Monthly Archives: July 2012

Limited quantities of Chimay 150th anniversary ale to arrive in September

New Chimay beer is called Speciale Cent Cinquante

A special bottling of Chimay ale, marking the 150th anniversary of the Trappist brewery’s founding, is expected to hit U.S. markets in September, but availability will be limited, according to brand ambassador Luc “Bobo” Van Mechelen of Manneken-Brussels Imports, the Austin,Texas-based importer.

The beer, called Chimay Spéciale Cent Cinquante, the first new brew from Chimay in a little more than a decade, will be a blonde ale of 10 percent abv.

Only 2,500 cases are being sent to the U.S., Van Mechelen said, with distribution starting on the East Coast.  The shipment is expected to reach the U.S. shore in August

“I asked for 10,000 cases,” Van Mechelen told during a July 26 interview at New York City’s Beer Authority bar. “Twenty-five hundred cases are enough to piss people off.”  He said some key markets, such as Philadelphia and Texas, would see none of the beer.

Restaurants and beer merchants who want the beer will have to request it, and it will be distributed on a first-come-first-served basis, Van Mechelen said.

Union Beer Distributors, the Brooklyn-based distributor for New York City, will receive just 165 cases, each 12 bottles. RED Dacquel, Chimay brand manager for Union Beer, said his customers have already ordered150 cases, leaving him with just 15.

Here’s how Chimay describes the beer on its web site:

“This special edition is a full bodied and distinctive strong beer developed within the abbey to celebrate and honour the 150th anniversary of the brewery. Produced with 100% natural ingredients, its pale golden robe and champagne sparkle is topped by a rich white head of foam. The distinctive bouquet evokes the rich fruity and complex notes of the Chimay yeast in harmony with a delicate spicy note and the fragrance of fresh noble hops. At 10% alcohol, the flavour is full bodied and complex with a slight but refreshing tang note and a crisp hop finish that will delight the palate.”

Espace Chimay,  a Belgian blog about Chimay, showed a photo of beer with a wooden box. It reported the package would sell for 15 Euros (US $15.50).

Chimay currently produces just four brews, three of them bottled.

● Chimay Red Cap or Première, which was the first beer brewed at the Notre-Dame de Scourmont Abbey by the Trappist fathers in 1862.

● Chimay Blue Cap, also known as Grande Reserve, is a dark Trappist beer first brewed as a Christmas beer in 1948 and renamed in in 1982.

● Chimay Tripel, labeled Cinq Cents, is the newest of the Abbey beers. It was created in 1986. A draft version was introduced in 2001.

Chimay beers have been made since 1862 by the Cistercian Trappist monks to support their monastery, the Notre-Dame de Scourmont Abbey. The monks also produce a range of Trappist cheeses. Chimay is one of the six Belgian beers that can carry the logo, “Authentic Trappist Product,” of the International Trappist Association. That means that it is brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery under the control and responsibility of the community of monks, and whose revenue is devoted to social service.

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Remy Cointreu buys Islay’s Bruichladdish distillery

Remy Cointreu has acquired the fiercely independent Islay single malt Scotch whisky brand Bruichladdich, marking the French spirits giant first move into the rapidly growing premium single malt Scotch whisky market.

The companies announced the £58 million ($89.9 million) deal in a July 23 press release issued by Remy’s London-based subsidiary, Remy Cointreau UK Ltd.

The Bruichladdich (pronounced  Brook Laddie), distillery, one of eight on the Island of Islay and until now the only one not part of a big group, had been owned since December 2000 by a group of private investors led by Mark Reynier of Murray McDavid, who resurrected the Victorian distillery with its unique tall and narrow-necked stills. Today it produces more than 50 different expressions.

“The acquisition of Bruichladdich, a renowned Islay single malt with a rich and exciting heritage, is a great opportunity to enrich our high-end portfolio of brands and to confirm our strategy in the spirits luxury segment,” Remy CEO Jean-Marie Laborde said in a statement. “We look forward to working closely with Bruichladdich’s experienced and passionate management team”.

Sir John Mactaggart, chairman of Bruichladdich said, “This is an excellent transaction for Bruichladdich, the Islay community and a wonderful opportunity for the company to reach its full potential, under the stewardship of Remy Cointreau with their strong distribution network and their experienced brand development. I’m confident that Bruichladdich will establish itself as one of the Scotch whisky industry’s best known and acclaimed premium brands.”

Bruichladdich was founded in 1881 in the western part of the island of Islay and was shuttered in 1994. It was resurrected in 2000. Bruichladdich single malts are distilled, aged and bottled on site. Port Charlotte, a heavily peated expression, and Octomore, the world’s most heavily peated whisky, are also distilled there.

The Rémy Cointreau Group, whose origins date back to 1724, produces Remy Martin and Louis XIII cognacs, Cointeauthe orange-peel liqueur, Metaxa brandy from Greece, Mount Gay Rum from Barbados; Passoa, a passion-fruit liqueur; Saint Remya French brandy among others. Remy’s U.S. distribution portfolio also includes Piper-Heidsieck Champagne,  the MacCallan, Famous Grouse and Highland Park Scotch whiskies and Russian Standard Vodka



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Mark your calendar for the GABF, other beer festivals in NYC, NJ, Long Island

The Great American Beer Festival, the granddaddy of American beer festivals, enters its fourth decade when the doors to Denver’s Colorado Convention Center on Oct. 11.

The three-day event, which this year is expected to draw almost 50,000 attendees, brings together brewers and enthusiasts. Hundreds of brewers will be serving up samples of some 2,400 different beers from across the country. It’s a must visit for any beer enthusiast.

The big show, presented by the Brewers Association, the industry’s trade group, also includes the nation’s top beer competition, where gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded in 84 beer style categories. The awards are among the most coveted in the industry. 

Tickets go on sale for members of the Brewers Association and American Homebrewers Association on July 31, while the general public can obtain tickets beginning Aug. 2. Tickets are available online.

The GABF isn’t the only beer fest on the calendar.  Various festivals are planned in the near future for New York City and Long Island.

Edible Manhattan magazine is sponsoring Good Beer, on July 31, 6-9 pm. at 82 Mercer St., an event space. Pours from 30 breweries and eats from 30 top New York City restaurants will be available. Tickets are $55 for everything.

And on Long Island, the North Fork Craft Beer, BBQ & Wine Festival returns to Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead on Aug. 11. The North Fork event, which takes place under a tent close to the vines, showcases the brews of more than 50 craft brewers, wines from Long Island wineries and barbecue and serves as a fundraiser for the Beer For Brains Foundation and the Kent Animal Shelter.

The North Fork fest, produced by Starfish Junction, which also produces a beer expo at the Nassau Coliseum, runs from 2-6 p.m. for the general public. Tickets are $55 plus tax per person in advance ($70 at the gate). VIP tickets, which include an extra hour of sampling, are sold out. Designated driver tickets are available for $15 plus tax.

Also on Long Island, is Beerfields, a beer and music festival on Sept. 8, 2-5 pm., at the Brookhaven Amphitheater in Farmingville. So far, 30 breweries have signed on and another 10 are expected to join in. Tickets, which start at $55, are available through Ticketmaster. For information call (631) 648-2500.

On the other side of the Hudson, Rock Hops, a beer and music festival celebrating grass roots Americana, music and craft beer, takes place Aug. 1 at 1:30 p.m. in  Mercer County Park in West Windsor, N.J. About 30 craft breweries are participating with brews selected by my beer-writing colleague, John Holl, and John Kleinchester, founder of An all-day pass is $35, but does not include beer, which must be purchased separately. A connoisseur VIP package that includes both beer and music from 3:30-6 p.m. is available for $65. Tickets are available at Ticketfly.

Hope you can make one — or all.

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Unusual beers, but little fizz at cask fest

Three samples and program from cask beer fest at Alewife Queens

A hot summer afternoon, apparently, is not a good time to do an indoor cask ale festival, judging by the sparse attendance at the recent Get Real Presents Cask Ale Festival at Alewife Queens.

I estimated some 50 beer lovers stopped into the Long Island City bar on July 14, where some 30 cask ales were available.  You could say it was the price of admission, originally $90 for a VIP ticket that offered an extra hour of drinking.  But those tickets had been marked down to $36 on Groupon just days before the event. Perhaps, the evening sessions were better attended.

Amanda Jones pours a sample.

On a day with the mercury hovering in the 90’s, cold beer would’ve been more appropriate than cellar temperature cask ale. Some beers may have been even warmer. Perhaps, then, it was the lure of the beach or other cooler spots.

Don’t get me wrong. I love cask beer and welcomed the opportunity to sample numerous examples without having to elbow my way through a crowd.

Anyone who’s been to Britain and imbibed the creamy, flavorful real ales, however, might have found something amiss. It seems to me American brewers haven’t learned that you can’t serve every beer you produce on cask.

For the unitiated, cask ale or cask-conditioned beer is  a decription for beer that has been unfiltered, unpasteurized and conditioned in a cask, from whic it is then served without additional nitrogen or carbon dioxide pressure.  It’s also called real ale.

It was a shame that only one beer from Britain, the  home of cask ale, was available to sample.  That beer, Kipling, was a citrusy, American-style IPA from England’s Thornbridge Brewery. One advertised beer that hooked my attendance, JW Lees Harvest Ale aged in Calvados cask, regrettably was not being poured. No explanation was offered, though a wooden firkin of the brew had beens seen on the bar’s floor.

To be sure, many of the ales  gathered by co-owner Patrick Donagher  were quite good. A few, though, were barely palatable.

Many of the offerings were extraordinarily sessionable beers. Among them: Black Racer, a black IPA from Bear Republic; the juicy Phin & Matt’s Extraordinary Ale from Southern Tier and Fluffer IPA from Kuhnhenn Brewing. A double-dry-hopped version of Stone Ruination IPA, came across as oddly sweet. Amazing what the lack of CO2 can do.

Imperial stouts and porters, aged in barrels, or with unusual flavorings also were available.  Noteworthy was Perennial Artisan Ales’ Imperial Coconut Milk Stout and the whiskyish Mendocino Imperial Stout, which was aged in Buffalo Trace barrels.

Keg of Flying Dog Raging Bitch is tapped on the sidewalk.

A couple of beers that I was previously unfamiliar truly took me by surprise. One, Breckenridge Agave Wheat, nearly set my mouth aflame with its jalapeno flavors. Another, chile-flavored brew, Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch, a Belgian-style IPA with mangos and Habanero peppers, however grew on me after my initial taste of capsaicin. River Horse’s Hop-A-Lot-Amus, an imperial IPA dry hopped with grapefruit zest, was less than pleasurable.

Another brew from Flying Dog, Atlantic Lager, should never have been among these brews. It was cloudy and watery. Lager beers, I believe, require carbonation to give them life.

For $36 for four hours of sampling , I think I got my money’s worth. I hope those who paid more felt the same way.



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New York Gov. Cuomo signs law benefitting small breweries

Gov. Cuomo (3rd from left) downs a Saranac beer with Nick Matt, State Sen. Joe Griffo (R-Utica) and others after signing brewery law at FX Matt Brewing Co.

today signed into law a measure that retains tax benefits for New York State’s small brewers and exempts them from annual fees imposed by the State Liquor Authority.
 Cuomo traveled to Utica, home of F.X .Matt Brewing Co., to sign the legislation, which also creates a Farm Brewery license that will allow craft brewers to expand their operations through opening restaurants or selling new products.”In addition to producing some of the finest beer in the world, New York’s craft breweries are creating jobs, supporting our state’s farmers and hops growers, as well as bringing in tourism dollars in local communities across New York,” Cuomo said in a statement.”“Great news,” the now-in-formation Moustache Brewing Co. on Long Island said in a Facebook posting.”This legislation will help ensure that the state’s thriving craft beer industry can continue to deliver jobs, revenue and pride for New York.,” New York State Brewers Association president David Katleski said in a statement. ” Governor Cuomo and state legislative leaders deserve a lot of credit for recognizing the contribution craft brewers make to the state’s economy and creating an environment for us to grow and flourish. Today, we toast their commitment.”

Under the new law any brewery that produces 60 million gallons or less of beer in the state will now be eligible for a refundable tax credit applied against New York State personal income and business taxes. The credit is worth 14 cents per gallon for the first 500,000 gallons produced in New York, and 4.5 cents per gallon for the next 15 million gallons.

Under a previous law, small brewers in New York received an excise tax exemption, but Shelton Brothers, a Massachusetts-based importer, challenged the legal structure of the exemption. Shelton’s challenge led to a court decision that struck down the law. With the new benefits signed into law today, every small brewer will fare at least as well as they did under the prior exemption.

In addition, breweries that produce brands of 1,500 barrels or less annually (regardless of location) now are exempt from the $150 annual brand label fee. This exemption is eligible to brewers in and outside of the state.

The new Farm Brewery license required that beer must be made primarily from locally grown farm products. Until the end of 2018, at least 20 percent of the hops and 20 percent of all other ingredients must be grown or produced in New York State. The figure rises to 60 percent on Jan. 1, 2018 and 90 percent on Jan. 1, 2024. Beer manufactured under these guidelines would be designated as “New York State labeled beer.”

Brewers holding Farm Brewery licenses will be allowed to sell New York State labeled beer, wine, and liquor at their retail outlets. In addition, Farm Wineries and Distilleries will also be now permitted to sell New York State labeled beer and liquor for off-premises consumption, and Farm Distillers will also be now permitted to sell New York State labeled beer and wine for off-premises consumption.

What’s more, Farm Breweries will be allowed to open restaurants and to conduct tastings of and serve New York State labeled beer at any restaurant, conference center, inn, bed and breakfast or hotel owned by the brewery at the same or an adjacent location. They’ll also be allowed to sell beer making supplies and equipment, foods and souvenirs.

Wineries and distilleries haven’t been left out.  The new law allows Farm Breweries, Farm Wineries, and Farm Distilleries to conduct tastings of all New York State labeled beer, wine, and liquor at their premises.

The new law now exempts Farm Wineries and Distilleries as well as Farm Breweries from a costly and burdensome tax-filing requirement in which they previously were required to report sales made to restaurants, bars, and other retailers.  They must, however, continue to maintain sales records to show the state Tax Department if requested.

For the full text of the governor’s press release go here.

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Inventive fare, Belgian brews at a beer dinner at Long Island’s The Good Life

I’ve been to many a beer dinner over the years, but never to one of the monthly soirees at Long Island’s The Good Life, which are well-regarded among beer aficionados on Long Island and typically sell out well in advance.

I was overjoyed at the opportunity to attend one recently. Though I’ve enjoyed many a fine beer and pimped up pub grub at The Good Life, a comfortable gastro pub in Massapequa Park with 24 taps and 65 bottled beers, but never before could I secure a seating at one of these monthly themed dinners.

The theme for this dinner was Belgian beer, specifically, four of the many imported by Middleton, MA-based Global Beer Network.

A near-sellout crowd filled the pub’s private dining room as The Good Life’s staff efficiently delivered trays of each beer and each of the four eclectic dinner courses.  The flat-panel TVs, ordinarily filled with sports, showed a video of our beers for the night and Dan Leeman, the importer’s Mid-Atlantic sales director, offered a commentary on each of the brews. Meanwhile, host Peter Mangouranes popped over to my table as each course was delivered to explain its makeup.

Moules pasta and Bavik Pilsner

The foods, complex and inventive, were mostly delicious and the beers quite good with one exception. The matches, however, didn’t always seem felicitous.

We started with what was called moules frites, but not the traditionally beer-stewed mollusks and fried taters. The mussels were incorporated into ribbons of pasta, sauced with a potato cream and garnished with corn kernels, chives and crispy potatoes. I found one whole mussel in the dish and the crispy spuds escaped me.  Though tasty, the potato cream turned the dish into a gloppy affair.  A resiny, unpasteurized Bavik Pilsner, better than most Euro-lagers, served as a fine palate cleanser.

Pressed duck sandwich and Cherish Kriek

Next up was the evening’s best dish, a pressed duck sandwich, essentially a grilled cheese sandwich made with duck confit, brie, truffle aioli, arugula and a accompaniment of sliced roasted potatoes. To wash it down, we were served Cherish Kriek, a cherry-flavored Lambic from Browerij Van Steenberger NV whose taste suggested a cherry Tootsie Roll lollypop and reminded me more of cherry soda. This rich sandwich cried out for a more acidic brew, but the Cherish had just a hint of sour in its finish.

Colorado lamb chop, French lentils and Guulden Drak 9000

The meat course, a juicy, rare, well-trimmed Colorado lamb chop, was accompanied by a mélange of French lentils, preserved lemon and charred tomato gastrique. Alas, the brew accompanying this — Gulden Draak 9000 with 10.7 percent alcohol — tasted better alone and turned amazingly complex as it warmed up, long after my last bite of lamb. This richly flavored, fruity beer, a deep-gold quadruple from Steenberger, Leeman explained, gets a dose of caramelized candy sugar in the fermenter.

To finish, a plate filled with sweets and an equally sweet brew, Petrus Dubbel Bruin, from Browerij Bavik. The beer, made in part with Petrus Ale aged in Calvados casks, was reddish brown, rich and

Dessert: chocolate cupcake, blackberry semifreddo and Petrus Dubbel Bruin.

brimming with chocolate notes. No other dessert was necessary, but Mangouranes was in overkill mode with a Belgian chocolate, raspberry filled cupcake topped with buttermilk frosting. Also on the plate, blackberry semifreddo, a cross between a pudding and ice cream.

Despite a few missteps, you have to give The Good Life credit for putting on an adventurous evening and offering its patrons quite a deal for just $40. I’m hoping Mangouranes has room for me at future dinners.



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New York City celebrates its beer scene

From left, Juan Cruz (Sunswick), Bobby Gagnon (The Gate), Jimmy Carbone (Jimmy’s No. 43), Sam Barbieri (Waterfront Ale House), Dennis Zentek (dba) and Paul Kermizian (Barcade) at New York City Hall, where Mayor Mike Bloomberg presented them with a proclamation taking notice of the celebration

It’s July Good Beer Month in New York City, a celebration of the city’s breweries and drinking establishments, sponsored by the Good Beer Seal group of craft beer bars.

The celebration includes special beer-related events throughout the city.

Among the feature events is Hopfest: Backyard Hops on July 16 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Brooklyn Brewery. Hopfest will feature a walk-around food and beer tasting with local “backyard” hop growers from throughout New York City. Participants include the Bronx Brewery, which in collaboration with the New York Botanical Gardens and the Cornell Cooperative Extension is growing hops in community gardens throughout the Bronx; Jeff O’Neill of the Peekskill Brewery; John Segal of Segal Ranch Hops; Ben Granger of Bierkraft and John Liegey of Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. Tickets are $35.

Another featured event is the Beer Book, Blog & Video Fest on July 25, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the South Street Seaport Museum, described as a one-of-a-kind event featuring more than 20 of the country’s best writers and filmmakers, who will showcase their work, sign books, and sample beer with the public. Tickets are $15,

Other events include:

· July 12 – Craft/Beer/Jam – Live webcast with a studio audience and beer! At WNYC’s Greene Space.

· July 21 – Kelso of Brooklyn’s Great Hot Dog Cook-Off, now in its seventh year.

· July 31st – Edible’s Good Beer at 82 Mercer, billed as New York’s ultimate beer and food pairing event.

The Good Beer Seal, an association of independently owned bars dedicated to the promotion of craft beer, identifies bars that offer an intriguing selection of craft beer in a unique atmosphere created by owner/operators who exhibit a deep commitment not only to the promotion of craft beer but to the community in which they do business. The Good Beer Seal Committee includes Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43; Dave Brodrick of Blind Tiger Ale House; Bree O’Connor of Beer Sessions Radio; Sam Barbieri of the Waterfront Ale House; Ed Berestecki of Mugs Ale House; Juan Cruz of Sunswick 35/35, and Drew Bushong of Burp Castle.

A full list of member bars and information on upcoming events are available at

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An American-style IPA, other craft beers, with an Italian pedigree

with stylish American-style craft beers from Italy’s Birradamare Brewers

Strolling the exhibits at the recent New York Bar Show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, amid the rows of booths where wines, whiskeys and bar gadgets were offered, a table full of jet back beer bottles caught my eye. The 500ml bottles with their bold, stylish labels drew me closer in.

The sign above the booth read Birradamare Brewers.   Who?  I needed a closer look — and a taste.

Beers from a country better known for Chianti, Barolo and other wines?

Well, yes. Italian brewers, with little history of their own with the exception of such mass marketers as Peroni and Moretti, it seems have taken a page from their American cousins and brewing the classic European beer styles and, in some cases, given them a unique spin.

Until now, the only other Italian craft beers I was familiar with were those from Birra del Borgo and Birreria Le Baladin, both lines inspired by Belgium, and, unfortunately priced above mainstream brew ($20-$25 for a 750ml bottle at my neighborhood beer merchant, who says they are difficult to sell). Borgo is partners in the beer garden at New York City’s Italian food Mecca, Eataly.

The Birradamare beers were Italian-made, but their producer’s inspiration came from far afield. Turns out these craft brews, from a microbrewery outside Rome, were Czech, German and American in style.

But the line up of bottle-conditioned beers of Birradamare, whose name translates as “beer to love,” include a hoppy (75 IBUs), copper colored, grapefruity American-style IPA called Kausapa; a straw-colored, grass flavored Czech-style pilsner with soft spice notes called “Na Biretta Chiara; a malty sweet bock beer called ‘Na Biretta Rossa; an opaque, roasty, coffeeish German-style shwartz beer dubbed ‘Na Biretta Nere, and Birra Roma, a toasty, amber Märzen, and ‘Na Biretta di Castagne, a brew made with chestnut flour that I did not sample. The brews are made with Durst and Weyerman malts and Saaz and Pearl hops.

Distribution in New York is just getting underway, I was advised by Mike Burmil, operations manager at S.K.I. Beer Corp., the beer’s wholesaler in New York.

In the context of the American craft-brewing scene, the beers of Birradamare may not seem that exciting. Nevertheless, it was interesting to sample an Italian take on craft brewing and beers that offer an alternative to the Italian mass market brews for those who don’t want to drink vino with their pizza or pasta.

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3 new gin discoveries

Making gin is like painting a blank canvas. It’s a collage of flavors. And some new micro distillers, I‘ve found, are painting with a colorful palette.

Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin

Recently, I discovered some new flavorful renditions of this spirit, whose origins can be traced back to the Middle Ages, at Elixirs & Eats: Bacon, Beer, Booze, and Burlesque, an event at Hudson Terrace put on by food and beverage promoter Jimmy Carbone, who owns Jimmy’s No, 43 bar in Manhattan and Food Karma Projects, an event company. He received assistance from Gregg Glaser, editor of Modern Distillery Age.

Bluecoat Gin from Philadelphia Distilling

● Bluecoat American Dry Gin, from the Philadelphia Distilling Co., Sold in a cobalt blue bottle, this gin is far from the typical London dry gin. It’s made with wheat,  organic juniper berries, citrus and botanicals. The taste is firmly focused on the spicy juniper and citrus.

● Brooklyn Gin, produced under contract for Jose Santo’s Brooklyn Distilling Co. by the Hudson Valley-based Warwick Winery and Distillery. Santo’s recipe includes hand-cracked juniper berries, 11 botanicals, five types of citrus peels, lavender and cocoa nibs. It’s floral and citrus forward.

Brooklyn GIn

I’ve always found gin much more interesting than vodka, largely because of its complex flavors. To me, a martini is tastier with gin than it is with vodka. And nothing beats a gin and tonic on a hot summer day, though a gin greyhound cocktail may come close. Or, perhaps, this gin punch recipe from Brooklyn Distilling’s Jose Santos:I must lament that it’s difficult to find these distinctive gins outside of New York City.  You’ll find retailers listed on the producers’ respective web sites.

Gin Punch 

Adopted from a recipe from Brooklyn Distilling

1 bottle of Brooklyn Gin or other small batch gin

3 Earl Grey tea bags

12 oz. agave syrup

12 oz. pear purée

20 oz. water

10 oz. lemon juice (12 fresh lemons)


Pour the gin into another a pitcher or jug and add the three Earl Grey tea bags. Stir/shake occasionally for up to 20 minutes, tasting along the way to ensure that it doesn’t get you too bitter for you.

Remove the tea bags.

Pour the infused gin into a punch bowl.

Add all other ingredients (except the nutmeg) and stir.

Add some ice to the bowl.

To serve, add some ice to a glass, pour punch in glass, and sprinkle some ground nutmeg on the top.


Agave syrup is available in most supermarkets

If commercial pear purée is unavailable make it yourself using 6 pears. Peel and core the peers and then puree with a little water in a food processor.

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Beer impresario Patrick Donagher brings his talents to Alewife Queens

Alewife Queens sits midblock at 5-14 51st St. Long Island City

Open since last October, Alewife Queens was the third bar created by the partnership of Michael Bewley, Daniel Lanigan and Bryan Palombo and their first in New York City.  The others are Alewife Baltimore in Maryland and Lord Hobo in Cambridge, Mass.  The bars founders hoped to capitalize on a residential and commercial boom in the neighborhood. New residential towers rise on the waterfront close by. Also nearby are Citibank, JetBlue, Rolex, the New York City Department of Health, and the brand-new CUNY School of Law.

Despite all this, business at Alewife Queens “started out real slow,” said Lanigan at a recent open house for beer bloggers and members of the trade. “Nobody cared.”

New York City, Lanigan said, has many great beer bars, including Rattle ‘n Hum and Gingerman. “We want to be part of that family,” he added, noting that Alewife Queens is but one subway stop from Manhattan and three from Times Square.

With that in mind, he asked for assistance from Patrick Donagher, the New York City beer impresario who formerly managed Rattle ‘n Hum in Manhattan and runs Get Real Presents.

Daniel Lanihsn, left, and Patrick Donagher welcome guests at recent Alewife Queens open housreresents, a beer and food event firm.

Donagher is intent on putting Alewife Queens on beer lovers’ maps. Already, there is much ado.  Recently, the bar-cum-gastro pub hosted a group of beer bloggers and brewery reps at an open house and beer dinner. The next evening a half dozen Belgian brewers shared their sour beers and coming up on July 13 is a cask ale festival.

The beer impresario’s credentials lend credibility to the effort at Alewife Queens. In the 10 years he’s lived in New York, Donagher has done plenty. After moving from Donegal, Ireland, the third-generation bar owner quickly adapted to the new bar scene and its different challenges. He first co-opened and was managing partner of Cherry Tree, a bar in Brooklyn that quickly became known for its craft beers. Then, with his brother, Joe, and another partner, Eamon Donnely, opened Rattle N Hum. Rattle N Hum quickly became one of New York City’s most popular craft beer bars. He spent three years there before moving on in December to his own projects, among them Get Real Presents, which will create events focused on craft beer and local food.

At Alewife Queens, Donagher has a good head start. There are 28 beers on tap and a hundred more by the bottle, aimed mostly at aficionados. There’s am ambitious kitchen, a cavernous 2-level interior space with an outdoor patio in the rear.

I can vouch for the beers and the tasty eats. I enjoyed these brews at the recent open house:

Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. Summer Ale, which was perfect with the outside thermometer reading 98 degrees. A good starter for a long evening of brews, this Golden, pilsner like brew has notes of sweet malt and a pleasant dry finish.

21st Amendment Brewery’s Bitter American, a very sessionable, russet=hued brew with notes of malt and grapefruit on the nose and palate.

Stone Brewing Imperial Russian Stout (2011), poured from a bottle and shared by Dennis Flynn, Stone’s New York rep. A winner, despite its alcoholic bite. It offers up a big malty nose and flavors of raisins’, chocolate, and licorice.

Bottlework’s 13th Anniversary Ale, brewed by Stone. Also shared by Flynn from a bottle. Wow! Thick and delicious, malty sweet with notes of dried fruit and licorice.

Cantillon’s Rosé de Gambrinus with a delightful sour berry nose, strawberry palate and the beautiful sour funkiness that defines this Belgian brewer’s beers.

Bink Blonde by Brouwerij Kerkom, another Belgian, this time an amazing pale ale with notes of malt, herbs, spices, fruit and licorice and a lovely dry finish.

Given these sudsy delights, I’ve no doubt, I’ll return to Alewife Queens.  Will you visit?



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