Monday, October 10, 2016

NYC Bartender Series: Whiskey and Beer Pairings

Whiskey is to beer what cheese is to wine. Okay, maybe that's a bit of a stretch but if the crazy influx of bourbon barrel aged beers is any indication, there's a special place for whiskey in the hearts and palates of many beer lovers.

We asked seasoned New York City Bartender/Mixologist (Mixologist is what the highly trained, fancy ones are called these days) Nick Jackson from Ward III and The Waldorf Astoria, to give us his best recommendations for whiskey and beer pairings; he conquered the task in style, and naturally in only a New-York-Minute.

"A lot of these recommendations (as with any subjective tasting) are based on personal preference from whiskies that I personally enjoy. Your mileage may vary as will your personal palate, but these are a good jumping off point for further exploring. The best pairings are the one's that please your specific taste buds. A mostly complimentary (similar last profiles) pairing, as opposed to contrasting, follows"

Stout: Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro
  • Jura Brooklyn Scotch: Slightly peaty with nice notes of smoke but not overshadowing the sweetness from the Sherry and Pinot Noir cask aging. A full Whisky which compliments very well the Stout category in general. 
  • Ardbeg 10: My favorite on the peat/smoke front, it easily goes well with any Stout but especially my favorite: Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro. Dark roasty Stouts always go well with peat and malt.

Pilsner: Oskar Blues Mama's Little Yellow Pils
  • Hudson Baby Bourbon or Blanton’s Bourbon: Session-ability is key here, and a nice bourbon makes this combo good for multiple rounds in one sitting. Both Bourbons are very approachable with nice caramel and vanilla notes to pair with the Pils.

IPA: Sixpoint Resin
  • WhistlePig Straight Rye: WhistlePig makes 100% rye whiskey that stands up to the power of Resin's...resin. The dank and rye experience gets even bolder if you can find the Boss Hog Overproof.
  •  High West Campfire: With the overly (almost weed-like) hoppiness of the Resin, why not inhale the full affect with the smokey yet sweet Campfire.

Porter: Deschutes Black Butte Porter
  •  Westland Peated Malt: Beyond the typical peat/smoke Porter pairing, Westland brings another layer of flavor with Pale Chocolate Malt in its grain bill. This compliments the chocolatey notes of the Porter. The Westland Peated Malt whiskey is made form a mash of some of the smokiest malts in the world, going along with Black Butte, the beers namesake, litterally being a Stratovolcano located in eastern Oregon.
  • Dalmore 12:A nice approachable Highlands Scotch with notes of chocolate and coffee to go along with its dark weather fall/winter flavors.

Sour: Victory Kirsch Gose
  • Ransom Whipper Snapper Oregon Spirit Whiskey:You could play it safe with Gose and go for a mellow bourbon, but it is much more interesting to pair with a grain spirit. The Whipper Snapper is part Pacific Northwest malted barley and part Kentucky corn Whitedog, not really fitting into any particular whiskey category. It is somewhat sweet because of the corn, but has nice herbaceous notes and medium to long finish.
  • A shot of half Cynar / half Mezcal: It may not be whiskey, but it sure is a tasty shot-- that will definitely result in some flavor calculations with the Gose. And oddly enough our tongues love math.  

Saison: Boulevard Tank 7
  • Colonel E.H. Taylor Rye: The Taylor Rye is very balanced with a slightly floral, caramel/vanilla, and spice nose. In taste it compliments the white peppery spice of the Saison with its own deep white pepper-like rye flavor. A truly fine whiskey on it’s own, even better along side a fantastically funky Saison. 

Scotch ale/ Wee Heavy: Parallel 49 Salty Scot
  • Talisker Storm (or Talikser 10) Scotch: The comparative saltiness of the Scotch/Bourbon to the Ale-- Talisker is aged on the coastline of Scotland picking up heavier salt and smoke notes (the Talisker Storm even more so).
  • Jefferson's Ocean Bourbon: Jefferson's Ocean is said to be aged at sea and therefore imparted with slight saltiness as well.

Cream ale: Carton SS- C.R.E.A.M.
  • Widow Jane Bourbon: Both (whiskey and ale) are captivatingly creamy, the mouth-feel of the Widow Jane almost leaves a slight film-like smoothness. The Cream Ale follows it elegantly with a frothy semi-sweetness.  

Barley Wine: Lost Abbey Angel's Share
  • Angel’s Envy Bourbon: It almost seems too obvious, even the names are both paying homage to the lost portion of booze during aging. The bourbon is finished in Port Wine barrels, so it compliments the Barley Wine's warm boozy notes very nicely.
  • High West A Midwinter Nights Dram: A bit more adventurous with the whiskey being rye that was aged in port barrels as well as french oak, the woodiness really draws out the characterization of malt notes in the Barley Wine. 

For Cheapskates with Good Taste: Narragansett Lager
  • Old Crow Bourbon or Old Overholt Rye: For those easy drinking times when simplicity is key. The Overholt can always be hit with a few dashes of Angostura bitters as is the tradition at Ward III. A time tested combo all over the east coast.

As with every successful New York Hustler, Nick isn't just a bartender, he's a man of many talents. Check out his hand-made designer bow ties from his new brand Jackson Brothers: He happily accepts custom jobs, so feel free to email him via the website with any creative style ideas you can imagine.

Drink responsibly my friends-- caution these pairings can lead to an abundance of fun and deliciousness.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

It's a Sour Sour Summer: A Superb 6 to Pucker-up to

Sours, Goses and Berliner Weisses have squirted into the mainstream craft beer scene in full force. There has never been as many tart beers available at grocery stores and mini-marts as there has been this summer. And that's totally fine by me, I dig a nice pungent punch in the face.  

Here are the six best sour beers I've tried this summer:

Dageraad - De Witte - Burnaby, BC (Canada)
No contest the best beer of any style, out of about twenty that I tried on my recent road trip to Oh Canada.  The sour fermented passion fruit really bangs the taste buds. De Witte is a wheat ale, dry hopped with Citra. The hop presence really brings some feng shui to this yin yang of beverage.

Grimm - Lucky Cloud - Brooklyn, NY
Regular readers of Pimpin' are definitely familiar with the husband and wife gypsy brewers Grimm. For me they're top ten in the country for IPA's as well as for sours. Their BA stouts aren't too shabby either, but don't get me started... Lucky Cloud is a wild ale that you better be ready to pucker up for, cuz its gonna smack your lips with some tart pineapple and guava my friend!

de Garde - Imperial Stone Bu - Tillamook, OR
North-Westerners have been freaking over de Garde, and to be fair they're totally justified. Their sours and saisons game is beyond-on-point. Imperial Stone Bu is a tart apricot-peach berliner weisse aged in oak barrels. The style is one of my favorites this summer and de Garde does it better than 90% of the berliner weisse brewers out there.

New Belguim - Tart Lychee Lips of Faith - Fort Collins, CO
I shouldn't talk shit, but here comes some... Beer snobs that hate on the breweries that laid the foundation for the craft movement, ie Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams, and New Belguim; all you haters need to stop.  Sometimes I feel like people think of these founding frothers as played out one-hit-wonders. But New Belguim is no "My Sharona", they keep coming out with hit after hit.  Case in point, their Lips of Faith collection and it's star adjunct: Tart Lychee. Try it, stop hating for a minute and try to have some faith.

Jolly Pumpkin - Weizen Bam - Dexter, MI
This is one of my favorite farmhouse wheat beers that can be easily tracked down year round. I love a strong funk-tart that finishes clean. Most farmhouse beers tend to linger, and while I enjoy when a jolt of intensity comes over, I prefer if it doesn't leave its earrings behind as an excuse call back later....

Monkish collaboration with Jolly Pumpkin - Cucurbitophobia - Torrance, CA
My friend and I were joking that it meant fear of cucumbers, oh Jolly Pumpkin you're such sophisticated cheeseballs. Tart and clean with some soft blood orange notes. Ironically no sign of cucumbers or pumpkins could be found in this one.

I know what you did this summer... you drank sour beer.  Tell us which ones were your favorites in the comments below. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Beer-ing It Forward: Exceptional Shops Deserve Loyal Customers

Beer Hunting can sometimes be a cut-throat game; keeping track of release dates, waiting in long  lines, taking off work early, and often paying top-dollar for limited editions . Its basically the NBA draft (no-pun-intended). You have to scout for prospects and be willing to trade valuable assets for future picks.

There are however some de Garde-ian angels out there, helping those of us that devote our spare time to release day road trips. Craft beer has become a seriously lucrative business and no one needs to give a funk about anything having to do with us craft enthusiasts aside from our wallets, but many small business owners do.  Why? Because they love quality brew just as much as the rest of us. They've likely been standing behind you in some of those release lines...

The hardest part about giving props to the exceptional owners, managers, and clerks at the bottle shops out there, is that sometimes to really help someone out you gotta bend a few rules.  So let me just state first and foremost I am not aware of anyone or any business doing anything illegal in any way. Secondly, no specific names of anyone who has pulled any strings, saved any bottles, or gave up any privileged information will be included in this article. I don't want to start the next Beerily Clinton scandal...

The following list is of exceptional bottle shops across the country of which I was told of a heroic tale of beer do-goodery. Since details have to be held confidentiality, I'll just list a few reasons why they stand out among their competitors. If you ever find yourself traveling within close vicinity of any of the following, do yourself a favor and definitely pop in for a peek at their shelves; you never know, you might just end up with a special story of your own!

Ballard Beer Company Seattle,WA
Classy isn't a word often used to describe a bottle shop/beer bar, but Ballard Beer Company definitely fits the bill. It belongs on a super short list that I would actually bring a date to.  Besides their smart decor and relaxing ambiance, Ballard also knows their shit, keeps an exceptional tap list and a large stock of quality bottles on hand. Often in the beer world classy can equal snobby, not the case here, their customer service is down-to-earth and judgement free.  

The Package Store Hebron, CT (Ted's plaza on route 66)
The package store has gone above and beyond, decades before the craft beer boom exploded. They care about their customers and have stayed on top of the latest services.  In fact, The Package Store was one of the first shops in their area to feature inventory and special ordering online, way back in the "You-Got-Mail" early days of the internet.

8 Degrees Plato Detroit, MI
Most bottle shop owners and workers know their stuff.  I haven't had too many experiences with beer doofuses, sans the time at Wholefoods beer store in New York, when I asked if they carried any Oregon beers besides Rogue and the guy took me to the "organic" section.  The owners and staff at 8 Degrees Plato though, these guys are the google of beer shops.  They know when things are releasing that you didn't even know existed.

Mekelburg's Brooklyn, NY
When beer-centric tourists visit New York City they're given a notebook full of recommendations of places to get great beer.  I can almost guarantee Mekelburg's is not included on any of those lists, and for the locals, that's a good thing.  If you want a true taste of Brooklyn, stop by and pick up some local-organic groceries, maybe some artisanal cheese, and talk beer with some nice people that have a love for the craft.

Parker Payless liquors Parker, CO
This might be the largest beer selection in the country. I would guess that its surely a top ten contender of most refrigerated beer, if not over-all. To put it into perspective I spend approximately 30 to 45 minutes browsing at a large bottle shop upon my first visit. At Parker Payless I lost track of time and was in there over two hours before I even checked my phone.

Bodega Ramos Chicago, IL
Pictured below is a craft beer tour group that makes a regular stop at Bodega Ramos. At first glance this shop seems much more wine focused than anything else.  They definitely do have more wine there than beer. That said, I would trade better over bigger any day. Chicago has ton's of good shops to get great beer, but Ramos will set you up with quality choices and superb service...Plus you can bring home a killer bottle of wine for the wife without having to make an additional stop on the way home.

There are hundreds of other special shops out there doing great things, but if there's one that holds a special spot in your heart, definitely leave us all a note about them in the comments section below!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

June's 6 Best Craft Beers Crushed

Camping season is here and you know what they say "camping without beer is just sitting in the woods." Below are the six best craft beers I crushed this June.

6. Rogue - Cold Brew IPA

Coffee cara-beaners rejoice, Rogue has got you. They teamed up with famed Portland, Oregon coffee roasters Stumptown to create the perfect summer time hoppy-coffee combination.

5. Block 15 - Anthem of the Sun

I like my women like I like my sours, tart as fuck. Anthem of the sun is a little mellower for a sour than I normally prefer, but its mellowness adds to its summer time thirst-quench-abilty.

4. 10 Barrel - Cucumber Crush

A lot of beer nerds have been shit-talking 10 Barrel's Cucumber Crush.  I know this because I'm a nerd too, so I know what nerds do. Also I frequent many beer forums.  Let me just say I will proudly stand up for this one.  I found it to be delicious and unique.  It's a great option to include when buying beer for a BBQ where not everyone there is a beer lover.

3. Aslan - Dawn Patrol

The lion, the witch, and the wardrobe must have all had a hand in this lovely beverage.  As far as I can remember this is the first time I've ever tried a Pacific Ale style brew.  It finishes cleaner than a lion's mane, and you know they clean themselves like all day, every day. The king of the jungle has to look his best you know.

2. Pfriem - Wit

Find me another 'best of' list that features a wit?! No seriously, if you happen to see one please post a link in the comment section below, I'd love to check it out.  Best American wit I've ever had, hands down.

1. Belching Beaver - Peanut Butter Milk Stout

A milk stout is your pick for best beer in June?! Why yes self, it is. First of all, drink what you like, when, where, and how you like it. Second of all its always peanut butter season on my calendar!  This one might even top Sweet Baby Jesus... Its less filtered than S.B.J. if cloudiness bothers you I would shy away from this Belching Beaver. Personally I need to do a side-by-side comparison before I officially choose a favorite, but dam (not spelled wrong, we're talkin' beavers) this is a killer milk stout!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Wet Your App-etite: Which Beer Apps Are Best?

There are at least 37 different apps specifically for craft beer enthusiasts.  Beer is trending so hard lately that there's an app for just about anything even remotely related.  Brewzor Pro is a recipe manager for home brewers, Beer Counter helps drunks keep track of how many they've had so splitting a tab is less complicated, there's even an app called Bottle Opener that simulates the experience of, yes, you guessed it, opening a bottle of beer...
I've sorted through gallons of these apps and came up with a crushable list based on usefulness, amount of worthwhile tools, originality, user friendliness, aesthetics, level of addiction, and over-all enjoyment. 

Most Useful: Untappd

Untappd is the beer app I use the most because I'm addicted to trying new beers. I love the locator, I love rating things, and I enjoy seeing my friends photos and funny remarks in their comments. It lets you organize and review all the beers you've drank and sort through your friends collections as well. Careful with this one, its highly addictive and may cause you to pull out your phone in social situations more often than a normal, courteous, functional adult should. 

Making Beer Lover's Lives Easier App: BeerAdvocate 

I won't talk this one up too much, you likely already know it as one of the top-two most popular beer rating sites in existence, the other being Beer Advocate is my go-to for ratings because of its clean layout and easy navigation.  I'm not saying its a bible but if 100k users rate a beer less than a 75 I'm probably going to opt for a different choice. 

The Andy Kaufman Award: 
There is not one, but three phone apps to let you pretend like your drinking a beer with your phone. The competition is high with this one. Personally I'm holding out for the app that let's you make it look like you're pissing out your beer into a toilet. Not as patient as me and want the drinking app now? Here are your choices: ibeer, virtual beer, beer drinks prank. 

Tool Time: BeerMenus 

Don't get stuck at bars that suck. Beermenus app and site are now used by bars and restaurants more than even checking their actual websites. I love this app and even though Untappd has some similar functions, BeerAdvocate is the most efficient way to see what's on tap where you're going, or to help you choose a quality drinking hole for the night.

Loving The Layout: BJCP

Break down beers by style-categories like a judge! We all seem to think we're experts when it comes to craft beer...  This app helps us to critique specifically like the pros do it.

Once You Tap You Can't Stap: Pintley
If you're a Pandora or Spotify kinda person this app will suit you well. Much like those music apps, Pintley takes the beers you drink, and your ratings of them, and scans through an enormous search engine to recommend you something similar that you'll likely enjoy. Pintley doesn't seem to stick you with random Dave Matthews Band songs on your Tupac station either...

Sunday, June 12, 2016

May Top 6 Beers Sipped

6. Lilikoio - Avery (CO) passion fruit ale. Whenever I'm at a Hawaiian restaurant that doesn't serve traditional style shaved ice, I'm a total sucker for buying the lilikoio juice in a can. Almost every place carries it. It's basically a thirst quenching  passion fruit kids drink acceptable for adults. Avery's ale version hits the right notes of the original drink without forgetting that it's beer and not a Capri Sun.
5. Swish - Bissell Brothers American double IPA (ME)
A friend told me this was one of his top 5 favorite IPAs/double IPAs so I had to call up Torst bar in Brooklyn at 11:05am (they open at 11) and find out if it was indeed on tap. It was definitely a productive double IPA but it won't be making any lists of mine beyond best of the month.
4. Telectroscopic - collaboration from Beavertown (England) & Other Half (NY) spelt imperial IPA
Other Half are quickly becoming known as one of the breweries everyone wants to collab with. They also released All Dank Everything with CellarMaker from San Francisco the same day. Telectroscopic makes my list because it was well executed and original. How many spelt beers have you tried?
3. Liepziger Lavadula Juniperus Gose - Bayerischer Bahnhof (Germany)
First of all Gose has become the chameleon of craft beer styles. Every new one I try seems to be on a completely different pallet spectrum than anything I've tried previously. This one almost falls into a winter ale category for me. A lot of spices are present. Not sure how it works as a gose, but it just does.
2. Sweet Baby Jesus - Duclaw (MD) chocolate peanutbutter porter
You know how oftentimes with wine the label reads of fifteen flavors and most non-sommeliers only detect like three? Craft beer can land in that zone of empty promises as well, but not Sweet Baby Jesus. It says Chocolate and Peanutbutter and that's exactly what you get, mmm.
1. Double dry hopped Melcher Street IPA - Trillium (MA)
Trying Trillium has been on my beer bucket list for a while. Last time I was in Boston it was a weekend and they closed too early Saturday for me to make it a d they're closed all day on Sundays. I about popped my cork with frustration. Thankfully I have amazing friends. One of my good buddies brought me three bottles, including Congress Street and  Mosaic dry hopped Fort Point to try when he came out to NYC for a conference. All three bottles I tried got A+ grades from me. This one just happened to be my favorite of the haul.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Brewed Food: Culinary Beer Integration Is The Future!

There is a culinary collective changing the rules in the beer dinner game right now. I'll even go as far as to say they're re-writing the rules all together. No, the first rule isn't nobody talks about beer dinner club. The first rule is forget all the rules, these guys are reinventing the wheel. 

Obviously intrigued by the science, creativity, and innovation behind this new movement I needed to learn more. Step one, meet the chef! I interviewed Jensen Cummings, Chef and certified cicerone of Brewed Food. When I say interviewed, I mean we had a hearty conversation full of laughs and good spirits that happened to be centered around learning what Brewed Food is all about.

Below is the menu for Brewed Food's upcoming pop-up event in New York City, June 8th at Jimmy's No.43. I've been extremely unfortunate to be headed to Portland, Oregon just after they recently held an event a Korean restaurant there called Biwa. Then even more ironically I will be there and away from my home in NYC during the pop-up at Jimmy's No. 43. I'm hoping some of our friends and readers will have a chance to attend the dinner and rub it in/ fill me in with all the details. 

The chef chat:

Pimpin: Ugh, so what'd I miss at your Biwa event in Portland?

Chef: It was also a collaboration with Basecamp Brewing.

Pimpin: Those are the guys that make the s'more stout?

Chef: Yes, the one that is served on tap with a flame toasted marshmallow on the rim of the glass for a beautiful presentation. They also are known for their flagship In-Tents I.P.L.

Pimpin: North-Westerners know camping as well as they know beer, that's for sure. What was one of the highlights from this dinner?

Chef: We made a miso with brewing grains and used a Belgian tripel with fermented picked vegetables in a rice broth bowl.

Pimpin: This is a great example of what you guy are all about. BrewedFood seems to be way outside of the box from your typical "these foods pair best with these styles of beer." Is there an over-all theme or science behind the way you create your menus?

Chef: Our approach being a segue of fermentation already exists in things like sauerkraut and kimchi. We take a flip-side approach to working with beer and draw inspiration from the brewing process, leaning more towards techniques that involve blending. These practices are foreign coming from a culinary background and its been really exciting pioneering this movement. I had the pleasure of working with brew masters at New Belgium one of the Largest brewers specializing in Belgian beer in the country. We created a fermented blended sriracha using fermented fruit like grapefruit and blood oranges. We varied the flavors by using different fermentation lengths, we made a one month, three month, and a six month fermented sriracha.
It's definitely the beginning of a real movement in the food world we've gotten to work with James Beard and Michelin Star rated chefs. The first step is to show the process can created at the most basic level. I like to use honey mustard as the perfect example, its like our gateway drug to getting people interested and the movement gaining more exposure. Everyone makes a honey mustard its one of the most commonly made in-house condiment. We demonstrate how simple it is to take (brewers) wort and cook it down to an agave-like consistency, its very sweet and we use that instead of honey in the honey mustard. Something any brew pub could do.

Pimpin: What's the biggest disaster you've created while experimenting with BrewedFood? Any mosaic hop cheesecake?

Chef:  Fermentation has resulted in our greatest successes and our biggest fails. Unlike most traditional cooking techniques fermenting can cause a heartache 6 months in the making. When we utilize beer yeasts to ferment foods and also to applying to process to hijacked equipment. Like using a pressure vacuum in plastic bags cuts the fermentation process in half but no oxygen transfer within the bags can cause an explosion. We once made a red chili kimchi with this method and the bags exploded all over the entire room. It looked like a bloody mass murder scene from C.S.I..

Here's the flyer for the New York City pop-up brewing dinner June 8th at Jimmy's No. 43. Guaranteed a delicious meal and an eye opening experience for beer lovers as well as foodies.

Pimpin: One final fun question for ya Jensen. If you were trapped on a desert island, because most islands are deserts right, that makes a total of zero sense. Let me rephrase this, if you were trapped on a deserted island, and you could only bring three beers what would they be?

Chef: 1. Bell's Two Hearted Ale. It has a great malty character and is very distinct versus the west coast IPA's that I was familiar with before trying it. It was a game changer for me when I was newer to craft beer. 

Pimpin: Great choice! Too many excellent beers like Bell's Two Hearted get overlooked these days in this new fast paced world where a million new beers are made every day and everyone wants to newest thing. 

Chef: 2. New Belgium La Folie. An American sour brown, a flanders oud bruin, inspired by the blenders connection and experience with wood-aging. It spends one to three years in oak barrels known as foeders and is considered by many to be one of the best American sour beers around. 

Pimpin: Yes! I love sours, New Belgium, and La Folie specifically is an excellent beer. 

Chef: 3. One of the first beers that helped me realize there was more to offer from beer than Natty Ice was Fullers ESB. It always brings me back and humbles me, remembering a time when I knew nothing about beer. Its a reminder that I want to inspire and educate people about craft beer without coming off as pretentious. 

Pimpin: Solid, I agree beer snobs are the worst. I've definitely been guilty of beer snobbery from time to time but that's not what I'm about either.  People too often forget the beauty of subjective taste. 

Thanks again for sharing with us at Pimpin' Aint Yeasty. I'm sure many of our readers including myself will find our way to attend one of you events in the near future. Keep innovating, breaking rules and spreading the movement. You guys are truly stretching the possibilities of what can be created using brewing techniques, processes, and ingredients in cooking. 

To get more information on Brewed Food and their upcoming events go to: