Procrastination

I’m working a few shifts at Hops and Hocks this week to cover for a friend who’s out of town. On Friday night one of my favorite customers came in, and he ended up giving me a really cool beer to try!

img_4868

Finback Brewery was founded in 2013 by two longtime friends. After home brewing for eight years Basil Lee and Kevin Stafford left their full time jobs to launch Finback in Glendale, Queens. I’ve consistently been impressed with the brewery’s canned IPAs, but didn’t know what to expect from Procrastination–an IPA brewed with coffee.

img_4867

Procrastination pours hazy, dusty orange–the color of a dirty grapefruit. The nose is mostly tropical fruit, with just a suggestion of coffee beans in the background. At first you think it drinks like your typical North East IPA–creamy mouthfeel, juicy, tropical hop sweetness–but then a wave of coffee swoops in. The bitterness you would expect to taste in a cup of coffee or IPA is there, but but there’s also the roasty, mocha quality characteristic of a dark beer. So cool!

This was only my second or third coffee IPA, and I enjoyed Finback’s execution more than the others I’ve tried. I like how they added coffee but maintained the light/medium body and juiciness I seek in an IPA. Do you have a coffee IPA recommendation? What about another unusual coffee-infused style?

Beer Ice Cream

For the past couple months I’ve been working part time for Tipsy Scoop, a NYC-based, liquor-infused ice cream company. Sounds like a dream job, right? I met the founder, Melissa Tavss, when she came into H&H to do a tasting about a year ago. We immediately bonded over our shared Virginia roots (she has family that went to UVA!), and usually spent most of her tasting hours chatting.

IMG_2493

IMG_3385I had no idea that helping out at Tipsy Scoop would mean getting to work alongside a whole group of inspiring women. The TS team is all female and we share a kitchen space with Laurie & Sons, a chocolate company operated by two sisters. I’ve never been in an environment with a group of people this dedicated and hardworking; it’s incredibly rewarding.

IMG_3635
Laurie & Sons Dark Chocolate Toffee with Maine Sea Salt

Tipsy Scoop has 30+ flavors of booze-filled ice cream, and you guessed it, one of those features beer. Chocolate Stout and Pretzel is a chocolate ice cream base with Young’s Chocolate Stout and salted pretzels that we chop and add by hand.

IMG_3723

The BBs obviously think beer and chocolate are a match made in heaven. Remember that incredible chocolate drizzle we made with Southern Tier Mokah a few years ago? What about our Valentine’s Day beer and chocolate pairing? However, we recognize that many beer novices aren’t down with the dark stuff. The good thing about this ice cream, considering it’s produced for a large, diverse audience, is the stout flavor is discernible in the roasty, malty aftertaste, but every bite doesn’t scream, “YOU’RE DRINKING A STOUT.” My favorite part is when I get a big chunk of salty pretzel—gotta love that salty/sweet combo!

The ice cream machine in action
The ice cream machine in action

I’m hoping Tipsy Scoop will produce more beer flavors in the future. A boozier imperial stout blend would be incredible, or what about a sour sorbet? We’ve already been talking about a shandy flavor for summer. If you want to try the Chocolate Stout and Pretzel, or one of the other tasty flavors (Cake Batter Vodka Martini! Raspberry Limoncello Sorbet! Spiked Hazelnut Coffee!), we ship anywhere in the US. Check out the website and pick your poison.

Happy Saturday!

Bridge and Tunnel Brewery

Now it’s time for some NYC brewery action! I found out about Bridge and Tunnel and Rich Castagna when I first started working at Hops and Hocks. One of our draft lines was occupied by a brewer that brewed in his garage in Queens, and who was currently working on building out a tasting room entirely on his own?? That’s pretty neat. Fast forward one year and the Bridge and Tunnel tasting room is officially open in Ridgewood!

IMG_2740
Our trek was slightly rainy..oh wait, my walking companions already told you?

Since opening at the end of November, B&T has expanded their tasting room hours from Saturdays only to Friday-Sunday. Last Sunday evening we took a pleasant walk to the cozy tasting room for some pints and coloring.

IMG_2783

B&T has more of a neighborhood vibe than any other NYC brewery I’ve visited. Those sitting at the bar were clearly regulars, and excitedly answered questions about the beers and tasting room. The space is industrial, yet homey, with colored lights hanging above the bar, long wooden tables, and a decent selection of board games. We easily found a table and sipped our beers while working on illustrations for B&T’s “Tank Fund Color Off.” The color off is to raise awareness about the small crowdfund campaign they’re launching in March to raise money for a unitank fermenter and chiller. Rich’s daughters are choosing the winner of the color off!

IMG_2761
Kat and Cooke Cooke took their submissions very seriously

IMG_2756

I started with a super flavorful rye DIPA, while Matt and Kitty Kat chose two of the darker selections on the menu (Rich’s specialty), and Allison tried a blackberry kombucha. Kat analyzed the differences between B&T’s vanilla porter (Bone Orchard) and that of Woodstock Brew House (Casey Joes); we’re always working, I tell ya!

IMG_2771

IMG_2763
Mitch is deep in thought about which beer to choose next..
IMG_2765
‘Bucha Baby!

For my second beer I picked Tank Fund Saison, the SMASH beer Rich brewed for NYC Beer Week. In honor of this annual event, every brewer creates a SMASH (State Malts and State Hops) beer that emphasizes the same three hops and grains. It’s really cool to see the wide range of styles that result. Tank Fund is now one of my favorite B&T beers. It’s medium-bodied with flavors of lemon and honey, and has a closing bitterness that keeps it from being too sweet.

IMG_2788

They serve popcorn and pretzels in the tasting room, and you can also order from Houdini, the wood fire pizza place next door. I see your wheels spinning, Pammy! We can definitely put B&T on the itinerary during your next visit. Like many NYC spots, B&T is cash only, but if you forget dat paper, just bop into Houdini and use their ATM.

IMG_2815
Rich explains the 1642 Maspeatches, a gruit brewed with local honey and spruce.

Rich was at H&H for a tasting last night and we chatted about how NYC Beer week is going. He confessed that he was a bit tired of the events, and couldn’t wait to get back to the tasting room this weekend. If you read the reviews on Yelp, or any other press about B&T, it’s so clear that B&T is Rich and his family. He’s so passionate about the tasting room and his beer, and he loves to tell the backstory behind each brew. Customers will return to B&T for the delicious beer, welcoming atmosphere, and amazing prices, yes, but most of all, because of the faces behind the bar.

Happy Friday! Cheers to passion.

p.s. Want to know more about about Rich and the Bridge and Tunnel story? Of course you do! Check out these beer reads:

Building a Brewery From Scratch
Bridge & Tunnel Brewery Taproom Opens in Ridgewood, Queens
Bridge & Tunel Brewery Set to Open Ridgewood Location This Saturday
Bridge and Tunnel Microbrewery in Ridgewood, Queens: The Definition of DIY

Brooklyn Local Craft Beer Festival

I can honestly say that the Brooklyn Local Craft Beer Festival was the least crowded, most relaxing beer festival I’ve ever been to. We never had to wait in line for beer, there was plenty of room to stand and hang out, and it was after five before breweries started running out of beer. Plus, all the pours were extremely generous, which never hurts. 😉

IMG_0576

IMG_0577

After a solid breakfast (We used the stove! We boiled water! We scrambled eggs!), Allison and I got to the festival at around one. It’s held in Carroll Gardens right next to the Carroll Street Bridge, a tiny bridge over the Gowanus Canal. It was an absolutely perfect early fall day: sunny and warm with a slight breeze coming from the water.

IMG_0581

Once inside we basically just bopped around to whichever brewery struck our fancy. It was sooo nice not having to strategically plan our route based on lines. The standout of the day for both of us was Ferrari Beer from Staten Island. We tried the Sour Red Ferrari several times, a medium-bodied, mildly tart brew with a hint of cherry. He also had a very limited amount of his delicious smoked beer, Smoky Hollow, which is a great style for fall. The other sour at the festival was Lithology Brewing’s Ugly Mug, a rye gruit. It was so refreshing–tangy, even lighter bodied than the Ferrari, and with a spritzy carbonation and hint of funk.

IMG_0618

It was awesome talking to brewers that I have a relationship with through Hops and Hocks, and even though I’ve had their beer many times, I couldn’t resist sampling! Third Rail’s Field 2 is one of my favorite NY farmhouse ales; I can’t wait until it’s available in cans again. Allison particularly enjoyed Radiant Pig’s Eastside Rapture, a hoppy wheat that I’ve blogged about before.

IMG_0592

IMG_0602

Our favorite IPAs of the day were by Flagship and Other Half.  The Flagship IPA is balanced and juicy with a light to medium body and citrusy hops. It’s the kind of beer that I could drink all day long, so obviously we returned to Flagship a couple of times. 😉 Other Half’s Hop Showers has tropical hop flavors and a distinct funk. They recently released this one in super cool cans.

IMG_0609

We broke for lunch at 3:30 and enjoyed massive sandwiches from Big D’s food truck. I know I sound like a broken record here, but there was absolutely no line for food, and it was super easy to find a spot to sit and eat. I went with their vegan grinder (be proud, Riles!) and Allison enjoyed the spicy chicken.

IMG_0627

After lunch we continued to plug away at our lists. I finally tried Gun Hill Brewing’s infamous Void of Light, which won gold in the foreign-style stout category at GABF last year. They also poured the Catskill Hop Harvest, a sessionable English pale ale with mild, earthy hops.

IMG_0701

At five a couple of breweries started to pack up, but at this point we were losing steam. We made one more stop at Ferrari for a final taste of sour red, and then left to have a photo shoot on the bridge.

IMG_0686

IMG_0673

IMG_0680

Back home we went to our favorite spot these days, the fire escape, and snapchatted crazy pictures of ourselves talked about our favorite brews of the festival. Mexican takeout and a couple hours of Entourage capped off one of the most pleasant days I’ve had since moving to New York. Cheers to Friday, New York beer, and good memories.

Life Gose On

We’ve entered that gorgeous, magical, fleeting period between summer and fall. Yesterday I went for an afternoon run and wasn’t afraid of collapsing from heat exhaustion! Allison wore pants to work! The smell radiating from the trash piles on the streets wasn’t quite as pungent! To celebrate, Allison and I took to our fire escape (in jeans and sleeves!) and enjoyed Evil Twin’s Mission Gose.

IMG_0562

A gose is a salty/sour beer with a low alcohol content. They’ve been my (and everyone else’s) beer of the summer. Maddy, who is typically ahead of the curve, has been into the style for quite a while.

IMG_0563

Evil Twin’s Mission Gose is more sour than salt forward, and has a slightly lingering pucker. The carbonation is mild and there are strong flavors of lemon, coriander, and grass. It’s flavorful, refreshing, and the bottle makes you feel like you’re at a swanky cocktail party, not just chillin’ on the fire escape because you’re too scared to climb the ladder to the roof. As a professed lover of warm weather, I’m usually sad to say goodbye to summer, but you know what? Let’s do it. I’m ready for a change. I’m ready for a fresh start in a new season. Farewell Summer 2015! This is the perfect beer to gose out on.

(I had to get one more pun in there.)

-Rach

Along Came a Cider

Descendant Cider is NYC’s first and only hard cider company. We carry both of their ciders, which are made using only New York apples, at Hops and Hocks. Succession, a semi-dry blend of six apple varieties is sweetened with fresh apple juice and drinks like a high-quality commercial cider. Pom Pomme, their drier offering, is a blend of apples, pomegranate, and hibiscus flowers, and has a perky, light pink hue. I was excited to hear about their newest cider, Descendant Dry, their driest and highest ABV offering yet, and even more excited when they dropped off a sample on Sunday afternoon!

IMG_0320

It was 90+ degrees in NY on Monday, and as Allison and I shlepped home with overfull grocery bags, all we could think about was a cold, refreshing beverage. Dry did not disappoint. It’s bubbly and crisp, but still has enough apple sweetness and funk to keep it sessionable and interesting. We paired it with goat’s milk brie, and we loved the corresponding acidities and how the cider’s carbonation cut through the cheese’s creamy texture. NY readers: Hops and Hocks is having Descendant in for a tasting on Friday, August 28th. Don’t miss the chance to try the newest addition to their family of delicious ciders.

Happy Wednesday! Here are some words of wisdom from Amy Poehler, an avid hard cider lover:

“You have to care about your work but not about the result. You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look.”

I actually have no idea if she likes hard cider, but she is quite wise. Do you.