Archive for Beer

Dogfish Head “Red & White”

Posted in alcohol, beer, Tom with tags , , on July 11, 2008 by criticalreviews

After hearing quite a bit of craft beer bashing on Fourth of July, I decided it was time to drink some great beer, and on July 6th, after my bloody mary and a Avery Maharajah at Mark Bar,  KLK and I drank our bottle of Dogfish Head‘s “Red & White” (Bottled on 2/9/07).

This is one of those really obscure limited release 750ml bottles that DFH does…in their words it is:

A big, belgian-style Wit brewed with coriander and orange peel and fermented with Pinot Noir juice. After fermentation a fraction of the batch is aged in Oregon Pinot Noir barrels, and another fraction is aged on oak staves. The beer is blended together before packaging.

This ends up being quite possibly the strongest Wit beer I have ever tasted at 10% alcohol by volume. 11% of the beer is aged in Pinot Noir barrels, and the other 89% is aged in Oak barrels.

This beer looked pretty intimidating, especially because I am not really a fan of the Wit style. It was my first wine aged beer, and I was a little bit afraid of the term “pinot noir juice.” But I guess they were just using juice as a slang term for wine (not the first time I have heard this). But DFH proved to me again without a doubt that they can do no wrong.

It was wonderful and unique, and it makes me sad I only had one bottle.

My thoughts:

The beer poured a redish brown color with a 1″off white slightly redish colored head that resulted from a slightly harsh pour. As I drank the glass a bubbly lace remained around the sides. The smell was wheaty, hints of corriander, citrus/orange/lemon, strong grape or wine scent, with hints oak and vanilla. It was a really crazy bouquet. The taste was what you would expect from a belgian wit, but slightly heavier and with a ton of berry and wine flavors. The fruitiness and the alcohol really cut the light overly wheaty favor that wit beers normally have, and let some nice vanilla essence come out. Dogfish Head uses wine when the normal person would use a lemon. Strong, but not overly sweet with the alcohol hidden very well. This full bodied version of what people typically consider a light beer was easy to drink, flavorful, and unique.

I highly recommend tying this one out if you see a bottle of it at the store or in the bar. I was really satisfied, and I hope to find another bottle for a special occasion.

I would give this a 90 out of 100 (if I review beers from now on I am going to try to do this rating system).

See what other people think of it here.

Photos borrowed from Dogfish Head’s website.

(Tom)

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Butternuts Beer and Ale Mixed 12 Pack

Posted in alcohol, beer, Tom with tags , , , , on July 2, 2008 by criticalreviews

Since moving from upper Manhattan I have been struggling to find reasonably priced beer for around the house (so I now realize that Inwood really does have the cheapest alcohol in the city). I’m not super picky as long as it is craft beer, and when I was at Whole Foods at Union Square and the Butternuts Mixed 12 Pack scanned at $12.99 it was a no brainer. Honestly I’m pretty sure that this was a mistake…I had seen it for as high as $17.99 or $18.99 at Whole Foods on the Bowery, and I was happy to take up the miss pricing.

Butternuts Brewery is a craft brewery in Garrattsville, New York. Butternuts beers are farmhouse ales, and their slogan is “Common Men brew Approachable Beers.” Which is a really respectable thing to do in this day and age of Imperial/High Alcohol brews that are coming from most American brewers. Butternuts stays pretty true to their word producing four really sessionable beers, at, at least what I paid, affordable prices.

Four beers come in the 12 pack: Pork Slap Pale Ale, Snapperhead IPA, Moo Thunder Milk Stout, and Heinnieweisse. Two common threads run through all of these beers, and that is light for the style and low in carbonation. Neither of these things is are bad, but I have a few more notes:

Pork Slap is a standard pale ale a bit on the English side of the style with the hops more subtle than most American Pales. Amber in color with grassy plant like hops. Quite sessionable, and easy drinking.

Snapper Head is an IPA, or almost more like an American Pale Ale…also amber in color. The hops are more aggressive than Pork Slap, and actually quite fruity (both in smell and taste getting big citrus and hints of tropical fruits). And I think my personal favorite of the bunch.

The Heinnieweisse is a light easy drinking wheat. To me not quite as sweet as other wheat beers, and 1000 times more drinkable than Hoegaarden. I have to say that this is only the second wheat beer that I have enjoyed this summer (and I have tried quite a few), and highly recommend it. The most carbonated of the bunch.

Moo Thunder, only my second canned stout ever, is smooth and black. As far as stouts go it is a milk stout, and true to style. Sweet with milk sugars, and easy to drink. Fans of sweeter stouts, such as Guinness or other Lacto Stouts, will probably enjoy this one. Light bitter chocolate finish.

As far as Butternuts goes their beers are not quite to the quality of Stone or Dogfish Head, but they are not trying to be (but way better than the pseudo import InBev products like Stella, Hoegaarden, and even the pseudo craft beers like Blue Moon). They state on their website “No Pretentious Eight Dollar Bottles,” and once again true to their word. I don’t know if I would pay the $18.99 price tag for the 12 pack, but for anything under $15 this is a great deal and very good too. Props to Butternuts for making affordable, tasty, quality beer that can be drank in quantity. If you find it try it! And if nothing else check out their website…it is super cute.

(Tom)

The Diamond

Posted in alcohol, bars, food, Tom with tags , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2008 by criticalreviews
43 Franklin St
(between Calyer St & Quay St)
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(718) 383-5030

The Diamond is located in a slightly less commercial section of Greenpoint, a little off the beaten path as far as bars go in the area (in between Williamsburg and Greenpoint proper), but it is well worth the walk. The bar itself is pretty average in size: with a long bar to the right when you walk in, a shuffle board table to the left, a two tables by the front windows, a couple more tables towards the back, and a small basement that opens up as a dancefloor on the weekends. There is also a largish garden area too with a quoits court.

I have been to the bar three times since I moved to the neighborhood, twice on Thursdays and a late night visit on a Friday. The scene was a little different each time but I think that was due to the time of day. My first visit was two weeks ago, and we got there around 8pm. The bar itself had very few people in it, but the patio was packed. We took a couple seats at the bar, and ordered some food and a couple beers. The second visit was this past Thursday with a little little bigger crowd, and quite a bit louder. And the third was late this past Friday, where the bar was kicking, but we had no problem rolling deep and finding a spot for our largish group.

The food is pretty limited, but that isn’t to say that it is not amazing. They savory pies and rolls from Tuck Shop, a cheese plate (the cheese change regularly: sm $7/lg $12), and a pickle and olive plate ($4). We ordered a Tuck Shop pie($7) and roll ($5), but they were out of the pies so we got two rolls. These were served with hot sauce, and were actually pretty substantial. I was really impressed. Not what you would expect. The Tuck Shop roll was a delicate pastry with delicious veggies inside. I will definitely eat this again as well as try the pie!

As far as beer goes they are pretty esoteric, and that is a complement coming from me. I have worked in the beer industry for three or so years now, and I know most breweries (or at least ones that show up on the East Coast), and their beer list really is wonderful. The first time I went they had a beer from Two Brother’s on called Cain and Able: a hoppy red brewed with rye and palm sugar. This was an excellent beer from a really obscure brewery. And the tap list has always been consistently great. They divide their beers in to Session Beers (low alcohol) and High Alcohol; with two menus. I’m pretty sure even the experienced beer drinker is going to find something that they haven’t tried at this place, and even if they have tried it they might have an older vintage! The taps change regularly (I know this because two kegs kicked late on Friday, and two new wonderful beers were put on). And it appears that they always have Reissdorf Koelsch on tap, and even serve it in a Kranz!

For a complete beer list check out the website.

Besides amazing beer, and a beautiful bar they have a killer jukebox. How many bars will take the a chance and put one let alone three Ween albums on their jukebox (The Pod, The Mollusk, and 12 Golden Country Greats)! Included in the mix were two Dinosaur Jr.’s, two or three Guided By Voices, a great two disk Kinks collection, Minor Threat and Embrace, New Order, and tons of other jems.

Other highlights are that every Wednesday there is a shuffleboard tournament, quiots tournaments once a week, and every Sunday there is a reasonably priced small plate and beer pairing.

I hate to say it, but I think the Diamond just replaced Well’s Ales and Lagers as my favorite bar…and The Diamond allows my dog to come with me! I will no doubt become a regular with it being so close to my house!

Photo from Newsday.com

(Tom)

Lenora’s Way (formerly known as Wells Ales and Lagers)

Posted in alcohol, bars, restaurant, Tom with tags , , , , , , on April 16, 2008 by criticalreviews
303 Bedford Ave. (between South 1st and 2nd Streets)
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

So I started going Wells Ales and Lagers sometime last fall, and it has quickly become my favorite bar (I’ve been there twice in the past week, and that says a lot about it considering how far uptown I live). I was talking to a bartender on a recent visit and found out that one of the original owners was bought out, and that is why it is now called Lenora’s Way (the person who got bought out took the name Wells with him). There really hasn’t been any changes since the name has changed: same bartenders, atmosphere, and great beers (I still call it Wells, I just can’t used to saying the new name, and they still have the Wells sign). This has become our stand by in Williamsburg, and even though it is a little south we always hit it up before going to a show (a short walk to Musichall of Williamsburg, and a really short walk to Death By Audio or Glasslands).

This bar has a really new feel. A long wooden bar runs down the left side of the establishment and a couple tables down the right side (it is a very narrow space). There is one booth in the very front, and they have a largish garden area for when the weather is nice. Behind the taps there is some really nice tiling, and the lighting is dim and pleasant. Musically it is really diverse, but the thing that really attracted me to the place was that the first time I was in they had on some really chill roots and dub reggae. Other than reggae frequent musical selections are jazz, 90’s indie rock, and just once…Slayer.

Drink wise they have about 10 beers on tap (roughly 5 American Craft beers at about $5 per pint, and 5 Belgian or European ranging from $6-$9). One big plus is that one of the American’s is usually one of the higher alcohol Lagunitas beers (Lumpy Gravy from the Zappa series, and Maximus IPA recently). They also have over 100 bottles of beer, many extremely reasonably priced for what they are (most between $4-$6), and a carefully chosen wine list. Unless you exclusively drink hard liquor Wells will have something for you, and if you can’t decide the bartender can help you. Service has always been excellent

They have a small food menu of paninis and appetizers, all of which are a bit on the gourmet side. I have only tried the vegetable panini and the hummus…and they were both wonderful.

I highly recommend this bar…great atmosphere (never too loud, always good for conversation), music, and bar staff…unlike a several of the other bars I have reviewed I have visited this place many times, and have yet to have a bad experience…I hope it stays that way.

Oh and I almost forgot…if you are still thirsty on your way out they sell any of their bottles to go! So no need to stop on the way home to get more beer.

Photo taken by Uptick.

(Tom)

Drop Off Service (and a brief note about The Arrow)

Posted in alcohol, bars, Tom with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2008 by criticalreviews

211 Ave. A (just north of 13th Street)
East Village, NYC

So this past Friday we got some friends together and decided to check out a couple bars that we have never been to in the East village. On our list was Drop Off Service and The Arrow.

I’ll get to Drop Off Service in a minute…but first a brief note about the Arrow. The Arrow is located on Avenue A between 5th and 6th. I had been to this location in it’s short lived time as The Rook, and remembered the space being cool, decent drink prices, but really bad music. KLK and I got to The Arrow around 6:30 and it was dead (only four people and this place supposedly has a really good happy hour). Even before we could get comfortable and walk up to the bar, the bartender yells to us “Can I see some IDs.” I bartend occasionally, and I just feel that it is rude to ask for IDs before someone tries to order a drink, but whatever. The bar really hasn’t changed since it was The Rook…the space is nice, the drink prices are decent, but the music was really lame, loud, and made us want to leave. So we did before even having a drink. I expected something a little better, at least music wise, from something that was being endorsed by BrooklynVegan. Please note: althought the BV repost of the Time Out New York article makes it look like the fancy drinks are “buy one get one” our friends were told that they were not (neither is top shelf bourbon).

Back to Drop Off Service (DOS).

After we left The Arrow we walked up Avenue A to DOS (while calling and texting our friends telling them not to go to The Arrow). DOS, as the name implies, used to be a laundromat. Now it is a biggish sized bar, with a good happy hour, and a great jukebox. The place is set up, if you are looking in the front door, with a long bar running down the right side, large booths on the left and in the back, and a small room with odd couches near where the bathrooms are. The place is dimly lit and decorated in your not so typical beer signs as well as other bar type decorations. DOS was busy even at 6:30, and we ordered drinks and hung out by the jukebox while waiting for friends. The jukebox has a pretty good selection (a little bit of everything)…we played Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, Les Savy Fav, Elvis Costello, and Madness.

DOS has a really great happy hour. Everything is 1/2 priced. They have about 20 beers on tap, and serve most of their beer in 20oz imperial pint glasses. $3 or $4 for a 20oz beer is a really great deal in this part of town (or any part of town for that matter). Well drinks were $4 too. I had a couple Sixpoint Brownstones($3) and a Stone Pale Ale($4) (klk was drinking vodka soda, and Stone Arrogant Bastard<both $4>). The beer selection was pretty well rounded on tap: mostly American Craft Beers, some English and Irish, and a couple Belgians and Germans (also some Belgian bottles, and your typical Bud/Corona/ect.). They also had a nice selection of higher quality spirits too. Happy hour goes until 8pm. One thing that I found a little odd was that they only take American Express (they said that they would hold my Visa if I wanted to start a tab, but I would have to pay cash).

Right before the rest of our group got there three people got up from one of the booths and asked us if we would like to sit down (sweet). We got one of the large booths, big enough to fit our whole group, without even trying. As we were sitting down everyone else got there, and we hung out for a couple hours. Although I had read that this bar was loud, it really wasn’t bad. The music was sometimes hard to hear, but I never had to strain to hear conversations at our table.

I really enjoyed DOS, and I definitely will go back (and I imagine that I would come here a lot if I lived in the neighborhood…it is extremely dog friendly!). Up until Friday I didn’t have a bar that I enjoyed going to near 14th Steet and now I do. Drop Off Service is pretty great.

Photos from New York Magazine/ Shanna Ravindra.

Addendum: Please note I tried to go back here Friday April 11 around 1am…and it was totally a lame Frat Party. I still think that it is a great happy hour spot, but not so much for late night on the weekend.

(Tom)

Spitzer’s Corner

Posted in alcohol, bars, restaurant, Tom with tags , , , , , , on April 1, 2008 by criticalreviews

101 Rivington (at the corner of Ludlow). Lower East Side, NYC (Visited Friday March 14th, 2008)

So I am a little late with this review, but I thought the place was note worthy, and wanted to talk about. We were on the Lower East Side just walking around with friends from out of town, and someone pointed Spitzer’s Corner because all of the news about Elliot Spitzer was still fresh in the newspapers. I happen to keep a running list of beer bars in my head that I am meaning to checkout (and this was one of them).

We started off by just looking in the window at the taps, and it was enough to draw us in. They have about 40 beers on tap (see tap list here), and a nice bottle list as well (here). Prices are pretty typical Manhattan tap beer prices, domestic craft beers $6-$7 and Belgians (slightly better priced than most places) at $7-$8. We had a couple SixPoint Gorilla Warfares (a coffee porter made with Gorilla Coffee), and Souther Tier Unearthly IPA (11% abv and it was served in a pint).

It is not your typical LES bar because it is really nice inside, surprisingly so. ..it is really beautify built The whole place is wooden: floors, walls, doors, ect. I think the only things that weren’t made of wood were the taps and the bar itself(both metal). The tables are set up in the front bar in the style of a beer hall, where patrons share long tables with other patrons. The bar is very long (it has to be to have 40 taps, and two or three casks behind it). If you walk back towards the restrooms (which are downstairs and surprisingly very very clean…possibly the nicest bar bathrooms in the city), there is another large bar room. This room has a smaller bar with a bunch of taps as well (my only complaint is that I think it is a waste to have two taps of the same beer…both bars have the same thing on tap at Spitzer’s so there is no walking back and forth for different selections). This room has smaller tables, like a normal bar or restaurant but was not open while we were there (like I said it was the afternoon).

I really like the direction that some of these newer beer bars are going with their food…Although I didn’t try any of it(wasn’t quite hungry at the time), I would be interested in going back to eat lunch or something: Check out the menu (the grilled cheese sounds up my alley). Really gourmet.

Although it was a really pleasant experience on a Friday afternoon there were still some really loud people in the bar, and if the rest of the Lower East Side is any prediction this place is probably awful at night on Friday and Saturday too (I tend to stay away from this part of town on those night…maybe the correct word is touristy?), but I highly recommend for an afternoon pint…it would be even better if they had happy hour.

Photos from Yelp!
(Tom)