I grew up drinking nothing but the good sh#t: Natty Light, Colt 45, Crooked I, MGD and (on *special* dates) wide mouth Mickey's. Which makes me the ideal target audience for NY Craft Beer Week.
For those not in the know, said week
For those not in the know, said week
is an annual celebration of the New York City [sic] and its craft beer community--from the breweries and people who provide us with great beers, to the places we purchase and enjoy the amazing selection of beers available, and especially to our friends that we make time to share a beer with.Alas, the last “friend” I shared a beer with was myself, and the enjoyment I received came from that rich wave of euphoria that only follows a dozen Newcastles and premium (self-inflicted) handjob. That said, The 'Chop is always looking to broaden our horizons, and the Festival events — from neighborhood beer walks and bar promotions to tasting festivals, food pairings and beer dinners — sound just crazy enough to get us off the sofa.
The problem is, the Informational Pre-Party took place at The Brooklyn Brewery. After 5pm. On a
Friday Wednesday. Meaning there was a scientifically precise 0.00003% we would remain sober enough to deliver any useful information whatsoever. And yet for you, beer-curious reader, we maintained long enough to sort out three promising products to whet your appetite. Details below!
The only thing more annoying than wine snobs are beer snobs. It's like listening to a hobo tell you how to dress. That said, the fine folks at Chicago's family-owned 22-year old Goose Island Beer Company had us rethinking the merits of pairings, premium ingredients and luxury price points. This stuff is not cheap: a 4-pack of 12 ouncers will set you back around $16. But with elegant labels and over 50 styles, you're sure to find something worth splurging on. Their range includes borderline “festive” touches (to wit: Fleur, a Belgian Pale Ale brewed with hybiscus and Japanese tea), yet we preferred the more restrained Matilda, a light pale amber Blonde made with the wild Belgian yeast brettanomyces. Serve it with gorgonzola or spicy seafood then twist your lip at the chumps still washing down their grilled cheese with PBR. [mmmmmm.... grilled cheese. —ed. note]
Speaking of pairings, here's a little known fact to mull: beer is third (behind trees and bbq ribs) on the list of Stuff That Makes You Eat Even When You're Not Hungry. Yet sadly, quality munchies are hard to come by. Enter the flavor savvy and entrepreneurial pluck of stone cold supra geniuses Erin Patinkin and Agatha Kulaga. Erin's fine resume includes everything from non-profit work and arts education to pastry chef, while Agatha runs a psychiatric research clinic. But they took time away from these less prestigious pursuits to bring salty/sweet treats to the masses. Their company Ovenly's products range from addictive bacon-cayenne Spicy Caramel Corn and chewy, aromatic beer and garam masala Curried Roasted Cashews to Black Olive Shortbread and Homemade Mustard Stuffed “Combos.” The only downside? They don't have a retail space as of yet. So you'll just have to hope the Craft Week folks have a secret stash.
Ditto for the fine products of Gerald Jerky, the cow-brain child of one Rachel Granville (of the Lopez Island, Washington Granvilles). She took time from being accosted by a man in a small roundish hat pitching his pickles [note: not metaphorical] to break down the genesis of her terrific dried beef. The dream of bringing it to the people first fomented as a youth watching football games with her dad. She then bought a dehydrator in college, interned with meat maestro Pat La Frieda and, a year back, started offering two varieties: classic peppered (the secret ingredient is
love beer), and sweet and spicy asian made with, amongst other things, star anise and Manhattan Special. Grass-fed top round adds moral grit, but Rachel's technique is the real star. The results are everything you could hope for from a piece of meat you can eat straight from your pocket: thick cut, dry yet tender, balanced flavor profile, lean, mean and delicious. Head down to her Brooklyn Heights Cafe Iris for a firsthand sample.
Then get your swerve on and hit the road for Craft Week from September 24 - October 3. Crafty, indeed!