Friday, October 21, 2011

New York - Breweries and Music #3 - Keuka, Fang Island

The first two breweries I wrote about for New York were large, well distributed craft breweries. Keuka is much smaller and locally distributed but they have a tasting room and several styles of beers. So if you are doing a wine tour, it's well worth stopping by.
Quick Facts:
  • Opened in fall of 2008.
  • Located on the west side of Keuka Lake near Hammondsport.
  • What looks like a Y in their logo is actually the shape of Keuka Lake. I definitely like this logo.
My wife and I visited their tasting room in summer of 2010. It's tucked off of the main road on the west side of Keuka lake which is not really the main wine trail. They have a nice little tasting room and the son of the owner was pouring drinks for us.The story behind one of their beers is pretty unique. Their White Cap Wazz-berry is their White Cap Wheat but with raspberry added to the secondary fermentation. They say on their site that it is brewed for one of their favorite customers. I'm not sure if that means they brew it whenever he says "hey I want some," or if that just means he was the inspiration. I hope it's the former. Either way, I don't think I've ever heard of a brewery making a beer for one specific person.

Here's their selection: (although they say that this is just a list of a few of the beers they have available)
White Cap Wheat, White Cap Wazz-berry, Briglin Road Red, Hoppy Laker IPA, Bluff Point Brown, Full Sail Stout Ale.

Today's Brooklyn band is Fang Island. They are originally from Providence, RI, but are now Brooklynites (ers?). They have described their music as "everybody high-fiving everybody" which is definitely fitting. It's high energy fun music. This song is called "Life Coach."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New York - Breweries and Music - #2, Blue Point, The Hold Steady

Blue Point Brewing is the only brewery on Lon Gisland. That's not a typo, that's how people say it.
Quick Facts:
  • Founded in 1998. 
  • They use a direct fire brick brew kettle, which they say imparts a lightly toasted flavor.
  • They have a 25 barrel brew house.
  • Distributed in 11 states on the East Coast. NY, NJ, MA, Ct, PA, RI, FL, NG, VA, DE, NC.
I like their website because it includes a whole lot of information about their brewery, the beer, recipes to try with beer, and a really cool story about how the brewery was able to open in the first place. The two friends who started the brewery were having a hard time finding capital to buy their equipment. They found a perfect building but didn't have enough money to lease the building and buy the equipment necessary. So, they were about to give up, but the landlord of the building randomly said that he would give them the first year's rent for free just because he had a feeling about them. Luckily for both parties involved, they have done pretty well since.

Here is their selection:
Year Rounds: Toasted Lager, Hoptical Illusion, Blueberry Ale, RastafaRye Ale, Pale Ale, and Oatmeal Stout.
Seasonals: Spring Fling, Summer Ale, Oktoberfest, Pumpkin Ale, Winter Ale
Limited Releases: Double Blonde, Golden Ale, Old Howling Bastard, No Apologies, Sour Cherry Imperial Stout, BP Toxic Sludge, Double Pilsner, and an ESB (Extra Special Bitter)

I've only had the Toasted Lager and the Hoptical Illusion. If I had to pick three more that I would really like to try they would be the Sour Cherry Imperial Stout, The Old Howling Bastard barley wine (for some reason I really like barleywines. Maybe masochism?) and the ESB which is another of my favorite styles. 

You may be wondering about the BP Toxic Sludge. It’s a Black IPA (also one of my favorite styles.) If you haven't noticed, pretty much every style of beer is my favorite. It was released to benefit the birds harmed by BPs oil spill. 100% of the proceeds go to Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research.  It clocks in at 7% ABV and is hopped four times, which is one time more than the triple hops brewed actual sludge that is Miller Lite.

I've never been to Long Island, but since Blue Point distributes all along the East Coast, you don't have to go either. Grab a Sour Cherry Imperial Stout and let me know how it is. I'm intrigued.

No good musicians are actually from Brooklyn apparently, but a whole lot of bands have migrated there in order to hit the big time. One of them is The Hold Steady, who I was into pretty strongly a couple years back. Then my car's CD player broke and swallowed the two CDs of theirs I owned and I have somewhat lost touch with them. This one is called "Stuck Between Stations." I have other songs from them that I like more, but in this video, I couldn't help but think the lead singer looks a little bit like a young Bernie Madoff.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New York - Breweries and Music #1 - Brooklyn, Cults

I'm going to try something new for this month since the website I linked to in my intro post has pretty much every NY state brewery listed. Also, Brooklyn is home to some really amazing bands, so, I'm going to several short posts and talk about each of the breweries from NY that I've sampled as well as recommend a band from NYC. I'll start with the first brewery I ever tried from New York was Brooklyn Brewery.
Quick Facts:

  • They got started in 1987 and have been growing ever since. 
  • Their brewmaster, Garret Oliver is one of the most well respected brewmasters in the craft beer industry. 
  • In 2003 they made the switch to 100% wind generated electricity. 
  • They are distributed to 26 states (mainly the East coast and Midwest) as well as Canada, Europe and Asia.

My first encounter with a Brooklyn Brewery beer was their Local # 1 at a jazz club in Manhattan. Since then I've had 5 of their other beers and, in my opinion, they do really well with their bigger and more creative beers. I'm not that fond of their Pilsner or Lager and their Brown Ale is pretty standard. But the Post Road Pumpkin (in my fridge right now) is a great fall selection, and the Black Chocolate Stout is extremely tasty. Everything else I've yet to tastse, but I've only heard good things about their reserve series and I'd love to try the Monster Barleywine and the Intensified Coffee Stout.

Here is their full line of beers, pulled right from their website;

Core Brands: Brown, IPA, Lager, Pennant Ale, Pilsner, Weisse
Seasonals: Summer Ale, Oktoberfest, Post Road Pumpkin, Winter Ale, Black Chocolate Stout, Monster Ale(Barleywine)
Big Bottles: Local #1 (Golden Ale), Local #2 (Stong Dark Belgian), Pale Weisse-Bock
Brewmasters Reserves: Sorachi Ace, Intensified Coffee Stout, Cuvee De Cardoz (Spiced Wheat), Blunderbuss Old Ale.

Their website is real easy to use and designed nicely. For every beer they have listed, they give the specs of the beer, the history of the style of the beer, and food pairings that go well with the style. Definitely give them a taste next time you catch one on draft. I highly recommend the Black Chocolate Stout for this winter.

My musical selection for the day comes from a band called Cults. They have a 60's era sound and they have gotten a lot of love this year. I think it's pretty well deserved. This is a song called "Go Outside." I also really like "You Know What I Mean."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

#11 - New York, "The Empire State" - Intro

New York State was the inspiration behind starting my blog. During the summer of 2010 I visited the Finger Lakes for the first time and my wife and I did a tour of the wineries on Seneca Lake. The shear amount of wineries in that region as well as the brilliant marketing of those wineries as part of the Wine Trail made me wonder why there weren't more craft beer "trails" in the country. The proximity of wineries to each other based on geographical necessity makes them much more logical for an actual trail than craft breweries, which can and are based wherever they want to be. So, instead of trying to start up an actual trail of breweries, which would require lots of time and effort, I did the next best thing. Started researching them online and writing about them, even if I'd never even been to the state that they reside in.

Anyway, NY is the reason I do this blog, and so, I was not surprised to find several actual New York brewery maps and trails online. The first one I found had a clickable map, with links and lots of information about every brewery listed. I went through the list thinking that it was comprehensive, but soon found out that at least two breweries that I had physically been too were not on the list. So I found a second list and, it does seem to be comprehensive, or at least as comprehensive as you're going to get, cuz I'm not searching anymore.

So, my game plan is different this month. Since the information is already out there, and very easy to use, I'm not going to try to recreate that by going through every brewery. I'm going to deal with only the ones I've had before, and then you can use the map at the page that already exists to find the rest. I may drop a line or two about the ones I haven't tried, just to keep the old joke muscles warm.

Beer Stats for NY:
Population: 3rd in the U.S. with 19 million.
Size: 27th most land in the U.S.
Areas infested by hipsters ironically drinking PBR: NYC and spreading.
# of Breweries: Upwards of 30, I'll get the real count down eventually
# of Brewpubs: At least 15, most likely a lot more.
Average price of a craft brew in NYC: $38*

*Estimate based on guesswork based on a feeling based on some previous experience.

I've been to three breweries in New York, all in the Finger Lakes region, and I've had beer from about twelve breweries total, so I think I'll start with those and see where that gets me.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Virginia Brewery Map

Like I've said before, Virginia is a big state, so it will take at least a week to do justice to visiting all of these breweries and their surrounding areas. This map starts from the Southwest part of the state hits the beach, and then finishes in Northern VA.

A. Wolf Hills
B. Roanoke Railhouse
C. Jefferson Street
D. Blue Lab
E. Blue Mountain
F. Starr Hill
G. Legend's
H. Beach
I. O'Connor
J. St. George
K. Williamsburg AleWerks
L. Blue Gray
M. Port City
N. Shenandoah
O. Lost Rhino
P. Holy Brew

Have fun in VA. I'm starting on New York this week.

View Larger Map

Virginia Trailies

Virginia Trailies:
Best Beer Name: Lights Out Holiday Ale, Blue Mountain. It's a high ABV winter ale. Embarrassing incidents are sure to ensue.
Best Story behind the name: Starr Hill, The Love. The website has this story from the founder; "A friend of mine would smuggle wheat-beer yeast back  from a brewery in Germany, and he won the National Home Brewers' Competition one year with this yeast he'd smuggled. I asked him if he would 'share the love' and let us borrow the yeast, and 10 years later he finally did." Good story, and it's not a bad beer either.
Best Beer Concept: Imperial Lager, Roanoake Railhouse. It's a German style helles-bock with a more American hop aroma and higher alcohol (7.8% ABV.)
Best Overall Beer Selection: Williamsburg AleWorks. Their year round selections are pretty standard, but comprehensive. And their reserve beers caught my eye. A barleywine and a bourbon barreled porter.
Best Brewery Logo: Lost Rhino Brewing. It was a close call between two breweries using surfboards (Beach and Lost Rhino), but put a surfboard on a Rhino's back and you've won me over.
Best Label Art: O'Connor Brewing. They look like pencil sketches you might find on an old elaborate map. Nothing too crazy or hilarious, but classic and simple.

Most Likely Label Art to Get a Brewery Sued: Tripel Dubbel, Black Couch Brewery. It is exactly like the old 76ers logo. I emailed the brewery about the logo and got no response, so I have no problems putting it here. I'm no lawyer, but I would expect that they would have a hard time using this one without some legal issues.

Tripel Dubbel logo from Black Couch's Website. 76ers pic from

Most Pandering Brewery: Holy Brew. You're not fooling me with that light, corn based beer b.s. I've said it once and I'll say it again, there is a time and place for junk beer. But I will not be paying craft beer prices for the privilege of drinking a "Heavenly" copy of Bud Light.

This months winner for best search term that led to my site: 
"Tony Tarasco and his personal life." This term is the very reason I started this blog. So that people would have a place on the web that they could go to for details of Tony Tarasco's off-the-field life. If you don't know who Tony Tarasco is, he is a former Baltimore Oriole and a key figure (along with 12 year old Jefferey Maier) in one of my worst childhood memories. I couldn't find the video, but here's picture proof. Check out my Maryland post for more details.
Picture from SI.Com. Tarasco was camped under that pop up!
Best URL that led to my site: - Canadian government website about a program that allows Australians to travel and work in Canada for up to two years. I don't see a single add on their site, so I have no idea how someone went from there to here. Sometimes I don't believe Google's analytics. This is one of those times.

I'll put the Virginia Brewery Map up separately.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cape May Brewery

If anyone out there is trying to open their own brewery, take Cape May Brewing Company as proof that you can get started small and build from the ground up. My wife and I stopped by their location in Cape May, NJ recently and it's essentially a scaled up homebrewing operation in a warehouse space. I imagine that's similar to how every brewery starts but I've never been to a commercial brewery that's at such an early stage of development.
The mixture of risk and possibility of a new brewery seemed exciting to the guy who is running it. He was all over the place trying to pour beers, explain stuff to people, and take pictures of the crowd that had gathered inside the garage. They had just brewed a new beer (honey porter using local honey) and they showed off their small custom brewing system and explained the details about how they incorporated the honey. A wheat and an IPA were on tap for tastings. During the 45 minutes or so that we were there, at least three people came in for growler refills, so it looks like they have some solid support from the locals. If you are ever at the Jersey Shore near Cape May, give them a visit.