Author Archives: Tim Rozmus

Garrett Oliver on Growing Up in Gotham

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Brooklyn Brewmaster Garrett Oliver’s food roots go back to his childhood. Growing up in Queens, New York, Garrett was exposed to a wide variety of ethnic foods in restaurants and from his neighbors and family. In the foreword to Savoring Gotham: A Food Lover’s Companion to New York City, edited by Andrew F. Smith, Garrett takes us through some of his earliest food experiences, from hunting with his father to dinners at some of New York’s ritziest restaurants. Read Garrett’s foreword below, and keep an eye out for Savoring Gotham during your holiday shopping.

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My father was from New York City, and he made very sure that we were from New York City too. I was born in Queens, and no one in my family ever mentioned the possibility of living anywhere else. Although we were an African American family living in a largely African American neighborhood, when we were kids, we did not eat quite like other Americans.

My mother cooked white rice with sugar and butter, a holdover from our southern ancestors. Other nights we ate our spaghetti with butter, pepper, and a shake of “Parmesan” cheese, a recipe I later saw in my many trips to northern Italy. One night would be chili con carne, the next night “rice and peas.” Our neighbor, Mrs. Stafutti, would show up every Christmas with struffoli, a confection she referred to, somewhat less mellifluously, as “honey balls.” My great-aunt Emma often brought over her homemade “chopped liver,” and there was never even the slightest suggestion that it was Jewish in origin or that our neighbors had probably never heard of the dish. Then again, by my teens I had strong opinions about matzah ball soup and owned two yarmulkes—the “plain one” and the “fancy one”—for different styles of bar mitzvahs.

Aside from pizza, my favorite dish in the world was a concoction called “egg foo yong,” a sort of deep-fried omelet of dubious Chinese ancestry, full of onions and swathed in a glassy brown cornstarch sauce. On the way home from school, waiting for the bus, I would pick up brown paper bags of hot zeppoli covered in powdered sugar. As the oil soaked though the bag in splotches, I would empty the bag before I got home. And on weekends, my father and I would gather our dogs—proud, funny German short-haired pointers—and take them into the fields of Long Island and Westchester, looking for pheasant, quail, and chukar partridge. When we returned triumphant, I would end up cleaning the still warm birds, and then my father, an advertising executive, would mount them in a flawless white wine and cream sauce. I never found out where he learned how to cook like that. Nor did I ever learn where he had met his hunting friends, gruff but friendly guys, a few of whom had lost fingers to the machinery of local canning plants.

We did not think we were strange. We were New Yorkers. When I graduated from junior high school, we put on suits and ate at the swanky Chateau Henri IV at the Hotel Alrae on East Sixty-Fourth Street, a haunt of movie stars and illicit lovers alike. My father wanted us to be suffused with the life of the city, and as much as that meant museums and the arts, it also meant food.

The world abounds with great cities, but when it comes to food, there has never been another like New York City. A century ago, people in their millions did not arrive from far-off foreign lands to make entirely new lives in London, Paris, Rome, Munich, Tokyo, or St. Petersburg. When I moved to London in 1983, London was almost entirely British. Yes, you could find good Indian and Pakistani food, and there was a thin smattering of Caribbean food around if you knew where to look. A few Jewish specialties were on the shelves of Golders Green. But London was British, and what you would largely find was English food, much of it gray. London has recovered nicely, but it is not Gotham. Even today, in a large city like Torino (Turin), Italy, home to 1.7 million people, you will find mostly Italian food—not even “Italian food” (a foreign construct that does not really exist) but Piemontese food. A great Thai restaurant will still be hard to find. More than a century
ago, those millions, hailing from dozens of countries, began to stream into Gotham, and they made it the greatest food city on Earth.

In Lower Manhattan, in the late 1800s, you had choices. Was your family from Campania? Were you tired of Campanese food? All you had to do was take a walk, and you could visit parts of China or Germany. Make your way to Brooklyn, and you could eat in Norway and Russia and Sweden too. There were forty-eight breweries in Brooklyn alone, making 10 percent of all the beer in the country, and we had the most diverse beer culture in the world.

As the rest of the United States largely disappeared into the blandified world of highly engineered Frankenfood, a period from which the country is only now recovering, much of New York City held firm. Arthur Avenue did not hold truck with frozen “TV dinners.” Fresh seafood still wriggled in baskets in Chinatown. We ate Ukrainian pirogies at 4:00 a.m. after the East Village clubs closed. There were still a half-dozen places in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where you could order the swift demise of a live chicken for dinner that night. Jamaican jerk seasoning bubbled in pots a few miles away.

It is true: the city has changed, and things have been lost. Only in the mid-1990s, as I got off the L train in Williamsburg every morning, I could smell the smoke. Lenny Liveri, down the block at Joe’s Busy Corner, was smoking the freshly made mozzarella in a small box out on the sidewalk. By lunch, I would order that smoked mozzarella on a sandwich with prosciutto and pesto, while I listened to the little old Italian ladies verbally beat up the cowed, linebacker-sized Liveri brothers who were building epic sandwiches behind the counter. When the new bearded, tattooed kids started hectoring them for cappuccinos, in the afternoon, no less, the Liveris packed up and moved to New Jersey. They could not take it anymore—these kids. Joe’s Busy. Those were the days.

But these are the days too: the days of the Latin American food at Red Hook ball fields, the days of the Arepa Lady, the days of deciding what region of Thailand you want to eat in tonight, the days of great cocktail bars and dozens of breweries. We always had everything, and we still do. Eating in New York City has never been better than it is today, and a lot of the best stuff is not even expensive.

One day, some years back, I drove from Cap-Martin, France, over the Alps, into La Morra, Piemonte, Italy, to eat lunch. Lunch was brilliant, of course, and I was back in Cap-Martin by nightfall. And I would still do that drive today. But in Gotham, you take such trips simply because you enjoy the journey. Here, at the center of the world, a universe of food is at your fingertips and always was. Between these pages are the many stories of our tables, millions strong, vaulting over centuries and into the future. Seek and ye shall find. Perhaps we New Yorkers are strange. Good thing, too.

This Week in Beer: The News You Can Booze on November 27


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Stone Cold Steve Austin Taps In: Famous pro wrestler and beer drinker/smasher Stone Cold Steve Austin has released his own beer, a hop-forward IPA called Broken Skull IPA. Brewed by El Segundo Brewing in Southern California, the beer represents a new era in Stone Cold’s life. He was once known for violently chugging light beer in the ring, but since getting into craft beer he has become an advocate for the more flavorful side of life, giving some of the best advice going: “Experiment and keep an open mind, and try everything…You can’t f*** this up. Drink what you like and you’re good!” Next round is on us, Stone Cold!

Miracle on 9th Street Returns: Now that we’re past Thanksgiving, we can give in to the music all the stores have been blaring since Halloween and admit it is the holiday season. Miracle on 9th Street is back this year to provide a holiday-themed bar pop-up, perfect for impressing relatives from out of town or keeping to yourself. Cocktails include ingredients from gelt-infused tequila to roasted chestnut orgeat syrup. and decor that’ll chase away any Grinchiness. Visit them at 649 East 9th Street from now until Christmas Eve.

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Pop Chart Labs Illustrates 37 Fictional Beers: Finding out that Pop Chart Labs is publishing a book called A Visual Guide to Drink is exciting on its own. Discovering that it includes an illustrated list of some of our favorite fictional beers is even better. The Simpsons, Breaking Bad, Dexter, and many more favorites grace the pages, and we have to admit it’s tempting to frame that page by itself. Oh, but you can do that without destroying the book? Perfect, there’s half your holiday shopping done.

Bond, Bottled In Bond: Liquor labels can get confusing in a hurry. Serious Eats contributor Tony Sachs has taken on one of the more obscure terms, “bottled in bond,” and provides a clear and comprehensive history of the term and why to pick it up the next time you’re confronted with a groaning shelf of liquor options. Unlike terms like “small batch” and “accursed” that can have many different interpretations, bottled in bond means you’re getting a bottle of closely-supervised, minimum four-year-old, hundred-proof spirits. Take the reassuring path when it comes to your liquors; it makes for much better nights and easier mornings.

Photo: Twitter @leedsbeer

Photo: Twitter @leedsbeer

Floods In Pints: Recent flooding in England was met with a distinctly underwhelmed response by two British beer devotees. John Kelly and Steve Holt claimed they were “irked by the river’s inconsiderate nature” and took their beers outside. The two men were cheered on as the flooding crept from ankle level to above their waists, until Steve’s wife smartly put a stop to the al fresco experience. Cheers to you gentlemen, heroes of beers and the great outdoors.

Brewery in a Big Box: London’s 40ft Brewery, opened earlier this year, is the first commercial brewery in the world to be housed entirely inside shipping containers. After signing a lease they weren’t fully confident in, the 40ft crew decided to build their entire operation inside a 40-foot-long shipping container so they could pick up and move if needed. Since then, they have added two more 20-foot containers, and plans are in the works for another 40-foot expansion. Go visit, but be sure to get their early– it gets understandably crowded quickly.

Tap That Glass: November 27

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Ah, Thanksgiving weekend: you made it through (and hopefully enjoyed) all your festivities on Thursday, and now the rest of the weekend stretches ahead of you in a haze of leisure and a snowstorm of coupons. Avoid the hardcore shoppers and join us in the Tasting Room for a couple beers instead. You can always count a trip to our Company Store as your “required shopping.”

Our tap list is below, but there’s always a chance it’ll change so be sure to check our board and ask your bartender to see what’s new. Beer tokens can be purchased for $5 or 5 for $20, which is one of the best deals in the city.

Draft | 1 token each (unless indicated)

Cask Offering |

There’s no cask up this weekend. Check back next Friday for more from our cellar.

Bottle Pours | 3 tokens each, includes a complimentary Souvenir Logo Glass

Local 1 (9.0% ABV)
Local 2 (9.0% ABV)
Sorachi Ace (7.6% ABV)
Ama Bionda (6.0% ABV)- two tokens
Black Chocolate Stout (10% ABV)

View our complete public hours here.

Your Beer Guide to Survive Thanksgiving Weekend

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Thanksgiving Weekend has a pretty tough reputation. Awkward high school friends, tense family situations and kitchen nightmares have overshadowed the true nature of the holiday: giving thanks, then digging in to a stupor-inducing feast. Finding beer pairings for your dinner isn’t too hard these days. Luckily for you, we’ve come up with a beer guide to get you through any and all holiday strangeness this week.

Thanksgiving Eve
Beer: 1/2 Ale
You’ve made it through the horrifying travel corridor of your choice, and now you’re headed to the bar with your friends from high school (half of whom are mysteriously dating one another.) It’s a long-legendary night of running into old acquaintances, enemies, long-dormant crushes, and at least two old teachers trawling for free drinks. Stick with 1/2 Ale to stay refreshed while keeping your stories from rambling and your secret romantic dreams from being blurted across the bar.

Cooking Time
Beer: Brooklyn Lager
The perfect Thanksgiving feast is relatively simple, but tends to devolve into the sort of opinion-charged debate that only Norman Rockwell could smooth over. The key is taking a deep breath, a small sip of something fortifying, and smiling your way through the barrage of loved ones arguing over string beans. Snag a Brooklyn Lager to keep your cool and provide inspiration. Plus, you can dump half of it into the roasting pan when Uncle Ted claims the turkey “looks” dry.


The Family Inquisition
Beer: Insulated Dark Lager
You know it’s coming a moment before the question springs: you’re cornered by a well-meaning relative, curious to know what you’re doing with your life, if you’re seeing anyone, and– if you’re particularly unlucky– what you think of the current political climate. Some questions you can answer honestly, but others may result in family shouting matches or unyielding existential terror (honestly, why are you still single?) Take a moment’s retreat with Insulated Dark Lager and consider your response carefully. If you really need an out, point out how well it pairs with the turkey and stuffing.

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The Postgame Nap
Beer: Black Chocolate Stout
You’ve made it through the most rigorous part of the holiday. The meal is done, all questions have been answered or dodged, and a few of the more experienced family members are already drowning out the football game with their snores. You’ve more than earned the rich, decadent Black Chocolate Stout you hid in the crisper drawer. Then, get in there and do your share of the napping.

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Black Friday
Beer: Defender IPA
If you’re waking up for the doorbusters, stop. Go back to sleep. You’ve got at least another few hours of turkey digestion to snooze through before you can be trusted out there. When you wake up around lunchtime, defend your decisions with a Defender IPA and a leftover sandwich big enough to make your hands tired. If you really want to catch the deals, you’re better off waiting for Cyber Monday and shopping in your pajamas, or hitting our Online Store. Trust us on this one.


Mash Files: Austin 2015

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While he’s on the road or in the kitchen, Chef Andrew Gerson is always investigating the cultural and culinary landscapes of the cities around him. The Mash Files are snapshots of each city on our Mash Tour in Chef Andrew’s own words. Read about Chef Andrew’s tour of one of New England’s leading oyster producers while visiting Boston, then check our Mash site for when he’ll be in your neighborhood.

Austin may have the coolest small town vibe in the country, but development is fast encroaching on this laid back oasis in the heart of Texas. Over the last three years of our Mash tour, I have spent a lot of time on the urban farms of East Austin, getting to know the farmers, produce, animals, and community hubs that play such a valued role in the Austin landscape. The influx of people, rapid growth, difficult city zoning, and urban sprawl continues to jeopardize the very existence of these farms.


Farmers like Paula and Glenn Foore of Springdale Farm and Carol Ann Sayle of Boggy Creek Farm have been working their land and providing sustenance, education, and job opportunities in the neighborhood since 1992. These farms play an integral role of connecting the community to its agrarian roots, providing access to delicious, healthy, and well-raised food. The difference between these farms and larger rural farms is their presence within city limits. Anyone can stop by and interact with these farms, and in a time when we are increasingly disconnected from the natural world (and each other for that matter) these interactions are becoming increasingly vital.


The Springdale Farm market operates three days a week. If you get there early in the morning, there is a good chance you will bump into the city’s finest chefs and home cooks alike, shooting the shit with Paula and Glenn, finding a moment to catch up with each other, or just fighting for dibs on some sexy watermelon radishes. These farms have evolved to be much more than a piece of land producing some of the best produce and eggs in texas (thanks to the rich, nutritious lowland soil), or markets where you can get a head of kale. These distinct farms have become a community hub where folks can go and learn, eat, mingle, and feel a part of their landscape.

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I had a chance to sit down with the farmers along with some chefs and discuss the future of Austin’s farms, and what farmers, chefs, and community members can do to ensure that they remain an integral part of the community. For Zack Northcutt, Executive Chef of Swift’s Attic, it’s all about exposure. Adding the farm name to the menu and ensuring that folks know where their ingredients are coming from is key. Zack hopes that guests will be inspired to head out to the farms themselves and source their own food, like he does twice weekly for himself and the restaurant.

For Paula and Dean it’s all about diversification. Their farm hosts a weekend restaurant called Eden East, farm education classes for kids, and is a much sought-after event space. Zoning limitations have made it hard to diversify but with lots of support from the community, city council, and other organizations there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel.


Carol Ann has a slightly more pessimistic view of the future of the East Austin farm community and feels it will get worse before it gets better. Her farm is the oldest urban farm in the country, and her home is the oldest existing structure in Austin. She is able to live almost exclusively off of her farm, never entering a supermarket, but she is painfully aware that this is not the norm. The busy pace of life, an industrial farm system pumping out cheap commodities, and the convenience of chain stores has eroded people’s food-based values and priorities. Carol Ann believes it will take disastrous events in our modern food system for people to wake up and see the value of urban farms and small scale non-industrial farms in general.

My biggest takeaway is that each of these farms and the many others that dot the Austin landscape need to be looked at individually when it comes to zoning and other issues. Overall, we need to continue supporting them with our dollars and our voices, since the ever skyrocketing price of land makes it almost impossible to start a new farm. If we don’t honor, support, and fight for what we have now, Austin may end up with no farms at all.

This Week in Beer: The News You Can Booze on November 20


Constellation Brands Acquires Ballast Point for $1 Billion: Constellation Brands ($STZ) bought San Diego-based Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits this week for a stunning $1 billion dollars, or about the cost of 77 million six-packs. We haven’t heard too much about the conditions of the acquisition, but so far it seems the Ballast Point team will remain in place and continue to do what they do best: make awesome beers and excellent spirits. Period. Here’s hoping we get more Victory at Sea here in Brooklyn, and best of luck to the entire Ballast Point family.

Happy Birthday, Sierra Nevada!: In other West Coast news, craft beer OG Sierra Nevada turned 35 this week. A lot has changed since their first batch of Porter (still one of your author’s favorite beers), including this week’s new release. Sierra will launch a year-round gose-style ale called Otra Vez, brewed with cacti. Yes, cacti! Many happy returns to our friends in Chico and Mills River, and please feel free to send us a sample. No pressure.

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Tis (Almost) The Season: We know it’s not quite the holiday shopping season yet (for most people, anyway), but this advent calendar is too cool to not get a jump on. With a different craft beer for each day counting down to Christmas Eve, this pack is a great way to make your festivities that much jollier. And if you skip forward a couple days to drink a couple beers at once, no one is going to be surprised. Just make sure you share.

Dream Big, Run Fast: We’ve told you about the Beer Mile before: a mile-long race, punctuated by chugging a full beer at every lap. The noble institution was given a layer of respectability this week when college student Lewis Kent accepted an endorsement deal from running shoe brand Brooks. After setting a beer mile world record of four minutes and fifty-one seconds (compared to the standard mile record of three minutes and forty-three seconds), Kent received the offer and accepted almost immediately. Cheers to chasing your dreams, Lewis– we’ll be cheering from these big, comfy chairs.

New Belgium Declares Glütiny: New Belgium has released two beers to start off their Glütiny Ales line, featuring reduced-gluten beers. Glütiny Golden Ale and Glütiny Pale Ale use a special enzyme to break down the gluten proteins (check out that handy video above) to make the beer safer for gluten-sensitive and Celiac people. While the official designation is “gluten removed” and not “gluten free,” New Belgium’s ales check in at less than 10 ppm (parts per million) of the offending protein, making it much more likely that you and your gluten-affected friends can go back to enjoying the same beers from an excellent brewery.

And For The Unnecessarily Gluten-Free: Vice’s Munchies went to several doctors and dietitians to attempt to settle the Great Gluten-Free Debate. Across the board, the experts surveyed agreed that unless a person was diagnosed with Celiac Disease or a similar, proven gluten sensitivity (less that 5% of the U.S. population), there was no point in skipping gluten in your diet. They even cautioned against falling victim to pseudo-healthy claims, as gluten-free indulgences often contain far more fat and sugar to emulate their full-bodied models. It’s time to welcome your gluten-free friends back to the fold. And while you’re at it, pick up some New Belgium for your Celiac friends– they could use it.

Tap That Glass: November 20

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Remember when you were in college and got the whole week of Thanksgiving off to relax and spend time with your family and friends? Yeah, neither do we. Whether you’re anxious about heading home or thrilled to have someone else cooking, our Tasting Room is the right place to be this weekend. Collect your thoughts, finally iron out which of you has to bring the pies, and enjoy some beers to help you think.

Our tap list is below, but there’s always a chance it’ll change so be sure to check our board and ask your bartender to see what’s new. Beer tokens can be purchased for $5 or 5 for $20, which is one of the best deals in the city.

Draft | 1 token each (unless indicated)

Cask Offering | 2 tokens

Local Lemon Herbal Tea - Local 1 with rose hips, lemon and mint, packing a 9% ABV punch. It’s a hell of a sleepytime tea if you’re not careful.

Bottle Pours | 3 tokens each, includes a complimentary Souvenir Logo Glass

Local 1 (9.0% ABV)
Local 2 (9.0% ABV)
Sorachi Ace (7.6% ABV)
Ama Bionda (6.0% ABV)- two tokens
Black Chocolate Stout (10% ABV)

View our complete public hours here.

In Class at CIA: Running Hot And Cold


Class is in session at Brooklyn Brewery at the CIA, our brewhouse and teaching facility at the Culinary Institute of America. Each month, we’ll take you inside the classroom to learn alongside the students participating in the most robust beer education of any culinary institute. You don’t have to do the homework, but you might want to do some extra reading.

Hutch Kugeman is the new head brewer at the Brooklyn Brewery at the CIA

Brooklyn Brewery at the CIA Head Brewer Hutch Kugeman is now fully on board, and he has the brewhouse hard at work. Students at the CIA are required to put in a four hour brewing shift each week under Hutch’s supervision, so their October lessons on the hot and cold sides of brewing from Professor Doug Miller are particularly relevant.

The names of the “hot” and “cold” sides of brewing can be somewhat misleading, as the beer will not truly be cold until its final stages of carbonation (and drinking, of course.) Instead, it can be useful to think about the energy applied to the liquid on its way to become beer.

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Our hot side in Brooklyn gets a little steamy.

The hot side is when heat is applied: mashing, lautering, and boiling. This is how wort is produced, which will ferment and become beer. It is also the glamorized version of brewing we are used to from commercials involving bearded fellows stirring steaming vats.

The cold side is less splashy, to be sure, but the real magic occurs during fermentation, conditioning and filtering, and packaging. Heat is not applied here, but temperatures must be maintained in order for the brewers’ yeast to go to work, consuming the sugar within the wort and produce carbon dioxide, alcohol, and a host of esters and phenols that give the beer more character. Fermentation and packaging must be very carefully handled, otherwise the beer will be ruined.

Tank Door

Cellar temperature beer + hot brewhouse = sweaty fermentation tanks

The fermentation tanks at the CIA are currently bubbling away with an IPA and a wheat ale, which will be available exclusively on the CIA’s campus and in their restaurants. Based on early predictions and knowing Hutch’s brewing history, we think it might be worth your while to go get a taste.

Later this month, the students will begin formulating their own recipes. Hutch and Doug are very interested to see how the students bring their own inspiration to play in their recipes after spending months learning how the ingredients of beer come together. We’re hoping a few of the students at least will think to make a sample batch of their efforts; after all, our current Worshipful Company of Brewers Release, Mal du Pays, started as cellarman Eric Brown’s homebrew recipe while he was a student at the CIA.

Any questions? See us after class on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll answer any questions we can to further your beer knowledge.

This Week in Beer: The News You Can Booze on November 13


Keeping Up With The Empire: AB InBev and SABMiller announced official terms of their merger this week. The two companies will combine under the banner of a new holding company called Newco in an acquisition weighing in at a whopping $107 billion dollars, or enough to buy about 12 billion quality six-packs of beer. There’s still quite a few legal hurdles to jump before Newco gains approval from quite a few world governments, but as the old saying goes, the show must go on.

These Amps Go To 80 Proof: The Fender Custom Shop and barrel reclamation company River Drive are collaborating on a new project to produce Fender amplifiers made with second-use whiskey barrels. The oak is a beautiful finish to the classic Fender line, and we’re sure the limited release will be bought up quickly. We can only imagine how loud they’ll go.


Pop Two Bottles And Call Me In The Morning: A study at the University of Reading released this week claimed that drinking champagne three times a week was linked to decreased chances of Alzheimers Disease and dementia. Specifically, the study linked compounds found in pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes to the change. The compound may be isolated and administered as a supplement in the future, but for now sparkling wine seems to be your best bet. Party on, and party smarter.

And About That Morning Part: A selection of doctors, psychologists, and writers were asked their opinion on a deceptively simple question: are hangovers useful for creativity? The answer across the board seemed to be a resounding “no, you doofus,” but a few mentioned the tendency of musicians and other high-profile creatives to rely on a bit of social lubrication to do their work. The answer here seems simple: grab a breakfast sandwich, pull yourself together, and then get to work.


Sierra Nevada Celebration Returns, Deities Rejoice: Sierra Nevada Celebration, a fresh hop IPA released each year as a winter seasonal, has officially returned to shelves, taps, and your author’s living room. It may seem odd to see us at Brooklyn Brewery celebrating a release from another brewery; go try it. Really, we’ll wait. Actually, we’ll come with you. There, makes sense, doesn’t it? Props for another beautiful year’s release, Sierra Nevada team.

Hill Country Comes To Threes: In other friendship news, Threes Brewing welcomes Hill Country Barbecue to their kitchen this month until November 22. We’re big fans of both the beers of Threes and the barbecue from Hill Country, so you can count on a steady trickle of Brooklyn staff to be making their way to get their fill this month. Trust us on this one, you should be coming too.