Sunday, September 27, 2009

NY Craft Beer Week + Stone

So I went to craft beer week in NYC and I went to one of the Stone kick-off events in CT and I have to say these meet the brewer events aren't as exciting as I thought they would be. Don't get me wrong, I had more than my share of great beers, but I don't really know exactly what I expected.

On Saturday I went to NYC with some friends. Took the train from Stamford into Grand Central and then a short walk overto Gingermans on 36th. Gingerman's in NYC is an awesome place. With 70 beers on tap and 3 casks you don't even need to look at their bottle selection. They had The Onion for free in print, and a sign in the from that read Meet the Brewers of Harpoon and Magic Hat from 5 - 7. What a great suprise. I just heard this was a good bar and that we could get some good beers here, meeting some brewers was a bonus.

The beers were about $6.50 each, but they came in 22oz glasses (its called an imperial pint) so the price wasn't so bad, especially since wewere ordering some really big beers. I got a Harpoon Harpoon IPA Chinook Dry Hopped, Bear Republic Racer 5, and tasted everone elses. Both beers were spectacularly hopped and delicious, but I have to give the edge to Racer 5. It was my favorite beer of the night and I highly recommend it if you can find it. We waited there until 6 but there were no brewers to be seen - who would have thought that brewers would be punctual? Anyway, we all left with a good buzz so we were happy.

Next up was Rattle N' Hum on 33rd St., having the brewers of Troegs, Elysian, and Ithaca. I like Ithaca - their Flower Power IPA is one of my favorite beers. But this bar was way too packed, and people didn't seem to be into the beer scene. There was a big Washington Huskies sign outside (wrong type of Huskies as far as I'm concerned) and it appears countless fans assembled here to watch them play USC.

I dont really like fighting my way to the bar especially with other untested brew pubs in the city, so we moved on. The end game was a show on Bleecker St. so we ventured to the Blind Tiger for their respectable 30 taps. Here I tried another great beer, a green flash IPA (I told you I like IPAs). This bar was crammed, but it had a cozy feel with a fireplace and the menu written on a chalkboard. Not to mention the fact that although their draught offering was less than half the size of the gingerman it was very well selected.

After drinking some beer there, we grabbed some burritos and that was it for the beer and food. Tasty, intoxicating, and fun - can't go too wrong with that.

Every bar we went to in NY had some Stone Brewing Company beers on tap, but I held off knowing I was going to a kick-off event in CT in which I would try some Stone beers. I went to Monster B's where there were 7 Stone draughts available for the event. These were DELICIOUS, I'm so glad they made it here. I had the Ruination IPA, a smoked porter and an Arrogant Bastard Ale. The Ruination and the Arrogant Bastard were both great. The smoked porter was tasty, but a little weak. I would recommend Otter Creeks Stovepipe Porter instead.

Again I ran into the same story. Apparently beer people just aren't very punctual. They were only 30 minutes late this time, but unfortunately no brewers were here. Just sales guys. I got some bumper stickers and probably could have milked them for a free beer if mine wasn't already full, but all I really ended up with was a breif conversation.

All in all I guess I thought these events would be more organized. I expected a more formal brewer presentation, maybe with a Q and A with some sort of giveaway - I don't really know. All it really was, was the brewers were drinking at the bar as If you and I were, except that if you wanted you could walk over to their table and strike up a good conversation about your favorite brew. In the end, I still had some great beers everywhere I went, and I still had a great time. I just expected something different at a scheduled meet the brewer event. It was more like just running into someone you knew at the bar.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Connecticut Beer and Food Happenings

You might have noticed some recent changes to our blog. For starters, we added that nifty menu to the left. You're probably looking at it thinking its just useless advertisements. WRONG! Although we write this because its fun, and a good amount of you seem to enjoy it, everyone likes to make a little beer money.

All we ask is that if you're going to buy something from Amazon, click that little box over there to access the Amazon site. That way we earn some coin (4% of the amount you spend) and you don't spend anything extra.

Next, the button above that,, is actually very useful to you and also has the ability to earn us some money. Go to (through our link), put in your zip code, and voila! There's a listing of restaurants near you with the option to purchase $25 gift certificates to that chosen restaurant for $10. Not bad eh? But wait! There's MORE! (had to do it). Don't ever buy anything from that site full priced. There's always a coupon code (use the code "ENJOY" for 60% off through 9/21). The sites legit, I've been using it for a bout two years now and haven't had any problems. I'll try my best to update you with current coupon codes and provide links when we review restaurants or bars listed there.

Enough of the infomercial - on to bigger and better news.

Stone Brewing Company is probably my favorite brewing company. They have great beers in their line up, and a really cool gargoyle on each bottle. Can't go wrong with that. Unfortunately, they haven't distributed to Connecticut until now.

Welcome them to Connecticut by joining them in some kick-off events across the state. They'll have several of their delicious beers available and probably some giveaways. I recommend that you check them out. Here's the schedule:

Tuesday, September 22
6:00pm - Stone CT Kick-off at Prime 16 (New Haven)
9:00pm - Stone CT kick-off at Delaney's (New Haven)

Wednesday, September 23
6:00pm - Stone CT Kick-off at Plan B Burger Bar (Glastonbury)

Thursday, September 24
6:00pm - Stone CT Kick-off at Tigin Irish Pub (Stamford)
9:00pm - Stone CT Kick-off at Monster B's Bar & Grill (Stamford)

Friday, September 25
6:00pm - Stone CT Kick-off at The Ginger Man (Norwalk)

There's a very good chance you'll find us at Monster's on Thursday and possibly at Tigin before. If that doesn't do it for you, here are some more events in Connecticut this month:

Craft Brewers Oktoberfest Beer Tasting, Willimantic Brewery (Willimantic)

Pipes in the Valley Celtic Music Festival (Hartford)
Go there for bagpipes, falconry, highland games, and of course food and beer.

Brewers Fest, Ski Sundown (New Hartford)

Blues, Views & BBQ Festival, Levitt Pavilion (Westport)



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Black Bear Saloon @ Stamford

Stamford, CT


Happy Hour: M-F 4-7pm
$3 drafts & wells, other daily food specials

In nature, a brown bear is more likely to attack you for territorial reasons. They think you’re messing with their babies; and they don’t like that kind of thing. Play dead and start praying. On the other hand, if a black bear attacks you, you’d better try to fight it off - it’s more than likely trying to eat you.

Exactly one week ago, however, it was we that were eating the Black Bear, in Stamford’s Columbus Circle. While I was much chagrined to learn that seared bear loin was not available on the menu, I found solace in a huge cheeseburger, which I proceeded to rip from limb to limb like a black bear (Ursus americanus) might a wayward hiker.

We went on a Tuesday, which was 2 for 1 burger night. There are two ways to go about this deal:

    1. Maximum Gluttony. Be a man and order two burgers for yourself for the price of one.
    2. Gentlemanly Restraint. Eat one burger and pretend to be full afterwards.

I’d like to tell you we fought the good fight and chose option 1. I’d like to tell you that. But prison is no fairy tale world.

Whoops, got caught up in Shawshank Redemption.

Yes, dear friends, myself and my 3 companions each enjoyed one of Black Bear’s fine burgers. I went with the Bleu Cheese Bacon Burger. The beef was tasty and tender, high-fiving the bacon and seesawing back and forth over my palette with its good friend, Bleu cheese. I also decided to have sweet potato fries as opposed to its more traditional counterpart because hey: I’m crazy like that. They were quite good.

All I ask is 3 beers apiece for each of my coworkers. Damn it, Shawshank. Black Bear had the dubious task of being the next Restaurant/Bar review following Monster B’s and their bevy of beer, and the difference in selection is obviously huge. But really, as long as they have one beer you really like, it’s not so bad, huh? So the four of us went with the always satisfying Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. And pints were just $3 all night. Score.

Here’s the beers that were on tap:
Bass, Bud light, Budweiser, Guinness, Magic Hat Circus Boy, Miller Lite, Sam Adams Winter Lager, Shocktop, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Stella Artois,

A few other things:

Every one of their booths running across the back wall has its own TV. We watched the Yankee game and laughed gregariously at the miserable job the closed caption guy was doing. “Alex Rodriguez is dalkgdan 2 gor 4 tonihgty.” That kind of thing. Good comedy.

Also, we were able to knock 10% off the bill with the iShop Stamford Downtown card (http://www.ishopstamforddowntown/). How’s a huge burger with fries and two Sierra Nevadas for about $12 plus tip sound?

Black Bear has deals Sun-Wed every week, and that’s a great time to check the place out. Good food, good beer, what more could you want? Maybe the opportunity to lasso a bear, but now I’m splitting hairs.

In the battle of Food vs. Beer, it is hereby decreed that Black Bear is…

A food place! Go around 6-7 and enjoy it before it gets annoyingly clubby.


Black Bear Saloon on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 11, 2009

NY Craft Beer Week 2009
September 11 - 20

Live in The City? Going to The City? Need an excuse? Either way, if you're up for it, today is the start of NY Craft Beer Week.

The week starts off tonight with the Gotham Cask Ale Festival which will go on throughout the weekend. Cask ale is beer that is unfiltered, unpasturized, and naturally carbonated and served from a cask. This is the way beer was traditionally brewed.

Theres all sorts of other fun events going on including beer dinners, beer lessons, beer walks, bar crawls, meet the brewer nights and more! Check out the NY Craft Beer Week site for the schedule of events.

It all sounds pretty exciting to me, although some of the events are a bit pricey for me. If I make it down there I'd definitely like to go to a meet the brewer event. Here's the Brewmaster Night schedule at one of the bars that has great reviews and a lot going on.

Rattle N Hum
Meet the Brewers of:

Friday 11th - Ballast Point, Blue Point
Saturday 12th- Oskar Blues
Sunday 13th - Sierra Nevada, Shmaltz
Monday 14th - Victory, Sixpoint, Flying Dog
Tuesday 15th - Brooklyn, River Horse, Boulder, Goose Island
Wednesday 16th - Stone, Bear Republic
Thursday 17th - Smuttynose, Stoudts
Friday 18th - Ommegang, Allagash, Southampton, Captain Lawrence
Saturday 19th - Troegs, Elysian, Ithaca

At these events you can expect the brewmasters to do a little talk about their beers, probably some Q&A, and have a lot of their beers available for tasting. So choose some breweries you like.

The bottom line is, if you're thinking about going down go to the official site for the best information about everything going on. If you're wondering what beers on tap at which bars check out


Tuesday, September 8, 2009


With over six million people attending Oktoberfest in Munich every year, it is the world's largest fair. The first Oktoberfest took place in 1810 and traditionally takes place during the sixteen days leading up to and including the first Sunday in October. This year's Oktoberfest will occur from Sep. 20th - Oct. 5th.

This festival is all about eating vast amounts of food and drinking tons of beer. Here are some fun stats from last year's event:

6 million visitors

Things consumed:
6.6 million liters of beer
460,000 chicken pieces
117,000 sausauge pairs
104 oxen

Items found:
680 identity cards and passports
410 wallets
360 keys
265 spectacles
280 mobile phones
80 cameras
4 wedding rings
1 set of diving goggles
1 set of angel's wings
1 superman costume
0 false teeth (for the first time since records began…)

As you can see, people get silly. There’s even a special name for people who get way too silly – "Bierleichen" which is German for “beer corpses”.

Unfortunately, most of us are stuck here in America just reading about it. But the good news is since the first of September Oktoberfest style beers (aka Märzen) have started to appear on shelves in liquor stores. These beers are usually in the 5-6% ABV range, dark copper in color with a full-bodied taste of toasty malts. Not much of a hop profile.


We decided to sample some of the Oktoberfests BevMax in Stamford had to offer:

From the left: Brooklyn, Blue Point, Hofbrau, Samuel Adams

Sam Adams Octoberfest, being the only Octoberfest I'd ever had, was a natural place to start. Good beer, but a little malty. At least that's what Kyle says. I really don't know what I'm talking about.

You see, Kyle is the beer guy of the two of us. He brews, (I just said Hebrew) and I wouldn't be surprised if he read beer publications. I love beer, but my critiquing could probably use a little work. I'm the color guy. I'm here to make you laugh gregariously and forget about how painful and empty your sad, depressing life is. Kyle's Dan Schulmann, and I'm Dick Vitale. Okay, baby?

Phew. What a load off my chest. Now I can talk about my thoughts without feeling the need to get too technical about things. Because a lot of you probably don't know what the hell he's talking about, either. Love you, Kyle. Let's have beer lessons soon.

Anywho, what I noticed about Sam Adams' Octoberfest was that its aftertaste contained a slight essence of funk.

Brooklyn's Oktoberfest, however, had a very similar taste, with a smoother finish. No funk. Crisper than Crispin Glover.

Blue Point's offering was good, but not really as interesting as the previous two. I mean, even Sammie's funk is something worth mentioning. Blue Point's was just kind of unremarkable.

Hofbrau was really good, but definitely felt out of place. It was such a departure from the other three that it would be irresponsible of me to include in in the judging. Hence, I disqualified it on the basis of "apples and oranges." It would be like comparing 3 colas and a Sprite.

So, in the end, the Brooklyn takes home the gold medal, and my love affair with this brewery marches on.