Brewer's East End Revival OktoBEERfest plus Briess Special Roast Contest w/ Grain from Brewtopia – September 14 2013

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This Saturday the Brewers East End Revival will hold their annual OctoBEERfest celebration at Cathedral Pines Park in Middle Island. In the traditional German spirit, and despite what the name might indicate, this event is always held in September. However, as the name does indicate, it is also a celebration of beer which is all brewed and contributed by B.E.E.R club members, but more on that later. Additional information about the event can be found on the website, but all you need to know is that it’s $15 (unless you brewed a beer), families are welcome and be sure to bring food for yourself and a little something to share with everyone. There will bee music, BBQ, clams, outdoor games and raffles (with a prize being a 1lb bag of CITRA HOPS!).

In addition to the general BBQ fun, music by White Room (featuring B.E.E.R.’s own Bill Ports) and outdoor beer drinking there will also be a special beer tasting and mini-contest. Mark from Brewtopia was generous enough to donate a 50 lb. bag of Briess Special Roast Malt as a prize for the 17th Annual B.E.E.R Brew Off. Since we assumed (correctly) that no brewer would want to take home a 50lb bag of specialty grain we decided to spread the wealth, dividing the bag among the club. All interested members received a 2 lb. bag with the only caveat being it had to be used to brew something for the OktoBEERfest. We had an overwhelming response and were only left with a couple pounds of malt, so it will be great to see how many different applications the same ingredient was used in. There will be a nut brown or ESB by Chritine Rudowski, a Pale Ale by Lou Zollo, a Belgian Pale Ale by Dave Phillips, a Dunkelweizen by Justin Brian, an American Pale Ale by Greg Woody, a Belgian Dark Mild by Al Raschdor, a Sourdough Roggenbier by Eric Grimm and more. We here at BLC really got wild with it and decided to make a gallon and a half or so of wort using the Special Roast Malt (along with a few other grains) and fresh hops. We then mixed that with four gallons of apple juice and ale yeast. Our beer/cider hybrid is currently fermenting away and we are definitely anxious to keg, serve and most importantly try it (the same goes for all of the other beers too).

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Everyone involved goes out of their way to make this a great event for the club. This will be our first year attending so we are especially looking forward to participating in all of the outdoor fun and imbibing. So when will you hear more about our brewing a cider/beer with the Special Roast Grain? Soon. First we have articles from B.E.E.R. members, Al Raschdorf detailing the brew day for his Belgian Dark Mild and another from Eric Grimm where he discusses crafting his Sourdough Roggenbier. These will be featured as guest posts in the coming week. We hope you enjoy their writing as much as us and we cannot wait to try their brews.

2013 North Fork Craft Beer, BBQ and Wine Festival at Martha Clara Vineyards Wrap-Up (or Should we Say Bandage-Up?)

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So the North Fork Craft Beer, BBQ and Wine Fest held at Martha Clara Vineyards has come and gone for another year. This event truly has a lot going on with the beer, BBQ and to some extent wine (also some cider and mead showed up as well).

Gallons upon gallons of great beer was being served the entire day by breweries from around the country while music played, friends got friendy with it and pigs were roasted on spits. We here at BLC were able to sell our Beer Loves Long Island shirts as well as a variety of our buttons throughout the event.

We were lucky enough to have the opportunity not only pour our newest ale Hopless Romantic (an herbal gruit) at the Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts table but we also were able serve several different versions of our cider at the Brewers East End Revival table too. All of our boozy treats got a great reception and we went home empty handed, which we were happy about. All in all we had a good time with friends from two clubs, numerous breweries and had a chance to pour our drinks for a thirsty public while pawning off our (radical) merchandise on them.

If we had to sum the event up to you it would go like this:

So much beer!

Wow those people liked our cider.

Hey we sold some shirts!

Wow there is a lot of beer here.

Holy cow there are even more people, everywhere.

Hey look at those guys/gals hitting each other.

Yikes another fight.

Shit was wild.

Andy Calimano and Starfish Junction Productions really do know how to throw a party. We are looking forward to bringing even more beer and cider to next year’s event with a bunch more Beer Loves Company merch. See you next year Martha Clara/hordes of people/brawlers (we will think of you fondly until then <3).

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Imperial Force: A Bobby Rodriguez + Port Jeff Brewing Jam

As most of you already know, Bobby Rodriguez was the winner of The Brewers Cup at the 17th annual B.E.E.R homebrewing competition. In addition to a pretty sweet trophy, his prize also included having his winning beer brewed (and eventually released) by the guys at Port Jeff Brewing Company. Imperial Force, the award winning porter, was brewed last Sunday and we had the opportunity to be there along with the mastermind himself, Bobby Rodriguez.

Head brewer Jeff Noakes was on site bright and early to begin the brew day and walk us all through the steps of production on such a large scale. He worked closely with Bobby to ensure that his vision was being carried out and the beer being brewed was as close to the original as possible. To date, Imperial Force is the highest ABV beer that Port Jeff has produced. Bobby’s home brewed version was aged for around 2 years, then placed in bourbon barrels for the weeks leading up to the competition, and clocked in at 15.5% ABV, though it is yet to be seen where this incarnation will land. The beer should be available in late fall, but as it develops we will give an update on when and where you will be able to get your hands on some Imperial Force. We tried Bobby’s version that won the competition (and the wort after Sundays brew day) and can assure you that this is a beer you will want to try.

 

 

17th Annual Brewer's East End Revival (B.E.E.R.) Brew-Off – Beers, BBQ, Awards

Last Saturday, May 18, 2013, marked the 17th annual Brewer’s East End Revival Brew-Off held at the St. James American Legion Hall. This competition/celebration is held once a year and includes one of the largest home brew contests on the east coast. This year, around 260 home brews of varying styles were entered by brewers of all experience levels; some looking to make the leap into professional brewing while beginners want some honest feedback and critique to improve. There was a panel of about 25 volunteer judges on hand that graciously sampled beer for several hours, beginning at 9 am (not the worst way in the world to spend a Saturday).

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Though the homebrew competition is the crux of the event, there were other festivities that occurred simultaneously and continued after the winners were announced. Starting at 6:30 am, a crew assembled outside to man the grill and feed the hungry judges and volunteers. Since most in attendance would be there for upwards of 9 hours, the cooking crew knew that donuts and sandwiches weren’t going to cut it all day. They prepared a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and English muffins to be enjoyed prior to the first round of judging. At about 9 am, the judges, stewards and cellar masters gathered inside the American Legion Hall to begin round 1, which lasted about three and a half hours. When they emerged into the daylight, palates perhaps a little burned out from all that home brew, jockey boxes were set up that were pouring even more, you guessed it, home brew donated by B.E.E.R club members. In addition, a lunch of cheeseburgers, hot dogs, tuna salad sandwiches and accompaniments was served.

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After a brief lunch break, it was time for round 2 of judging. Some new faces showed up, including Mike Philbrick of Port Jeff Brewing Company, who would ultimately be deciding the winner of the Brewer’s Cup, a prestigious honor that came with a hefty prize-having your winning home brew produced and distributed by his brewery. Once judging for all categories wrapped up, a smaller panel of esteemed judges assembled to deliberate the “best in show” winners. This session went until about 4:30 and after much careful deliberation it was time to announce the winners.

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Yet again, the judges emerged to a plethora of events going on outside. The brew-off had opened to the public so the backyard of the hall had really filled out. Prizes for both the competition winners and raffle winners were on display, and once again the grill was fired up. On the menu this time was pork that had been slow cooking all day, grilled chicken breasts and thighs, fresh bread and assorted salads. Unfortunately, it had started to rain fairly heavily at this point but the club was prepared with tents to house the prizes and most of the crowd under.

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The home brew competition winners can be found at the B.E.E.R official website and there were plenty of raffle winners due to a generous influx of prized from both local businesses and national outlets. As we already mentioned, Bobby Rodriguez won the Brewer’s Cup which means his delicious barrel aged beer will be available by Port Jeff Brewing Company in the near future.

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This was our first year attending the event, which made running it a bit of a leap of faith into the unknown, but we had a great time and want to thank everyone for participating. The day could not have gone off mostly glitch free (with the exception of a translucent cup debacle) without all the judges, volunteers and companies who donated prizes. It has been going strong for 17 long years and we don’t doubt that year 18 will bring its own new set of great memories and experiences.

Blue Point Cask Festival 2013: Until Next Year…

Though the Blue Point Cask Fest did not begin until 2 pm, we arrived shortly after noon to help set up (and get a first look at what the other brewers had on tap). The parking lot of Blue Point Brewery was already buzzing at this point as everyone was congregating under the massive tent that had been set up to house the casks and breweries. We quickly found our way to the Brewers East End Revival (B.E.E.R)  table, which was conveniently located next to the Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts (LIBME) table. In total, B.E.E.R would be serving 8 home brews, one of which was our very own Fünke a Mint Blueberry Kölsch which we brewed with Bobby Rodriguez. Due to the large number of casks present, there was a bit of a tap shortage, but it seemed like everyone was eventually able to work it out and get their beer flowing. Since we were unable to be there when Bobby transferred the beer from carboy into the cask and added the mint and blueberry flavoring, the first time we actually tasted Fünke was a couple short hours before we would be serving it to the thirsty patrons of this event.

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Our beer, Fünke a Mint Blueberry Kölsch poured a very lovely, deep purple color. The color of this beer was immediately intriguing and eye catching to us and those that tried it. Since this was a cask brew, the level of carbonation was subdued which lead to this brew having a modest head but a pleasant level of carb in the body. Fünke offered a pleasant aroma, moving back and forth between blueberry, malt, very mild hop and mint. We felt, as did some others, that the mint came forward more than the other scent components. On the sip Fünke offered notes of a traditional kölsch under layers of sweet, fruity blueberry, cool refreshing mint and left a lightly candied and fresh taste on the palate. The beer seemed to divide the crowd a bit as it was more akin to a fruit or cider beer hybrid with some really enjoying our flavor combinations while others liked the taste but left a little puzzled. It seems a sweet, light bodied brew with mint overtones can turn a few people off. We thought it was a great success and were happy with how it came together as was Bobby.

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After sampling our beer and a few other home brews that were featured at the two tables, it was already 2 pm and the crowd started pouring in. This event sold out extremely quickly and that was evident by the amount of people that began to immediately line up in front of our casks. It seemed like many patrons were drawn to the mint blueberry kölsch, possibly because of the appealing ingredients in the name (or perhaps they wanted a little taste of Tobias Fünke, Analrapist). We were pleased with the amount of guests that seemed to be frequenting the two adjoining home brew tables, as well as the table of The Brewers Collective, another Long Island home brew club, a few “doors” down from us. Overall Fünke a Mint Blueberry Kölsch was very well received. It was one of a handful of beers on hand that was completely finished at the entire event (professional breweries included) and was the only beer to go at the B.E.E.R. table. We were glad we “kicked our cask” as the saying goes. Also, it made a pretty delicious “black and blue” when combined with a dry Irish stout that was brewed by Dave Phillips, a fellow member of B.E.E.R.

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Not only did we get to pour our beer for hundreds of guests, but we also got an opportunity to walk around with our own sample glasses and see what the cask fest had to offer. Many local breweries were represented such as Long Ireland, Great South Bay, Newburgh Brewing, Spider Bite and of course, Blue Point as well as national outfits like Flying Dog, Cigar City and Smuttynose. Some of our stand out favorites were the Sweet Potato Saison from Blind Bat Brewery, which we felt would be a delicious alternative to pumpkin beer in the fall. It was sweet, but not overly so, with hints of nutmeg, caramel and vanilla that were balanced out with a slight tartness. Port Jeff Brewing Company had a sour on cask called “So Fresh” which was bright and sharp with lactic, fruity notes that nicely walked the line between sweet and sour, leaning more towards the latter. We actually had the chance to taste this beer at their first anniversary celebration when it was referred to as “Wet and Wild” and it was brewed using hops from Condzella’s Farm. This sour definitely lent itself well to being casked and has actually improved a bit with age, though it was tasty during both samplings. In addition to traditional breweries, brew pubs and establishments that support craft beer were also in attendance. In this category was New Haven’s Bar, which is a pizza serving, craft beer loving dance club that has been running their own cask ale festival for years now. They were serving two beers, Thousand Pound Gorilla which is a 10% ABV barley wine, a big beer inspired by the brew masters son, and Nine Foot Irish, a 9% ABV Irish ale that is “smooth and easy to drink but with a punch”.  We had the opportunity to speak to Jeff Browning, the brew master at this intriguing hybrid and we be featuring more on that soon. As Jeff said, “you can be 21 or 80 and still have a lot of fun in the place.” We think a ferry ride over to Connecticut is in order to check it out for ourselves.

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As always, the Blue Point Cask Festival was a chance to bring professional brewers, home brewers and craft beer appreciators together for a chance to sample some old favorites and new creations on cask, perhaps for the first time. This event is always a great time and has been selling out quicker and quicker every year, indicating that perhaps the secret is out. When attended our first cask fest at Blue Point Brewery several years ago, the crowd was much smaller and a bit less diverse. However, the 2013 incarnation was packed with patrons of all ages who came out to enjoy some good beer and expand their horizons into the wide world of cask ales. It is really a testament to the event that it has grown so rapidly while still maintaining a solid lineup of beers and including small and up and coming breweries. We know we are looking forward to the 2014 Blue Point Cask Festival and the way things have been going, we may have to get our tickets soon to guarantee a spot!

Blue Point Brewery Cask Ales Festival (2013)

If you’re from Long Island and have ever set foot in a bevy (“home d” if you must) or bar, odds are you have heard of Blue Point Brewery. Most likely, you’ve even paid a visit to their tasting room once or twice (or any chance you get). So you may or may not know that Saturday, April 13 is their 9th annual Cask Festival. The event is held outside of the brewery, rain or shine, and features cask only beers from Blue Point Brewery alongside other local craft breweries and home brew clubs. There will be over 100 different beers brewed by 30+ brewers. Food is available for purchase and Blue Point will be holding a food drive for Long Island Cares, so bring cans of nonperishable foods to donate if you can. Tickets sold out online in record time, so hopefully you were able to purchase one or can get your hands on one from someone who can’t make it.
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For those wondering, cask ale (also known as “real ale”) is unpasteurized, unfiltered and is actually conditioned right in the cask. There is no carbon dioxide or nitrogen added to the cask, so the beer that is served is not artificially carbonated. Any carbonation occurs naturally from the priming sugar and yeast used in the brewing process. There is an organization called C.A.M.R.A (The Campaign for Real Ale) who actually coined the term “real ale” and aim to promote awareness of cask brews. Typically bars and breweries don’t have cask ales available and if you happen to run into one or two you’re in luck, so it is a real treat to have 100+ casks under one tent.

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As members of B.E.E.R (Brewers East End Revival), we will be working the festival and also pouring a beer that we brewed along with fellow club member Bobby Rodriguez. Like Frank, who we brewed our gruit with, Bobby is an experienced home brewer and all around craft beer lover. We will be detailing the brewing process right here, so look for everything from recipe brainstorming to casking the beer in the weeks leading up to the festival. Though this will not be our first time attending the Blue Point Cask Festival, it is our first time brewing for it and also our first cask beer, so we are excited to complete the brewing process and serve our creation to patrons of the festival.

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This is a not to be missed Long Island event, as Blue Point will possibly be brewing a mint oatmeal stout and cooking something up with myer lemon, schezuan peppercorns and ghost chiles (all in separate beers). There was also talk of a “black and blue”, which is a mix of their blueberry ale and oatmeal stout, but the cask version will feature aseptic blueberry puree. This beer cocktail has been a favorite at the brewery for years, so a cask spin off is something to look forward to. Of course, they have a few surprises up their sleeve as well. So make sure to have your tickets ready, bring a can or two of food to donate and we will see you all there.