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!


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.


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?


Spring Saturday 

A couple weekends ago we had one of our favorite guests in town, Kat’s boyfriend Michael! On Saturday we took full advantage of his luxurious automobile and went upstate for a short hike. 
Bear Mountain is only about 2.5 miles round trip, but the incline on the first half is quite steep. The trail was busy, but not crowded, and drizzle turned to clear blue skies as we leisurely made our way up the mountain.

“I’m glad I didn’t know ahead of time that it was going to be this steep..” -All of us

The summit was filled with hikers having picnics and hanging out, but we were able to find a secluded spot to relax and take in the view. Our adventurous little Kitten almost gave me a heart attack in her quest for the perfect place to sunbathe.

Bear Mountain Bridge


After many a picture taken and Snapchat sent, we made our way back down the mountain. Carefully inching down the rocky incline might have been harder than climbing up! Safely back in the car, we decided we should reward ourselves. That, my friends, is where the beer comes in. Don’t worry, this hasn’t turned into a healthy lifestyle blog.

Practicing for my future career as a TMZ reporter


Peekskill Brewery is only 5 miles from Bear Mountain (we didn’t even plan this!) After a refueling lunch at La Cascada in downtown Peekskill, we headed to Water St. to check out one of my favorite NY breweries.

Juices Flowin’ DIPA

Peekskill Brewery is right on the Hudson and just a short walk from downtown. The two-floored facility features a full bar and restaurant in addition to a tasting room. The first floor was crowded with groups of friends drinking, snacking, and playing darts. A sign advertising a two-for-one happy hour deal Monday-Thursday had us wishing that Peekskill wasn’t so far away!


Allison ordered the Simple Sour, an easy-drinking, moderately sour ale that we’ve had many times. I tried Peekskill’s new double IPA, Juices Flowin.’ As promised in the tasting notes, it was juicy and dank–just how I like my IPAs these days. Michael and Kat shared a flight. Michael, a fellow hop head, enjoyed Juices Flowin’ as well, and also it’s lighter cousin, Shotgun Willie. Kat’s favorites were the Simple Sour and Moscow on the Hudson, an “Atlantic-style Porter.” The only letdown was the Uncommon Rye Lager; the happy couple reported that this one is actually quite common.


About a year ago Peekskill’s renowned brewmaster, Jeff O’Neil left to start a new brewery. Assistant brewer Matt Levy took over O’Neil’s position, and almost immediately won a silver medal at GABF. Before Peekskill Levy spent a year at Michigan’s Jolly Pumpkin, and produced small batch brews at Captain Lawrence. I haven’t had enough Peekskill beer over the years to evaluate whether this change in head brewer is an improvement, but I was extremely impressed with the beers I tried last Saturday. Peekskill is one to keep an eye on! If they scale up and start packaging, I hope Juices Flowin’ makes the cut.

Happy Friday! Any brewery visits in your weekend plans?


Friday Food Pairing: More Ginger

We have another ginger-heavy recipe to share with you guys today, but this time the ginger is in the food, not the beer! On Tuesday night Ed and I made a veggie stir-fry with broccoli, onion, red pepper, green beans, carrots, fresh grated ginger, and soy sauce. The recipe calls for snow peas but we couldn’t find them at the market, so we substituted red pepper instead. I’m actually glad we made the switch; I think it mixed up the flavors and textures a bit more. You could obviously use any veggies you like in this recipe (next time we’re going to add mushrooms and water chestnuts), but don’t omit the broccoli! It soaks up sauces so well.

The rice master
The rice master

As we chopped and stir-fryed, we munched on wasabi peas and sipped Good Juju. As every sushi fan knows, wasabi+ginger is a match made in heaven! When the veggies were tender, we ladled them over perfectly fluffy long grain white rice (nice job, Ed!) and paired the dish with Ommegang’s Hennepin. We just got this farmhouse saison into H&H and I knew the light, springy brew would be perfect for a dinner featuring fresh vegetables and ginger.


Hennepin is also brewed with ginger (in addition to coriander and orange peel), but the flavor isn’t as strong as it is in Good Juju. I love its effervescence, and that its slightly sweet, citrus flavor is balanced by a solid hop backbone. My favorite sips came after eating a big spear of broccoli with a lot of ginger and soy flavor. Crisp, spicy Hennepin quenched my palate after each salty bite!


Here’s hoping for another gorgeous weekend! If you’re staying in tonight, try this super easy stir-fry and delicious, springy beer. I’m mostly going to be working this weekend, but I’m excited to go to the Greenpointers’ Market with Ed on Sunday. Brooklyn’s impressive array of art/craft/jewelry vendors are sure to be out in full force, and Greenpoint Beer & Ale brewed a beer especially for the occasion! “Rabbit Island” is a New Zealand-inspired pilsner with tropical fruit notes and white grape. Um, yum..



On a particularly scorching day of our NYC trip this summer, we attempted to have lunch at Birreria, the restaurant on the rooftop of Eataly, a high-end Italian market in the Flatiron District of Manhattan. After fighting through hordes of people and drooling over shelves of scrumptious foods in the downstairs market, we took the packed elevator to the 15th floor and were told that it would be a two hour wait for lunch. Bummer. The rooftop was crowded, sure, but the space was beautiful, and so lively! Our crowd wasn’t up for the wait, but I vowed to return.


On MLK day this Monday, I got my wish! Ed and my friend Amanda both had the day off from work, so we ventured into Manhattan for some fun. After checking out a couple of galleries in Chelsea (okay, one gallery, the rest were closed), we walked to Eataly for a late lunch.


Russell Young, Marilyn Crying, 2013
Russell Young, Marilyn Crying, 2013

This time the hostess at the bottom of the elevator informed us that the wait was only 15 minutes (perfect!), and that we could go up to the bar and get drinks while we waited (even better!). The coolest thing about Birreria, other than that it’s on the roof of a huge building in the middle of bustling NYC, is that it’s also a brewery! Feet from where you enjoy your meal, Eataly’s brewers make unfiltered, unpasteurized, and naturally carbonated cask ales.


At the bar, we immediately sampled two of Birreria’s house-made beers, their thyme pale ale and panna cotta porter. The thyme in the pale ale was a bit overpowering, but the porter was incredible– rich, chocolately, and perfectly smooth. After doing a little research while writing this post, I discovered that it was actually brewed by the head brewer of Dogfish Head, using Mario Batali’s favorite panna cotta recipe. (Say whaaaaat??!!) The beer was brewed at Birreria though, for Analog-A-Go-Go, Dogfish Head’s annual vinyl swap and cask beer fest, which was held at Birreria this past year! After reading about its origin, I’m even more blown away that we got to try this beer. Not only was it absolutely delicious, but it was made in limited supply and only available on draft. So glad Ed ordered one!

I started with Radiant Pig’s Gangster Duck, an American Red Ale with a really nice hop presence. At my recommendation Amanda had Dogfish Head’s Piercing Pils (my favorite pilsner). She didn’t get much pear, but don’t worry, I kept assuring her it was there. 😉

Radiant Pig Gangster Duck
Radiant Pig Gangster Duck

Considering how crowded Eataly always seems to be, it came as no surprise that the food was incredible. We split a cheese plate and the “Funghi Misti,” a polenta cake covered with roasted mushrooms and radicchio and sprinkled with fontina. Weren’t my companions sweet to go vegetarian for me? The winning cheese was the ricotta fresca, a recommendation by our waiter. Typically I’m not a ricotta person, but this was a game changer. The cheese plate also came with a dish of honey and hazelnuts, and the ricotta and honey together atop fresh, crusty bread was just divine.

Funghi Misti
Funghi Misti

Of course I ordered a second beer, even though it was only like three (it’s all for you guys), and I was delighted to find Other Half on tap! I talked about the Hop’eded in my last post, so I won’t go into it again, but let me just say that it paired perfectly with the wedge of gorgonzola on our cheese plate. For me there is no better combination than hops and a strong blue cheese.


Grinning from ear to ear, we took the elevator back downstairs to grab gelato at the market before our 4 o’clock movie. Ed ordered mint chocolate chip, Amanda, banana and chocolate chunk, and I chose salted caramel. All three were delicious, and we raved about them between bites as we raced 10 blocks to the theater. Unfortunately, American Sniper had sold out just minutes before, probably while Amanda was feeding me a huge chocolate chunk in the middle of an intersection. You know what? It was totally worth it.