Monthly Archives: January 2013

Creative brews at LI Nano Cask Festival

The scene at 2013 Long Island Nano Cask Festival

Renee Irizarry checks out the brews at 2013 Long Island Nano Cask Festival

Creativity was on display at the 4th Annual Long Island Nano Cask Festival.

Held at the Rocky Point Beach Club on Jan. 26, this relatively intimate beer event run by Rocky Point Artisan Brewers featured nine brewers and twice as many brews. About 150 people attended the five-hour event.

Participating brewers asked by the sponsors to bring unique, creative contributions –all served from casks, that it without forced carbonation – certainly complied.

To be sure, some brews succeeded more than others. Among the best:

Tangerine Belgian Tripel produced by the festival hosts. This was a version of the brewery’s Ardennes Tripel with an addition of fresh, hand-peeled clementine zest. Oddly summery with its light, refreshing “ade” character, the beer was mightily deceptive with 10.5 percent alcohol by volume.

Another fruited beer, Port Jeff Brewing’s Schooner Ale with cherries also was among my favorites at the fest.

Barrage Brewing, which is awaiting the installation of gas lines at its new Farmingdale brew house, showed off a oak-aged, rum-raisin porter called Raven Shadow, a smooth, easy sipping brew with chocolate and roasted grain notes with a touch of acidity in the finish.

There was more than fruit being used in the brews served that afternoon.

Photo1 (82)Prominent among them was Blind Bat Brewery’s Sweet Potato Saison, a round and sweet brew. It will be worth watching to see how brewer Paul Dlugokencky hones the recipe for his second batch of this unique brew.

Hoppocratic Oath by Great South Bay Brewing, though not a nano brewery, also was a winner. This brilliant, copper hued imperial IPA presented a huge citrus nose, deliciously estery fruit notes and a tasty bitter finish.

Stouts also made appearances, albeit with some unusual flavorings. Port Jeff Birch Stout was slightly reminiscent of a root beer with its wintergreen character, but lacked the vanilla creaminess root beer devotees enjoy. And Mint Chocolate Stout from Spider Bite Brewing was a light rendition with hints of both additives.

Were you there?  Tell us in the comments section what beers you enjoyed.

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6 NY brewers among 76 picked to pour at Savor event in NYC June 14-15

Scene from Savor 2012

Scene from Savor 2012

A half dozen New York breweries are among 76 from across the nation selected by lottery to pour at Savor, An American Craft Beer & Food Experience, to be held in New York City on June 14-15.

Brooklyn Brewery, Bronx Brewery, Empire Brewing Co., Brewery Ommegang, Port Jeff Brewing, and Saranac Brewery were the six New York brewers selected from among 200 brewers who entered a lottery run by the Boulder, Colo.-based Brewers Association, sponsor of the event. The lottery was held earlier this month.

The list includes 16 “Supporting Breweries” and another 60 breweries that were selected to showcase their beers over two evenings to thousands of beer and food lovers. The location of the event has not be announced.

All told, 76 breweries will serve their finest beers paired with special dishes from a menu crafted by Chef Adam Dulye of San Francisco’s Monk’s Kettle and Abbot’s Cellar restaurants.

Attendees will enjoy a diverse array of pairings, ranging from savory to sweet and everything in between. Not only that, Savor participating breweries represent all areas of the country, hailing from 26 different states. Some names are familiar, others not. Click here for the complete list of 2013 Savor breweries.

Previously, Savor was held in Washington, D.C. and will return there next year.


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Hurricane Sandy collaborative relief beer, Surge Protector IPA, makes debut

Surge labelThe culmination of 13 weeks of effort involving a group of Long Island brewers has come to fruition.

The group’s collaborative beer, Surge Protector IPA, makes its debut today (Jan. 22). Proceeds from sales of the beer will go to help victims of Hurricane Sandy and Barrier Brewing Co., whose Oceanside, Long Island, brewery was decimated by the storm surge.

After six weeks of emails, meetings and brainstorming, the group on Dec. 4 produced a collaboration brew at Blue Point Brewing Co. in Patchogue.  Each of the breweries — Barrier Brewing Co., Blind Bat Brewery, Blue Point Brewing Co., Great South Bay Brewery, Greenport Harbor Brewing Co., and Long Ireland Beer Company – donated an ingredient.

Surge Protector IPA initially will be released in six locations on Long Island and in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens. They are:

Beginning Jan. 23 the beer, bottled by Blue Point, will become available across the Long Island.  Clare Rose is distributing the beer. The group also is selling commemorative T-shirts.

Sandy Relief Beer started as a video project by photographer Matt Furman and freelance journalist Niko Krommydas, but evolved into a collaborative relief effort involving the eight local breweries.

Long Island Cares, Inc. will receive one-half of all proceeds from Sandy Relief Beer.

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Jan. 25, a fine night for Scotch whisky and haggis to mark Bobby Burns Day

St. Andrew's Burns Night menu

St. Andrew’s Burns Night menu

Every Jan. 25, Scots celebrate the life of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns.

Whether in Scotland or elsewhere in the world, they take the time for a wee dram of whisky as they carry out the long-standing tradition of reciting Burns’ famous poems over a sumptuous traditional Burns supper.

The tradition, begun a few years after Burns death in 1796 by some of his close friends, has been marked in New York City by a supper at St. Andrews Restaurant and Bar, in the city’s Theater District.  Mark and Martin Whelan, who own the St. Andrews, also own Maggie’s Place, Stout, The Half Pint, Feile, Amity Hall and the Long Room. This year will be no different.

Mark Whelan, who’s the chef at St. Andrews, has been hosting the diner for about 15 years. In the early years, he recalled, the event attracted just a few dozen patrons.  This year it’s sold out at about a hundred guests. Many will arrive wearing kilts.

The dinner starts with the saying of grace, bag pipers, followed by the presentation of the haggis, a sheep’s belly stuffed with organ meats, spices, and oatmeal and the recitation of Burn’s poem, “Address to a Haggis.”

The reading can get very dramatic, says Whelan, “People are really into, it. People love the haggis. They eat it by the handful.”

What follows is essentially a Scottish meal with each course accompanied by a different whisky.  Haggis with neeps (parsnips) and tatties (potatoes) is one of the first course selections. Yes, people eat it, says Whelan. This year, various Bowmore Islay whiskies are on the menu, including Bowmore Legend, Bowmore 12 year, Bowmore 15 and for a night cap, Bowmore 18, accompanied by a along with a sing along that ends with Burns’ 1788 work, “Auld Lang Syne.”

Bowmore is the first recorded distillery on Islay (pronounced ‘eye-la’) and one of the oldest in Scotland. Islay malts are renowned for their peaty smokiness.

Whelan, who has worked with Bowmore on other whisky dinners, says the pairings must be done with care to work with the different characteristics of the whiskies. The food has to be prepared to match the whisky, he says. “You want something that will stand up to it. You don’t want to serve the 18 year with the entrée.” That fruity, chocolately elixir is too strongly flavored. Better suited, the 12-year with its notes of smoke, citrus and honey.

St, Andrews is the perfect New York bar for a Burns supper. Named for the famous Scottish golf course – golf pro Ernie Els was to be an original partner, there’s no doubt about the restaurant’s theme. Tartan patterns cover the seats of the bar stools that stand along the polished wooden bar and the dining room chairs and banquettes. Servers, mostly Scottish, wear kilts. “That’s the uniform,” says Whelan.

Meanwhile, the bar offers a selection of more than 200 single malts and 23 blended whiskies, plus Irish and malt whiskies from elsewhere, not to mention a few Scottish beers. Interestingly, the Whelans are Irish, not Scotch. In opening the pub, they decided New York had too many Irish places.

And what of Bobby Burns Day? Says Whelan, “It’s an excuse to eat good food and drink good Scotch.”

How will you mark Robert Burns day?

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Glenmorangie adds a 1993 ‘virgin’ American oak single malt, Ealanta

Ealanta PackshotFans of Glenmorangie single malt Scotch whisky will soon have something  to cheer about: a new expression to sample, Glenmorangie Ealanta, part of the distiller‘s Private Edition range.

Scots Gaelic for “skilled and ingenious,” Ealanta is a 19-year-old Glenmorangie that’s been matured exclusively in virgin American white oak casks from the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains.

Glenmorangie, a Highland distiller, is renowned for its research into the effect of wood on whisky maturation and its previous expressions in the Private Edition range have been aged in barrels previously used for sherry and Tuscan wine. All Scotch whisky must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years

“It’s no secret in our industry that it’s the ‘wood that makes the whisky’ and for many years my team and I have been carrying out detailed research in this area,” Dr. Bill Lumsden, the company’s distilling and whisky creation director, said in a press release. “Ealanta is an experiment dating from the early 1990s. The casks selected from oaks of the Mark Twain National Forest were absolutely top quality and were unusual in that they had not previously held any liquor, such as bourbon.”

Lumsden said the interaction of the whiskey with the “virgin” wood made for intriguing flavors, which he described as a “huge mouth-filling, buttery, creamy, vanilla flavors – somewhat like a crème brulee topped with almond and marzipan.”

According to the distiller’s tasting notes: “Glenmorangie Ealanta has a soft toffee and butterscotch aroma, followed by vanilla and a curious strong hint of stewed fruits with a hallmark Glenmorangie top note of menthol. On the palate, candied orange peel, sugar coated almonds and sweet vanilla are to the fore, wrapped in an unusual nuttiness reminiscent of Brazil nuts in toffee. The finish is long with virgin oak derived spices such as clove, ginger and a hint of aniseed.“

Glenmorangie Ealanta is bottled at 46 percent abv and is not chill-filtered. It will be available in limited quantities, which once depleted won’t be refilled. New York, a major market for the brand, can expect distribution, said a spokeswoman.  The suggested retail price is $119 per 750ml bottle.

Glenmorangie Ealanta is the latest addition to the ongoing limited Private Edition range, comprising, so far, Sonnalta PX (aged in Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks), Finealta (aged in American white oak and Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks) and Artein (aged in rare Tuscan wine casks).


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Jan. 26 Long Island Nano Cask Festival to feature many one-off brews

2013-nanocaskfest (1)

One of my favorite small time beer fests is almost upon us — the Long Island Nano Cask Ale Festival.

Sponsored by Rocky Point Artisan Brewers, this Jan. 26 festival features a small group of small brewers pouring unique brews in a cozy venue, the North Shore Beach Owners Club House in Rocky Point. To keep it comfortable organizers plan to sell only 150 tickets. The festivities start at 3 p.m.

It’s an opportunity to sample exciting local brews—many of them one offs brewed especially for this event —without having to elbow your way to the tap.

What makes this event special is that the brews are served from casks with natural carbonation rather than forced carbonation. Our friends across the Atlantic call cask beers “Real Ale” and it was the traditional way of serving beer until forced carbonation came along. To the uninitiated, that’s why British beers have a reputation for being warm and flat.  To be honest, these beers are neither. A cask beer generally is served at cellar temperature and, if done right, can be downright creamy and flavorful.


Scene from last’s year’s nano festival. (Rocky Point Artisan Brewers photo)

To be sure, there’s always disagreement among beer aficionados about which beers are best suited to be served on cask.  British-style beers and some Belgians work best, to my taste. Those extreme beers with tons of hops just don’t work. They need the carbon dioxide to offset all that bitterness.

In addition to the host brewery, other participants include Barrage Brewiing, Blind Bat Brewery, Ghost Cat BrewingGreat South Bay Brewing, Greenpoint Harbor Brewing, Montauk Brewing, Port Jeff Brewing and Spider Bite Brewing. Also, Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts, a local home brew club will be pouring various homebrews, including an expresso-flavored cider from award-winning home brewer Bobby Rodriguez and Frank Filacchione’s rauch beer.

421410_338113679560636_1970184522_nAmong the commercial offerings  lined up are a vanilla smoked porter from Spider Bite, which also will pour an India pale ale brewed with a  new hop variety, Belma (described as having tropical citrus notes).

Blind Bat, meanwhile will pour a sweet potato saison, while the new Montauk Brewing Co. is bringing what it calls an eastbound brown ale fermented with espresso beans from Hampton coffee company

Port Jeff Brewing will be bringing a birch stout and a version of Schooner Ale flavored with cherries.

Barrage Brewing will have two casks: Ravens Shadow, an oaked rum raisin porter, which I believe they poured at last year’s nano fest, and FairyTale Red Hop Ale, an Irish red ale  dry hopped with Amarillo and citra hops.

Tickets, $40 each, include a tasting glass, unlimited beer samples and live music. Crazy Beans, of Miller Place, and Bite Me Cakes, of Sound Beach, will supply the eats. This year, as an added feature there will be a farmer’s market taking place, where produce will be available for purchase and growlers of beer will be sold during the final hour of event.

For tickets go to Rocky Point’s web site.

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Draft magazine taps 3 Manhattan beer spots, 3 in Brooklyn among best in USA

527461_10151175531462886_1627622089_n Three Manhattan beer establishments and three in Brooklyn  made Draft magazine’s 2013 list of American’s top 100 best beer bars. The list was released today (Jan.  15).

The complete list is available at the magazine’s web site.

In Manhattan, the chosen few are:

  • Blind Tiger Ale House, cited for its Village character and lengthy list of worldly brews. 281 Bleecker St.,  
  •  Rattle ‘N Hum, a midtown destination for beer geeks. 14 E. 33 St.  
  •  Top Hops Beer Shop, a bottle and growler shop in the Lower East Side with 20 taps and 700 bottles. 94 Orchard St.       

In Brooklyn, the select three are:

  •  Beer Table, the tiny, beer-centric Park Slope restaurant. 427b 7th Ave.
  • Bierkraft, also in Park Slope, known for its selection of bottled beers, 18 taps and Sammy shop.191 Fifth Ave.
  • Sputen Duyvil, cited for its cool, Williamsburg artisan vibe, serious beer list and geek-oriented Belgian selections. 359 Metropolitan Ave.

How many of these establishments have you visited?


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New Yorkers offer Jan. 15 toast to beer import pioneers Vanberg & Dewulf

373483_121612931339906_766731895_nDo you remember the first time you had Duvel? How about Saison Dupont, Rodenbach, Scaldis or Boon?

Without Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield we may never have had a chance to try any of these classic Belgian beers.

Back in 1982, having departed a life in Belgian where they worked as ex-pats, for the U.S., they decided to import the beers they had come to love. Their company, Vanberg & DeWulf, today continues to import Belgian beers—and from other counties, albeit with a somewhat changed portfolio of beer. They moved from Cooperstown, N.Y., to Chicago and some of the portfolio names are the same, some are gone and there are new ones, such as Lambrucha, Lambickx, and DeCam.

Wendy Littlefield

Wendy Littlefield

Their mission was to support the  independent, family-run breweries and indigenous beer styles that expressed the spirit of a country the size of Maryland that today has almost 200 breweries.

They also conceived and built Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, N.Y., which they sold to Duvel Moortgat. Moreover, they published the first edition of “The Great Beers of Belgium” by Michael Jackson and to pioneer cooking with beer education at the Culinary Institute of America and The James Beard House. For their efforts, they were the first Americans inducted into the Belgian Brewers’ Guild.

Don Feinberg

Don Feinberg

Last year, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the founding of Vanberg & Dewulf, Feinberg and Littlefield arranged a nationwide Coast2CoastToast with sanctioned bars and retailers hosting tastings. It took place Nov 15. But not in New York, which was just beginning to recover from Hurricane Sandy.  The company estimated that a third of its New York accounts suffered damage and about 20 percent of its New Jersey venues were shut.  Their New York wholesaler, Brooklyn-based Union Beer Distributors, had been flooded by the storm surge.  They postponed the New York version of Coast-to-Coast to Jan. 15.

Now, that day is at hand.

On Long Island, where I am based, Waterzooi, the Belgian-style restaurant in Garden City, has been designated an official host for the toast. There are 50 venues in and around New York City playing host. You can find the list either on this interactive map or at Union Beer’s web site.  In Manhattan, the Gingerman is offering 28  brews starting at 6 p.m.

Twitter followers can keep up with the latest on Coast-to-Coast-Toast-2 by following  #C2CT.

I certainly toast their success and wish them continued good fortune.

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My top imported brews of 2012

When was the last time you has a British beer?  Or a German or a Czech? Have Belgian brews eluded you?

With few exceptions you’ll be lucky to find one or two imports on tap at a good beer bar, likely Heineken or St. Pauli, or if your luck is good, a high-octane Belgian, or a Bavarian hefeweizen.  British beers have become harder to find—at least on tap (Bass, the once ubiquitous English import is now brewed in Syracuse, N.Y.) And what of Czech beers? Even the once widely available Pilsner Urquell, now a product of the SAB Miller group, is often MIA.

It seems that imported beers have lost appeal as beer aficionados have gravitated to the more diverse, more extreme brews being produced by American craft brewers.

What a shame! Beer drinkers today are missing out on some of craft’s finest examples. In fact, in the earliest days of the craft beer movement— the early 1990s— beer aficionados turned to the great beers of Europe to quench both their palates and thirst for beer knowledge.

To be sure, this is not an indictment of the purveyors of beer of America. They are focused on satisfying the broader market of beer drinkers, intoxicated by the heady brews crafted by small brewers closer to home. No, this explains why I’ve chosen to highlight my favorite imports from 2013 and expose more drinkers to these fine beers.

British beers dominate my list, largely because I made a point of sampling a number of them in conjunction with the 2012 Olympics in London. A handful of Belgians and one German brew — unique one— also made the list.  That’s not to say I didn’t try  other imports. I’ve sampled numerous Belgians; some Italians; some cross-border brews, among them Mikkeller, and a few Belgo-American collaborations. Many of the Belgians I imbibed seemed pale imitations of the classics that American microbrewers today want to emulate. And the German brews seem to have been relegated to the restaurants serving wursts and sauerbraten.  To be sure bottled versions of many imports are available, but outside of beer specialists you’ll have trouble finding them.

Now, in alphabetical order, my top 10, actually 11, list:

Bitter twisted Harviestoun Brewery Bitter & Twisted. Scotland. English-style blonde ale. 4.2% abv. Scotch brews generally are characterized by their low use of hops. Not this orange-hued beer, which explodes in the nasal passages with a big, citrus hoppiness. But there’s a crisp, mouthful of fruity malt to balance all that bitterness. It finishes with lip-smacking pleasure.

Boon Kriek. Belgium. Brouwerij Boon. Lambic with cherries. 4% abv. With its almost mahogany hue, funky aroma and  tart cherry flavors, this low alcohol brew surpasses many other krieks, both Belgian and domestic, which so often are reminiscent of cough syrup or cherry candies.

Chimay tapChimay Blanche (Cinq Cents) Draft. Bières de Chimay (Abbaye Notre Dame de Scourmont). Belgium. Tripel. 8% abv. Had this on tap on a hot summer day. Deep golden color, albeit hazy, with a dense white head and beautiful yeasty and fruity notes. Despite its relatively high alcohol, the beautifully balanced brew refreshed with its crisp, dry finish. A classic example of the style.

Freigeist Brettokolong. Gasthaus-Brauerei Braustelle. Germany. Kölsch. 4.8% abv. A good example of innovation in German brewing from a decade-old micro. This is a limited release, draft version of an unfiltered kölsch fermented with brettanomyces. Its called Ottekolong in bottle.Hazy gold hue with a funky nose that incorporates notes of lemon juice, hay and tart apples. On the palate, fruity and dry with a hint of spice. Quite refreshing.

Fullers ESBFuller’s ESB. Fuller, Smith & Turner. England. Extra special bitter. 5.9% abv. In the early days of the craft movement, this was the stellar example a an English strong bitter and was widely available. It remains a classic, though hard to find on draft.  Golden/copper hue, firm head, malty/biscuity nose with a crisp palate that is punctuated with notes of fruit and caramel all in perfect balance.

Manchester Star Ale. JW Lees & Co. England. Porter. 7.3% abv. A strong, hoppy porter based on an 1884 recipe revived in 2002 that’s reminiscent of an Oloroso sherry. Dark brown and opaque with a cocoa-hued head and a great lace, this brew had a huge malty nose and on the plate notes of molasses, chocolate and raisins with hints of alcohol and a bittersweet finish.

RodenbachRodenbach Classic. Palm Breweries. Belgium. Flanders Red Ale. 5.2% abv. A blend of largely young ale with aged product. First had this when the brewery was family owned, it remains a classic example of the Flanders Red style now under the ownership of Palm (1998). Despite Palm’s decision to discontinue production of the Rodenbach Cuvee Alexandre, a more flavorful version aged in oak with cherries, the original Rodenbach remains true with its red-brown color, complex sweet and sour fruity (think vinegar) and mild oak notes.  Quite drinkable.

Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout. Samuel Smith Brewery (Tadcaster). England. Oatmeal stout. 5% abv. I’ve been a fan of this brew for almost two decades. It’s still quite enjoyable today. Ebony brown in color with aromas of roasted grain, chocolate and raisins with an oily chocolaty palate and an outstanding bittersweet finish.

Samuel Smith Old Brewery Pale Ale. Samuel Smith Brewer (Tadcaster). English pale ale. 5% abv. Let’s hear it for longevity. This copper-hued brew is an enjoyable classic brew with its firm tan head, malty nose and a smooth mouthful of malt, fruit and toffee balanced with a touch of resin.

whiteshield_pageWorthington’s White Shield. Molson Coors. England. English IPA, 5.6% abv. This bottle-conditioned English brewing heirloom, oddly enough, is from Coors’ UK operation. Deep copper hued with a dense off-white head, it melds sweet toffee notes and bitter hops.

 Zymacore Thornbridge Raven Black IPA. Thornbridge Brewery. England. 6.6% abv. A British microbrew imported in limited quantities by B United International, which then aged the beer in its U.S. warehouse in barrels formerly used for both wine and whisky. An incredibly complex brew with it has a deep, black body and a thin beige head. The aroma is super sweet with notes of whiskey, wood, dark fruit and chocolate. Flavors are intense: dark sweet chocolate with only the barest hints of resin but also oak, bourbon, and a hint of sweet wine.




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My top 10 U.S. craft brews of 2012

Hundreds of beers have slipped through my lips during preceding 12 months, so it’s not easy picking out favorites, but out curiosity forced myself to revisit my tasting notes to see what I imbibed.

I found quite a few American craft brews with substantial appeal, despite a personal passion for British and Belgian imports. The beers on my list represent a broad cross section of styles and U.S. geography.

For the most part, distribution limited my choices to beers available in New York. Nevertheless, such Internet suppliers as and, have made it easier to locate brews from far-flung U.S.

These beers, presented in alphabetical order, stood out in my tasting notes:

stoutlabelwebDuck Rabbit Craft Brewery Milk Stout. Farmville, NC. Sweet Stout. 5.7% abv. This is quickly becoming one of my perennial favorites with its enormous cocoa hued, rocky head, deep brown, opaque body and rich, sweet toasty malt notes. It’s soft as silk on the palate.

Founders Brewing Co. Linch Pin White. Grand Rapids, MI. American IPA, 7% abv. A collaboration with Green Flash Brewing Co. of San Diego, CA,  this golden, cloudy, brew has a dense rocky white head, citrus on the nose and spices and fruit on the palate with a finish that can only be described as tingly.

irishdeathfullIron Horse Brewing Quilter’s Irish Death. Ellensburgh, WA. American Strong Ale, 7.8% abv. Dark and dangerous with an alcoholic strength is deceptive. Incredibly smooth mouth feel. Malty sweet, with notes of bready yeast, roasted chocolate, raisins and dates, coffee, cola, molasses and a mild alcohol tinge.   Untappd lists this as an American Strong Ale, but this is a brew that isn’t easily categorized.

Ithaca Beer Co. Excelsior! Fourteen. Ithaca, NY. Imperial Black IPA. 8.1% abv. Balance is the key to this brew, which offers sweet malt notes and a nice dry finish.

Kelso of Brooklyn Brett IPA. Greenpoint Beer Works. Brooklyn, NY. Belgian IPA. NA abv. I’m a sucker for sour beers and was quite taken by this tart, funky and fruity brew which emulates the Belgian-style. Hazy, orange-hued and oh-so-delicious.

rpab-logo (1)Rocky Point Artisan Brewers Hefeweizen. Rocky Point, NY. Hefeweizen, 4.8%. Absolutely delicious. Blind-tasted it would fool a Bavarian with its classic banana, bubble gum and spice flavors.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale 2012.  Chico, CA. American IPA. 6.8% abv. A beautifully balanced copper-colored blend of juicy malt and tangy hops preceded by the brewery’s trademark citrus nose.  One sip demands another and one glass must be followed by another.

Stone Brewing Co. Bottleworks 13th Anniversary Ale. San Diego, CA. American strong ale, 13% abv.   A tribute by Bottleworks, a Seattle craft beer store, to the number 13, marking its 13 years in business with 13 malts, 13 hops, and 13% abv.  Thick and delicious. Malty sweet with notes of dried fruit and licorice. A big thank you to Stone’s Dennis Flynn for the pour.

rudeman137x167Wandering Star Brewery Rude Man.  Pittsfield, MA. English-style Barleywine, 10.6%. A smooth, deceptively dangerous-to-drink strong brew.  Fruity with a pronounced malty sweetness, this brew lacks the  overwhelming hoppiness typically found in American craft barley wines.  I gave this five stars.

Widmer Brothers Pitch Black IPA. Portland, OR. 6.5 % abv. One of my favorites in the emerging black IPA or Cascadian dark style.  Round, smooth and balanced with a resiny, fruity nose, notes of toast and caramel, it has a long. dry finish.

Next: My top 10 import favorites


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