew nose into the glass than actually sipping it. Did someone say “Jew”???—

Hey! According to the fine print on its label…

the “K” indicates that we got a Kosher beer on our hands. Mazel tov! Finally the “chosen” beer guzzlers have something to drink!

Final thought: it could probably use a little more bite, but for a lighter beer Brooklyn Pilsner is pleasant enough.