Brewery to Watch: Brasserie Dunham

Brasserie Dunham bottle lineup at Mondial de la bière 2016.

Simon Gaudreault, co-owner of Brasserie Dunham, with a bottle lineup at Mondial de la bière 2016.

Among the 536 beers and 586 total beverages offered by more than 85 breweries present at the 23rd Mondial de la biere in Montreal, none stood more than those of Brasserie Dunham (Dunham Brewery), a microbrewery specializing in farmhouse style and wild ales located about an hour southeast of Montreal.

The brewery first caught our eye (along with our nostrils and tastebuds) at Les Terrasses Flaveurs, a beer and caprices tasting organized by Quebec-based beer and gastronomy expert, author and speaker, Philippe Wouters. The pairing experience was organized in stations, the second of which paired caprices from Au Petit Extra  with two of Brasserie Dunham’s expert creations:

First Pairing:  Spring roll with mango, ginger and tempeh, paired with Brasserie Dunham Saison Fleurs Sauvages.

This spring roll was the best either of us have ever had in our lives—no, seriously. Nothing like the greasy, crispy cylinder stuffed with cabbage and carrot that we’re used to. Refined yet approachable, this roll was fresh, delicate and grease-free, prepared more like a maki with miniature rice noodles in place of the rice and a moist,  translucent rice paper skin in place of the seaweed. The best part was the fresh ginger, first enveloped within the spring roll’s fragrant folds, then bursting to life on the tongue with that quintessential ginger zing. (We weren’t the only ones talking about this roll all weekend.)

The Saison Fleurs Sauvages label. Each bottle label is designed by a different local artist. Image via brasseriedunham.com.

The Saison Fleurs Sauvages bottle label; each beer label at Brasserie Dunham is designed by a different local artist. Image via brasseriedunham.com.

Saison Fleurs Sauvages, or saison with wild flowers (6% ABV), was a perfect pairing, equally fragrant and refined at its delicate core, with its own set of unique nuances. According to Dunham co-owner, Simon Gaudreault (who is also an accomplished wine sommelier and writer), the saison includes three types of wild flowers: raspberry (little white flowers that grow with the berry); elderflower (also little and white, often used in herbal remedies and recently, in craft beers); and berce flowers, for which he nor I could find an English translation.

Second Pairing:  Dark malt bread with smoked salmon “nuggets,” paired with Brasserie Dunham Assemblage #1.

The caprice here was essentially a small piece of rye bread toast with a shmear of butter, lox-like smoked salmon pieces, and topping of dill-weed. Like fancy lox on a bagel with a hearty crunch, the fat of the butter and salt of the salmon were cut exquisitely by the funky, dry and bitter formulation of Assemblage 1.

Assemblage Numéro 1

Assemblage Numéro 1, a wild beer blend aged in Zinfandel barrels.

Assemblage 1 is a blend of American Pale Ale and saison with honey (or more accurately, propolis) aged in Zinfandel barrels with brettanomyces yeast. Read that again. It’s delicious! Funky, rustic, fruity, hoppy…it’s all there, and it’s truly special. According to the brewery, Assemblage 1 is the first “assembly” or blend in which the effect of the barrels transcends the two base beers. Voila.

Fun fact: Dunham brewery is located in Dunham, Quebec, not far from the U.S. border. As such, the brewery has done a few collaborations with American brewers—Hill Farmstead and Cambridge Brewing Co. among them. Trust me, you’ll want to keep your eye out for these guys.

They never stop experimenting, either: in fact, on May 22, 2016, Dunham released no fewer than 22 beers for an event Gaudreault described as a bottle release that was enhanced for its attendees with games, giveaways and other merriments meant to make waiting in line less miserable. Plus, the releases were all pre-order, so no one walked away empty handed.

I’ll close with this video created for the brewery last June : “Brasserie ze film” by Alex Chabot. (Disclaimer: it’s in French.)

Cheers,
BeerAffair

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Craft Brewers Pick Their Favorite Shower Beer

The shower beer can be many things: post-workout hydration, multitasking before a night out, or simply a refreshing pick-me-up while washing. For Lewis Kent, the Beer Mile world champion, shower beers are both post-race liquid trophy and pregame ritual. “After a race or a hard workout, when I come home and I’m getting ready to go out with friends, it’s nice to have a little reward,” says Kent.

Craft brewers have caught on to the concept, and a growing number of craft beers billed as “shower beers” are hitting the shelves, providing more flavorful, stimulating options to take into the tub. With warm weather approaching, now is the perfect time to indulge in these palate-scrubbing brews — from a hoppy pilsner to a lime-zested gose to a pale ale bursting with citrus — made for good, clean fun, in the shower and out. Read more on MensJournal.com > 

It’s National Beer Day!

A double flight ensured we were able to really get a taste for each new brew.

Try something new on National Beer Day. (Photo courtesy of Coney Island Brewing Co.)

It’s National Beer Day.

What does that even mean?

April 7, 1933 marked the first day in 13 years that the manufacturing of low-alcohol beer and wine became legal. In other words, Americans could legally buy, sell, and drink beer. This happened thanks to FDR signing the Cullen-Harrison Act on March 22, 1933, which went into effect 16 days later. The stipulations and facts:

  • Beer could only contain up to 4.05% ABV. (Interestingly, alcohol content was actually measured by weight then – the legislation called for 3.2 alcohol by weight.)
  • States had to enact the law on their own terms. In other words, it was not legal everywhere, but in states that deemed it so (or “wet” states).
  • 1.5 million barrels of beer were consumed that day, which is a fun idea.
  • This is not the day that Prohibition ended. The 18th Amendment and National Prohibition ended later that year, on December 5, 1933, when the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified.

Supposedly, the designation of the “holiday” began in 2009 when Justin Smith, a beer enthusiast in Richmond, Virginia, started a Facebook page to celebrate the day. After that, his page, and the designation of National Beer Day, were recognized by 1) a craft beer blogger in Colorado, Eli Shayotovich; 2) the beer check-in app, Untappd, which made a “badge” for the day in 2011; and 3) Twitter, where the hashtag, #NationalBeerDay has been annually trending since.

What a time to be alive.

All the “days” we endure online and in life are mostly trivial, but this one, we guess we can get behind.  So today, if you’re looking for a reason to make this different from any other day, raise your glasses to FDR, to beer makers in the 1930s, to that guy in Richmond, and to not ever having to live through 13 beer-free years.

Cheers,

BeerAffair

Victory and Southern Tier Merger

“Craft brewers took a world where people didn’t care about flavor or freshness in their beer, and changed it dramatically.” – Victory Brewing Company co-founder, Bill Covaleski

Last month, Victory Brewing Co. of Downington, Pennsylvania and Southern Tier Brewing Co. of Lakewood, New York merged to operate under a holding company formed by private equity firm, Ulysses Management. The two breweries’ new owner, Artisanal Brewing Ventures (amusingly abbreviated ABV), provides “management advice, assistance and vision to a select but growing list of independent craft brewers and distillers,” according to the Ulysses Management website.

The merger can be seen two ways: another pair of craft breweries surrendering their independence to the almighty dollar; or,  two craft breweries joining forces to continue fighting the good fight against macro brands, with more money and power behind them than if they continued operating solo. One facet important to note is that ABV is a parent company, and won’t be producing any goods or services itself.

Whether you’re of the “another one bites the dust” camp or the “I’m not surprised/devastated/outraged, business is business” camp (I tend to lean toward the latter, in this case), consider this quote for a moment and let it tell you one sure thing: the beer world is changing, it  will continue to constantly change, and a long as we have lots of options for good beers to drink and good people making them, we’re doing alright.

Read more of Covaleski’s response in Men’s Journal’s coverage of the merger here. For the full release, head to stbcbeer.com.

 

NYC Beer Week 2016: 11 Vintages of Black Chocolate Stout at Brooklyn Brewery

BeerAffair's Cat Wolinski and Brooklyn Brewery's Garrett Oliver and Samantha Bernstein

BeerAffair‘s Cat Wolinski and Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver and Samantha Bernstein.

With NYC Beer Week 2016 in full swing, deciding on which events to attend each night becomes a bit challenging, to say the least. But on Monday, February 22, the choice was non-negotiable: Brooklyn Brewery invited select guests to attend the twenty-first birthday of the Black Chocolate Stout.

This was no ordinary birthday party. The Black Chocolate Stout holds significance at Brooklyn Brewery for several reasons. One is that the beer’s recipe was essentially the entry point into Brooklyn Brewery for Garrett Oliver,  now brewmaster, who has since risen to worldwide fame for his beer making and beer-and-food pairing prowess. Another is that at the time of its original brew date in 1994, the beer, an imperial stout, was the most radical stout many beer drinkers had ever seen or tasted. Chocolate in a beer name?! Ten percent alcohol by volume?!

Finally, and perhaps most significantly for birthday bash attendees, the brewery has held onto nearly a dozen bottled iterations of the imperial stout since its origins. Originally announcing  10 vintages would be available, it turned out that there are, in fact, 11 vintages of Black Chocolate Stout available — a surprise 2007 was available on draft — making this event even more unique than we originally thought. The icing on the cake—the figurative one, not the chocolate one— was tasting and comparing each chocolately vintage with sweet early 2000’s tunes to sip to. Continue reading

SMaSH Beers to Look Out for During NYC Beer Week (February 19 to 28, 2016)

Flint of Rockaway and Eric of Coney Island

Flint Whistler of Rockaway Brewing Co. and Eric Hernandez of Coney Island Brewery.

NYC Beer Week kicks off this Friday, February 19 at 7pm with the “SimulTap,” or simultaneous tapping, of New York City beers, each brewed specially for  Beer Week as part of a 10-day celebration of New York beer. Though the SimulTap marks the start of Beer Week every year, this year’s holds special significance because it will feature 15 NYC brewers’ beers made with State Malt and State Hops, being referred to as “SMaSH beers,” spotlighting local ingredients sourced right here in New York. NYC Beer Week is organized by the New York City Brewers Guild.

Note: SMaSH usually stands for “Single Malt and Single Hop,” meaning one type of malted barley or other malted grain and one type of hop are used in the brewing process. In this case, it stands for State Malt and State Hops. Three types of New York malt and three New York-grown hops were used to brew the NYC Beer Week SMaSH beers.  Continue reading

A Valentine to Brookyln’s Beer Couples

At BeerAffair, we’re all about love. Love for beer, love for the craft beer and brewing community, and above all, love for the local  brewers who bring us thought-provoking, inspiring beverages to drink and socialize with day after New York beer-loving day.

To honor this growing squad of New York City brewers—namely those in Brooklyn—we’ve decided to shine the spotlight on those who we suspect love each other as much as they love making beer. Continue reading

2016 Update: Girl Scout Cookies and Craft Beer Pairings

Photo via beerandbrewing.com.

Craft Beer & Brewing recommends cookies and stouts. Photo via beerandbrewing.com.

It’s always a fun time of year when the Girl Scout Cookie craft beer pairings come out. I was a Girl Scout for many years (like, the most years — all the way up to the Gold Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouting — that’s right, I am that cool) and the posts that pop up every winter leave me both salivating and nostalgic.

Craft Beer & Brewing always has a well-produced (and I trust, well-tested) list of Girl Scout Cookie pairing selections, and their 2016 rendition is no different. The key takeaway is that basically any GSC (that’s Girl Scout Cookie) will be delicious with basically any strong stout, but there are certain nuances to be attune to. Like… Continue reading

My Year in Beer – 27 Best Beer Moments of 2015

(L to R): Cat Wolinski, Beer Affair and Pat Phillips, cameraman and co-founder of Team Biscuit Films check to make sure they are really here.

It’s time for some BeerAffair birthday reflection.

Today is my birthday. Although it feels narcissistic and ridiculous to celebrate the day, unbeknownst to you, a woman decided to push you into the world, it’s also a day to give yourself a pat on the back for making it another year. For me, this year was one of transition, and between New Year’s and the 21st, I’ve taken a bit of time to reflect on what’s happened in my beer life here during my twenty seventh year on Earth.

27 Best BeerAffair moments of 2015, in roughly chronological order:

  1. Finally becoming a full-time freelancer, devoting myself to the two most meaningful crafts in my life: writing and beer.
  2. Helping launch an app, Happy any Hour, which left me on my ass almost as soon as it appointed me a core member of its team (#startuplife)
  3. Brewing what’s still my favorite homebrewed beer, the Pot that Called the Kettle Black IPA, a black IPA we (Pat and I) crafted with our good friends, Chuck and Chelsey.
  4. Attending Chris O’Leary’s (AKA Brew York‘s) bottle share and blind tasting of IPAs, an intimate and gustatorily stimulating beer affair.
  5. Taking our first trip to Portland, Oregon, where we visited 15 breweries in 5 days, recorded video interviews with Ex Novo Brewing Co., Baerlic Brewing Co. and Base Camp Brewing Co., and experienced the magic of the Pacific Northwest coastline at Pelican Pub & Brewery.
    Pelican Pub and Brewery
  6. Curating and copywriting the first-ever Queens Beer Book, a guide to the craft beer bars, breweries and beer-centric eateries of Long Island City, Astoria, Ridgewood, Forest Hills and further neighborhoods in Queens.
  7. Being interviewed for TV about the Queens Beer Book for NY1.
  8. Being quoted by Ale Street News editor, Tony Forder in his editorial column, “What is Craft Beer?”

    “From a craft beer-crazed Millennial to the Curmudgeons of Craft, thank you for your early and continuing insights on this awe-inspiring, exciting, absurd, barrier-breaking beverage. ‘Craft beer,’ as it is so ubiquitously named despite its may nuances, is changing and growing as fast as (is not faster than) we can drink it, tweet it or blog about it. Yet even in this super-saturated, media darling market, we must turn to the ‘Legends of Liquid’ to remind us that what we’re drinking is history in motion, and it would do us good to stop and smell the hops every once in a while. This is what craft beer means to me. Thanks for the moment of reflection.”

  9. Camping at Indian Ladder Farms with Other Half Brewing Co. & friends.
  10. Traveling to Montréal for Mondial de la Bière, a worldly festival that introduced us to a theretofore unknown palate pleasing plethora of Quebec-brewed beers.

    Pat sips on LTM's Le Meilleur Des 2 Mondes, a double IPA/Baltic porter blend served on cask.

    Pat sips on LTM’s Le Meilleur Des 2 Mondes at Mondial de la Bière, 2015.

  11. Attending our first American Homebrewers Association (AHA) Rally at Keegan Ales in Kingston, N.Y.
  12. Publishing my first piece for Thrillist, a guide to drinking day trips in N.Y.
  13. Belgium Comes to Cooperstown (BCTC), always a favorite, but especially this year, our first year attending the VIP dinner as press, seated at the table with Ommegang brewmaster, Phil Leinhart, with Tony Forder on my right, and interviewing Phil Leinhart for a future story I hadn’t pitched yet.
  14. Publishing my first piece for Ale Street News, a BCTC recap.
  15. Spending the summer working part-time as copywriter of Brooklyn Brew Shop, where I met awesome people, edited a ton of blog posts, and made a really great beer with the girls’ team — Honey, I Ain’t Got No Figgin’ Thyme for That! (A Belgian-style blonde brewed with honey, caramelized figs, orange peel and thyme.)
  16. Drinking an Otter Creek on Otter Creek.
  17. Signing on as the first Craft Beer Correspondent for Eventbrite Rally.
  18. Interviewing Julia Herz, whose many accolades inspired this story.
  19. Publishing my first long feature in Civil Eats, the James Beard Foundation Publication of the Year, about bringing hops back to New York StateIMG_1030
  20. Taking my first trip to Belgium with my partner in BeerAffair and life itself, Patrick Phillips. Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, and various villages in Poperinge…

    -Staying on an artist’s houseboat for three days in Amsterdam, with all the beer, cheese and chocolate we could imagine
    -Attending the Modeste Festival in Antwerp, meeting Belgian Family Brewers like Brasserie de Blaugies
    -Taking a late night trek in the rain to Kulminator, an impossibly magical beer cellar helmed by an old Belgian couple, and drinking a 27-year-old lambic

    -Hopping in the van of the owner of Belgium’s best lambic bar, who delivered us to the world famous Cantillon Brewery 

    -Staying at St. Bernardus brewery, a bed and breakfast and the most beautiful, profoundly quiet countryside on the Belgian-French border.
    De la Senne, De Struise and 3 Fonteinen…and finally…
    -Sipping the sweet St. Sixtus Abbey’s Westvleteren 12, voted “the best beer in the world”

  21. Attending the premiere of First We Feast’s‘s That’s Odd…Let’s Drink It!, where I met and interviewed Sam Calagione for my next Ale Street News piece: the Rise of the Beer Web Series.
  22. Appearing in an episode of That’s Odd…Let’s Drink It! with Other Half.
  23. Being appointed as a beer judge for the sixth annual Battle of the Belgians.
  24. Being quoted amongst admired New York beer experts in First We Feast‘s Best New Beers of 2015.
  25. Finding out my parents went to a beer shop, the Craft Beer Cellar in Port Washington, Long Island — special thanks to Darwin Goh (Darwin’s Beer Reviews) for showing them the way!
  26. Being selected as the new NYC columnist for Ale Street News.
  27. And finally, meeting Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø of Evil Twin at Tørst, and telling him I chose his and Two Roads’ Geyser Gose as best beer of the year.

And a bonus no. 28: finishing signups for the 2016 Brooklyn Beer Book, on sale in February!

BeerAffair AHA Rally

Thanks for making it to the end of this gratuitously lengthy #humblebrag!

Cheers,
BeerAffair

Honey in Beer Does Not Mean Sweet Beer

BBS_GrapefruitHoneyAle

Photo via BrooklynBrewShop.com.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been helping out Brooklyn Brew Shop at the Union Square Holiday Market by womaning the booth and selling beer making kits to tourists and local shoppers. Something I encounter regularly is an immediate opposition to the Grapefruit Honey Ale beer making kit, which suggests the addition of grapefruit peel in the boil and adds in a little extra honey to the brewing process. The result is, according to Brooklyn Brew Shop, a “Light and refreshing citrusy ale for those who love bright beers. This pale ale gets most of its grapefruit taste from its hops, but throwing in some grapefruit rinds is a fun way to pump up the citrus.”

Right away, though, shoppers say things like, “oh, no, he would hate that,” or “my Dad doesn’t like sweet beers,” or “this is for a guy, so that won’t really work.” The point of this post is not to combat the inherent and infuriating sexism I’ve encountered every Monday and Tuesday evening in the booth—that’s a post I’m planning for after I’ve had a chance to cool down—but the PSA I do want to announce is this:

Honey used in the brewing process does not mean the beer is going to be sweet.  Continue reading