We know. We’ve received the flood of emails. The constant phone calls. The handwritten letters. The singing beer-o-grams. But alas, we’re only now getting around to the first Beer Enthusiast column of 2014. We hope it’s worth the wait.
First, an explanation.
Imagine it. You’re sitting in a leather chair, wearing a silk robe, a sleeping hound on one side of you and a roaring fire on the other. Outside your window, snowflakes wander their way toward the ground. Your mind’s wandering, too—wondering if you should put chains on your truck’s tires, wondering how the Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler trade will look in five years, wondering if economic sanctions will really be a deterrent to Putin in regard to his aggression in the Crimea. You’ve got a lot on your mind, is what we’re saying.
And in your hand, is a glass of… beer?
It doesn’t feel right. And while we’re not saying the above description is an exact depiction of The Beer Enthusiast’s home life during winter, we’re not saying it’s not. And let’s just say that TBE’s December-February run of holiday parties, family time at the holidays, New Year’s Eve and Groundhog’s Day Parade Sheriffing allowed for little enthusiasm, and even less beer.
Anyway: if it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter without TBE, we’re sorry about that.
Another problem: as you might expect, an enthusiast of beer doesn’t quite have a high acumen for, like, remembering stuff. A handy solution: the Untappd app, which TBE has been using under a pseudonym for a couple weeks now.
It’s like Foursquare for Beer (and uses Foursquare’s API for location info). You call up the app, press the “checkin” button (a couple of beer bottles clinking), and type in the beer you’re having. You can rate the brew in the app, and see what other people think (or what people are drinking nearby). Most importantly, it can jog your memory the next morning if all you remember is having something called a “Mahogany Ale.” (That would be from Singlecut Beersmiths, by the way, and it comes highly recommended.)
Speaking of recommendations, here are a few:
124 Old Rabbit Club.
Huge beer list and a friendly bartender who recommended the Estaminet Premium Pils after I protested “I like boring beers.” (Which reminds me: the guy who led the tasting I’m about to mention informed me that pilsner is both the most boring beer to drink and the most difficult beer to make; if Estaminet’s any proof, the Belgians have mastered the latter and disproved the former.)
Do the beer tasting. You’ll learn more there than you ever will from this column, so put it on your beer drinking bucket list.
Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer
Sure, the coffee’s nice, but this Charleston-based collegian-friendly spot’s harboring an extensive collection of draft beers, all of the microbrew variety, with an emphasis on the local and unusual. I grabbed a Westbrook One Claw (or a New Belgium Snapshot Wheat), sat in the courtyard with my wife and did some discreet people watching between reading the Baseball Prospectus annual on my Kindle.
Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout.
Bell’s is new to NYC, and they couldn’t be more welcome. I’ve had this guy on draft (at The Roost) and from the bottle now, and recommend both. If you’re looking for a stout that’s not fussy–not aged in a bourbon barrel, not injected with essence of blueberry–this is for you.
Maine Brewing Company’s Weez.
I love these guys. Their latest is a Belgian style ale that’s somehow dark but not stout-y or porter-y. A bit hoppy, but still easy drinking. Get yourself a bottle.
Austin Beerworks’ Fire Eagle IPA.
I actually got this by mistake when I ordered a Fireman’s #4 and the bartender misheard me. Oh, well. I had it straight from the can, and was impressed by how well it drank, especially at the tail end of a night where I’d consumed many martinis and much wine. Perfect little nightcap–like the Weez, both hoppy and easy drinking.
Now that baseball’s in full swing, there’s no better place to take in a Mets game while keeping your eye on how Jose Fernandez is pitching while watching your beloved Twins leave runners on base while seeing Deron Williams lead the Nets to another home victory while… holding a beer in your hand. Brooklyn’s Pennant Ale was on tap last time I was there, which only makes sense.
And now, I’d love to hear your recommendations. Send ‘em to me here.