The 2017 Goose Island Bourbon County Stouts, Ranked

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2017 Lineup

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2017 Lineup

Sometimes, being a beer writer—or beer even drinker—takes you to some pretty decadent places. Continue reading

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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

Holiday Beers at Haymaker: Sip These Christmas Miracles One Ounce at a Time

My friends, Jimmy and Dee joined me for a tasting at Haymaker last week.

My friends, Jimmy and Dee joined me for a tasting at Haymaker Bar & Kitchen in Manhattan Wednesday evening.

“These aren’t your typical winter warmers,” Tristan Colegrove, bar manager and resident beer geek at Manhattan’s Haymaker Bar & Kitchen, told me as he placed a neat row of six Christmas beers on the bar in front of me. As is proven par the course at Haymaker since its inception in October, the beer bar and gastropub is doing the “seasonal” thing a little differently.

December is winding down its final days, but Colegrove is ramping up his repertoire by including more impressive beers on the sophisticated list than ever before.

Yes, he has De Dolle Stille Nacht, the slightly sweet, boozy Belgian Strong Pale Ale that beer bars clamor to have on tap each holiday season—but then, so do Jimmy’s No. 43 in the East Village and Brouwerij Lane in Greenpoint.

True, he’s managed to get his hands on two rival brothers’ very different takes on winter ale: Mikkeller Winbic, a blended Spontan Ale and saison from Denmark that you won’t find anywhere else in the city (imported by the Shelton Brothers) and Brooklyn-based Evil Twin‘s Xmas Eve in a NYC Hotel Room, an imperial stout that’s oily, delightfully dry and delicious without being aggressively spiced—but the latter can be found all over Brooklyn.

What really stumped me on the menu — even among such stuff that beverage managers’ and drinkers’ dreams are made of (Prairie Christmas Bomb! Chesterfield Dreams by Other Half and Garage Brewery in Barcelona!) — was La Vermontoise. Continue reading