Michael Brandt, co-owner, brewer, and winemaker at Garden Grove Brewing and Urban Winery in Richmond.
I spend a lot of time visiting breweries. A lot. It may have something to do with the fact that I’m a beer writer, but in all honesty, I’d probably be doing it anyway.
Every time I walk into a place where beer is born, I walk in with fresh eyes, and I’m pretty much just as excited every time. But certainly, there are standouts, and every now and then, a place will strike me as special. Special not necessarily because of its success or its status, but because of a feeling I get when I spend time there. In Richmond, that brewery for me was Garden Grove Brewery and Urban Winery. Continue reading →
Beercations are a great way to explore a new city, see what other brewers are up to around the country, and in our case last weekend, avoid New Years Eve in New York City.
We set out on a southbound journey to Richmond, where a growing beer scene (32 breweries in the greater Richmond area, and about 20 in the city itself) has warranted it a worthy destination for beer travelers. Bonus: their tourism board has been boasting the Richmond Beer Trail (#RVABeerTrail), and who doesn’t love organized beer touring fun? Continue reading →
Past bartending stints: Blind Tiger, Pony Bar, Ginger Man
Anne Becerra has been actively involved in the beer industry since she “hustled her way into a job” at the Ginger Man, one of New York’s premier beer bars, after returning from an RV trip that would change her life. A former marketing/advertising employee, she realized after quitting her job and traveling across the country and back that she wouldn’t be returning to a desk job.
Today, Anne heads up the beverage program at Treadwell Park, a beer hall and restaurant with locations in Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Financial District, where she makes sure to spotlight international classics as well as newer, trendier brews.
“New breweries are fun and exciting, and certainly we want to support them, but we also want to make sure it’s not just chasing trends,” she said. “[That’s] not sustainable for anybody, for breweries, for towns, or for bars. You really have to give credit where credit’s due.”
“A nod to English beer or German beer is not boring. It’s consistent. It’s historical. It is life for so many people. I want to try to really allow people to see how good [the classics] can be and how fun [they] can be, even though they’ve been around for hundreds of years. Appreciate what you’ve got, why it’s special…it’s lasted this long for a reason.”
Meg Gill critiques a brew in Beerland Season 2. / Photo credit: Viceland
I recently had the chance to, once again, interview Meg Gill, co-founder and president of Golden Road Brewing and star of Beerland, a television show on Viceland that follows Gill’s travels across the country as she meets some of the nation’s most interesting, unusual and fervid homebrewers.
After a successful debut last spring, Beerland has been renewed for a second season, and its five episodes tackle a cornucopia of themes just in time for fun family discussions during the holidays: among them, race, immigration, poverty, disability, illness, and the call to utilize one’s talents and capabilities to better the larger community. Continue reading →
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting with Anne Becerra at Treadwell Park, a beer hall and gastropub in the Upper East Side, to check out New York City’s first designated beer cellar: the Cellar at Treadwell Park.
The brainchild of Becerra, Treadwell Park’s beverage director, who is often billed as New York’s first female Cicerone, a beer judge, and a credited expert, christened the cellar with a visit from Sam Smith’s of England in October. The visit was fitting breaking of the beer cellar’s seal, as Becerra aims to use the space to bring back excitement for world class beers. Continue reading →
Such are the words used by brewers and their representatives at Belgium Comes to Cooperstown (BCTC), Brewery Ommegang’s annual beer festival that took place this year August 4-5, when asked the question: What does craft beer mean to you?
In the process of making this video, it became clear right away that even when put on the spot, brewers know exactly what craft beer means to them. Read a transcription of their answers below.
“Craft beer means a dedication to what you’re doing and a certain knowledge and skill level. I’ve worked in all different sized breweries…I firmly believe there’s craft in every size. I’ve met some of the best, smartest people in larger breweries. The common thread is passion for beer and making as high quality beer as you can.”
—Phil Leinhart, Brewery Ommegang brewmaster
Phil Leinhart was not available at the time of filming; we called him up afterwards so he could weigh in.
What Is Craft Beer?
“Craft beer is love. It’s care. It’s quality…There’s no boxes. There’s no limits. There’s no, ‘you can’t do this,’ ‘you can’t do that.’” – Scott Luposello, Brewer’s Apprentice and Taproom Manager, Clemson Bros. Brewery,Middletown, NY
“Craft beer, to me, means a lot of pride from where you come from.” – Noreen Lanasa, Bartender,Oyster Bay Brewing Company, Oyster Bay, NY
“I was just so inspired by craft beer that I dropped out of college…it’s my life now, so it means everything.” – Austin Partridge,Red Shed Ale, Rochester, NY
“It’s a lifestyle. I make it and I drink it, every day.” – Kevin Van Blarcun, Brewer,Red Shed Ales, Kingston, NY
“Good people. Good drink. Good times.” – Jamal Robinson, Director of Sales, Stony Creek Brewery,Branford, CT “You really find, when you’re in it, it’s just this community.” – Richard Rogers, Brewer, Roscoe Beer Co.,Roscoe, NY
“Really, it’s people creating things that they’re passionate about and interested in…It’s keepin’ it real.” – Tony Bellis, Co-founder and Brew Commander, Kings County Brewers Collective,Brooklyn, NY “For the customer. Full of soul.” – Colin Herzog, Brewer, Flying Bison Brewing Co.,Buffalo, NY
“Individuality, freedom of expression, stickin’ it to the man.” – Randy Schull, Packaging Manager, Captain Lawrence Brewing Co., Elmsford, NY
It’s always fun to read “best beers” lists, but it’s especially exciting to see your own local breweries floating to the top of beer media’s best picks from around the globe. In this year’s 100 Best Beers in the World from Men’s Journal, three beers from New York City-based brewers made it to the list of the world’s finest, and all three of them were from Brooklyn. Continue reading →
For you baseball fans and beer weirdos out there, listen up: Sam Adams is releasing a beer at their brewery in Boston today—and today only—dedicated to Boston baseball hero, Big Papi (formerly known as David Ortiz).
The beer is called Big Hapi (get it?!) and it’s a double IPA packed with lots of hops and lots of juice (mango, to be exact). There are only 541 cans being released—one for each of Big Papi’s home runs, because he’s a beast—and the proceeds will go to the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, because he’s also apparently awesome. Big Papi loves his children.
The Queens Beer Book was recently featured on NY1 News!
This week, the Queens Beer Book made its second annual appearance on NY1 News in an interview with Josh Schneps, owner of Schneps Publications and publisher of QNS.com and Brokelyn.com (co-publishers of the book), and myself, Cat Wolinski, curator, writer, editor and obsessor over this little book of big dreams.
I’m still getting the hang of TV appearances, but I’m sharing this for the sake of the bars and breweries featured in the book. What I hoped to communicate in the interview was that the Queens Beer Book was created to promote local businesses who are making and selling great, independently produced beer, making the craft beer community a possibility in Queens. What came out was more like, “There’s great beer here, and it’s not Budweiser.”
But, foot in mouth or not, I always feel great knowing that people may be catching a glimpse of my efforts to support and encourage the progress of craft beer; that they may retain a little bit of awareness about our local beer makers and the bars, restaurants and shops who are supporting them; and that maybe, just maybe, the next time they reach for a beer menu, they’ll ask for a SingleCut, Rockaway, LIC Beer Project or Bridge & Tunnel, or a Finback or a Transmitter, and they’ll leave the Bud Light behind for the days when better quality, better intentioned beer wasn’t available here.
Queens Beer Lovers Now Have a Guide for Best Brews in the Borough
Beer lovers in Queens now have a go-to-guide to help them find some of the best brews in the borough.
The Queens Beer Book is back for a second year. It showcases more than 30 beers at more than 30 of the best bars, breweries and beer-centric eateries across Queens.
Brooklyn has had its own similar beer book for a few years. Publishers say they’re ready to show off what Queens has to offer.
“The beer scene in Queens is exploding, so right now you have at least a half dozen breweries in Long Island City [and Astoria] alone,” said Josh Schneps , QNS.com publisher.
“The criteria, first of all, is having great beer. That means beers that are made locally, made regionally—things other than the normal Budweiser [and] Bud Light that people might be used to,” says Queens Beer Book curator, Catherine Wolinski.
The book can be purchased online for $30.00. It’s good for one year. For more information visit http://www.QNS.com.
Goose Island Brewmaster, Brett Porter lists his favorite hops at the Mondial de la bière Master Classes.
At Mondial de la bière, an annual beer festival known around the world as one of the most prominent in North America (held for the 23rd year in Montreal at the Palais de Congres June 8-12, 2016), a new initiative was introduced to festival-goers this year: the Master Classes.
Launched in partnership with Goose Island Beer Co. and targeted to industry professionals (along with avid homebrewers and connoisseurs), the new feature brought three world-famous brewers to classroom settings to share their insights into different aspects of the brewing business: Yvan De Baets, Brasserie de la Senne; Leonardo Di Vincenzo, Birra Del Borgo; and Brett Porter, Goose Island brewmaster, who led a session on hops sourcing in a time of shortage, an issue which many craft breweries are facing today.
Along with filling in audience members on his history in the beer industry—which spans 28 years between Bunces Brewery in England, Portland and Deschutes breweries in Oregon, and the past six years at Goose Island—Porter stressed the importance of seeking out and cultivating relationships with hops farmers. In his experience, he said, hop growers are the most “open, welcoming and happy people” in the world, and knowing the right people to call will invariably lead to hops-sourcing success. Toward the end of the session, Porter shared a list of his favorite hops to brew with, along with (in most cases) the farms he works with to acquire them. Continue reading →