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New York malt adds flavor to NYC’s Brewers Choice Beer Week event

After getting a little behind on writing this blog for various reasons, it’s time to catch up.  Here’s a piece on a terrific NYC Beer Week event.

Brewer’s Choice, the New York City beer and food event put on annually by beer and food impresario James Carbone, owner of Jimmy’s No. 43 in the East Village, was the only NYC Beer Week I was able to make this year. But I was glad I did.

Taking place for the first time in the Wyeth Hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn,

Carbone, working with another great New York City beer promoter, Dave Broderick, of The Blind Tiger Ale House, produced a tightly focused tasting on a chilly Feb. 26 evening.

The event featured some of the best beers I have sampled in months, a rare opportunity to meet face-to-face with the brewers and some pretty tasty eats from a collection of fine restaurants, including Reynard, Mile End Deli and Luke’s Lobster; and such artisanal food purveyors as Coach Farm Cheese and Blue Island Oyster Co.

Brewers Choice was among the 300 events and 150 venues participating in NYC Beer Week. Beer week is organized by the New York City Brewers Guild is a promotion group composed of 17 New York City-based brewers.

This year, Carbone sought to bring what he called “a very cool component” to his beer extravaganza. He sought out nearly 30 brewers, mostly from New York, but not all, who used regional grains to produce some of their brews. Also on hand were officials of Grow NYC, which among other things operates the Union Square Green Market, and Amanda Stanley, owner of Valley Malt, an artisanal maltster in Hadley, Mass., which supplies some 60 brewers and distillers. Valley Malt’s malts were used in many of the beers.

June Russell of Grow NYC at Brewers Choice event.

June Russell of Grow NYC at Brewers Choice event.

Brewers have been among the last of food and beverage producers to use local ingredients, June Russell, who has been facilitating the production of grains and processing in the region on behalf of Grow NYC, told me at the event. “They haven’t had the malting facilities.”

New York has three malt producers that I could identify: Farm House Malt in Newark Valley, NY Craft Brew Malt in Batavia and Flower City Malt Lab, of Rochester

New York State has encouraged the use of New York grown barley and hops through the establishment of a lower cost farm brewery license, which allows brewers to operate retail outlets for New York products, open restaurants, undertake increased tastings and sell related products. In order to receive a Farm Brewery license, the 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.

To be sure, not every beer I savored was made with local ingredients—or locally brewed. Here are some of my favorites:

Newburgh Brewing’s  Magnanini Niagara Tripel, made with local Niagara grapes and Brettanomyces yeast, an interesting brew with what wine drinkers would call a tart foxy grape character with definite brett notes.

Swisher by Carton Brewing Co. of Atlantic Highlands, N.J. Named for Swisher Sweet, the mild, sweet-tasting cigar often used to smoke a certain medicinal week. The cigar taste is well replicated quite well in this unique, murky brown, tart brew.

Regular Coffee, also by Carton Brewing, appealed to me although I am not a fan of coffee beers. This one somehow was different. It’s a golden brew, creamy and with notes of coffee. Quite drinkable, despite 12% abv. Think diner coffee with two sugars and milk.

Jonge Kriek by Brooklyn Brewery. Cherries dominate this tasty oak aged brett tinged brew based on Local 2.

Wild Streak, also from Brooklyn Brewery. An extra brut beer with notes of fruit that give way to oak notes and light brett finish.

Greenmarket Wheat Ale, again by Brooklyn Brewery, was a gentle, easy drinking wit beer with tart notes and a soft finish.

Big Alice team at Brewers Choice

Big Alice team at Brewers Choice

0052-Special Honey Smoked Ale by Big Alice Brewing of Long Island City.  This was a big, rich, complex beer with subdued smoke character. Good for dessert.

Hell Gate Golden Ale by Long Island’s Blind Bat Brewery, An unfiltered, cloudy deep golden, richly flavored brew with a notes of cardamom, bubble gum, bananas and, of course, It was produced using Valley Malt barley grown by O’Mara’s Farm, Canastota, N.Y., and coriander grown in Centerport, Long Island at Seed Sower Farm.

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Signs of spring: New beer standouts at the Long Island Craft Brewers Festival

Katie Joos taps a cask of Great South Bay Brewings' supper dry hopped  Massive IPA with Condzella hops

Katie Joos taps a cask of Great South Bay Brewings’ super dry hopped Massive IPA with Condzella hops, one of several special kegs available.

It was the first sign of the season: the Spring Craft Beer Festival at Long Island’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Beer fest logo

After days of rain and cool temperatures, on March 9 the sun shone bright, the sky was blue and the temperatures more moderate. Inside the Coliseum’s sprawling exhibition hall, bright smiles abounded on the faces of brewery reps and volunteers pouring beer and on the hundreds of attendees sampling their wares

And what wares. There were perhaps a hundred beers from more than 50 brewers— some of them familiar, many less so. A few brands were new to the region, among them Dark Horse, Horney Goat and Redd’s Apple Ale. Discovering new breweries and tasting exciting new products makes attending festivals, such as this event, produced by Starfish Productions of Bay Shore, worthwhile.

Volunteer Rich Thatcher of LI Beer & Malt Enthusiasts is all smiles as he pours Pabst Blue Ribbon

Volunteer Rich Thatcher of Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts is all smiles as he pours Pabst Blue Ribbon beer,

And while there were ciders, too, plus jerkies of all sorts, hot sauces, cigars, t-shirts and beer collectibles, beer, of course, was the star of the show. Among the brightest examples, at least for me:

— Reserve Special Black Ale by Dark Horse Brewery of Marshall, Mich., a rich roasty example of the style.

— Crooked Tree IPA, another Dark Horse entry. A big chewy, golden brew that screamed hops with some malt to back the big hop profile and a winey finish.

Euphoria, a 9% abv Belgian-style strong ale from Ruckus Brewing, a Manhattan-based contract brewer that plans to open in Allentown, Penn. Hazy gold in color, this delicious brew was smooth as silk and it’s high alcohol level deceptive.

New Burton IPA by Newburgh Brewing Co.  A balanced, British style brew.

Brown Ale by Newburgh Brewing Co. A deep brown, chewy brew with roasty notes and a bittersweet finish.

Saison by Newburgh Brewing Co, A cloudy golden brew with a spicy nose. Dry and herbal.

Fire Down Below, an Irish red ale by Spider Bite Beer Co.  It’s amber and it’s amply hopped as per the brewery’s trademark style.

Silver Anniversary Lager by Brooklyn Brewery.  A beautiful, well-balance 9% abv doppelbock that was among the best beers I sampled.  It’s an amber, full-bodied brew with sweet, juicy malt and caramel flavors intertwined with hops.

Timmerman’s Strawberry Lambic by Brewery Anthony Martin. Some Belgian Lambics are too sweet or too fruity. This pink-gold hued brew offered up a delicate strawberry nose and on the palate reminded me of strawberries and cream and surprisingly, no cloying sweetness.

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