Beerded Ladies

water + hops + malt + yeast + blog

This website is devoted to craft beer reviews, sudsy events, brewery tourism, stunning beertography, bad puns, offbeat beer pairings, dispatches from behind the bar and general beverage snobbery where we can apply terms like "biscuity" and talk about hop profiles.

Meet the Ladies.

My Lifelong Love Affair with Stouts

THE MOTHER

Before I worked at a bar, before I lived in the city, I was just a ramblin’ youth in the valley of the Hudson.  I played soccer two seasons a year, got C’s in math, drove a 15 passenger van my parents let me borrow. My friends were all boys in bands, and we would drive all over to see them or somebody play. Nothing seemed too far out of the way, because we were all just killing time. That’s why my friend Ryan and I would always go to the beer distributor out on route 9, where we knew they sold Keegan’s Mother’s Milk Stout.

It was my first stout. I drank it before I could drink. I drank it before I ever drank a Guinness. I had no context, no reference. I knew it was from Kingston, which was a town across the river we ended up in from time to time… That one 4th of july. That one concert we drove through the snow to get to. I knew that it was sweet and malty, that I liked it best when it was ice cold, and it reminded me of chocolate milk.  It was my First Favorite Beer. 

When I think about growing up along side the Hudson, I always consider it to be a magical landscape, complete with rolling hills, tinker town villages, deep forest waterfalls, and of course, the holy river. Mother’s Milk was a magic potion, and every time we get a keg in at work, I sip it with reverie.

 THE IMPERIAL ONE THAT GOT AWAY

Transient

In college I liked to test my limits, and part of that was expanding my taste for beer. A semester in the Netherlands taught me to enjoy and appreciate higher percentages. I discovered that I am a slow drinker, and prefer to nurse on something worth my time. I rode bikes and read more books than I could carry home in my suit case.

At my favorite bar on my favorite street, I met the One. It was a Russian Imperial. It had the chocolate and coffee undertones, but with the strength and burn that I had come to desire. I didn’t know it at the time, but it would be the one I would be thinking about for the rest of my life. I wish I could remember the name of this beer. If only I had written it down. I have pored over Dutch and Belgian beer lists time and time again, trying to conjur a sense of recognition that could reunite us. It’s a classic love story from abroad, where the lover is long and lost… we may never meet again. But sometimes, when my lips touch the cusp of a Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout from Great Divide, I think I can taste it.

THE NITRO

Transient

Guinness became a stand-by. Something I could drink at lunch with my grandma, and she wouldn’t judge. Something I could order at the end of the night (instead of another whiskey) and the bar tender would wink at me. Also, on account of the caloric count, and the fact that I’m not 22 anymore, I felt it to be a “good choice”. But something that I really appreciate about the good ole OG is that nitro mouth feel. As a bartender I am constantly telling people the difference between a nitro pour, and a regular co2 keg. What I think works best is describing the shape of the bubbles in our drinks. Nitro bubbles are smaller, fit together more compactly, giving the beer a velvety smooth texture. The first time I had a Left Hand Milk Stout (nitro) on tap, I thought I had found the perfect elixir… Left Hand has recently perfected the nitro bottling process, and it’s made the beer possible to enjoyable out of the fridge at home. My sweet chocolaty smooth beer, my love, my sweet..

And then Bellhaven Black walked into my life. Tall, dark, and handsome. It has the flavor complexity of something with a higher ABV and a caramel almost smoke after flavor. I don’t know how I’ve gone this long without it. Even though we just met, like love at first sight, there is that strange feeling like I’ve always known this beer, I’ve always loved it, and I always will.

-KG

 

Tap Talk

ON A SLOW NIGHT: BEER ANECDOTES

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IPAS, Steam beers & Skunk beers

“Hey do you know why IPAs are called INDIA PALE ALES?!?”

Have you ever heard someone call an IPA an “EEE-PAH”? I have. Lets break it down… The “pale ale” part of IPA is in reference to pale malts. The India part is a little hazier.

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One of the dominant breweries distributing to the workers and communities along the route of the East India Trading Company was also popularizing and producing pale ales. The Hodgson brewing company began advertising “pale ale” by name in the late 1700s.  Batches prepared with extra hops were well received and considered fresher, and it became common knowledge that beer must be brewed with more hops to be preserved for the long hot journey to India. This has since been proven a myth, and porters along with other styles were successfully transported safely long before and after this “discovery” without such high hop content. None-the-less beer recipes demanded it, and such ales were considered “Pale Ales prepared for India”. The term evolved and the style spread for its obviously distinct taste. The first mention of “India Pale Ale” was in a Hodgson ad in the Liverpool Mercury, September 30, 1830.

Little known fact: These are all little known facts. People get this story wrong all the time. I’ve heard “A ship carrying IPA sank off the coast of England and the people liked it so much they started brewing the beer for themselves, not just for India” and “it was too hot to drink porters and other dark beers that were popular in Europe so they made the bitter hoppy ale to better suit the weather”. Lies. It’s all LIES.

Over-all point: IPA as a style distinction is vast and encompassing of a wide variety of ales. To think that the term came about as a matter of happenstance and marketing buzzwords is kind of quaint. Not as cute, perhaps, as a barrel washing up on shore, but still a story worth telling.

 “Do you know why beer bottles are usually brown or green?”

Skunky beer is not my favorite kind of beer. Isohumulones, also known as the isomerized alpha acids of hops, are the culprit. When exposed to ultra violate rays, they break down into free radicals, which then interact with sulfur containing proteins.  The product of this interaction is remarkably similar to the chemical Molotov cocktail that skunks produce when they spray. Thus, the foul warm Becks you had at last summer’s BBQ… Or every Corona you have ever had.

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Brown and green bottles help filter the light, giving the beer a fighting chance to remain as is until consumption. Some breweries have combated the light by developing hops that are less light sensitive, such as Miller’s Tetrahop Gold. But one must wonder: is a man made hop the same as a true hop? I guess it depends if you believe in God’s hops.

Little known fact: Corona’s campaign of “putting a lime in it” could revolve entirely around ridding the bad taste of hops gone bad. Of course there is something festive and tasty about a citrus spiked beer, but I am curious of this particular brand’s association with the method and if it has anything to do with the clear bottle. There is no comment on behalf of the brewery.  

Over-all point: Hide your beer!

 “Anchor Steam owns the word Steam!”

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A steam beer, also known as a California common beer or damfbier (German for “steam beer”) is made with lager yeast without the use of refrigeration. The origin of the word steam is speculative, but if it is indeed from the German version, it is in reference to the beer being brewed at higher temperatures. The beer would cool and release a steady cloud of steam above the brewery, as Anchor claims was visible above its San Francisco facilities when cool Pacific Ocean air blew over the shallow vats of brew spread across the roof.

In 1999 Anchor attempted to sue the Canadian company Sleeman for violating their rights to the term “Steam beer” which they trademarked in 1981. The suit was dismissed on account of the fact that Anchor didn’t distribute in Canada at all, and wasn’t actually in competition or conflict with Sleeman.

Little known fact: Saporro bought Sleeman in 2006 for 400 million dollars. The steam beer has since been discontinued.

Over-all point: Anchor Steam Beer is no longer a steam beer in the traditional sense, so they are kind of dicks about it. Trade marking a term that describes a whole genre of beer is petty.

Tap Talk

ON A SLOW NIGHT

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Winter is hard on the bar. The register gets a little rusty, and the low temperatures keep the amateurs at bay. Only the determined will make it out, and only the dedicated will stay out. On these dark and slow nights, the bar becomes a clubhouse of vetted members. The same faces keep showing up, and these are your Winter Regulars. The Winter Regulars are not your average regulars -- they are better.

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They are better because they choose the bar, not out of social circumstance, not out of convenience, but by their internal compass. The divining rod within! Their guts! In search of warmth, they choose our hearth.

They are a diverse bunch, but they all have me in common. I say “me”, not “the bar”, because these are the folks I get to know better than the rest. They are the folks who keep me entertained as I try to entertain them, as last call crawls just a little bit closer. We’re clocking some serious time.

Now, I’ve noticed there are some reoccurring conversations and events that comprise this special companionship -- and they are not different than what you would imagine to happen among a group of strangers stranded on a desert island, or a long car ride -- just heavily influenced by alcohol. 

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My next few posts will be dedicated to these themes, which I’ve generalized into 3 categories: JOKES, GAMES, and BEER ANECDOTES. I’ve purposely excluded LONG WINDED PERSONAL STORIES, because, well, yeah, no body wants to hear about that. 

-KG

Tap Talk

Beer Is Beautiful

sunset

We’ve seen the photos. They are all over Tumblr and Instagram. The billboards and subway ads, too. The heavenly body of beer. 

According to US advertising restrictions, each beer commercial is restricted in the following ways:

  • it may not be aimed specifically at minors or, in particular, depict minors consuming these beverages;
  • it shall not link the consumption of alcohol to enhanced physical performance or to driving;
  • it shall not create the impression that the consumption of alcohol contributes towards social or sexual success;
  • it shall not claim that alcohol has therapeutic qualities or that it is a stimulant, a sedative or a means of resolving personal conflicts;
  •  it shall not encourage immoderate consumption of alcohol or present abstinence or moderation in a negative light;
  • it shall not place emphasis on high alcoholic content as being a positive quality of the beverages.

Also, TV commercials never depict people actually consuming alcohol. Imagine a car commercial where the car stays perfectly still. A sleeping pill commercial where no body is sleeping. But what we can do is show what people might look like just before they are drinking, perhaps even holding the drink. And we can show the beer by itself. Or even becoming itself. Picture the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory montage, or better yet – the pour of the pint. The pornographic, up close, slow motion, full frontal, perfect pour from tap to glass. Yeeeah, tap that glass.

Bud Ad

There are certain times of the evening, when the sun setting will reflect on storefront windows across the street, bouncing beams back across the bar. One of these strands of light passes through the line of taps. On more than one occasion – pouring a pint of amber or lager, the swarming bubbles coalescing into a soft foam, the sun turning the glass into a bulb, glowing gold – I’ve been mesmerized. Beer is beautiful.

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- KG

Tap Talk

The Know It All

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I am not, by any means, an expert... People have worked in bars longer than I, others have tasted more brews, been in more scuffles, earned better tips, really "Seen It All".. But I do like my job, and I like to do it well. In one shift this week I had three incidents of the customer playing the "I know better than you" card, which will inevitably trump everything. The old adage "the customer is always right" isn't true but its a real fucking idiom- and the people take advantage.

Me: I think you owe me for that last drink

Customer1: No I paid you already

Me: Are you sure because...

Customer1: YES. I PAID

 

Customer2: You have any to-go-cups?

Me: No. Sorry

Customer2: Are you serious? Really? You don't?

Me: Yeah, We don't. Sorry.

Customer2: Wow.

 

Customer3: Theres a lot of head on this :::Irish accent:::

Me: yeah we pour all our beers with a good amount of head, its becau-

Customer3: Yeah but not with a lager or a IPA!

Me: Actually it’s for the-

Customer3: I mean, a stout- yes.

Me: Sorry.

Customer #1 did Not pay me. As for #2, to-go cups in New York are highly unorthodox. An open container will get you or the bar you just stepped out of a ticket and a summons. I only know of two bars in Brooklyn that are known for their to go cups and one is a cop/firefighter bar that functions somewhat above the law.                      

And customer #3.. If I had the patience to be interrupted just a few more times, I might have been able to explain to him that head on a beer is a good thing. For almost all ales. It releases the aromatics, adds a frothy texture to the first sips, and on top of it all- it looks good. At times, almost beautiful. At my bar every pour has an inch of head or even a little extra. A beer with no head could come from a tap with dirty lines, a keg with low Co2, or a bartender who knows nothing about beer. If you want all 16oz with no foam, drink a tall boy can in your apartment.                                                      

In the past month or so, our bar has acquired a new regular. He is a beer enthusiast, somewhat new to the game. I think coming to the bar every day and reading our beer descriptions has largely informed his sense of taste and expertise. Yes, "expertise". Every customer that approaches the bar on either side of his stool will get a menu handed to them from His hand, not mine. They will then be informed as to what He is drinking, how much He likes it, and what else He can recommend from the list. He likes to throw around the same adjectives, in a different order, that we have listed on our sheet. He likes to choose beers for strangers. He likes to offer his beverage for others to taste.

Someday soon, when I just cant take it anymore, I'm going to stop him. I am going to say something like "SHUT UP SHUT THE FUCK UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP- Do I come to your place of work, and try to do your job for you!?" So much of drinking is about personal enjoyment, with friends, strangers, or completely alone. Do you want some random telling you what you should be drinking before you've even had a chance to hang your coat? Do you want your bartender schooling you about your misconceptions in between rounds? No body likes a know-it-all... and if they do, they're probably just pretending because it's part of the job. And sometimes "being right" is just part of being a customer.

-KG

Tap Talk

How We Talk When We Talk About Beer

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Before I worked at a craft beer bar, I knew few words to adequately describe what it was I wanted to be drinking. So I took to a kind of prosaic poetry:

I want a crisp meadow of a beer.

I want a beer that tastes like the kind of candy old people like.

A beer that is 10% pennies and 90% mineral water. Like water from the spring in Tuck Everlasting.

Bready cardboard beer with extra fizz.

Mouthwash booze beer with extra snow flavor.

Tastes like a library book, smells like a library book.

I want a beer in a short skirt and a long jacket.

But now I possess the vocabulary. You want to talk hops lets talk hops. You wanna talk mouthfeel, IBUs, ABV, yeast and malts, lets talk.

But preference, like language, can be subjective, and every customer is different. One of our rotating 14 taps is going to be a better match than the other 13. It is my job to guide them. Some people come up to the bar knowing exactly what they’re looking for. Others – not so much.

Customer1: Hey I’m looking for a strong IPA that’s not too hoppy- like not bitter at all. And light.

Me: Try this blonde ale.

Customer1: Is it an IPA?

Me: Not exactly.

 

Customer2: Hey uh I see on this list you got all this crap, like these Christmas beers and whatever, but do you have any normal beer?

Me: uh, excuse me?

Customer2: Like you got all this crap I’ve never heard of – but like, you don’t have any regular beer?

Me: have a Pilsner.

 

Customer3: Whats good here?

Me: Its all good but depends what you like.

Customer3: what do you like?

Me: Right now I’m into the stouts and porters. Anything with a malty chocolate or coffee flavor. The stout on nitro right now is a milk stout- made with sugars from milk. It’s smooth and tastier than a Guinness.

Customer: I’ll have a pilsner.

 

At a craft beer bar, no matter how celebrated, the average customer is more akin to a curious newbie or something of a fan. Sure I encounter aspiring brew masters, but this is Brooklyn and everyone drinks beer.

My job is simple. I am but a conduit between the drinker and the drink. Armed only with a menu and a language, I pursue harmony. At the end of the exchange, I just want the person to enjoy their beer, and to tip me. 

-KG

Tap Talk

How We Talk When We Talk About Beer

image

Before I worked at a craft beer bar, I knew few words to adequately describe what it was I wanted to be drinking. So I took to a kind of prosaic poetry:

I want a crisp meadow of a beer.

I want a beer that tastes like the kind of candy old people like.

A beer that is 10% pennies and 90% mineral water. Like water from the spring in Tuck Everlasting.

Bready cardboard beer with extra fizz.

Mouthwash booze beer with extra snow flavor.

Tastes like a library book, smells like a library book.

I want a beer in a short skirt and a long jacket.

But now I possess the vocabulary. You want to talk hops lets talk hops. You wanna talk mouthfeel, IBUs, ABV, yeast and malts, lets talk.

But preference, like language, can be subjective, and every customer is different. One of our rotating 14 taps is going to be a better match than the other 13. It is my job to guide them. Some people come up to the bar knowing exactly what they’re looking for. Others – not so much.

Customer1: Hey I’m looking for a strong IPA that’s not too hoppy- like not bitter at all. And light.

Me: Try this blonde ale.

Customer1: Is it an IPA?

Me: Not exactly.

 

Customer2: Hey uh I see on this list you got all this crap, like these Christmas beers and whatever, but do you have any normal beer?

Me: uh, excuse me?

Customer2: Like you got all this crap I’ve never heard of – but like, you don’t have any regular beer?

Me: have a Pilsner.

 

Customer3: Whats good here?

Me: Its all good but depends what you like.

Customer3: what do you like?

Me: Right now I’m into the stouts and porters. Anything with a malty chocolate or coffee flavor. The stout on nitro right now is a milk stout- made with sugars from milk. It’s smooth and tastier than a Guinness.

Customer: I’ll have a pilsner.

 

At a craft beer bar, no matter how celebrated, the average customer is more akin to a curious newbie or something of a fan. Sure I encounter aspiring brew masters, but this is Brooklyn and everyone drinks beer.

My job is simple. I am but a conduit between the drinker and the drink. Armed only with a menu and a language, I pursue harmony. At the end of the exchange, I just want the person to enjoy their beer, and to tip me. 

-KG