Thursday, 8 April 2010

Brooklyn Brewery Part 2: Blast & Wild 1!


NYC is really leading the world in terms of beers and bars. FACT, whatever you think of the US they embrace variety and quality more than anyone else. The service is second to none and an experimental attitude is ingrained in the craft beer industry across the board.

Most of the bars I visited also had 15+ beers on tap and the majority were over 5%. They were also innovative and engaging venues and the staff were really knowledgeable and more importantly friendly and engaging.

Barcade in Williamsburg

The Black Rabbit in Greenpoint

Of course my view could possibly have been tainted by the fact that I went to all the best places dahling... Aged beer night at Barcade anyone? A bar full of 80's arcade machines, 15 aged imperial IPA's, Imperial Stouts and Barley wines on draught aged Gonzo, Brooklyn intensified coffee stout?... Come on now.

Britain and British beer are of course my first love but we're only very slowly waking up in this country - I'm sick of hearing about the "cask ale revolution". It's a fucking "revival!". In the past there were masses of beers on offer in pubs of varying strengths and compositions. It's only since pale cask conditioned ale came back into fashion that modern British brewers have started to delve in to the past. The "Great British Public" are slow to pick up on the diversity of ale available.

As such we're getting there but resting on our laurels is something we do in this country all too often.

As such Brooklyn beers in the UK have taken a while to take hold, whereas in the US everyone seems to be sampling the many and varied delights of Mr Oliver and his brewing chums! So lets think back a little to a couple of weeks ago... Through the mists of drunkenness to Williamsburg and the Brooklyn brewery.... diddley doo... diddley doo... diddley doo

One of the first beers we tried with Garrett Oliver was Brooklyn Blast! A US double IPA that really exemplifies the style. US IPA was the first time for me that I was convinced that the US has a style to call their own, extremely bitter, dense and sweet with a complex depth of flavours.

Blast is a wonderful honey orange beer with big big hops. The hoppiness is on the floral side and for me that's something you don't get so often with US beer. Garrett had a lot to say about balance in ale, he's schooled in the UK you see and that subtle approach has translated in to something quite profound in the US - full flavoured, distinctly American beer with a nod to the past. So Blast! is choc a bloc with tropical flavour, sweet malt and flowery cannabis-y goodness. It also has a notable dry finish which make it super moreish...

I was also incredibly privileged to try a beer called Wild 1. This is a bit of an experiment that has been kept within the brewery and is not available to the public! OH! In simple terms it's Brooklyn Local 1, wine barrel aged with brettanomyces added. Oh god how we love the wild yeast - it does something like no other to beer. Wild 1 has a nose like nothing I ever smelt before; full, dusty, winey, sour and utterly spectacular! The beer is ultra complex and intense with spice and citrus alongside fuller black grapey, raisiny, woody notes. A bit of a Willy Wonka beer.

I suppose you'd call it a double saison or something then... Cheers Garrett!

'Representing' in the Brewery

This is exactly what many US brewers did from the word go but then they had a bit of catching up to do I suppose.


  1. "they embrace variety and quality more than anyone else"

    Mmmm, , bollocks. With a population of 300 millions and only 1600 breweries they've a long way to go to get anywhere near:

    1. UK - 60 million, 700 breweries
    2. Belgium - 10.5 million, 650 breweries
    3. Bordeaux - 1 million, 10,000 producers

    (OK, the last one was just for fun).

    I take your point, but I've been hearing nothing but the same old point for too long. Just because we brew and drink subtle beers of low abv doesn't mean we don't know what we're doing.

    I welcome a wider debate.

  2. I'll forgo the debate above and simply say that if there's one thing more bars needs over here, it's retro arcades like the one above. You've got room for a couple in North, Matt, I'm sure!! Just make sure there's somewhere to prop a pint!

  3. Eddie - You're missing the point here. It's not about the concentration of breweries. It's about embracing the many styles of beer and experimentation in brewing.

    The US industry developed its own styles by having a crack at the many styles produced in the traditional heartlands of brewing, I'm afraid this simply hasn't been the case in Belgium, Germany or the UK until recently.

    That doesn't make them better of worse, they have had to embrace variety because of the situation in which they developed their industry.

    Leigh - We were talking about that yesterday...