New York City Beer Adventures Part 3 – Brooklyn Brewery

I made the mistake of visiting Brooklyn Brewery on a Saturday because it turns out that is when they offer free tours. I was a bit annoyed while I was there at how crowded it was and didn’t realize why until after I left. It is a huge brewery and has been around for quite some time. Getting there from New York City on the subway can be a challenge because there are quite a few sections of walking required before you reach it. Even more walking is required if you decide the food truck isn’t up to snuff and go in search of Brooklyn Pizza instead.

Brooklyn Brewery 02

I was disappointed by their use of plastic cups. I also didn’t like how they charged 2 tokens ($5 each) for the double IPA while everything else was one token. They also don’t offer taster flights so if you are planning on trying all of the beers in one visit you better bring a bunch of friends.

Brooklyn Brewery 03

Despite all of the negatives, I went straight for the double IPA because I didn’t want to try to order both the IPA and the double IPA on an empty stomach. The double has a nice citrus/grapefruit bite with some smooth caramel malts flavors. Though I really enjoyed it I’m not sure I would suggest paying $10 for a pint of it.

Brooklyn Brewery Double IPA.

Brooklyn Brewery Double IPA.

I ended up eating at a nearby pizza place called Vinny’s Pizza because I didn’t want to wait for the food truck. Though it was a decent walk to get there, it was worth the distance because the pizza was fantastic. I suggest you stop by Vinny’s on your way to the brewery so you are able to stay as long as you want once inside and don’t have to leave to grab something from a food truck.

New York City Beer Adventures Part 2 – The Stag’s Head

As a craft beer fan I had to make sure I could walk from our hotel in New York City to a bar with a good selection of craft beer. I thought this wouldn’t be hard to find but then it turned out that a number of the bars were boring Irish pubs without any IPA but Goose Island (a New York brewery that was purchased by one of the big beer companies recently). Once I found The Stag’s Head and looked at the beer list online I knew I had to stay at the nearest hotel. Thankfully, they had a solid tap list and a good selection of local beers in bottles to choose from.
The first night I got to try Greenpoint Gobsmacked IPA. It had a nice mellow citrus flavor with a light amount of bitterness. It didn’t particularly stand out but it was enough to satisfy me for a few hours.
New York Beer 01
The second night I got to try Peak Hop Blanc from a Maine brewery. I had tried their IPA down here in San Diego thanks to Trader Joe’s so I was glad to try some of their other options. They also had a simcoe pale ale but it wasn’t hoppy enough for me at the moment. The Hop Blanc was a nice Belgian style IPA with a strong Belgian yeast flavor at the front and some pine/citrus flavors at the back. I sipped this one for quite a while because before ordering my next beer.
After the Hop Blanc I ordered the Ithaca Flower Power based on a suggestion from the bartender and the name, which suggested a floral flavor. The beer was served in a 12oz bottle and I poured it into a pint glass. It had some nice floral aromas and some malts to balance out the flavor. I was quite satisfied by the strong floral flavors and overall very impressed.
Flower Power IPA

Flower Power IPA

The Stag’s Head is a fairly loud and rowdy bar with a sports bar type atmosphere. The bartenders are knowledgeable about their beers and know how to party as well. I enjoyed my time there on Sunday night because there were a number of rowdy drunk patrons putting on a good show. If you aren’t going to be able to get outside the city to explore what New York has to offer, you will get a good taste of the area with The Stag’s Head.

New York City Beer Adventures Part 1 – Random Beers I Tried

I recently made a short trip to New York City with my husband for sightseeing. Of course one of the most important sights is beer. This series of posts will focus on the different beers I was able to try while I was in the area. Part 1 will discuss a few of the single beers I ended up drinking at certain places. Part 2 will discuss a bar called The Stag’s Head where I spent a good amount of time. Part 3 will discuss Brooklyn Brewery, a huge draw because it has been around so long.

To start with I enjoyed some local beer while at the Embassy Suites near Newark Airport our first night. The hotel has a fantastic happy hour that we just barely missed with $2 pints. They have a few local beers on draft and others in bottles available. I got to try Cricket Hill Lager while I was there. It had a nice smooth hop flavor and was overall a solid lager. I didn’t find out until later that I could have gotten an IPA from the same brewery.

Tap list at Embassy Suites.

Tap list at Embassy Suites.

Later at Heartland Brewery in the Theater District of New York City, I ordered their IPA. It had a high amount of bitterness, possibly up to 70 IBU. A tropical fruit flavor came out pretty nice on the front. I was quite satisfied with this one though it did seem that the bitterness left it without much to taste. At the same brewery my husband ordered the oatmeal stout. He enjoyed the coffee and chocolate flavors and thought it was one of the better stouts he has had.

Heartland Brewing IPA

Heartland Brewing IPA

For a video review of these beers, check out this video I took while we were in Heartland Brewing.

After biking around Central Park New York City, we stopped by 3 Monkeys for a pint. They had a fairly large tap list with a number of different IPAs. I eventually settled on Single Cut Billy 18 IPA from Watt NY. It had a good pine hop flavor and tropical fruit with a mellow bitterness around 40 IBU. I enjoyed this one but it wasn’t anything particularly special.

 

Visiting New York City this weekend to t

I won’t have any posts up this weekend but I will be gathering material for some upcoming reviews of beer from New York and nearby areas.

I’m staying at a hotel right next to a craft beer bar and hope to visit at least two breweries while I am in town. Are the east coast ipas up to West coast standards? We will see.

Pacific Brewing Company a Solid Start for a New Brewery

I like to keep up with new breweries when they open. Thankfully, with Pacific Brewing they announced their grand opening on Facebook so I was able to check it out on the first day. There was a solid crowd for a new brewery and yet parking wasn’t an issue. Pacific Brewing presented a solid lineup that will serve as a good baseline as they expand into different styles of beers.

Pacific Brewing 01

I started with a flight and added an additional taster so that I could taste all of the beers in one go. They offer a blonde, pale ale, IPA, strong ale, and rye double IPA. The blonde was a solid version of the classic style without much variation. It is up there with some of the best San Diego blondes. The pale ale is more towards the English style and has many similarities to the ESB style. The pale ale presents many caramel flavors on the front with a light hop flavor on the back end.

Left to right, Blonde, Pale, IPA, Strong Ale, Rye IPA.

Left to right, Blonde, Pale, IPA, Strong Ale, Rye IPA.

The IPA has a powerful citrus nose. The flavors are heavy on citrus and pine, in line with other San Diego IPAs. I would estimate this beer has around 70 IBUs so it is fairly bitter. I really enjoyed the IPA and ended up with a pint after all the tasters. The strong ale is almost 8% and yet is very drinkable. The flavors are primarily in the sweet caramel range such that it might satisfy some who are mostly fans of porters and stouts.

Pacific Brewing 02

The double IPA is a little low on the alcohol compared to some you might see in San Diego but not short on flavor. At 8% it isn’t that much stronger in alcohol than the IPA but the rye gives it a unique flavor. The rye manages to be mellow enough that it doesn’t overpower the hops. Most of the hop flavors are more on the back end and the citrus and tropical fruit flavors mix well with the rye.

Pacific Brewing has a similar feel to other small breweries inside though the wood used for the bar sets them apart with some distinct colors. Fans of hoppy beers will find a lot to love in the IPA and the Rye Double IPA. Fans of sweeter malt beers will enjoy the pale ale and strong ale. If the strong ale isn’t enough, you can always head next door to 2 Kids for some chocolate stout. I look forward to trying the different styles of beer that Pacific Brewing comes up with in the future.

 

Stochasticity Project Grapefruit Slam IPA

The word stochasticity sounds like something my dad would make up. It turns out it actually has a scientific meaning, one that Stone decided to use to explain a new series of experimental beers. If I am understanding the explanation on Wikipedia, something that is stochastic is so random that you can only predict what is next using probability. Stone calls this series an “unpredictable series of beers, where exotic notions, ingredients, and ideas coalesce.”

To start this series of unpredictable beers we are given Grapefruit Slam. Hop heads should be well familiar with the grapefruit flavors that come from some of the most common hops used in San Diego IPAs. A number of delicious IPAs put grapefruit flavors at the forefront of the hop profile. To give a truly knock-down strong grapefruit flavor to this beer, Stone added grapefruit peel to the final beer. This gives it a flavor unlike anything you’ve had before.

Grapefruit Slam in front of an orange tree.

Grapefruit Slam in front of an orange tree.

At 8.2%, this beer was already pretty bitter before any grapefruit was added. The addition of grapefruit gives it a powerful punch and a sneaky aftertaste that will excite most hop-heads. Though I don’t particularly care for fresh grapefruit, thankfully this doesn’t get as insane as some Japanese and Filipino beers that I reviewed earlier. It is still a San Diego Double IPA at heart and should satisfy Stone fans who stumble upon it when searching for the latest version of Enjoy By. I happened to buy a few bottles of this beer when I realized I couldn’t find any Enjoy By 4.20.14.

Lagunitas Brewing Company, Huge Hop Flavors

Outside craft beer fanatics, Lagunitas is probably more well-known than Russian River because their beers are widely distributed in Southern California. I decided to not get tasters of some of the more commonly available beers while I was there so that I could try some newer ones.

Lagunitas is also a brewpub, meaning it is open earlier in the day, and the crowds can get pretty crazy. Since we got there a little bit later and had already eaten, it wasn’t too crazy to find a spot at the bar. The outside seating area surprised me because it looks like you are visiting a ranch, complete with sandy floor and picnic tables.

Outdoor Seating Area

Outdoor Seating Area

I ordered a taster flight of Nelson IPA, Maximus Double IPA, SF Beer Week Double IPA, and Hop Stoopid. Of the four, Maximus and Nelson were my favorites. The Nelson IPA has all the grapefruit flavors you might expect from the Nelson hops. Some sweeter flavors recognizable from the regular IPA on the back end round it out nicely.

Taster Flight, A knockout punch of hops.

Taster Flight, A knockout punch of hops.

The Maximus Double IPA has plenty of tropical fruit flavors on the front end combined with some more earthy hop flavors on the back. The San Francisco Beer Week Double IPA is made with Nelson, Mosaic, and Hop 366. The beer had a slight soapy flavor combined with the citrus flavors from the other hops. Heavy pine flavor comes in the back from the Hop 366. I probably would have enjoyed this one a little more without the Hop 366.

Lagunitas 02

I ended it with the Hop Stoopid. It was so strong that it became thick and syrupy. The flavors leaned heavily towards the tropical fruits. I recognize the style here but it isn’t for me. Lagunitas is such a big brewery that you are likely to find most of their core beers all throughout California and many other states. It was nice to finally stop in for a visit but I don’t think I’ll be back. Like Stone, I can get most of the best beers in bottles almost everywhere I look.

Russian River Brewing Company, The Legend

Best known for its Blind Pig IPA, Pliny the Elder, and Pliny the Younger, I had to stop by the brewery to try some beers. Because I was going to Lagunitas on the way back I only tried a few half pints while I was here and the single hop pales were my favorite.
Russian River 06
Before I get to the beers, I should note that this is a brewpub, not a pure brewery and tasting room. When you arrive there it is pretty obvious that the zoning wouldn’t permit a barebones brewery. Being a brewpub means you can stop by earlier in the day for a pint because they are open for lunch. However, this also means that it gets crowded pretty fast and seats don’t clear out very quickly.
Even though my husband and I arrived at around 1:30PM, the lunch crowd was still hanging around. The service was pretty slow, though with only a few bartenders pouring beer this wasn’t surprising. We ended up ordering their version of a works pizza. It was quite tasty and very greasy. The other thing keeping everyone around was the insane taster flight that would take even seasoned brewery nuts quite some time to finish with friends (19 tasters!)
Insane Taster Flight

Insane Taster Flight

I started with Row 2 Hill 56, a single hop simcoe pale ale and Hop 2 It, a pale ale made exclusively with Hop 366. I love single hop pales because I get to really understand the flavors of individual hops. Simcoe is used pretty commonly in IPAs. The lemon and pine flavors come through nicely in this one. Hop 366 is a new experimental hop related to the warrior hop. It was much more earthy with a hint of tropical fruit on the back.
Two Single Hop Pales.

Two Single Hop Pales.

I moved on to Blind Pig IPA, one that has been listed on numerous “Best IPA” lists. It certainly had a nice balance to it but was far too heavy on the pine/earthy flavors for my taste. Though there was some strong grapefruit taste in the background, it was still pretty overpowered by the other hops. It is certainly a good IPA but not my favorite hop profile.
My favorite hop profile comes through a lot more with Pliny the Elder, a fairly widely distributed double IPA. I’ve had Pliny the Elder a few times on tap in San Diego at various bars. Finding it in bottles is not so easy. Even at the brewery, they limit the number of bottles you can purchase of both Blind Pig and Pliny the Elder.
 Russian River 05
Pliny the Younger has much of the same hop profile as Pliny the Elder but is a Triple IPA. I am a bit disappointed that Russian River decided to make Pliny the Younger a once a year special release because this leads to long lines wherever it appears. Flavor wise, you will get much of the same beer from Stone’s Enjoy By series, Green Flash’s Green Bullet, and Saint Archer’s Double IPA. I waited in line for Pliny the Younger last year and it was delicious but I probably won’t wait in line for it again.
In all, I found Russian River to be insanely crowded (very similar to visiting Stone Brewing) and not hugely worth the trip. It is a shame that they don’t widely distribute bottles of their famous beers because there is enough demand from the craft beer drinkers around the country for it.

Stone Go To IPA is Everything I’d Hoped For, Tons of Hops in 4.5% Beer

I’ve been saying for a while that we need a good Session IPA in six packs. Stone Go To IPA hits all the right notes and was released just as the Session IPA demand has gotten fairly large.

I’ve been hooked on Modern Times Fortunate Islands because it was available in four packs of 16oz cans. Then Lagunitas recently released their Session IPA.

Unlike a few other Session IPA beers, Stone Go to IPA is not a good introduction for the IPA hater. Through a technique they call hop-bursting, which sounds like double-dry-hopping on steroids, they cram as much hop flavor into the beer as they possibly can. In true Stone fashion, this is not a beer for everyone. It is more heavy on the citrus hops than the Lagunitas variety, which makes it more my style. Still there is something refreshing about the Fortunate Islands because it only uses a few varieties of hops.

I haven’t yet compared it side by side with the Fortunate Islands but I can see myself returning to this much more than the ordinary Stone IPA or Pale Ale, both of which I consider to be a bit too malty for my tastes. If you haven’t yet gotten over the insanely strong double IPAs you will consider this a sissy 4.5% that should be reserved for the weak. It will be here when you get that craving for IPA at 1PM on a Sunday and don’t want to be weighed down by a 7% IPA.

Craft Beer in The Philippines, Still too Young to Predict

If Japanese craft beer is young, Philippines craft beer is still an infant. At most I could find there are maybe two or three craft breweries in existence in The Philippines. Where Japan has a number of bars in Tokyo alone serving craft beer there are only a few in Manila and zero in Cebu where we visited. Cebu was surprising because of the number of wine shops where you could get good quality French wine for reasonable prices. For the most part if you want beer in The Philippines I hope you like San Miguel (the local brand of beer primarily represented by a pilsner).

My main goal in Manila was a place called Global Beer Exchange where they serve a number of western beers on tap and have some Filipino beers in bottles. I also visited a place called Burgers and Brewskies where they had some highly satisfying burgers and one Filipino beer on tap. Both places also had some Japanese craft beer in bottles and other craft beer selections from around the world. I didn’t go inside but there was a place called Draft in Manila where they largely serve foreign craft beer selections.

The most well known brewery in The Philippines is called Katipunan. I briefly tried their IPA at Burgers and Brewskies but didn’t order a pint after that because it was pretty boring. I was surprised that it was an IPA based on the flavor. It tasted mostly like an amber and didn’t have a very strong hop flavor to it. Later my husband tried their porter at Global Beer Exchange. He thought it was good but largely forgettable compared to the porters and stouts in the US. It didn’t have the same strong coffee or chocolate flavors typically found in the US.

I got to try an extra hopped pale ale from Fat Payly’s, a brewery in The Philippines. It had a similar extra strong grapefruit flavor to one I tried in Japan but much stronger. I wasn’t able to enjoy this one at all. It might be a favorite of yours though if you really do like fresh grapefruit. This is nothing like the nelson hop that is typically associated with grapefruit flavor. It was way too much for me and I reacted similarly to how my husband does when he tastes any IPA.

In general good luck finding local beer in The Philippines and if you do stay far away. I suggest either learning to like San Miguel (local mass-produced pilsner) or drinking wine or nothing at all.

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