Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Beer and Baseball Trip Day 2 - Part 1 (6/23/07)

It is truly amazing the number of hours one can sleep after a night of baseball and beer. Wow. Saturday was a brand new day and I was determined to find some decent beer. After all we were in New York City, how the hell could it be a problem finding good beer?

We woke up later than anticipated and our plans to visit the Brooklyn Brewery looked to be going down in flames. We knew the brewery would only be open a few more hours and we had game 2 of the Mets vs. A's series at 7PM. I was worried the gang would come up with some hangover excuses not to go, but to my surprise by 3PM we were heading to the subway with directions in hand. It took us about 45 minutes or so to make it there. We had to hop two subway trains to Brooklyn and then had about a 10-15 minute walk to the brewery, but when we arrived it was like being in heaven... with grafitti and trash in the streets.

We headed in and the guy at the door pointed us to a large room filled with fermentation tanks where there was a tour being given. It took about two minutes of listening to tour guide telling us about the history of the brewery and Garrett Oliver before I started to wonder why everyone else had beer and we didn't. I turned around and saw that there was a large room with picnic tables and a line to the kegs behind us. Now had this tour been through their operational facilities where we could see the brewers at work, the bottling line loudly clanking its way around a large room filled with the secents of malt and hops, then yeah, I would've stuck around. But considering the fact that Dave and I have both read Steve Hindy and Tom Potter's book about their brewery, I figured I knew enough about the company and was ready to sample.

I signalled to the crew that we should bolt to the beer room. The beers were $3 each and you had to purchase these little tokens to get them. Kinda weird, but probably made their lives easier. The selections at the Brewery were outstanding!

The beers available were as follows:

Brooklyner Weiss - A delicious wheat beer in the classic style brewed with barley and wheat malt and Bavarian yeast that leaves a slight haze to this beautiful spicy and citrusy perfect warm weather beer. I've had this one before, but it always tastes a bit fresher at the brewery. It is a solid choice for lovers of the wheat. My only complaint is that it wasn't served in the tall pilsner style glass that makes weiss beers really shout out their flavors and aromas.

Brooklyn Lager - Ah yes the flagship brew of Brooklyn. This has to be one of, if not the best lagers I've ever tasted. It has the perfect balance of malt character and hop bitterness without going over the top. It had a beautiful amber color letting you know that some tasty barley malt was used in brewing this delicious beverage. If you enjoy the amber lagers such as Sam Adams' Boston Lager, try this one by Brooklyn and you'll be hooked for life.

'55 Pennant Ale - I did not have enough time to have this beer at the brewery, but I have had it several times before. Afterall any beer named in honor of the '55 Brooklyn Dodgers has to be sampled at least once. It's an English style pale ale that is slightly bitter, but comes off clean and refreshing.

East India Pale Ale
- Brooklyn's I.P.A. is solid. It's not the best I've had, but it can stand toe to toe with many others out there. With that classic super hoppy bitterness and aroma that drives hop heads like Matt, Dave and I crazy, this beer had to be on the list of beverages to enjoy. As with most I.P.A.s it has a higher alcohol content (6.8% ABV according to the website), and so this beer should be enjoyed in moderation if you have other things to do during the day. ha ha.

Summer Ale - As with many craft breweries in the states, Brooklyn has come to offer several seasonal beers. This time of year they brew up batches of their tasty Summer Ale. Now growing up on Long Island and now living in Florida, I understand just how important it is to drink the right beer at the right time. There's no way I want to be slugging down a Brookyln Black Chocolate Stout when it's 87 degrees outside in Brooklyn. Instead this beer offers a nice light and refreshing choice. Unlike many other breweries, Brooklyn decided to brew this beer with a barley malt instead of wheat. The majority of other summer ales I have had used some perecentage of wheat malt to lighten the brew. They use a British two-row malt which gives it a nice golden color and light body. It is a very smooth drinking ale with hop character that leaves that citrusy aroma and taste as it leaves the glass and flows down the gullet.Solid choice during these hot Summer days. Make sure to have a cooler full for any BBQs or beach trips in your plans.

Antwerpen Ale - This was a beer that I have never seen nor heard of before. Apparently you can only get this on tap, and I've never even heard of any bar carrying it. SO... I was damn stoked to try it. I was told it was a Belgian-style pale ale. Indeed it had that spicy character of many Belgian ales and a nice amber color. This beer was extremely smooth, but I would've liked just a tad bit more carbonation. That could be due to the style they were going for, but at times it seemed just a bit flat for my tastes. Despite its amber color and maltiness, it was easy drinking, and definitely not as heavy as I had expected. Decent, but not great.

Brown Ale - This is another of Brooklyn's regularly brewered ales. I did not sample any at the brewery since I've had several times before. Brown Ales are not really my thing, but if you dig on the Brown than Brooklyn's version will be right for you. From what I remember it was a smooth, easy drinking, malty beverage that would go nicely with some onion rings and a burger. And now on to the favorite amongst friends...

Abbey Singel Ale - This beer had everyone at our table shouting for more! A Belgian style Abbey ale with a beautiful golden color and perfect level of carbonation made this beer our favorite by far. According to the Brooklyn Brewery website this is a style of beer that the Trappist Monks enjoy on the daily, not that usually stronger ales that I've tried before in the Trappist Monk style. It was probably one of the most refreshing beers I've ever had the pleasure of drinking. It was dry like champagne, but tasted like a loaf of light and airy freshly baked bread. This is another beer I had wished I could drink out of a tall glass rather than a plastic cup, but hey, you take what you can get. This is another of the Brewmasters Reserve selections that are only available on tap. So again, we could not take any home with us. Sorry folks. Everyone will just have to go to Brooklyn Brewerey themselves.

The Brooklyn Brewery was a great place to spend a few hours on Saturday afternoon. I only wished we had arrived earlier. The place closes at 6PM on Saturdays. The tasting room was a loud warehouse type set up with picnic tables and local beer lovers everywhere crowding in. You can even get pizza delivered there from a local pizzeria! Needless to say, this is what I hope heaven tastes and smells like... the Brooklyn Brewery.

We left there and headed for Game 2 of the Mets vs. A's series where once again the Mets got the win. Sorry Dave.

That's it for now. I'll post Part 2 of Day 2 in a bit. That will include our trip into Manhattan and the discovery of a great beer bar thanks to our new friends on the NYC beer forum.


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