Archive for the ‘ Beer Events ’ Category

NY Craft Beer Week

This weekend I had the pleasure of visiting New York City during the 3rd annual NY Craft Beer Week.

I know today is the last day of the festival, but the video for NY Craft Beer Week is still entertaining to watch.

While I was unable to visit any major events, I was able to take some time out of my schedule to visit some of NYC’s craft beer bars. The cool thing about this festival was that even if you did not have the time (or money) to attend some of the bigger events, many bars participating in the festival featured a selection of draft beers from specific breweries.

The first bar that I visited Thursday evening was Bar Great Harry. Located in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens neighborhood, this small craft beer bar featured drafts from Captain Lawrence Brewing Company (Pleasantville, NY). This brewery is located an hour north of New York City and has a reputation for crafting award-winning beer.

Since Captain Lawrence brews were being featured, I decided to sample their cask Kölsch. Previously I have never tasted a cask beer, so I did not know what to expect. I also lack experience with the Kölsch style, so I was just tasting this beer to see if I enjoyed it or not.

This beer is described as “Spring in a glass”. After tasting the Captain Lawrence cask Kölsch, I did not find this beer to be spring in a glass. While it was very good, it had an extreme sour taste that makes this beer more of a sour ale.

The first thing I noticed about this cask Kölsch was how smooth it was. Unlike many beers stored in kegs or keg systems, cask ales tend to lack that carbonation in the mouthfeel. The foam on this Kölsch was practically fluffy, and added a pleasant texture to the beer.

Cask aged ales also add flavor to a beer depending on what type of cask you use. While the flavors from the hop and malt were subdued, the sour lemon taste of this beer served as the most present flavor. The sour lemon taste was biting, as this beer may be to acidic for some. Overall I enjoyed this beer and liked the soft mouthfeel coupled with the harsh flavor.

Friday evening, I decided to visit Rattle N Hum located in Manhattan’s Murray Hill neighborhood. Smuttynose (Portsmouth, NH) and Ballast Point (San Diego, CA) were the two featured breweries that evening.

Rattle N Hum is a craft beer bar with 40 taps, 4 casks, and more bottled craft beer than I care to count. I was even surprised to see a beer from Hoppin’ Frog (Akron, OH) on their bottled beer list. It was the only beer from Northeast Ohio that I saw during my visit.

From their list, I tried their Smuttynose Oak Aged Imperial Stout ’08. This beer was aged in Jack Daniels oak casks and spotted a 10.1% abv. As with Captain Lawrence’s cask Kölsch, this imperial stout had an incredibly smooth texture. The head on Smuttynose Oak Aged Imperial Stout ’08 was incredibly creamy and there is a strong viscosity to this beer.

The flavor of this beer was also harsh. Smuttynose’s beer had a strong alcohol flavor coupled with a harsh oak taste that will remind you of drinking Jack Daniels Whiskey. There are also toffee and coffee flavors in this stout. This beer is definitely a sipping beer.

I had an awesome time visiting NYC during NY Craft Beer Week. Both Bar Great Harry and Rattle N Hum had incredible atmospheres that were perfect for socializing with strangers over a delicious beer. If you are ever in NYC, then visit either of these bars for some quality craft beer.

This quote was on the wall at Rattle N Hum. Nice.

If anything in this post gets you excited, I encourage you to take a look to see what beer festivals are happening in your area. Beer festivals are a great way to sample limited edition brews that are usually not available in your market. If you are willing to travel, Road Trips for Beer and Beer Advocate are excellent resources to see a list of upcoming beer events.

If you happen to live in Northeast Ohio like I do, then take a look into Cleveland Beer Week (Oct. 15-23). The festival is in its second year and it should prove to be even better than last year. I am excited for this festival, as some of the events happening for the week look huge! (Brewzilla anyone?)

Beer Tastings and The Weekend in Review

Crack open a beer. This will be a long one.

Over the weekend I got a bit ambitious and decided to cover two local beer tastings for my Examiner page.

On Friday I attended an Oktoberfest and Fall Seasonal beer tasting at Heinen’s in Aurora, Ohio. This was the first event I attended to kick off a weekend filled with trying new beers. While my decision to attend this tasting was last-minute, I enjoyed tasting a variety of quality fall seasonals at a low $10 admission price.

Here is one of Heinen’s Beer Specialists pouring Southern Tier’s Harvest Ale.

On Saturday I attended a Pumpkin Ale Blind Tasting at Vintage Estate Wine and Beer in Boardman, Ohio. Vintage Estate is rated the Best Beer Retailer in the world for 2010 by! For those who remember, I also mentioned Vintage Estate when I posted about Drew Nelson’s blog 365 Days…365 Beers.

From the moment I walked in to Vintage Estate I could see why it was ranked best in the world. From the moment I walked in Owners Phil and Sandy Reda welcomed me with open arms. These two love craft beer and are relentless about offering the best customer service possible.

Let me try to paint a picture for you of what Vintage Estate is like. The shop area has over 800 craft beers and a quality wine selection in stock. There is also the VE Tasting Lounge which has 12 rotating craft beer kegs, a wine bar, Ohio’s only mead bar, and a selection of single malt scotch.

Here was the draft beers available during my visit. Kegs at VE do not last longer than week.

Back in the shop there is a section of seating known as the VE Terrace. This gives you the chance to “sit while you shop”. If you buy a beer from the Tasting Lounge, you can freely walk around with it in the shop or relax at the terrace and have a discussion on craft beer. Or if you would prefer to drink a beer from the shop, you can bring it into the Tasting Lounge, purchase it without an opening fee, and drink it while you shop.

During the pumpkin ale blind taste, many people relaxed at the VE Terrace to discuss their thoughts with one another.

If you are looking for standard macrobrews like Bud Light or Miller Lite then do not look here. Phil and Sandy do not carry any of the mass market beers.

“We do not sell crap,” said Phil Reda.

Vintage Estate pretty much gives craft beer fans the full tasting/shopping experience. I could easily see myself walking around this place with a beer in hand discussing beer with someone else. And with no TVs in the shop or tasting lounge (that’s right. No TVs) you will actually have to interact with other people.

After talking to Phil and Sandy, the biggest thing that stood out to me was that they described Vintage Estate as a place a woman could walk into by herself and feel safe.

There you go ladies. A place where most men are so focused on enjoying their beer that they will forget to hit on you.

Vintage Estate’s Pumpkin Ale Blind Taste was an example of how much fun a visit at Vintage Estate can be. About 70 people registered for the event and participants ranged from certified beer judges to craft beer newbies. This pumpkin ale blind taste was the better of the two events, as participants had an interactive experience. Participants had the opportunity to judge each pumpkin ale and discuss them with fellow participants. While the results have yet to be posted, you can see how I judged the pumpkin ales here.

All pumpkin ales were served behind this super secret VE centerpiece!

So what did I learn from these two tastings?

Well, beer tastings are tough. While I enjoyed the pumpkin ale blind taste, I was disappointed in my inability to recognize Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale. I reviewed Punkin Ale about two weeks ago and gave it fairly high marks. At the blind taste, however, I gave it a low score and I could not pick out which of the ales was from Dogfish Head.

Perception also plays a huge part in tasting a beer. At the Heinen’s tasting, I was able to take a look at each bottle label of the beers I tasted. Unfortunately, I am guilty of gravitating toward flashy looking bottle labels and almost begin subconsciously judging a beer based on how well I like the label.

The truth is my favorite beer at the Heinen’s tasting had the lamest looking label. O’Fallon Brewery’s Pumpkin Beer had a label that looked like it was drawn by a first grader. It did, however, have awesome flavor and probably had the truest pumpkin scent of any pumpkin ale I have tried.

I guess what I am trying to get at is that perception plays a huge role in how your beer will taste. That is why it is crucial to enter all beers with an open mind and no expectations. Vintage Estate’s blind taste was a great exercise on how to properly judge a beer. By having no prior knowledge of the pumpkin ales, I was able to judge each beer with an open and honest outlook.

While I did get frustrated with missing Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale, I truly enjoyed both tastings this weekend. Everyone’s palate is different and we all pick up different sensations in a beer. The tastings also served as an important reminder that perception has a strong presence when tasting a beer. As a beer taster, it is necessary to be aware of anything surrounding you that can affect how you perceive a beer.

I encourage you to check out my Cleveland Craft Beer Examiner page for more information on the beer served at both tastings. Heinen’s and Vintage Estate both have a great selection of craft beer. If you are looking for something new or something to help you stay warm during the cool fall season than look no further than these two shops.

Thoughts? Questions? Comments?

Son of Brewzilla Homebrew Competition; A Cleveland Beer Week Event

For those who are unaware (or not from the Northeast Ohio region), the 2nd annual Cleveland Beer Week is taking place from October 15-23. While there are a ton of events to celebrate the region’s love for craft and import beer, there is one event that I think you should try to attend.

The Son of Brewzilla Hombrew Competition will be Cleveland Beer Week’s first ever hombrew competition!  It will also be one of the main events to help close out Cleveland Beer Week. After interacting with the members of SNOB, I guarantee that the feedback you receive from this competition will only make you a better homebrewer.

This homebrew competition is located at Fat Head’s Brewery and Saloon in Cleveland and is sponsored by SNOB (The Society of Northeast Ohio Brewers). This event looks to be promising to homebrewers of all levels. Even if you have never homebrewed and are looking to start, Son of Brewzilla would be a perfect way to get some quality feedback from beer enthusiasts who are highly knowledgeable.

I have been looking to start homebrewing for quite some time now, and I think that this competition is going to be where I start. I know that most novice homebrewers will probably not receive any accolades for their beer, but Son of Brewzilla will be a great event for the novice homebrewer to learn more about brewing.

SNOB is also the perfect sponsor for this event. I have been attending meetings with SNOB since the beginning of August in order to improve my knowledge about beer and to receive some direction as to how I should begin homebrewing.

SNOB knows there stuff. Enter Son of Brewzilla for some quality feedback.

Entering the competition is pretty easy. All you need to do is submit 2 bottles of your homebrew by October 9th. The first entry is $7 and entries after that are only $5. Homebrews can be submitted in one of  23 categories as outlined by the Beer Judge Certification Program.

I encourage you to attend and enter this event. SNOB is really putting a great deal of effort into making this event a memorable part of Cleveland Beer Week. If you have even had the slightest inclination about possible homebrewing, then the Son of Brewzilla Homebrew Competition is the place you should start!

Buds and Suds, Keepin’ It Local, and Life

I know this post is a bit late, but I wanted to share with you the spectacle that is my life.

Well maybe not a spectacle…but I was reminded last week why God has a damn good sense of humor.

So last week I was working out up at the Twinsburg Rec Center and an ad caught my eye. It was an ad for an event called Buds and Suds. At this event, a hike was to take place with local Naturalist Stanley Stine followed by a beer tasting event hosted by Great Lakes Brewing Company.

When I saw this ad I thought this would be a perfect story to write for my examiner page. Up to this point all my stories were just simple beer reviews. What could be more perfect than a beer tasting event set against the backdrop of a nature hike?

Well when I went to sign up for the event I was plagued with some horrible news. The event was cancelled.

Guess people had better things to do last Saturday morning before the US game. I just assumed everyone would want to hike and get a good buzz with some good beer before the game.

So I was pretty down. I just saw my newest story that would be simple for me to write crumble to pieces. Guess I would write another typical review.

This is where Keepin’ It Local comes in.

Since Buds and Suds got cancelled, my new plan was to buy some brews and do some reviews for the US vs Ghana soccer game. When I was buying beer a few days before the game I stumbled (in a sober state of course) upon a new brewery that has its home in Cleveland.

Indigo Imp Brewery Ltd. recently opened up 18 months ago and is looking to produce unique and unusual Real Ales. I purchased their Gatekeeper which is supposed to be their Porter to review.

As I was at home last Friday, I was working on some prewriting for my piece. While learning more about the mysterious Indigo Imp, I discovered another local event that would be perfect for my examiner page.

Indigo Imp’s website had a listing for a beer tasting event taking place right in my area. Keepin’ It Local was an awesome beer tasting event that featured Indigo Imp, Thirsty Dog, and Great Lakes.

For $10 bucks I was able to get unlimited beer samples from all three microbreweries.

Can you say Great Success!

I will not get into the details of the event as my recent article will tell you all you need to know. I will, however, share some of the awesome pictures I took from the event that I was unavailable to post on my examiner page.


Here is to you Indigo Imp Rep (pictured in back). Thanks for helping me find this beer tasting event.

The Great Lakes Rep is old and wise. I learned much from this one.

The Thirsty Dog Rep is working hard to get the best pour. Thirsty Dog Brewing Company was the best of the show. Great Brewery.

Here is your Amateur Beer Enthusiast discussing Thirsty Dog’s Siberian Night. Fantastic Russian Imperial Stout. Nice and hearty

Here is Eliot Ness. This is a solid amber lager. Did you know that most microbreweries do not do lager style beers because of their simplicity? Great Lakes is one of the few.

A centerpiece of beer? I will use this as the centerpiece at every table during my wedding reception…now I need to find a woman who will agree to that…

Before I sign off I just wanted to take a moment to thank all those who have supported my blog and examiner page. Thanks again. I appreciate all the comments. It means a lot to me.

Well I hope you enjoy the pictures. Read my examiner for more. And suscribe! This way you can always get updates whenever I write something new! Until then grab a beer and enjoy.