Archive for February 20, 2008

Brooklyn Brewery Happy Hour

Posted in alcohol, bars, Tom on February 20, 2008 by criticalreviews

Brooklyn Brewery
79 North Eleventh Street
Brooklyn, New York

Am I at a frat party? A hipster dive bar? Happy hour in the financial district? On the Lower East Side with all the bridge and tunnel folk? What place could draw all of these people? The local brewery can, and Brooklyn Brewery does…one of the few places that can make any person feel at home. So the brewery is open 5 or 6pm-11pm on Friday for happy hour, and I went this past weekend (also open Saturday afternoons for brewery tours and beers). I have been on Saturdays several times, but never on a Friday. The brewery is pretty wonderful. When you walk there are brewing vessels directly ahead of you and a larger room to the right with lots more brewing equipment (this is where the tour takes place on Saturdays). To your left you find a little gift shop, and a large room with tables, a bottling line for the Brooklyn Local 1 (this is the only beer actually bottled at the brewery in Brooklyn. The rest are done in Utica, NY), and a bar with eight delicious taps!

The little gift shop is where you buy tokens, each good for one 12oz draft beer (these tokens are $4 each or six for $20). They also sale bottles of the Brooklyn Local 1 for $10 (25oz). In my opinion six good beers for $20 is a great deal, and I don’t think I have been as drunk as I was on Friday in a longtime.

Leah got to the brewery first, probably a little before 6pm, and was luckily able to grab the last table with no one sitting at. I arrived shortly after her. We both got beers, and held down the fort at our table. We got asked if we were saving seats, and even got some mean looks, but in the end our crew showed up and we had a table full of people.

This can be a really fun place if you get there early enough to carve out a spot for yourself. I imagine that it isn’t as fun if you come in at 9 or 10pm and expect to find a table. This is one place in NYC that it is ok to roll deep(bring lots of friends)…it’s more fun that way. Oh and if you get hungry they let you order food in! Or maybe a place to meet new people because if you don’t have enough people to fill the whole table you probably will end up making new friends.

Beer wise they had the normal Brooklyn Lager, Pilsner, IPA, Brown, and Weisse…but also had the seasonal Winter Ale, and two of the Brewmaster’s Reserve: Bright Golding(not recommended) and the Extra Brune, style-wise it is a Flanders Oud Bruin. This is kinda a random style, and I was really happy to see it. Taste wise it is a variation on a Belgian Brown Ale. This particular one was a little bit sour (lactate yeast possibly), slightly sweet, very fruity, with a caramel backbone….extremely well rounded…everyone at my table seemed to enjoy it (Delicious! Way to go Garrett Oliver!). And now looking at Brooklyn’s website I realize that the Extra Brune is 8.5% ABV…thats why I got so drunk!

Although it has it’s downsides the Brewery is a great way to spend a Friday night. And remember to tip your bartender! I managed to get a double buy back (which doesn’t happen too often!)

Beer wise there is always something interesting, and I know I will be back soon because I still had a couple beer tokens in my pocket when I left.

Photo Credits: Tasting Room & Brewery from outside: (Wallyg’s Flickr)
Brewing Vessels: (NancyCZ’s Flickr) Brooklyn Brewery Cat sleeping on malts: (Atommoore’s Flickr)

This Weekend in $7 Shows: Hello, Blue Roses & Calvin Johnson

Posted in music, shows, Tom on February 20, 2008 by criticalreviews

Unlike the Free shows of last weekend this weekend required some money, but luckily not very much. I got to see two shows each for only $7.

Hello, Blue Roses & Begushkin @ Glasslands Gallery
Saturday February 16th, 2008
(South Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

As far as Glasslands goes this was my first visit, and I really enjoyed the space (a smallish setting with only 250 capacity). When you walk into the venue, you go down a couple steps, and then directly to your right is a elevated bar. They serve beer and wine (I don’t think any liquor). The space is set up with a small seating area to the left, and multi-level stage on the right with standing room in between. There is a small balcony with some seating and standing room, and from what I gathered a gallery in the back of the space (there was also a space for the bands to hang out behind the stage).

We watched the show from the small balcony area. Begushkin opened, and was kind of an odd paring. Their music was kinda King Crimson-y, and they were really good at what they do…I can’t say that it was particularly my thing, but they were entertaining none the less. They played for about 45 minutes, and were followed by Hello, Blue Roses.

I agree with KLK that the show was interesting. Hello, Blue Roses (consisting of Dan Bejar (of Destroyer, Swan Lake, and the New Pornographers) and his lady love Sydney Vermont) played a very short set (which I predicted before they ever started). As Leah already reported: Sydney Vermont is pregnant, and the world will have to prepare for a little Destroyer.

For those who don’t know the band, they play a unique version of indie folk music with Vermont leading on vocals, and Bejar mostly backing her up. Vermont’s vocals bring to mind Vashti Bunyan. I will say that I had not heard the HBR album before going to the show, but being a huge Bejar fan I figured I had nothing to lose. As reported on Brooklyn Vegan this was possibly HBR’s first show in the States, and apparently their first show in 18 months as well. HBR sounded good while they were playing, and that makes me believe that Glasslands as a venue is a very good thing. The set was another story. HBR started off playing with Bejar playing Guitar, and Vermont playing flute and tambourine. This formation worked pretty well, and the band played complete songs. When they switched and had Vermont on Guitar (as well as Bejar) it got a little rocky. These songs took several attempts to be completed, with stopping in between. It seemed that there might have been a lack of preparation. It actually reminded me of the first two times I saw Cat Power (many years ago in Charleston and Columbia, SC, and these two preformances ruined Cat Power for me), but at least the songs were completed even if it took several attempts. Bejar and Vermont joked that this show was their longest set ever, toping their previous record of 18 minutes, with a 35 minute set. All in all I guess the misshaps on stage can be forgiven a little considering how pregnant Vermont is.

I am glad I went to the show. And one thing that I noticed was that Dan Bejar seemed really happy (lots of smiles), and unlike when he plays with the New Pornographers he wasn’t wasted.

Calvin Johnson @ Bowery Poetry Club
Sunday February 17th, 2008
East Village, Manhattan

My first time at this venue as well. This place is great, and I would really like to go to more events here. The front of the space is a cafe complete with espresso, coffee, and some baked goods (as well as Bowery Poetry Club merchandise, and a small selection of books and zines). Once past the Cafe there is a long bar w/stools, several rows of chairs(theatre style), and a large space with tables set up in front of the stage. The bar was fully stocked, and even had some decent beer on tap (Brooklyn Lager, and two Magic Hats including the wonderful winter seasonal Roxy Rolles). This is a very laid back setting and was perfect for a Sunday afternoon show (and a beer).

The show was scheduled to start at 4pm, and we got there slightly early. People started to line up in the cafe area, and we were let into where the show was at about ten minutes after 4pm. We found a table about 10 feet from the stage, and got a couple beers. Calvin (formerly of Beat Happening and the Halo Benders among others) seemed to be in a very good mood and started playing shortly after we sat down. He decided to play the set with just his voice and a acoustic guitar (no amplification). He started off with an acappella number, and that set the mood for his set. He only used his guitar in about half of the songs, and when he wasn’t playing he was dancing in his wonderful way. Calvin was extremely talkative (much different than the last time I saw him), and was even making jokes about playing on Long Island the next day (Yes! Brooklyn is Long Island). Calvin played for about an hour and fifteen minutes, and it was really the best possible way I could have spent my Sunday afternoon. I’ll admit it…. Calvin looks good, maybe sexy, in a slightly older mature indie rocker way! I loved this show, and I wish I would have made it to Long Island to see him the next night…I guess I’ll just have to wait until this Indie rock Icon graces NYC with his presence again.

Listen to Hello, Blue Roses

Hello, Blue Roses @ Glasslands Photo Credit: (Gaekenh’s flickr)

Listen to Calvin Johnson

Calvin Johnson Photo Credit: (kristiecat’s flickr)