Lots of people ask us, “How do I become a brewer”? There’s no simple answer, but a really great place to start is by making your own beer. In fact, a large majority of professionals started out as homebrewers.
Along with Harpoon Brewery and Backlash Beer Co., the folks from Bostonia stopped by Brooklyn Brewery recently to talk with Brewmaster/BU Alum Garrett Oliver about his craft and how he went from college kid to pro brewer. Turns out all these beer careers have roots in homebrewing (and vice versa if you’re a science professor). But don’t worry, you don’t have to have studied at Boston University to make beer. In fact, if brewing in your abode sounds fun but you’re sans paraphernalia, we got you covered.
New York City Beer Week 2013 is February 22-March 3. Events celebrating craft beer will be happening all over the city, but we’d love for you to come hang out with us at any and/or all of the below happenings. Cheers!
OPENING NIGHT BASH AFTERPARTY
Friday, February 22, 10pm – when it’s over!
Water Street Restaurant
66 Water Street, DUMBO
Party into the wee hours with $3 Lager, $4 Sorachi Ace, East India Pale Ale, Brown Ale and Pilsner on draft.
GHOST BOTTLE & BANJO
Wednesday, February 27, 6 – 9pm
320 East 86th Street, NYC
No secret knocks or passwords are required for this special event at City Swiggers on February 27 from 6-9 pm. Sample a rare “Ghost Bottle” from Garrett’s personal stash, as well as special no-longer-available draft beers from Brooklyn Brewery’s past. Brewer Al Duvall and his banjo will treat your ear as Perennial, rare & vintage beers flow.
TAP ATTACK Thursday. February 28, 6pm
191 5th Avenue, Brooklyn In honor of NYC Beer Week, the Brooklyn Brewery team is bringing an all-out assault to Bierkraft’s tap system. We’ll be pouring Perennial, Seasonal, vintage & rare beers from all 10 taps, as well as bottles of our extremely limited 175th Anniversary Carnegie Porter, which Garrett & his team aged in whiskey barrels from Heaven Hill. Watch out for this Gang of Beers on draft: 2010 Black Chocolate Stout, 2010 Monster, Companion, There Will Be Black, Pilsner, Dry Irish Stout, Weisse, Brown, Blast & Sorachi Ace.
SPECIAL BEER RELEASE PARTY
Friday, March 1, 5 – 7pm
The Brooklyn Brewery
79 North 11th Street, Williamsburg
We are throwing open the doors to a fortunate few at The Brooklyn Brewery on Friday, March 1 from 5-7 pm. 25 lucky winners will receive a pair of tickets to a special release party for a yet to be named double white. Inspired by Grand Cru, a past Brewmaster’s Reserve, this beer will not be available in the US after this event. We’ll be giving away tickets through our Facebook page, as well as the NYC Beer Week Facebook page. Winners will enjoy complimentary beer & cheese from Murray’s Cheese.
BEER DINNER W/ GARRETT OLIVER @ MURRAY’S CHEESE
Sunday, March 3rd, 5 – 7pm
Murray’s Cheese Bar
264 Bleecker Street, NYC
Join Brooklyn brewmaster, Garrett Oliver, and Murray’s resident cheese expert, Aaron Foster, for a five-course beer dinner at Murray’s Cheese Bar. Dishes will feature ingredients from Murray’s and be paired with some very special, even “non-existent”, Brooklyn Brewery beers. With Garrett and Aaron sharing their humor and wealth of knowledge as the courses roll out, this event is a treat for both your tastebuds and intellect.
Guess what? We’re building an 8,000 barrel brewery. In Stockholm, Sweden. Influenced by both American and Swedish brewing traditions, the brewery is a partnership between Brooklyn, D. Carnegie & Co. and Carlsberg Sweden.
“Historically, the Carnegie Brewery was known all over the world for its Carnegie Porter, a rich dark ale that epitomized the Baltic porter style,” says Brooklyn Brewery Co-founder & President Steve Hindy. “Brooklyn Brewmaster Garrett Oliver and his team will be working with Swedish brewers at New Carnegie to develop a new portfolio of New Carnegie craft beers, beers with a special Swedish accent.”
Remember student exchange programs? How about brewer exchange programs. Our new team of Swedish brewers will train here in Brooklyn and learn our deepest, darkest secrets, in turn Garrett and the Brooklyn team will take turns visiting Sweden to brew special Brooklyn offerings — like Brewmaster’s Reserve and Worshipful Company of Brewers releases — as well as developing some brand new beers by the end of 2013. To start, these offerings will only be available in Sweden.
The brewery will be built in the landmarked Luma Factory buildings in Hammarby Sjöstad, a residential and commercial complex that fronts on Stockholm harbor (pictured). The waterfront brewery will have brewing capacity for 8,000 barrels and include a public space with room for 100 visitors inside, and another 150 outside. Plans for local food vendors are also in the works.
If you’re wondering “why Stockholm?”… it begins with the mutual appreciation of beer, food, music, art and all around good culture shared by Brooklyn and Sweden (even leading some to ponder if Sweden is the new Brooklyn). Brooklyn Brewery has a long history with Sweden highlighted by the fun fact that Sweden is our largest export market and second biggest market overall (right behind NYC) thanks to our importer and partner in Stockholm brewery, Carlsberg Sweden. We used to distribute the seductively delicious Carnegie Porter in New York back in the day, and in 2011 we collaborated with Carlsberg to produce a bourbon barrel-aged version of this classic beer to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Carnegie Brewery. And let us not forget about the BROOKLYN, SWEDEN music festival we launched last year that sent over 15 Brooklyn bands to Stockholm and Malmö. You could say it was just meant to be.
[The brewery site anxiously awaits its fermentable fate.]
[A view made even better with a great beer in hand.]
For those beer lovers out there keeping kosher this holiday season, have no fear: a bevy of craft beers are certified kosher, including our very own wintertime classic, Black Chocolate Stout (see a complete list of our kosher beers below). Read what Garrett has to say on drinking kosher, and beer at the table, via the Oxford University Press blog. And while we have you: Happy Holidays.
The following downright delicious Brooklyn beers are certified kosher:
+ Black Chocolate Stout (12oz bottle & draft)
+ Brown Ale (12oz bottle)
+ East India Pale Ale (12oz bottle)
+ Lager (12oz bottle, 12 & 16oz can, & draft)
+ Monster Ale (12oz bottle & draft)
+ Oktoberfest (12oz bottle & draft)
+ Pennant Ale (12oz bottle)
+ Pilsner (12oz bottle & draft)
+ Post Road Pumpkin Ale (12oz bottle & draft)
+ Summer Ale (12oz bottle & 12oz can)
+ Winter Ale (12oz bottle & draft)
[Cutting cane sugar in the fields of Brazilian cachaça producer Valle Verde]
I am recently back from a great whirlwind trip to Brazil, where there is a great brewing scene starting to really catch fire. And The Brewmaster’s Table has become “A Mesa Do Mestre Cervejeiro”, which is very cool!
WED NOV 7 After hearing the election results on the overnight flight, I flew into São Paulo. Our first stop was with chef Ronaldo Rossi for lunch, and then a beer at his cool little beer bar, Cervejoteca. After that, we had a beer dinner at the veteran beer bar Melograno with a team of Doemens-trained beer sommeliers.
THU NOV 8 I spoke in front of a few hundred people at Prazeres de Mesa (“Pleasures of the Table”), a large food conference in São Paulo.
A few minutes later, I was scarfing down some lunch with Alice Waters. USA was in the house!
Later in the evening, we had an event for 80 people at São Paulo’s usually-bustling huge Public Market. It was 7pm, and I’d never seen the market like this – it was closed, and we were the only people there. By the time we left, around 10:30pm, the market had woken up again, as people started to deliver vegetables and fruit in streams flowing out of the side streets. The dinner went until 1am at Rota do Acarajé, a specialist in acarajé, a very tasty dish from Bahia.
FRI NOV 9 We started with lunch and then a tasting at Aconchego Carioca with my friend Edu Pasarelli, one of the people who’s been most active over the years promoting the Brazilian beer culture. Then a quick flight to Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais to meet up with the Carneiro family from the brewery Wäls. After a raucous welcome at their bar/restaurant Serafina, it was time to go to bed and prepare for the next day’s master plan.
SAT NOV 10 We were up at 5am and drove out to the sugar cane fields of the high-end cachaça producer Valle Verde. I’d hatched a plan for one of our coolest collaborations yet – we’d brew a saison made with 15% sugar cane juice, which we’d crush directly into the kettle at the brewery. I called it Saison de Caipira. “Caipira” (from which the name of the drink caipirinha derives), means, broadly speaking, “country bumpkin”. It’s not often meant as a compliment, but it’s a badge that many people, including the Carneiros, wear with pride. We donned boots and shin-plates, and armed with old – but very sharp – machetes, we marched out into the rain to cut down some sugar cane. This sugar cane was special – it had a sugar content of more than 20%, as opposed to the usual 15% – and makes particularly good cachaça. We hope to get some of those same grassy flavors into our saison.
Cutting sugar cane isn’t as easy as it looks. The stalks have leaves all the way up them, and before cutting the stalk at its base, you have to get all the leaves off. One of the workers from the farm gracefully demonstrated the moves with his machete, a delicate motion like shaving with a straight razor. We weren’t nearly so neat, but after a while we got the hang of it. We piled the cane into the back of a pick-up and headed to the brewery.
The Brooklyn yeast had been sent ahead and was already rolling. We crushed hundreds of pounds of sugar cane, resulting in several hundred liters of a sweet dark green liquid called “garapa”, fresh sugar cane juice. We poured it directly to the kettle, and we were off and running.
In the evening, the royalty of the Brazilian brewing craft brewing world came to a party at Wäls, about 150 people – brewers, homebrewers, bloggers, friends, and a celebrity chef who turned out an amazing beer dinner, served with Wäls and Brooklyn beers. A great band playing. Miguel Carneiro and Ze Felipe Carneiro playing the saxophone, and very well. A paella about six feet across. A whole pig. A man loses count. YouTube says I sang “Hit The Road, Jack” – I deny everything. Somewhere along the evening, João Becker from brewery Colorado gave me a couple of pounds of tasty greenish sugar, another brewer gave me an alligator head, and I received five bottles of cachaça. Besides the machete that Valle Verde had given me, this was going to make for an interesting conversation at customs!
SUN NOV 11 This morning we were to return to Valle Verde by helicopter to see their alembic in action. We took off twice, but the weather wouldn’t let us get where were going. After a breathtaking helicopter flight over Belo Horizonte, we were off to a final big lunch with the Carneiro family. And then down to Bombinhas for a visit with friends, a few cigars, a shrimp and mussels odyssey in a small fishing village, and way too much cachaça.
A huge thanks to all our wonderful friends in Brazil — um abraço a todos!
If you enjoy the cuisine of Japan and the beer of Brooklyn, you’ll not want to be at home this Thursday night while we chow down on dishes from 11 NYC restaurants using Japanese ingredients at the “Aki Matsuri” Gohan Society fundraiser. The society’s director, Tamio Spiegel, spoke with Garrett last week about Japan, food, and one of our very favorite beers:
Tamio Spiegel: How many times have you been to Japan? Garrett Oliver: I was only in Japan once. That was two-and-a-half years ago. I had an amazing time. I was doing some brewing with the brewers at Hitachino Brewery. I spent most of my time up there in Ibaraki and Tokyo… and it was amazing!
TS: So much of your history is tied to European beers. What is your impression of Japanese beer? GO: Brooklyn Brewery is now in 17 countries. Japan was our first overseas market, in 1990, only two years after the brewery started. Japan is actually the first place we went. When I look at Japanese craft beers, the one thing that stands out is the overall high level of quality and extraordinary sense of balance in the beers. They may not be as broadly creative or as wacky as the beers you see in places like Italy, but, you almost don’t see any bad Japanese beer. That’s unusual. Normally, when you get a burgeoning craft beer industry, there are a lot of good beers but there’s a lot bad beer and beers in between, as everyone gains some knowledge and starts to have enough experience.
It seems to me that Japanese breweries are often trading on quality as their Number One priority, and then starting to branch out to bigger and bolder flavors, etc. I have a lot of respect for that.
TS: At the Gohan Society, we have done a lot in the last year pairing Japanese beverages with non-Japanese foods. At ‘Aki Matsuri 2012’, we will have food that features Japanese ingredients. What advice can you give people when pairing beer with Japanese ingredient-based foods? GO: It’s important to keep an open mind about these things. Many people are familiar only with certain aspects of Japanese food. So, for a lot of people, sushi, sashimi, and ramen are as far as their Japanese palate goes. As we branch beyond those areas, people find a lot of umami character in things that beers can engage particularly beautifully. There are a lot of caramelized flavors that certain types of beers are able to grab on to, like in a pork broth, which is not easily accomplished with other drinks. Beer can be spectacularly versatile.
TS: At ‘Aki Matsuri 2012’, one of the special treats will be that the Brewery will be serving Sorachi Ace. Can you tell us more about this unique beer? GO: This is a hop variety developed by Sapporo, from Hokkaido. It was never grown commercially in Japan. Interestingly, I was the guy that brought it back to Japan. When I went to Hitachino, I brought American-grown sorachi to the Hitachino brewery and they had never heard of this hop. It’s a very unique hop with flavors of lemongrass and dill. It’s very herbal. It’s a coincidence that it happens to be a Japanese-derived hop and it works so well with sushi and sashimi, but, it does.
It was actually developed in the 1970s, but, It was so strangely flavored with its lemony, lemongrass flavor that no one used it. It was only when it was grown in the United States in the early 2000s that it started to take off. It’s a hop that is derived from Japan, but, I’m not sure anyone in Japan is commercially growing it.
It was part of our Brewmaster’s Reserve. Not very often do we permanently release a new beer. But there really is no other beer that tastes like Sorachi Ace. It is a completely unique thing. And, as a brewer in a beer industry which has so many wonderful flavors, to be able to create something which really has unique flavor and people enjoy so much, is great.
TS: What are the suggested pairings for Sorachi Ace? GO: The ‘go-to’ pairings are oily fish, like salmon, sushi and sashimi, across the board. You can do some great pairings with shellfish… It’s a pretty broad thing. You are looking at overall bright flavors as opposed to, say, the earthy caramelized flavors of a steak.
TS: This is the second year in a row that Brooklyn Brewery has hosted ‘Aki Matsuri’ the Gohan Society’s Annual Fundraiser. How do you see the relationship between the Brewery and the Gohan Society? GO: I would love to see our relationship expand…
Among food people I know, including chefs, but among people who are particular enthusiasts, Japan is looked at as the sort of ‘mecca’ that France, Spain, and these days, Scandinavia is looked at…but there’s always been Japan. And, perhaps, it does not, in America, get the same sort of play, so to speak.
New York Comic Con is nearly upon us, and to celebrate this most imaginative and animated occasion we’ve tapped into our inner nerd (didn’t have to dig too far) and brewed up a limited-edition draft-only hoppy amber IPA named The Defender. The liquid portion of The Defender was designed by Brewmaster and certified Sci-Fi geek Garrett Oliver, the logo by vintage DC Comics logo designer Milton Glaser, and the hero himself by Tony Millionaire. Best known for Drinky Crow and the Maakies comic series, Mr. Millionaire’s first regularly published strip was in the “The Waterfront Week”, a Williamsburg-based newspaper well known in our north Brooklyn neighborhood. Years after doing us the honor of making our first neighborhood map, Tony has returned to grace us with The Brooklyn Defender personified, a masked hero come to rescue us from the brewing Megaliths.
On Tuesday, September 25 from 7:30-10:30pm, in league with New York Comic Con, we’ll be launching The Defender here at The Brooklyn Brewery Tasting Room. Open bar and swag giveaways. Costumes encouraged! Space is limited, so RSVP to reserve a spot. This party is for 21+ only.
UPDATE // SEP 26 Photos from The Defender release party:
Aside from pouring here at The Brewery, during New York Comic Con (Oct 11-14) some kegs of The Defender will find their way to the following bars (while supplies last — call ahead to confirm):
+ Mugs Ale House
+ Kent Ale House
+ Pine Box Rock Shop
+ Nitehawk Cinema
+ Pony Bar (Hell’s Kitchen & UES locations)
+ New York Beer Company
+ Beer Authority
+ Rattle N Hum
+ Ginger Man
+ Blind Tiger
Read more about The Defender below:
Once, a long time ago, benevolent Beer Gods bestrode the lands of the world, bringing wonderful beer and great happiness to the People. Collaborating joyously among themselves, the Beer Gods defended the pleasures of the table and promulgated the virtues of Flavor, Variety, Deliciousness, Versatility and Honesty in beer. And the People loved them for it.
But the Beer Gods were far too trusting – in truth, they were not without enemies. Out of the stygian depths of the Earth’s crust rose a cabal of anti-Beer Gods, the Megaliths. Taking the peaceful Beer Gods by surprise, the warlike Megaliths cast a powerful spell that drove the Beer Gods down into the shadows. Flavorful beer vanished from the land, and the People wept. Their victory complete, the Megaliths sent among us the ghostly pale, thin tasteless beers known colloquially as “foam jobs”. Blandness led to mediocrity, mediocrity led to hate, and hate led to suffering. And O, how the People suffered! They forgot the true taste of beer, the soft rustle of barley, the smell of hops.
And then, just as it seemed that the darkness had stamped out all good things, a new dawn rose over Brooklyn. A hero came to rescue the people from the iron grip of the Megaliths – The Defender! Spawned in deepest Brooklyn and robed in a cowl of shimmering amber, the Defender wielded the rich power of caramel malts, the sharpest unbreakable blade of pure hop bitterness and an incredible focused blast of hop aroma to shatter the Megalith’s spell. The Beer Gods awoke to find themselves forever shielded within the hearts of the People, and once again the great virtues of true beer spread through the land. Even now, the Defender will be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out. Should your shadow ever grow long, your spirit sag, and your knees buckle, you need only remember these words — BRING FORTH THE DEFENDER!
As we reported earlier, our Brewmaster was tapped by The New York Times to give his two cents on the now famous White House Honey Ale recipe, released by the Obama administration a couple weeks ago. This past weekend, Garrett hopped over to Brooklyn Kitchen, where our pals let him brew up a batch himself. Read the full story over at The Diner’s Journal.
The Times‘ Rima Suqi went shopping with Garrett recently for the perfect beer drinking vessel. Particularly in these sunny summer months, the right glass can not only provide optimal enjoyment of flavor and aroma, but provide a showcase for the beer’s hues and highlights. And if you really pour the beer right, it could look “like little ice cream cones of happiness.”
Check out the interactive beer glass feature here.