I finally made my first (long overdue) trip of the year out to the Southampton Publick House. I found a wonderfully refreshing Abbey Single on tap. It was a luminous yellow, hazy, and grassy tartness---a perfect way to welcome the arrival of Spring. I usually have two different pints when I head out to Southampton, but the Abbey Single was so good that I had to have another. For desert we split a small bottle of Old Herb, a barleywine. I'm not a big fan of barleywines in general. They are often too syrupy for my taste. Old Herb's was definitely strong and sweet. The nose was the most interesting aspect of the beer; it smelled like an antique shop---a little musty. Not bad. Our bottle was labeled 148 of 500, a limited edition.
At the Brickhouse in Patchogue, the Blue Point Brewing Company's Crop Circle Ale was back on tap for a couple of weeks. This excellent English-style bitter is always a welcome sight each year. This evening, my associate and fellow beer bloke, Daniel, sent me a text message from the Brickhouse saying that the serving tank of Crop Circle is officially run dry. He said it would probably be a week or so before it's back on. In the meantime, there's a very good Bohemian Pilsner on tap.
Speaking of Blue Point, that brewery got a mention in the recent issue of All About Beer (March 2006). The article by Gregg Glaser is titled "Unexpected Strength: These little giants are really flexing their muscles." Here's an excerpt:
"Long Island has three million people," said Blue Point's Pete Cotter, "and we took five years to even think about approaching New York City." The Big Apple now accounts for Blue Point's largest area of growth---more than 100 percent last year. Toasted Lager is Blue Point's flagship beer.
A couple of new beers are on tap at the J&R's in Rocky Point. They now have Erdinger Hefe Weizen and Warsteiner Pilsner ("because life is too short to drink cheap beer"). Of course, the Brooklyn Brown is still on tap, but still no Blue Point beers. I'm hoping that J&R's will get at least one more local tap so I can list them as an official "two blokes" taproom in the Long Island Beer Guide. A side note: It appears that the 2 for 1 Happy Hour is now from 3 to 7 pm Monday through Friday.
The Brewers Association has released its list of the top fifty beer producing breweries for 2005. New York features three of the largest breweries. Ranked 38th is Brooklyn Brewery, right ahead of Abita Brewing Company of Abita Springs, Louisiana.
After about five times saying that I would go to go down to the Sage Café and check it out, this week I finally made it down there---now I'm kicking myself for those previous five times that I thought it was too far to drive (like everything on Long Island, it's a half hour from my house). The Sage Café is my kind of place (a preppy beer bar). The centerpiece of this comfortable space is the spacious bar, but there is plenty of table seating as well. I went with four friends and we grabbed a table in the corner where we were able to have good conversation over a couple of very good pints of Blue Point's finest. I started with the Oatmeal Stout because it's always a treat to find this beer outside Blue Point's tasting room in Patchogue. I finished the evening with the Hoptical Illusion. The Blueberry and the Toasted Lager are on tap also. There are two "guest" taps for the people who don't know any better. I spotted a seventh tap, but the bar tender explained it was for a hefe weizen that they had run out of.
Where will you celebrate Brew Years Eve? That's Friday April 7th. What is Brew Years Eve? Here's something from the Brewers Association that explains:
While the full repeal of Prohibition came on December 5, 1933, an amendment to Prohibition legalized beer with 3.2 percent alcohol by weight (4.0 percent by volume) starting on April 7 of that year. In fact, the first public delivery of beer went to the White House to honor Franklin Delano Roosevelt who had won the presidency in part because he favored repeal. From April 7 on, the country’s brewers were back in business and Americans enjoyed legal beer for eight months before wine and spirits were once again legitimate.