Friday, April 29, 2011

Beer of the Week (Vol. XCVII)

Another edition of Beer of the Week brought to you by the neighborly folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help you explore the wide world of wine, whiskey, and beer.

Brooklyn is known for many things: Coney Island, pizza, bridges, gangland slayings, baseball teams that flee, and journalists who harbor obsessive attachments to the borough they grew up in. One thing not usually associated with it is craft beer. Especially here in the Twin Cities, where only recently have we been graced by the presence of beers from Brooklyn Brewery on our store shelves. Brooklyn Brewing joins the growing list of nationally renowned craft brewers that have recently entered the Minneapolis-St. Paul market along with the likes of Stone, O’Dell’s, and Deschutes among others. The brewery has a history that lives up to its location:

Brooklyn Brewery was started in 1987 by former Associated Press correspondent Steve Hindy and former Chemical Bank lending officer Tom Potter. Hindy learned to brew beer during a six year stay in various Middle Eastern nations such as Saudi Arabia and Syria, where possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages were forbidden. Upon his return to his home in Brooklyn in 1984, he and Potter, his downstairs neighbor from Park Slope, quit their jobs and founded the brewery. The pair hired graphic designer Milton Glaser, best known as the creator of the logo for the I Love New York campaign, to create the company logo and identity.

Originally all their beer was brewed by contract by Matt Brewing Company, and the pair started their own distribution company and personally transported and marketed their beer to bars and retailers around New York City. In 1996, they acquired a former matzo factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and converted it into a functional brewery.

Although the brewery looked to expand its brewing capacity in the City, originally most of the production, including all Brooklyn Lager and all bottled products, were brewed by contract in the upstate New York city of Utica, due to the limited ability to meet demand at the Williamsburg brewery, its lack of a bottling line, and the cost benefits of contract brewing. The company later sought to expand its facilities in Brooklyn, but had difficulty finding a suitable site within the borough. However, an economic recession allowed them to remain in Williamsburg and undertake a $6.5 million expansion of the brewery in 2009.

At their Williamsburg location, they offer guided tours on Saturdays starting at noon and beer tastings on Friday nights from 6pm to 11pm.

Since 1994, Garrett Oliver has been the Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster. In 2003 he published the book "The Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food". Garrett has also been a judge at the Great American Beer Festival for eleven years.

In 2005 John Wiley & Sons published the story of Steve Hindy's and Tom Potter's successful start up in the book Beer School: Bottling Success At The Brooklyn Brewery.

Brooklyn’s East India Pale Ale is our featured beer of the week.
12oz brown bottle. Red and green label has a classic look and features a large cursive B as the brewery’s logo. Goes for $8.99 a six pack.
Style: English India Pale Ale

Alcohol by Volume: 6.9%

COLOR (0-2): Dark orange-gold and slightly cloudy. 2

AROMA (0-2): Bready and floral. 2

HEAD (0-2): White with good volume. 2

TASTE (0-5): Mostly semi-sweet malt with some bitterness and very subtle fruit flavors. Nicely carbonated with a smooth finish. Pretty drinkable considering the alcohol content. 3

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Pleasant, but not overpowering. 2

OVERALL (0-6): This was a hard beer to get a handle on at first. The a key thing to note is that this is an English IPA so if you’re expecting the heavy hops and burst of citrus and pine flavors that you usually experience with an American IPA you’re going to be disappointed. This is a beer where the bitterness is there but more nuanced and the malt flavors are more prominent. It has some similarities to an English bitter and while I wasn’t all that excited about it initially, it grew on me over time. Personally, I don’t think it’s that great of a beer to pair with food--I would opt for an American IPA instead--but Brooklyn’s East IPA is definitely an enjoyable beer for quaffing. While it might be a tad heavy for session consumption, you certainly won’t go wrong knocking back a few in a row. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 15