Ep. 19-& Homebrewing & Dark City Bond Street Brownie Brown Ale & Newburgh Checkpoint Charlie Berliner Weisse

Hey everyone and welcome to this special, guest-less episode of People & Pints & Podcasts! I decided to try an episode that I had been thinking about for awhile: a homebrew experiment! I am very new to homebrewing but hopefully I was able to give a pretty good description of my process as I brewed! I also, of course, enjoyed some craft beer on the show. If this episode is actually decent I might try recording and brewing with other people. Either way, I hope you enjoy this episode and I’ll be sure to update you all with how my beer turns out!

I’ve mentioned this on previous episodes, but I was given a homebrewing kit from my girlfriend Rosa! Rosa picked up the kit from Box Brew Kits, which comes with all the basics for brewing. It came with a recipe pack for a Pumpkin Ale, but I’m going to hold off on that until the fall. Instead I followed a separate recipe from the Box Brew Kits handbook for “Tropic Thunder Citra IPA.” I picked up my ingredients from love2brew, an awesome homebrew store, in North Brunswick, NJ.

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2-Row Brewer’s Malt/Carapils Malt/Carawheat Malt, Citra Hops, Safale US-05 Ale Yeast

The brewing process is pretty straightforward once you have all the ingredients. As I mention in the episode, two of the most important things are temperature control and proper sanitation. I tried to break down the process as I went through each step but feel free to reach out with any questions. As I try to make clear, I am not an expert. BUT I am more than willing to help with anything if I can!

Even though this episode was quite different, I made sure to include a staple: drinking beer. So, I sampled two beers from breweries in the area.

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Bond Street Brownie from Dark City Brewing Co.

First, I tried a brown ale from Dark City Brewing Co. called Bond Street Brownie. I usually enjoy brown ales and I did enjoy Bond Street Brownie. I found it a little more bitter than I particularly like, but certainly still worth trying! I described it as Dracula, picking up a little bit of red in the ominous brown/black color of this beer. Moreover, I noticed the bitter bite in this otherwise relatively smooth brown ale. Next, I said that the ideal drinking time is later in the evening, potentially with a dessert! As I said, this isn’t a sweet brown ale so I think it could go well with a sweet dessert. Lastly, I admitted that I think I can only have one of these before switching to something else. Again, not a knock on the beer but I just think I’d need a break from Bond Street Brownie.

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Checkpoint Charlie from Newburgh Brewing Co.

Next, I sampled the very citrusy, tart berliner weisse from Newburgh Brewing Co. dubbed Checkpoint Charlie. I really liked this take on the berliner weisse and described it as conflict (apt for its name). I think one might really like this beer (me) or really dislike this beer (my dad). Next, I said the ideal drinking location would definitely be outside and at the beach. This refreshing, tart beer is perfect for a muggy, hot day. Lastly, compared to the Bond Street Brownie, I said I could have five or six Checkpoint Charlie’s in one sitting.

I’ll put a series of pictures below and please listen to the episode to see how I try brewing!

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The Mash

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First round of hops

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The boil

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Ice bath!!

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My beer!

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Hope you enjoyed the episode and subscribe on iTunes!

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Ep. 18-& Jace & Aslin Master of Karate IPA

Hey everyone and welcome to another episode of People & Pints & Podcasts! I had a few meetings to take in Washington, D.C. so I was able to schedule an episode with Jace Gonnerman, Beverage Director at three D.C. craft beer-focused restaurants. We met at one of his locations, Brookland Pint. Jace chatted about some of his responsibilities and his take on the local craft beer scene. I also took an informal tour and chatted with the Head Brewer of Right Proper Brewing Co., Nathan Zeender. Nathan had me sample my way through some of Right Proper’s outstanding beers and I really enjoyed learning about his process. Hopefully next time we’ll record some audio!

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Interior of Brookland Pint

Jace found craft beer rather serendipitously. He made his way from Indiana to the East Coast but hadn’t really found any job he loved. After bartending and gaining some beer chops, he applied for and secured a position with Meridian Pint. After some time he rose to become beverage director of Meridian Pint, Smoke & Barrel and Brookland Pint. Jace handles all beverages but has a specific understanding of beer. He spoke about his role and what goes into curating a beer list. “We want to make sure that we’re never forgetting about the average craft beer consumer.” Creating a balanced selection, that includes both local and quality out of state options, is potentially one of Jace’s more difficult tasks. However, he has managed to keep an emphasis on “both local and fresh,” understanding what consumers are looking for.

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Jace pouring some beer

Jace happened to bring in some beer from Virginia and was generous enough to share! We both really enjoyed Master of Karate from Aslin Brewing Co. Jace prompted our drinking by saying that Master of Karate is the highest rated beer from Virginia on BeerAdvocate. I wasn’t very surprised and loved the big juicy, citrus flavors similar to Julius from much-revered Tree House Brewing Co. in Monson, MA. We got into our fun review process as Jace used the word “juicy” to describe Master of Karate and I settled on “candy” to describe the type of sweetness of this IPA. We both agreed on whom we would order the beer for. Jace noted that it is a typical beer nerd IPA and would certainly order it for someone who is really into IPAs. I agreed but noted that I thought it hit both sides of the spectrum. I felt that it would be a very good introduction to the style as it has a more subtle bitterness. Lastly, we tried to determine the ideal time to enjoy this beer. Jace said, with a laugh, that it would be a good morning beer and I didn’t complain with that time period. I went broader and just suggested summer but, as we recorded at 11 am, it ended up being a morning beer.

Jace then shifted and talked about the DC craft beer scene at large. He noted how it had “come a long way  in a short period of time.” The scene has grown quickly and has become noteworthy and, importantly, accessible. I’ve certainly become impressed by DC’s beer offerings but I pressed Jace on the surrounding beer culture. Having spoken with people in DC and familiarized myself with the city, I asked Jace about the “Type-A” personality of DC and how that coincides with the community of craft beer. Jace was pretty confident that exclusivity or hyped-competition was not a significant part of the craft beer scene in DC. Jace shared some insights on trends in craft including the push for lagers and sours. On the flip side, Jace looked, hesitantly, toward the future saying, “the bubble is going to burst…eventually.”

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FullSizeRender (26)IMG_4146One brewery that is going strong in D.C. is Right Proper Brewing Co. I was invited to their Brookland Production House and was happy to just walk down the street from Brookland Pint and meet with Nathan, Head Brewer for Right Proper. Nathan was busy brewing but was happy to yell over the sound of the grain mill. Nathan also took the time to pour some beers for me to sample and directed me through their process, highlighting their gorgeous oak foudres. The beer was fantastic and I was thrilled when Nathan sent me away with their rustic witbier, White Bicycles, brewed with black limes and fermented in the foudres with “house-mixed culture of wild yeasts.” My dad and I enjoyed splitting the beer over a great Father’s Day dinner!

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I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode and I will certainly try to get some audio with Nathan next time I’m in D.C.! Please subscribe to the show on iTunes!

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Ep. 17-& Dave & Climax Brewing Co.

Hey everyone and welcome to this week’s episode of People & Pints & Podcasts! This week I stopped by Climax Brewing Co. in Roselle Park, NJ. Dave, the owner and operator of Climax, is a self-proclaimed “old-timer” and has been in the industry for at least 25 years. Climax itself is the oldest microbrewery in New Jersey and Dave has seen the rise in popularity of craft beer both in NJ and around the country. He had a lot to share and certainly some grievances with the state of affairs in New Jersey, particularly with alcohol legislation. Moreover, he has maintained his standard of quality and his dedication to the process over the years. Dave has said that beer is both an art and a science but he also shared that it is a “strict discipline.” After we recorded Dave took me through the beers on tap and sent me away with a few beers. After sharing that my good friend Bill–as announced on our last episode–will be shipping out with the army to South Korea by way of Fort Knox, Dave made sure that we would send him off with some good beer. “Make sure you drink this with your friend.”

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It becomes pretty clear, after getting briefly familiarized with the craft beer scene in New Jersey, that the legislation doesn’t make brewing beer easy. And Dave had a lot to say about the “archaic” nature of some of these laws. Others have harped on the issues with beer in New Jersey but unfortunately there hasn’t been much change. Dave mentioned his hesitation to believe that new breweries are successful, particularly with the amount of red tap to get through. Still, Dave has stayed in business for 20 years, without sinking to gimmick beer, so maybe there is hope for NJ craft beer.

Dave is very critical of the gimmicky trends that tend to pop up in craft beer. He sticks to what he knows and what he enjoys, not deviating to brew a crazy hop bomb or a weird concoction with crazy fruit in it. Dave follows the Reinheitsgebot, a set of German purity laws for beer. I didn’t mean to sound patronizing when I mentioned that Climax beer would be a good introduction to craft beer. Dave’s beer is very approachable and balanced and can guide new drinkers toward different styles.

Dave is also proud of his system of taking on brewers. Climax has become known as something of a training facility, churning out excellent brewers who go on to become head-brewers at other breweries. Dave, who started as a homebrewer and the owner of a homebrew shop, felt that it would be worthwhile to take on talented homebrewers and teach them the professional brewing process.

Although Dave may be considered a stickler for the old ways or for tradition, he has plans for innovation and change. With the recent legislation allowing for taprooms, Dave has tried to expand his options for serving beer on premise. He mentioned his hopes to build out a nice, comfortable taproom within his space. Still, he’s more than happy to have people visit on Friday or Saturday night as hours allow.

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Enjoying the Climax American Pale Ale before Bill ships out

We hope you enjoyed this episode of People & Pints & Podcasts and check back soon for another episode!

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Ep. 16-& Bill & Bolero Snort Explorabull IPA

Hey everyone and welcome to this week’s episode of People & Pints & Podcasts! I apologize for the delay but I’m glad we could have my good friend Bill back on the show. He will be away on a trip for ROTC during the summer so I was happy to have him on the show before he left. Bill and I chose Explorabull IPA from Bolero Snort, a New Jersey craft brewery. We used the usual, fun review process to talk about the beer before moving on to a more laid back conversation!

If you don’t remember Bill you can find his first two appearances here and here! Bill announced that he will be leaving for the summer, going to South Korea via Fort Knox. I’ve known Bill for a long time and was excited to chat with him about his upcoming trip. We also talked about a bon voyage dinner we will be having with a few friends in Little Italy.

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Our beer talk, as per usual, was definitely fun and enlightening (hopefully). Bill passed on his one word description but I said it could either be “easy” or “woodsy.” We then tried to decide what Explorabull’s spirit animal would be. Bill said “work horse” while I went with a hunting dog. We both agreed it wasn’t a showy beer, but a steady, reliable drink. My final review question was: what is the ideal drinking location? Bill, as we checked in on USA playing Costa Rica in the Copa America, decided it would be best enjoyed while watching a soccer game on a couch with friends. I, alternatively, suggested Explorabull would be best enjoyed in just a standard bar, poured from the tap. Before we wrapped up the beer section, Bill threw two bonus prompts for us: where does Explorabull go to university and what is Boston College’s beer? Both were unexpected and tough to answer. Bill went with UVA for his first prompt while I chose Amherst. Then, I chose Harpoon IPA as BC’s beer and Bill went with Magic Hat #9.

We transitioned away from the beer as Bill described his upcoming trips to Fort Knox and South Korea. He also shared some tough news that his “flight packet” was denied, which meant he can’t be a pilot. Still, Bill seemed upbeat about his trip and definitely for our dinner at Puglia in New York City.

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With a not so strong segue, we started talking about the role nostalgia plays in our lives. We are both entering our senior year of university and I have been thinking of something I was told recently. “Don’t graduate…college is the best four years of your life.” This was said partially in jest, but it was still a weird comment to me. The notion of nostalgia, generally, is tough to nail down. It means ” a homecoming” but it isn’t always thought of in that way. Ultimately, Bill and I agreed that learning from the past is good but dwelling in it can be unhealthy.

We returned to the beer toward the end of the episode for a definitive rating. Bill gave it “a hat trick and a penalty kick” aka an 8/10 and I agreed! Explorabull is a solid beer and deserved a solid rating.

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We hope you enjoyed our conversation and check back soon for more!