The Brooklyn Growler

"Life is all skittles and beer." — Tom Lehrer

Celebrator Good Times

I’m a sucker for little plastic goats. As it happens, the Ayinger Brewery‘s Celebrator Doppelbock just happens to arrive with a little plastic goat on a string. Having picked up a bottle around the holidays, I wondered if it was part of an Xmas promotion. Drink fifty bottles of Celebrator and decorate the tree.

The goat has a greater purpose than just beer-bottle candy, though. It comes from the style of beer – doppelbock.

A bock is a style of German beer that is, essentially, a strong and sweet beer. Not too sweet, mind you. But sweet nonetheless. Bocks are lightly hopped and malty. Bocks were first brewed in the German town of Einbeck in the fourteenth century. Bavarians adopted the style in the seventeenth century. They pronounced Einbeck as “ein bock,” which translates to “a billy goat.”

Goats have since adorned bottles of bock beer. The Thank Heaven for Beer blog notes that the appearance of a goat (or a ram) also indicates that a bock is a strong beer.

And a doppelbock is a stronger version of a bock. Double bock. Doppel bock. Hotcha.

Ayinger’s Celebrator Doppelbock is a mighty fine example of the species. The groupmind over at Beer Advocate gives it an A overall, lauding both its drinkability and complexity. I agree. Served in a bell glass, this doppelbock really opens up. It’s like a buncha monks decided to have a party in your mouth. Coincidentally, monks often drank bocks and doppelbocks during their fasts.

Brooklynites can pick up a bottle retail at Brooklyn Beer & Soda. Watering holes such as the Fourth Ave. Pub, Mug’s Ale House, and Radegast Hall have some Celebrator’s behind the bar.

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Filed under: beer history, beer reviews, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday Foto Dump: State of the Universe

Apparently, I’m not very good at updating these Brooklyn Growler branded Friday Photo Dump™ posts. I miss writing a new one on Friday and then think I’ll plug in a post to auto-pop on the next Friday. When that doesn’t happen, I promise to hit it next time.

Which made me re-evaluate my approach.

Friday Photo Dump. Yeah. I only decided to give this style of blog post a name back when I was thinking that I’d update it regularly throughout the week. Here was the idea for this blog from my Kickstarter proposal:

Malty Maudlin Mondays – Kind of a morning-after thing about news missed over the weekend as well as a round-up of drinks that should not have been consumed over the weekend but were.

Trappist Tuesdays – A weekly review of a Trappist beer that has already been effectively reviewed over at Beer Advocate.

Wet-Hop Wednesdays – This was going to be difficult because, offhand, I know of one wet-hopped beer. It’s about the challenge, I guess.

Trappist Thursdays – Because the chances of me remembering to hit Trappist Tuesdays are pretty slim.

Friday Photo Dump – See above.

Storm King Saturdays and Sundays – Which isn’t the title but rather a rule. I don’t work on weekends. Although it is Sunday night and I’m writing this. I cannot be trusted.

This blog is beginning to take proper shape in my head. It’s about a life as it encounters beer. “Here then is a map of my life,” as Auden said in his common reader. Hey, that would be a great lede!

So tying things down to a particular weekday gets it wrong.

Preamble sorted. Here are some pictures of beers whut have been drunk over the last few weeks by me. (P.S. These are just the ones I remembered to photograph.)

Stone Brewing Co., Arrogant Bastard Ale, Escondido, Calif.

Groupo Modelo, Modelo Especial, Mexico City, Mexico

Unibroue, Maudite, Chambly, Quebec, Canada

21st Amendment Brewery, Brew Free or Die IPA, San Francisco, Calif.

Thank you for reading this far. There will be more to come.

Filed under: photos, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Nemesis Unveiled! Bring On Autumn!

Today is the day for big beers. And by big, I mean beers with the mighty 12 percent ABV.

The Nemesis barley wine from Michigan’s Founders Brewing Company is available on tap and on shelves today. Founders has been busy tinkering with the recipe since the 2009 Nemesis.

What can change in a year? Quite a bit, actually. The 2009 Nemesis was described by Founders as “a Maple Bourbon barrel aged wheat wine holding 12% ABV and 70 IBUs.”

This year’s brew is a “dark barley wine that pours black with a subtle mahogany hue. Brewed with 5 malts and no shortage of hops for a pleasantly bitter booming flavor. Roasty and toasty with a multitude of tastes that melts on your tongue,” says Founders.

A barley wine is a strong ale that originated in this royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle, this yadda yadda, this England.

There’s a subtle difference between a wheat wine and a barley wine. For one, wheat is a grass and barley is a grain. So, in the last year the raw material of Nemesis changed entirely. Both wheat wines and barley wines have similarly high ABVs, but they have different malts. When you create a mash for your beer, you pull out all sorts of goodies from the wheat or the grain. Those create the basis for the beer’s flavor. So – Wheat and grain!? Dogs and cats living together!?

Anyway, Founders wanted to maintain a strict street date of September 1, but over the summer there was a little distribution burp that found some cases of Nemesis on shelves in July, much to the consternation of Founders’, er, Co-Founder Dave Engbers (scroll down for Mr. Engbers’ post on the Beer Advocate forums). But now it’s here and we’re all the better for it.

So how’s this fucker taste?

Strong! Nemesis is not a beer that I would describe as a thirst quencher. It’s meant to be savored. The color is very deep and rich, while the head puffs up like a good loaf of bread at first pour.

The taste is crisp and sharply bitter. Nemesis is sweet, which is the case with most high-ABV beers. Despite the sweetness, the taste is more like that of molasses than maple syrup. The nose is smoky, and it makes me think of burning leaves for some reason. I can also taste honey and cinnamon. The honey is appropriate. This is a very sticky beer. I spilled some over the lip of the glass on my pour and each time I pick up the glass, my fingers are all tacky.

Halfway through, I noticed that the head remained as a line of suds around the rim of the glass. I wish I’d had more of a snifter glass or a tulip to pour it in, instead I used a crystal glass that has a nice rounded shape but isn’t really an official beer glass. I need beer glasses.

Nemesis is not a session beer. After one, I wouldn’t go back for another. But to linger over just one, well, that’s a luxury. If you’re buying it to drink at home, I could see even splitting a 12-ounce bottle between two people. I could also see drinking this beer with dessert.

September is a great month to release a beer as rich as Nemesis. This is one you want to sit down with on a cold evening. It’s very autumnal, and on a day when the temperature is pushing 100, it’s nice to have a reason to look forward to the changing of the seasons.

Nemesis is on tap at my local watering hole The Double Windsor as well as The 4th Avenue Pub and The Gate. You can also pick up one up retail at Park Slope’s Bierkraft, which is what I did. When I asked the guys at the shop if they’d tasted it yet, everyone was quick to point out their adherence to Nemesis’ release date. Good kids those Bierkraftians.

Filed under: beer reviews, , , , , , , , , , ,

Editor’s Note, Aug. 12, 2010

Hello. I thought I should take a moment to address some issues as to my current intent with The Brooklyn Growler as well as my plans for its future.

I’ve read a lot of beer blogs and websites over the last few years, and I tend to think that ones that document someone’s personal beer journey tend to be the ones that I enjoy the most. I like keeping up with news and the general big trending thoughts that beer enthusiasts have, however, publications like Beer Advocate, really do rule that market – and rightfully so. I like to drink beer and learned in my own modest attempts at homebrewing, that I really love thinking about beer. So this is a map of my world, via the lens on the bottom of a beer bottle.

Sometimes I’ll hit on news and most of the time I won’t. I’m aiming to update daily, but life often gets in the way. More importantly, I don’t enjoy feeling like I need to hack something out just to hit a daily quota. Blogs are ruled by the constant churning out of content in order to keep pageviews up and thus keep advertising money coming in. I don’t have ads – not that I’m opposed to having them; quite the opposite – but I also think the blogosphere in general would greatly benefit from stepping away from the keyboard to stop and have a think every now and again.

Here are some things I’m going to be working on –

• Beer reviews: I drink a lot of beer and I also like to travel when I can. A lot of beers are specific to certain regions. There’s nothing more exciting than coming across a great beer that is new to you. I’ll also be writing up thoughts on some old familiars.

• Brewery tours: I could use an excuse to revisit some of the breweries in New York and also search out some new ones.

• Beer history: Nothing fascinates me more than the history of the brewing, especially the breweries that have been lost to time.

• Homebrewing: The internet is already rich with homebrewing websites and blogs, and I’ve yet to come across one that I didn’t think had something essential about the process to say. The topic is just so vast. My own attempts at it have been modest, but there will be thoughts on the making and storing of beer to come.

• Wine and liquor: I don’t limit myself to beer alone, so there will be times when I want to write about liquor or wine. Maybe I’ll even toss in a winery tour or a cocktail recipe.

• Literature and drinking: If writers didn’t drink, what would they write about?

On a final note, I’m leaving for Bozeman, Mont. for a few days. I’m hoping to gather some ideas for posts out there.

I hope you enjoy reading this site. I’ve enjoyed writing it thus far.

Filed under: editor's note, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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