The bulk of New York’s beer elite converged upon Williamsburg’s eminent Brooklyn Brewery early September to promote 2010′s 3rd Annual NY Craft Beer.
It’s no surprise Brooklyn Brewery held NY Craft Beer Week’s press party at the old matzo ball factory they’ve occupied since ’96. There are few national competitors that boast such an arsenal of finely designed brews. Gathering at the tasting room for the pre-festival jaunt were several industry hotshots such as Yankee Brew News editor, Gregg Glaser, Shmaltz Brewing entrepreneur, Jeremy Cowan, and our devoted toastmaster, Garrett Oliver.
Oliver alluded to Brooklyn Brewery’s inconspicuous opening after an informal meet-and-greet. The pioneering brewer recalled his days at a defunct Manhattan brewery a decade after New York’s stalwart Rheingold and Schaefer breweries shut down. Though humbled at being part of Williamsburg’s recent arts renaissance, the cordial Brooklyn brewer warrants merit.
Alongside an ascending indie rock scene that’s second to none, he’s clearly revived the Big Apple’s brew crew. In 1900, 48 breweries existed in New York City, but Prohibition reared its ugly head, by 1980, none were left. However, new-sprung brewers, Kelso and Sixpoint, have helped Brooklyn’s revitalization.
“In 1994, nobody was on the streets. Tumbleweeds were rolling by,” Oliver reminisces about the once-dangerous neighborhood that’s now part of north side King County’s booming reawakening.Entering via a side entrance door, large brew tanks welcomed guests to Brooklyn’s brick-walled taproom, where exposed wooden beams and ducts provide a rustic warehouse feel tripled by the recently acquired 14,000 square foot space next door (adjacent to prevalent multi-venue Brooklyn Bowl).
Getting to the event early, I casually relished four inaugural host brews before the mad rush began. My complimentary glass captured four excellent Brooklyn brews. Mexicali-styled orange-spiced wood-hopped Sabroso Light Pils, placed mild orange-oiled lemon zest above dark floral nuances and herbal spices. San Diego-styled pine-sappy red-fruited Detonation IPA retained a creamy brown-sugared red-fruited pine sapping reinforcing alcohol-whirred juniper-embittered pear-apricot-pineapple fruiting, tangy red apple juicing and herbaceous undertones. Dortmunder-like Octoberfest brought soured cocoa and roasted chocolate to vegetal fungi, sugared fig, orange compote, and marmalade illusions.
Perhaps best of all, Cookie Jar Porter deconstructed an oatmeal raisin cookie recipe. Frothy brown-sugared Baker’s chocolate sufficiency and soft-watered peat-malted rye wheat spine amplify scrumptious chocolate-milked cookie dough theme thickened by sharp hop-charred fig-juiced raisin-pureed burgundy-dried stewed prune depth.
After munching down a hot dog (supplied by nearby Meat Hook) and cheesy comestibles supplied by Murray’s Cheese, I quaffed several newly discovered brews soon to be featured at New York Beer Craft Week (and reviewed fully in Beer Index section).
First, representing the South was Florida’s Cigar City Jai Alai IPA, a pine-spruced pear-browned apple-spiced bitter. Out of the Midwest came Goose Island Fleur, a soft-watered prickly-hopped hibiscus-flowered high-end Belgian knockoff.
Exemplifying the Northeast were Pennsylvania’s Victory Saison du Buff (an herbal Stone-Dogfish Head collaboration delegate Bill Covaleski claims will take your mind on an excursion); Maine’s Allagash Black Belgian-Style Stout (a dramatic chocolate-spiced tar-charred espresso alternative); and Cooperstown’s Ommegang Cup O Kindness (a malt-smoked meat-cured Belgian-styled Scotch ale curiosity.
At the top of America’s current Craft Beer Movement, Brooklyn Brewery has just started returning New York City to the glorious pre-Prohibition beer hall days by educating locals about interestingly diversified libations. And there’s always a few limited edition specialty brews waiting to be quaffed at the commodious tasting room.