For the third year of the Brooklyn Brewery Mash Tour, we knew we needed to kick off in a city that knows in its bones how to eat, drink, and party. Naturally, we’re heading back to NOLA on March 23rd through 29th, giving you just enough time to recover from Mardi Gras. We’re happy to announce that tickets for #NOLAMash events are now on sale! Check out the lineup below, then head to BrooklynBreweryMash.com to grab yours.
Tuesday, March 24th Slow Supper with Dinner Lab: a pop-up dinner party featuring local chefs and artists, live music, and a secret location announced the day before.
Wednesday, March 25th State of Craft Beer: Brooklyn Brewery co-founder Steve Hindy is joined for discussion by Dylan Lintern (NOLA Brewing Company), David Blossman (Abita Brewing Company), Andrew Godley (The Louisiana Craft Brewers Guild), and John Holl (All About Beer) at NOLA Brewing Company.
Thursday, March 26th Found Footage Festival: Brace yourself for the good, the bad, and the ugly from the Golden Age of VHS at One Eyed Jacks.
Friday, March 27th Brooklyn Brewery Presents Chris Gethard Live: self-described as the “most bizarre and often saddest talk show in New York City,” and hailed by The New York Times as “an often riveting experiment in seat-of-your-pants broadcasting.”
Sunday, March 29th Animation Block Party: Local animators showing off their best work – much more than your Saturday morning cartoons, at One Eyed Jacks.
Brooklyn Beefsteak: “All you can eat, all you can drink, all you can stand!” The Brooklyn tradition goes local with endless beef, beer, and fun.
Can’t make the events above? No worries – we’re hosting slew of non-ticketed events during the week at other New Orleans institutions:
Two Headed Monster: Taste two vintages of our discontinues barleywine, Monster Ale, side-by-side at Bulldog. Uncommon Brooklyn: This d.b.a Tap Attack features Brooklyn beers that rarely leave the borough. Pints & Pies: Chef Andrew is slinging slices & pouring pints with the folks at Pizza Delicious From the Cellars: Chef Andrew & Steve Hindy will be mingling with guests during a Tap Attack at The Avenue Pub.
After a slight hiatus, The Worshipful Company of Brewers is back upon us. The charter of this sanctified league dictates that each member of the Brooklyn Brewery brewing team will design and create a batch of his or her own draft-only beer, to be served exclusively at the Brewery Tasting Room until the last drop has been squeezed from the taps.
BEER #11: The Unsung Hero Style: Lemon-lime saison ABV: 4.75% Notes: Brewed with saison yeast, lemon & lime zest and ginger, this beer is a refreshing “crusher”. Available: Friday, February 13th, until it’s gone.
BREWER #11: JR Jordan, “Senior VP of Cellar Affairs”
Born: August 20th, 1976 Started at Brooklyn Brewery: July 2013 Favorite Place to Drink: Light drinking at the Brewery, heavy drinking at home.
The Brewer’s Notes:
“In the brewing industry, we have a lot of heroes. Like Garrett, Steve, Sam Calagione. All of these guys get praised, and deservedly so. But there’s a lot of guys who come in day in and day out, like the shift guys, who make their recipe a reality. You don’t hear much about those guys. They’re unsung heroes. The beer is for them. If you’re a single parent, if you have done something for someone out of love & obligation – you’re an unsung hero, and you deserve something. You deserve this beer. It’s for things that go unrecognized – just helping someone out. I’m trying to make my mom cry, basically.”
It’s not easy to forget that actual brewing is happening all around our Williamsburg office – the streets outside smell like malt in the mornings, and I’ve gotten yelled at for inappropriate brewhouse footwear more than once. But when I’m neck deep in tweets or hunting down a folk band in Miami to play for our Slow Supper events, sometimes it’s out of sight, out of mind. The same goes for our new, recently-opened barrel aging facility. Since no one wants to be out of touch with the intricacies of brewing when you work at a brewery (and since I love barrel-aged beers), I talked to Molly Browning, our Barrel Program Manager (who has previously worked at Jolly Pumpkin & oversaw the wood and sour program at New Holland) and Garrett Oliver, our Brewmaster, about what exactly is happening at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Caitlin: So, why are we putting beer in barrels in the first place?
Garrett: There are a few things a brewer might want from a barrel: wood flavors, which range from vanilla-like to toasty to floral, flavors of the previous “tenant” of the barrel – for example, we aged a beer in a mezcal barrel and got an amazing smoky, fruity mezcal flavor in the beer – slow, controlled oxidation through the pores in the wood, which can bring on some pleasant flavors, or the effects of micro-organisms harbored in the wood.
Molly: The barrel provides an ‘active’ environment for the beer. Air seeps through the barrel, allowing for a micro-oxygenation effect, similar to wine aging. The toasting or char level of the wood also gives flavor and aroma to the beer being aged in it. Different types of wood impart their different flavors and aromas. Then you have whatever spirit or wine was aged in the barrel previously on top of that.
Garrett: A brewer may only want one of these effects, or any combination of them.
What makes a good barrel aged beer?
Garrett: A great barrel aged beer is not a gilded lily. There should be something about the barrel character that actually completes the beer. Then again, I’ve had great barrel-aged versions of beers that were already very good in their regular form, so you never know.
Molly: I would say a good barrel aged beer is a clean beer. You should not get any off flavors that are overwhelming in the beer. If it is a sour beer, some level of acidity is good. If it is a non-sour, spirit-aged beer, you ideally would want to see an oaky presence along with whatever lingering spirit character remains in the barrel in the beer. Overall, the barrel should add a balance to the beer, and it should not be used to fix a flawed beer.
What about barrel aging is so exciting for you?
Molly: There are a lot of variables and unknowns the occur in the barrel that can influence the beer and can result in a completely different beer from the original – or even from barrel to barrel of the same beer. Much of the time, depending on the barrel, you can get consistent results (for things like Black Ops and a lot of the spirit barrel-aged beers), but that’s not always the case.
Garrett: A lot of people think of barrel aging as something new for beer, as if we’d “borrowed” the idea from wine. But all of the major beer books from the 1800s have chapters on aging beer in oak barrels; we’re just reclaiming our heritage, which is definitely fun.
A photo posted by Garrett Oliver (@igarrettoliver) on
For a while, it seemed that the prevailing medium for aging was bourbon barrels, but that seems to be shifting now. What’s the new frontier for aging?
Garrett: Bourbon barrels used to be plentiful and cheap, and they are quickly becoming rare and expensive. This is partly because of the renaissance of the spirit and cocktail culture, and partly because of the increased wealth of developing countries like China and India. Those countries make much more whiskey than we do, and they want their whiskey to be good. That means barrels. It’s getting tough out there. Fortunately, there are many other sorts of barrels to play with.
Molly: Bourbon is still going to be key for a while, but you’ll start to see a shift towards other spirits, namely tequila, brandy, cognac – anything unusual. Wine barrels are also going to become big and, I think, play a bigger part in the spirit-aging side of the industry than before. We have some unusual spirit barrels currently at Brooklyn. We have Angostura rum, and we also have some mezcal – I’m hoping to get more – plus cognac and soon some sherry, Muscat, and sauternes.
Do you use different barrels differently?
Molly: We typically use the bourbon and rum barrels only once. The flavors will change over time, and those barrels that we have used once or twice may still be good as sour barrels. Wine barrels, cognac and mezcal we will use more than once.
Garrett: The boldest flavor comes from our first use of a barrel, but we don’t always want a big barrel flavor – it depends on the beer and the barrel. We may use a barrel once to get a bold flavor, and then a second time for a more subtle effect. Even after two uses, a barrel isn’t necessarily exhausted – we can use them for aging of sour beers in particular. In rum production, a barrel may be used several times before we get it. And we got a great mezcal barrel once that had held Stag’s Leap – a trophy Cabernet from California – even before it held mezcal. So there can be layers upon layers.
Previous barrel aging projects have worked with pre-existing beers in the BK lineup. Can you foresee any beers being brewed especially for barrel aging?
Garrett: Absolutely, and Molly is working on things that I don’t even know about yet! We’ve already started developing barrel-only beers, such as the recently released barley wine, Hand & Seal. And actually our first barrel-aged beer was Black Ops, and that’s brewed specifically for barrels. Some people assume that Black Ops is basically a barrel-aged version of our Black Chocolate Stout, but the beers are actually very different from the outset.
Molly: Yes, we are currently working on those. The BQE program is designed for just that purpose. Kriek, Quadraceratops, Hand and Seal, were all made for barrels. We are also going to start expanding our sour program.
A photo posted by Molly Browning (@meabrowning) on
How much extra space does the Navy Yard location afford to the brewery? How much extra beer does that translate to?
Molly: The Navy Yard will allow us to store around 1600 – 2000 barrels at a time. You are looking around 2,6800 bbl for the brewery. We have started to see it already this past year with the launch of the BQE program. It has gotten off to a great start this year.
Garrett:. I’d love to see a day when the barrel room was absolutely full, though that state might only last for weeks or even just days.
Will these be widely available beers, or is it more of a special projects/r&d division? What’s going on across the street?
Garrett: I think it depends on what you mean by “widely available”. Barrels take up a lot of space, and each barrel only holds about 19 cases of beer. If you do the math, you can see that you need hundreds of barrels to get only a few thousand cases. And a few thousand cases sounds like a lot of beer, but this is a big country, and our beers are also in 25 other countries. The beer gets spread pretty thin very quickly.
I could see the possibility that we’d have some beers – certain types of sours, perhaps – that were aged in barrels for weeks rather than months. In that case, perhaps a beer might become more available. But there’s really no way of avoiding the work – every barrel is filled and emptied by hand. And every bottle is filled by hand as well. It’s a huge amount of work.
Why now? Is the new barrel room a product of more interest & demand for barrel aged beer? Or is it to give the brewers more room to stretch?
Molly: There is a huge demand for these beers, which seems to keep getting bigger. Brooklyn is stepping into barrel aging as a leader in this industry, as it has been a leader in other aspects of the brewing world for a long time.
Garrett: Our interest in barrel-aging pre-dates the demand for it, but in previous years we couldn’t find the space, and frankly we probably didn’t have the money or the knowledge to handle it. The barrel work was essentially my personal playground, aside from the Black Ops production. Now we have Molly and her pretty vast barrel experience to help us expand on both our ideas and our ability to carry them out. It’s funny to think about it this way, but in many ways our beer is more “artisanal” and “handmade” than it used to be. I really like that. It almost feels like we’re slowly turning into a “truer” version of ourselves.
Once a month, we’ll be soliciting your beer questions on Facebook for a member of our talented brewing team to answer on the Brooklyn Bloggery. This month, it’s Head Cellarman & avid safety-goggle-wearer Rob Lemery.
I love Brooklyn Brewery Local 1. Is there a clone recipe I can use for homebrewing? – Kjetil R, Norway
First… thank you! Second, I can’t provide all of the specifics of the recipe, but I can provide some details. The grist bill is 100% pilsner malt, but we also add demerara and dextrose to boost the Original Gravity to about 18 degrees Plato. The bittering and flavoring hops are German Perle and the aromatic hop addition is a mix of Styrian Golding and Aurora. We use our house Belgian yeast strain to ferment the beer, we bottle condition with champagne yeast, and have a resulting final ABV of 9.0%.
Local 1 is a Belgian Strong Golden Ale, so doing a little research into the beer style (and other similar styles) should help you develop your recipe. Of principal importance will be a long, low saccharification rest; this will give a very fermentable wort. Local 1 is strong, but also very dry – it finishes in the bottle at about 1.7 ° Plato. With all of these things in mind you should be able to get pretty close to a Local 1 clone. If not, then we have plenty available here for you to drink! Let us know how you do!
Photo courtesy of Brett Casper
What would be a good food pairing for Winter Ale & Sorachi Ace? – David B, New York
Winter Ale is a toughie, great question! I like to pair sweet with sweet, specifically something robust like a dark chocolate anything, or something with spice notes like cinnamon ice cream or pumpkin pie. If you are looking for a meal, I would stick with comfort foods and traditional pub fare like bangers and mash or shepherd’s pie. Both have a nice sweetness to pair with – and a nice earthy spice note to level out – the sweetness of Winter Ale.
For Sorachi Ace I would keep the fare light rather than robust. The lemongrass notes of the Sorachi Ace hop lends itself perfectly to Thai food, especially curries. Or, if you feel so inclined (and trust me, you do), steam your shellfish in Sorachi Ace as a replacement instead of white wine!
How long does it take to perfect a recipe? What’s the process of recipe testing like? – Alex B, Pennsylvania
Recipes evolve to account for seasonal changes in environment, brewing processes, and ingredients so they are never quite “perfect”. Getting close is something that can take a couple of weeks to a couple of months. For the “couple of weeks” scenario, it’s typically a beer style we’re familiar with, have made before, and would just like to tweak slightly. We can typically nail it on the first try, and it’s only a weeks-long process because that’s how long it takes to make beer! If we are trying a new style or changing an old recipe drastically, the new recipe can take months to develop. We constantly perform sensory analysis on the beer to discover if the flavors and aromas are what we hoped for.
What’s the temperature you usually dry hop at? Does hopping happen during the final fermentation? How long are the hops in contact with the beer? – Eduardo S, Brazil
There ismuch debateabout dry-hoppingthese days. We’ve taken our combined wealth of knowledge as brewers as well as published materials and decided on 60 degrees Fahrenheit for our dry-hopping. At this temperature, you extract the aromatic oils but don’t leech out too much of the grassy, chlorophyll vegetal aromas that we don’t like. Dry-hopping should occur after fermentation has completed and yeast has been removed. Yeast cell walls will adsorb the aromatic oils from the hops that we want in the beer, so you want most of the yeast gone by the time you add hops. We leave the hops in contact with the beer for 5 days – long enough to get what we’re looking for, but not so long that we start getting those grassy notes.
We’re happy to live & work in a borough with an amazing music scene. Each month, we’re bringing you a playlist curated by a Brooklyn-based artist of the best local music right now. First up, Montana Levy.
Montana plays guitar and sings in the violent pop band Sharpless, which is part of The Epoch collective. She can be found spending too much time on Twitter at @montanaelliot.
Want to make a playlist for us? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brooklyn Winter Ale with Reading Raclette: Nutty, buttery, grassy, and just a little funky, this washed rind cheese is made in Reading Vermont. The farmhouse notes in its flavor will pair nicely with the malt character of the Winter Ale.
Martin Johnson runs The Joy of Cheese, a series of informal cheese and beverage classes that take place at a variety of Manhattan and Brooklyn venues as well as at the 92nd St. Y. He also assists with the cheese and beer programs at West Side Market’s East Village location. He blogs at www.thejoyofcheese.com.