Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Light Summer Wines

Okay, it's been a very long time since I've posted, I've been busy (relaxing at the beach, that is). I'm working on a post detailing a very exciting and beer-filled Saturday I recently spent in Brooklyn, but I wanted to get back to the blog and post about two new wines I've recently enjoyed.

Both are extremely light, crisp white wines, the perfect thing to enjoy with an outdoor lunch or dinner before the summer's over. The first is Bastianich Friulano (formerly Tocai Friulano), a personal favorite anytime I dine in a Bastianich/Batali restaurant. It's very drinkable, sort of plain but enjoyable.

Secondly, I suggest the Grooner Gruner Veltliner. This is a crisp, fruity white wine with just a touch of acidity. It's packaged with a screwcap in a bottle with hip, cartoony art- it's a fun, lighthearted, not so "serious" wine.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Brooklyn Beer, Part 1

So as promised, here's part 1 of a recap of a great day devoted to beer. My friends and I sampled a variety of beers at two different locations in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

We started out with a tour and tasting at the Brooklyn Brewery. If you live in one of the boroughs and are looking for something different to do, this is it. Plan to drink all day and hang out with your friends. Bring a deck of cards.

Walking in the brewery, your nose is assaulted with the smell of beer, in a good way, not in the stale frathouse sense. We purchased tokens to redeem for beer (6 tokens for $20, each beer is 1 token), and then made our way to the "bar" area. It was really just a large room set up with Italian restaurant-style red checkered tablecloths. We found a seat, and made our way up to the bar, where they had a variety of Brooklyn beers on tap. The classics, like the Brooklyn Lager, Pilsner, and Brown Ale were available, as were varieties not available in liquor stores.

I started with the Sorachi Ace, a Saison-style beer that was crisp and lemony, with hints of pepper- a very interesting, different beer. At first I didn't like it, but as I kept drinking I realized it was a very complex and interesting variety. We moved onto the Blast, an IPA with an incredibly floral, perfumy aroma. The taste was sharp and citrusy, and very drinkable, especially when compared to many other IPAs, though not my favorite of the day. It's very perfumey in aroma, which I find to be a little distracting. We also sampled the Brooklyn Local 1, a light, yeasty beer with fruit and hint of coriander (very similar to Hoegaarden). Enjoyable. We ordered Fratelli's pizza (a solid B, decent but if you're in NY you can do WAY better) to the brewery, and sat around our picnic table drinking until tour time.

Well, that's if you could call it a tour. It was really just an assembly; basically someone brings you into a room where the vats are filled with yeast and gives some information on the types of beer brewed, how it's brewed, and the history of the brewery (the building used to house a matzoh ball factory!) Informative and ideally short, after 30 minutes of talking about beer, you just want to drink it, right?
All in all, it was a very enjoyable stop, informative and fun to sample lots of beers. The highlight is tasting beers you can't ordinarily find in a grocery store (and you get them straight from the source! Yes, the taste is slightly better. The bottled stuff isn't even made in Brooklyn).

If you go:
  • Sample the more unusual beers; the Pilsner, Lager, Pennant, Brown, and EIPA are all readily available in liquor stores, and all taste like variations on the same formula, but the options in the brewery showcase a much wider range of flavors and styles.
  • Bring cash! There's lots of fun souvenir stuff to buy, including coasters, tees, and glasses, plus it's popular to order delivery to the brewery.
  • Tours run on the hour, starting at noon on weekends.
  • Located at 79 N 11th St. in Williamsburg.
  • Phone: (718) 486-7422
  • Website: