Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fêtez le Saint-Jean-Baptiste!

Friday is the feast of St. John the Baptist and in Quebec, where he is known as St-Jean-Baptiste, it is also their national holiday. To celebrate with our neighbors to the north - and what would a celebration be without beer? - Third & Long will be pouring beer from Montreal's Dieu du Ciel! brewery and serving mini Montreal-style smoked meat sandwiches with pickles from Mile End.

On tap will be Rosée d'Hibiscus, their wheat beer brewed with hibiscus flowers. Tart and refreshing, with a tropical floral aroma, this beer is perfect for summer. Dieu du Ciel! won a bronze medal for the people's choice award for the Rosée at this year's Mondial de la Bière in Montreal and the Rosée also won a gold medal from the judges in 2007.

When:  Friday, 24 June
Where: Third & Long, 523 Third Avenue (at 35th St.)
What:  pay-as-you-go

We'd also like to congratulate Dieu du Ciel! on winning the highest honor, a platinum medal, at this year's Mondial, for their Helles-style beer, "Helium". Having enjoyed a few pints of it myself while at Mondial, I heartily endorse the judges decision. Félicitations!

J-F Gravel (DDC), Jérôme Denys (Cheval Blanc), and Stéphane Ostiguy (DDC) enjoy a post-Mondial beer at Cheval Blanc

Monday, June 13, 2011

What's This I Keep Hearing About Session Beers?

Triple-hopped, barrel-aged, imperial, sour - there always seems to be a new buzzword around beer. Lately, it appears that "session beers" are all the rage. We've been lauding the virtues of these low abv beers for quite some time but now, finally, some others are catching on. See Brother Dan's article in June's issue of Food & Wine.

There is no hard and fast definition of a session beer but the concept originated in England and the general consensus is that they are beers below 4.5% abv that are light in body yet still flavorful. Beers, in other words, that you'd be able to drink a few pints of in one session and still be coherent and, just as importantly, beers that you'd want to drink a few pints of.

We certainly have no problem with the bigger beers when the occasion warrants but are happy to see that others are realizing that that's not all there is to drink. Bigger is not always better. When you drink as often as we do, it's nice to be able to sit for a spell over these "smaller" beers. And summer is the perfect season for exploring session beers. Why not start tomorrow?

At this Tuesday's weekly $10 Tasting event at Jimmy's No. 43, Union Beer's Mike Lovullo will be pouring samples of 6 different British beers. One of the beers will be Coniston Old Man Ale, a 4.4% bottle-conditioned brown ale.  Remarkably complex for its strength, it is brewed with Marris Otter malt plus a bit of crystal malt and roasted barley and is hopped with Challenger hops. Chocolately up front, it finishes dry and roasty, balanced with hop bitterness. A lovely ale fruitiness is found throughout the beer.  The "Old Man" is not a person but a mountain in the Lake District that can be seen from the brewery.

Jimmy's is located at 43 E. 7th Street and the tastings start at 7:30 pm.

Next Tuesday's tasting will feature ciders, in anticipation of Cider Appreciation Day at Jimmy's on Thursday 23 June.

And while we're on the topic of session-style beers, look out for a new batch of kegs of Taras Boulba from Belgium's Brasserie de la Senne, arriving in town this week. This 4.5% ale is all you could ask for in a summery beer - loaded with complex Belgian yeast flavors and hopped to refreshing perfection.  Ok - now I'm thirsty.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Week in Beer

If you can't make it to Philly Beer Week in Philadelphia or Mondial de la Biere in Montreal, there are still plenty of good beers to be had in NYC.

On Tuesday the 7th, Rattle n Hum will be putting up over 20 Shelton Brothers drafts and on Wednesday the 8th, Blind Tiger will feature all 19 varieties of this year's Single Hop Series from Mikkeller as part of IPA month.

Shelton Brothers Take Over the Taps

When:  Tuesday, 7 June, 5:30 pm onwards
Where:  Rattle n Hum, 14 E. 33rd Street
What:  pay-as-you-go

The selections will range from rare, limited-edition beers (De Struise, Baird, Oppigårds, De Molen, Haandbryggeriet) to some of our staple breweries (De Ranke, Mikkeller, Nøgne Ø, Christoffel, Kulmbacher, St. Germain/Page 24, Westons Cider).  I'm already feeling the effects of the hangover.


Mikkeller Single Hop Event

When:  Wednesday, 8 June, 3 pm onwards
Where:  Blind Tiger Ale House, 281 Bleecker Street
What:  pay-as-you-go

If you need a little hair-of-the-dog after Tuesday night's extravaganza, come to Blind Tiger for what will certainly be an educational experience.  Last year, Danish brewer Mikkel Borg Bjergsø brewed his Single Hop Project to showcase the effects of different hops on the flavor and aroma of the same base beer.  This year, he's taken the project a step further - 9 steps to be exact.  There were 10 Mikkeller Single Hop varieties last year and this year he's gone all the way to 19.  There is also a slight change in the brewing procedure:  the same base recipe is used to create the 6.8% IPA but instead of aiming for the same IBU (bitterness) level in each beer as last year, them same amount by weight of each hop variety is used for bittering, flavor, aroma, and dry-hopping.  In addition, the malt comes from the same lot.  This is really a fantastic way to learn about the different flavors and aromas found in different hops.

To the list!

Columbus (Tomahawk)
Mt. Hood
Sorachi Ace
Super Galena