The Secret Garden: Garden Grove Brewing and Urban Winery in Richmond, Virginia

Garden Grove Brewing and Urban Winery - Mike

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


Richmond Recap: Tasting and Touring with Tom Sullivan, Co-founder of Ardent Craft Ales

Tom Sullivan Ardent Craft Ales

Tom Sullivan, co-founder of Ardent Craft Ales

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

New York Brewers Define Craft Beer at BCTC 2017





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 AleRochester, 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

“Freedom.” – Vincent Somoggi, Customer Safety Representative, Flying Bison Brewing Co., Buffalo, NY

“Independence and freedom, my friend.” – Jaye Beattie, Co-founder/Vice President, Four Mile Brewing , Olean, NY

“It’s creativity, it’s freshness.” – Kelly Taylor, KelSo Beer Co., Brooklyn, NY

“It’s about beer being at the cultural center of everything that’s creative.” – Gabe Barry, Beer Education and Community Ambassador, Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY

Thank you to those who participated: Scott Luposello, Clemson Bros. Brewery; Noreen Lanasa, Oyster Bay Brewing Company; Austin Partridge, Red Shed Ale; Kevin Van Blarcun, Keegan Ales; Jamal Robinson, Stony Creek Brewery; Richard Rogers, Roscoe Beer Co.; Tony Bellis, Kings County Brewers Collective; Colin Herzog, Flying Bison Brewing Co.; Randy Schull, Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.; Vincent Somoggi, Flying Bison Brewing Co.; Jaye Beattie, Four Mile Brewing; Kelly Taylor, KelSo Beer Co.; Gabe Barry, Brooklyn Brewery.

Almost no global corporations were named in the making of this video.

Produced by Beer Affair.

Brewers Association Helps Travelocity Create the First ‘Beer Tourism Index’ (via Men’s Journal)

Beer nerd on a budget? Us, too. The“Beer Tourism Index”—an online beercation guide to hotel and flight deals, beer tours and other booze-related activities in the country’s best large and small beer cities—was recently launched by Travelocity with help from the Brewers Association.

Would you use something like the Beer Tourism Index to plan your next beercation? Why/why not?

Learn more about the Beer Tourism Index in my latest for


4 New York Brewers Win Gold at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival

Great South Bay Brewery

Great South Bay Brewery won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival for their Jetty Cream Ale.

New York may not win a lot of beer awards, but when we do, we win gold, baby.

The Great American Beer Festival (GABF) celebrated its 35th year in Denver this weekend, bringing 60,000 craft beer enthusiasts and industry members together to sample nearly 3,800 beers from more than 800 breweries. The festival, presented by the Brewers Association, took place at the Colorado Convention Center from Thursday, October 6 through Saturday, October 8.

On Saturday morning, the GABF awards ceremony, now in its 30th year, awarded 286 medals to 254 breweries for exemplary renditions of 161 beer styles submitted in 96 categories. Though the top state winners by ratio of medals to entries per state were Wyoming (45 entries and 5 medals),  Hawaii (28 entries and 3 medals) and Virginia (200 entries and 14 medals), New York walked off with gold medals in four categories: Honey Beer; Barrel-Aged Sour Beer; Belgian-Style Witbier; and Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale. Continue reading

13 Best Hops to Brew With, According to Goose Island Brewmaster, Brett Porter

Brett Porter, brewmaster at Goose Island, presented on hops sourcing in a time of shortage.

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

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

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

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.)


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!