Cultivating Craft 2016

May 11th marked Union Distribution/Blueprint Brands' Cultivating Craft event, which is held to showcase their wide portfolio of craft beer and craft spirits. Happening only once every 3 years, I was thrilled to find that I would be going with The Wilky team this time around. 

Household names like Stone, Allagash, Avery, Bell's and Maine Beer Co. were all in attendance, as well as New York's favorite locals (Grimm, Sloop, Peekskill, and many more). There were also breweries new to Union to check out, like von Trapp, a Stowe-based brewery focusing solely on craft lagers. While there were too many tables to hit in one session, I'll highlight a few of my stand-out beers of the night. 

The Bruery Poterie - French for "pottery," a traditional gift for an 8th anniversary, the Poterie marks The Bruery's own special occasion. With pieces of oak-aged anniversary beers past in the blend, the malt characteristics of Poterie were intense and deep. It poured a very telling, clear, caramel color. From the second it was poured, the aroma was a caramel bomb. Taking a sip, you taste a strong toffee flavor combined with caramel. As it washes down, notes of vanilla and hints of oak become apparent. The body was medium with low carbonation. Overall, this was a standout because it was such a robust toffee/caramel dessert beer. While we all know, I'm not a fan of sweet beers and can only drink them in small quantities, this was something I could definitely see as a 9 oz. dessert. (Noting that the abv is 16.8%, it's probably better that I don't drink more than 9 oz.!) 

Owbow Saison de Kuaska - This blonde farmhouse ale is aged in French oak barrels for 16 months before bottling. This saison poured a slightly hazy gold in color with a tart fruit, lemonish, funky aroma. Taste? Wow, a delicious green apple and lemon tartness with just the right amount of saison funk. Notes of oak and slight acidic, chardonnay-ish qualities were present. 

Sloop Sauer Peach - This Berliner Weisse poured a hazy, orange tinted gold. The aroma was sour and peachy, as you may assume by the name. The taste was sour peach with nectarine notes, lactic acid and some brett-like funk. While pretty sour, not so sour that it will make your face hurt; drinkable for those who want to drink more than one. Moderately carbonated with a fitting fizziness. 

Unfortunately, the beer floor was more than enough to take up an entire session and I did not get to experience much of the craft spirits. However, we all left the event easily, knowing we had plenty of kegs ordered. While I can't mention exactly which ones, you can always come to The Wilky and find out for yourself! 

Until then, hoppy drinking!

                                               - One Hoppy Lady

Goose Island Barrel Aging Lecture & Tasting @ Bitters & Esters, Brooklyn

Written in collaboration with Eric Sturniolo, Where's the Beer NY

Like many of the most coveted and sought-after beers, Goose Island’s Bourbon County series has led to a proliferation throughout the beer world with a process which we know as barrel-aging. But like most things, nothing can quite match the progenitor; hence, why we were so excited to attend Goose Island’s barrel-aging lecture and tasting at Bitters & Esters. The premier home brewing education and supply center, located in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, held only 2 sessions (25 attendees each) for beer drinkers to experience this rare opportunity.

Sofie: a great intro to barrel-aged saisons/farmhouse ales. Sofie is made up of 80% standard-brewed beer and 20% aged in wine barrels with citrus peel. This results in a light, bubbly, easy-drinking beer with a bit of spice and a nice amount of zest/bitterness from the peel.

Halia: a farmhouse aged in wine barrels with peaches. This beer is sour, funky, and juicy. We taste tropical fruits, candied peaches, brett and wine, with a slightly sweet finish.

Lolita: an ale fermented with wild yeast and aged on top of raspberries in wine barrels. The taste is more tart than sour (although it’s definitely sour), with lots of berry, funk, and brett. Reminiscent of drinking champagne, beer and wine all in one.

BCBS 2015: This year’s batch might be the best yet. With past offerings, we’ve found a moderate to high heat level from the bourbon that diminishes (for the better) with some aging. However, the 2015 version is amazingly fresh. There’s a lot going on here with bourbon, oak, coffee, caramel and chocolate. As it warms, vanilla, toffee, and roasted marshmallow flavors become more apparent.

BC Barleywine 2013: aged in bourbon barrels that were then used to produce BCBS. This barleywine had sweetly delicious bourbon-soaked dark fruit flavors (especially plum, fig, cherry and raisin) with minimal alcohol heat, after being aged two years. Fresh versions are immediately drinkable, but this one is even more so. Two years of aging seems the perfect amount of time for this beer to be enjoyed at it’s absolute best.

Click here to read reviews on the rest of the 2015 Bourbon County lineup including Coffee, Proprietors, Regal Rye, and yes even Rare!

We were also able to sample local barrel-aged offerings like Brooklyn Brewery Intensified Barrel-Aged Coffee Porter, Sixpoint Barrel-Aged Signal Smoked IPA, and the first labeled batch of Finback Barrel-Aged BQE (one day before release!).

Don't forget to read Where's the Beer NY's blog and follow them on social media!

@wheresthebeerny on twitter and instagram

From Big Apple to Big Easy

La 31 Biere pale

I know what you all are thinking, but Northern Jersey is close enough. It's catchy. Get over it. The point is that I went to New Orleans for Jazzfest! I stayed at the Hotel St. Marie and was lucky enough to have my brother, who has been to NOLA many times, show me around the city. From legally drinking in the streets to Jazzfest to Killer Po-boys, the four day trip was packed with adventure. But, as you know, I will focus on the beerventures!

On some random street

Of course, what is the first New Orleans brewery that you think of? Abita! My first beer in the city was Abita Amber. This Vienna styled lager poured an amber color with a short-lived, white head. It smelled of toasted, caramel malts; not a huge aroma. It tasted lightly of caramel. The mouthfeel was thin and very lightly carbonated. Overall, it was nice with my jumbalaya and easy to drink. It seemed to be what all the locals kept recommending to me as their go-to beer. 

The next Abita beer I had was the Andygator. The Maibock poured a clear gold, had a white head, and released aromas of spice and malt. It tasted of a subtle, malty sweetness with a dry, hoppier finish. Not bad, but I think I preferred the Amber. I was expecting to drink some Abita Purple Haze while there, but surprisingly, I couldn't find it! I've found it all over NJ, but not once in New Orleans. 

At Jazzfest

At Jazzfest

Another Louisiana native, the LA 31 Biere Pale, poured a bronze color with an aroma of herbal hops. The taste was a bit biscuit-y with light hoppiness. It was not my favorite of the trip, but it was created to complement the local cuisine. Next time, I will have to try it with some boudain and see how that changes my opinion!

To speak just a little on the food, I am so grateful that I had my foodie brother to guide me. I have to thank him, Sarah, and Kris for the most amazing birthday dinner at Galatoire's. I highly recommend it, if you are ever in the area! (French food is my weakness!) Everything we ordered was superb, as was the service. Another "must go" is Killer Po-boys. I recommend grabbing a braised pork belly po-boy.. or two or three!  

Well, that's a quick overview of my very short, but fun filled, trip to NOLA. I can't wait to go back! 

Ever been? What's your favorite thing about the city? Your favorite Louisiana beer? Comment below and let me know! I love to hear from you. Make sure you're following my instagram and untappd for some VERY exciting news coming soon! 

Until then, hoppy drinking! 


- One Hoppy Lady

Ommegang Dinner @ The Office

Glancing at the beer menu, as my Nirvana IPA is brought out

As some of you may know, the new and improved Office Tavern and Grill in Morristown, has been remodeled with 38 taps (40, but one is root beer and another is prosecco) and a completely modernized menu. As a newer "craft beer-centric" bar, they recently hosted a Brewery Ommegang dinner where (executive chef) Kevin Felice created 4 original recipes to pair to 4 Ommegang beers. Thanks to my sister, onesaltypup, I was in attendance (an early birthday gift). Since I am not a food blogger, I will focus more on the beers, but for more details on the actual dinner, you can check out onesaltypup!

Before any food came out, we were greeted with a "welcome beer." (Why don't more people greet me this way?) Ommegang Nirvana IPA was a lighter, east coast styled IPA. The hops were less bold than your more well known West Coast IPA. The nose had a juicy, citrus smell with a piney hoppyness. The taste had lemon, perhaps a bit of grass, grapefruit rind, a some pine.  I thought the hops were well balanced with the tropical fruit/citrus flavors in this beer. 

Ommegang Witte

The next beer served was the Ommegang Calypso Hennepin, alongside a chilled white grape gazpacho. Being a big fan of Ommegang's original Hennepin, I was excited to see what this was all about. Now, the difference is that Calypso Hennepin is dry-hopped with calypso hops, which gives it more dry bitter flavor. Unfortunately, I felt that the calypso hops actually took away from the greatness of the original Hennepin. It masked some of the fruity, grassy, summerish taste with dominating potpourri and floral notes. As a personal preference, I don't favor perfume-y/floral beers. Not to say this was a bad beer, but I think the original Hennepin is much more dynamic and better balanced than the Calypso. The gazpacho was delicious though. 

Spring Lamb Meatballs

The second course, spring lamb meatballs with spicy tomato coriander jam, mint gremolata and ricotta, was designed to pair with Ommegang Witte. The Witte poured a cloudy straw/yellow color. The smell and taste were very traditional of a white beer: light and citrusy. The flavors mainly consisted of lemon and orange with subtle clove spice and coriander, a good representation of the style. The lamb meatballs were also very good. Surprisingly moist!

Ommegang Abbey Ale

Three Philosophers inspired the third course, slow braised short rib with gingered spring carrot puree and dandelion pesto. I must say, Three Philosphers is already one of my favorites from the brewery. This Belgian Quad poured a dark chestnut color and smelled of dark fruits and brown sugar. From the taste, figs, plums, and cherries were present, accompanied by an almost rum-like booze flavor. The body of the brew was medium to full. All together, this beer is deliciously satisfying and a perfect pairing with ribs. 

The fourth course's olive oil cake with lemon custard and basil was designed for Abbey Ale. This Dubbel poured an amber-ish brown with a thick head and apparent carbonation. The aroma consisted of dark sugar, plums and cherries, while the taste was of dark fruits and slightly bitter dark sugar. The mouthfeel was silky, medium bodied and well carbonated. 

Now, it's time to pick a favorite! Out of the ones I had never tried before (Nirvana IPA and Calypso Hennepin), I would choose Nirvana IPA. I really thought it had a nice balance of flavors. Out of the rest, I would have to go with Three Philosophers. Favorite course? I would have to say the Spring Lamb Meatballs.

What's your favorite Ommegang beer? Comment below and let me know! 

Stay tuned for my next post on New Orleans!

Until then, hoppy drinking! 


- One Hoppy Lady

Carton Tap Takeover @ CloverLeaf

I arrived just in time for Cosmonaut to be tapped at 6pm. I rushed to the bar and immediately ordered the Russian Imperial Stout. I swirled and sniffed and tasted (you know the drill). It was very traditional of a Russian Imperial Stout. It was enjoyable, but I wasn't quite sure what made the Cosmonaut unique. There were big chocolatey, malty flavors with hints of vanilla. I did not detect much of the strawberry that I was very much looking forward to. However, like I said, it was still a solid stout. 

My next beer was the Irish Coffee, a peppermint cream ale. From the second it was brought to the table, I could smell the sweet aroma of mint chocolate chip ice cream. This beer was a treat (literally, it tasted like a dessert). It went down smoothly (and quickly!). Light coffee and cocoa hints brought down the sweetness to a nice balance. What really surprised me was when I went to check this into my untappd and discovered that it was 12% abv! The alcohol was well masked, to say the least.

After the Irish Coffee, I skimmed the menu for my third beer. I rolled my eyes at what seemed like an opportunist attempt to make a quick buck off the truffle trend: Gilded Lily. However, being a total truffle sell out myself, I knew I had to try this truffle tripel! The pungent brew smelled very distinctly of truffle and the taste didn't fall short either. It was earthy: on the nose, a little musky; on the tongue, a little dirty (in the absolute best way possible). For any truffle lover, this beer is a must try! The flavor accuracy is impressive!

Next, I ordered the Randall: Carton of Milk. If you couldn't figure this out for yourself, it's a milk stout. The twist is that Carton ran the stout through Peanut Butter Crunch Cap'n Crunch and threw some cereal to top it off. Thrilled at the description of this innovative beer, I was disappointed when my server returned to announce that it was kicked. In a chivalrous attempt to save the night, my server brought a regular Carton of Milk with some PBC on top. While the effort was very much appreciated, I could not fairly rank neither the Randall nor the regular Carton of Milk. Hopefully, I can catch this Randall next time!

The final beer of my night was the Hoppun, a hoppy pale ale. This brew pours a clear, medium brass color. There was a white head at a finger and a half with decent retention and lacing. A bitter aroma was intertwined with some berry fragrance and citrus notes. The taste had piney hops with a sweet undertone. The mouthfeel was medium bodied and had a nice, bitter finish. 

Though there were several beers I still wanted to try, I was satisfied with the 5 that I did. It's a tough call to pick a favorite of the night, but Irish Coffee and Gilded Lily definitely make my top two. What I would most like to try next? The Canyon, agave adjunct lager! 

Have you tried any of these beers? Go to the take over? Let me know your favorite Carton beer! Comment below and don't forget to check back for my next post on Poor Henry's Clown Shoes Tap Circus!

Until then, hoppy drinking!


-One Hoppy Lady