Yesterday afternoon I headed to Beer Hoptacular at the Aragon Ballroom. There were over two hundred beers from amongst 30 breweries. The breweries were mostly from the Midwest but there were also some from each coast (Brooklyn, Sierra Nevada). I’d say my two favorite beers of the day were Flatlander IPA or Roadhouse Brewery’s Bluebeery Ale. The beer I liked the least had to be the Imperial IPA King Paddy from the Wild Onion Brewery, to me it tasted like weed.
The only downside was the ‘featured brewery’, was out of their signature beer: Brooklyn Local 1. I got there an hour into the event and they were already out.
This past weekend several gentlemen gathered in New York for my bachelor party. With everyone arriving at various times and coming from various points throughout the nation the airline gods for once shined upon us. James and I started the trip at the Waldorf Astoria drinking Manhattans and mingling with the Pharmaceutical Industry sans James Cameron. We ended the trip four days later watching an awkward teenager continually fall in a dramatic manner on the ice rink at Rockefeller Center. The basic plan was as follows:
Rendezvous on Thursday night, grab some drinks, then on Friday get to Blondies in enough time to snag a table for the remainder of the day and hold our ground until Josh and Luke arrived later in the evening. We then headed to a couple of bars before ending up at McAleer’s Pub for the Ohio State – UC Santa Barbara game and an epic arm wrestling match. On Saturday Rob and Dom arrived and we made our way to the Brooklyn Brewery (turns out our cab driver knew his way around Brooklyn as well as I do, which is to say he didn’t). Jim managed to score a table and some free wooden beer tickets from some ‘contacts’. By far the high point of the brewery, outside of the beer, would have to be seeing Chester B. Arthur and this guy. After the Brewery we marched on to Barcade for some vintage video game action before continuing on our Judgment Night-like march through Brooklyn. There were doubts but we did arrive at Peter Luger Steak House on time and James used his persuasive skills to get us seated. After dinner we headed to McSorley’s Old Ale House and used our chocalate golden coins as currency. Our night began to wind down at Spitzer’s Corner before eventually heading back to the hotel/german bar next door.
It took us a couple of tries to find the basketball game but when we did it was at McAleer’s. As you can see in the photograph there was a dispute that could only be settled by gentlemen. I’m pretty sure Josh let me win but then again Luke’s facial expression during my fist pump lets me believe it was a legitimate victory. The truth is probably somewhere in between.
Hanging out at the Brooklyn Brewery very well might have been the highlight of the trip for me. We had a large table which was key, the beer was great and most of it was free due to Jim’s contact who got us the table. The setup was much different than any of us expected, a large warehouse like room with picnik tables. We decided to skip the tour to make room for Barcade and make the most of our table while we had it.
Getting to Barcade and walking to Peter Luger’s was interesting enough. The walk included some of the props seen below. Barcade also has a great beer selection and we might have ordered some of the best pizza on the planet from Carmine’s Pizza. The games were probably better than the beer selection and that’s saying alot. I had some cast ale that Josh insisted on and it was great.
As Jim would say, James ‘out lawyered them’ and managed to get us into Peter Luger’s when there were some doubts about our reservation. In a word it was amazing. We probably ordered too much food but that would serve Josh and Nick well in the morning. The shrimp was the largest I’ve ever seen. Probably one of the most impressive feats of the weekend was Rob carring a bag of prime meat around New York for the next 5 hours.
McSorley’s being one of the older bars in the country is my kind of place. We scored a table in the back room via our Peter Luger chocolate coins and held our own for a good portion of the evening. I made sure to take care of Mikey as he ‘likes the sweets’. There were no speeches and the whole place was pretty cordial except for the girl who was holding a clinic on how to drink six beers simultaneously.
On both Thursday and Saturday night we ended up at Spitzer’s Corner since it was close to our hotel and had an extensive beer list. If I recall correctly we had the same waitress both nights but she cared much less for our humor the second time around.
In summary, I’d say we all had a good time. Clearly we weren’t shooting for your average bachelor party hence the walking tour of Brooklyn and the near uncanniness of being in so many bars during March Madness without televisions. As all trips to New York go we saw some baffling things which will never make sense and we overheard some intense conversations/domestic disputes.
Thanks to everyone who attended.
* The complete set of photographs are here.
**There is no reason for there to be such a thing as ‘seafood sausage’.
This past week Julie and I brewed another batch of beer. After our disaster with a Blueberry Ale* we decided to go back to the American Ale we brewed the first time around. Everything went smoothly so far, we’ll probably do a tasting this weekend. As you can see in the photograph I’ve been busy with the labels.
* About a month ago I decided I wanted to do a Blueberry Ale so on a recommendation we tried the Brooklyn Brew Shop which sells speciality brew kits with grain instead of extract. They had a Blackberry Ale which could easily be turned into a Blueberry Ale so we decided to put an order in. I ordered my supplies on September 30th and I didn’t hear back for quite awhile. So after several emails and delays I wrote the following that sums up my experience with the Brooklyn Brew Shop:
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On Oct 20, 2009, at 9:46 PM, Nik Bronder wrote:
Ok, I’m not trying to be a dick but bear with me…
On a recommendation from a friend who had just ordered a batch of Chocolate Maple Porter I decided to check you out. I’ve pondered ordering the Blackberry Red Ale for a couple of weeks because I’ve always liked Blue Berry Ale and I figured that would work. Then I read the article in the Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/22/nyregion/22entry.html) and I figure what the hell I’ll just place my order.
So I do, on September 30th. I get the tracking number but I don’t check it until about a week later (October 6th) and I noticed right after it was created it was voided. How this happened we’ll never know but I know that my credit card charge wasn’t voided. It was processed. Yet I went 7 days with no word that my order was voided.
I would have expected you to notice this and let me know. Instead I just kept waiting for a week before I checked why my stuff didn’t come through. Kind of pissed me off. Whatever, I’ve been dicked around before. So I send an email on the 6th and you respond that you were “just alerted by UPS about a problem with the shipment”. Cool, I’ll get my shit soon. So I don’t bitch. I wait two days (Oct. 8th) and I email asking for a tracking number so I can follow in case this shipment gets voided like the first.
No response. FOR EIGHT DAYS.
So I email again (Oct. 16th) asking for updates and explaining that I’m pretty frustrated at this point. You mention that there was some issue with the mix’s particular yeast and the previous mix up and it will be there on Monday. Great. You offer me to take $15 off my next order, whatever.
SO THE KIT FINALLY ARRIVES AND THERE’S NO FUCKING DIRECTIONS.
Awesome. I’m sure I can figure stuff out but I call my friend who recommended you (and he mentions similar mishaps with shipping) and he says there was an envelope with instructions in his kit. So I email you last night asking if you can send me the directions via email no big deal. No response.
Look, clearly you have serious communication issues. Maybe you should only sell your stuff at the flea market because you’re not doing to well with this whole online thing. It’s really not that hard to get some one to maintain contact with your customers, especially in this economy. Which brings me to my point. I’m spending a good amount of money to try your stuff. I live in the Chicago, I could easily utilize my friends to the North in Wisconsin for any ingredients I want, but I tried you because I liked what you were trying to do.
Yet here I am fucked.
I don’t want any discounts, I don’t want any freebies. I just want you to email me my directions for the black berry ale and we’ll cut our ties. I will no longer be your customer and you will no longer be my vendor.
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Of course they replied that they understood my frustration and that they’d give me a free batch of stuff if I wanted to continue doing business. I declined. Long story short, the Blueberry Ale turned out worse than this transition and we ditched it before we bottled. We’ll try again soon. I’m sure it wasn’t the ingredients but our execution combined with bad karma.
Grain Kits are not for me.