Friday, May 31, 2013

This Is Not the Beer I Wanted

I have a bone to pick with Brooklyn Brewery. Sort of.

One of my "must dos" of visiting New York City last weekend was to pay a visit to this long-standing craft brewery. Until then, I had only tried two of their beers: one, I liked a lot; the other, not so much. In going directly to the source, I would try a few of their offerings and make a decision as to whether I would give them any more of my attention.

Brooklyn Brewery is located in Williamsburg, a neighbourhood of Brooklyn, where Brewmaster Garrett Oliver has been creating liquid gold since 1989. The main brewery boasts a large, open beer hall that accommodates 150 or so people and is bare bones as far as ambiance. But for the beer lover, we don't always need a pretty environment in which to consume our beer, so long as the beer is worth drinking.

And Brooklyn Brewery's beer is certainly worth drinking.

During my stay in NYC, I tried their Lager (liked it), Summer Ale (liked it), IPA (really liked it), and their one-off, Blast IPA (loved it).

At the brewery, I purchased five tokens for $20 and got in line for the bar. The line was quite long, but moved quickly. In the hall were many long tables and a few lounge chairs, so my friend and I figured we would be able to find a place to sit and try whatever selections we chose. After having consumed many pints the previous night, and after having reviewed six samplers during lunch, we decided to share three pints with the five tokens. Our choices: the Scorcher #366 IPA, the Silver Anniversary Lager, and the Blast.

While I enjoyed the Silver Anniversary Lager (2013 marks the 25th anniversary of the brewery) and the Scorcher, I really loved the hoppy bitterness and refreshing flavours of the Blast. When my friend and I had finished our glasses, I decided that I would pick up a few bottles and do a proper review when I returned home.

It was at the merchandise counter that I learned that Blast was only available on tap. Oh, the horror!

The woman behind the counter recommended that I try another beer, the BamBoozle, and she proceeded to describe it (I won't do it here, but you can read about it here). I ordered four bottles.

Sadly, on my way from the brewery to the subway, one of those bottles didn't survive the journey. As I set it on the ground to purchase a subway ticket, the cork that sealed the bottle blew and the contents flowed out like an angry volcano. With a heavy heart, and jeans smelling of a beer hall, I threw the spent bottle out and poured its contents from the plastic bag into a waste container.

Last night, after having carefully carted the remaining bottles home, I pulled one out to conduct a review. Only to find that it was I who had been bamboozled.

The bottles that the woman sold me were not this honeyed, malted brew I had been persuaded to take: instead, I found three bottles of the Silver Anniversary Lager, the beer that I had liked but not as much as the others.

Bait and switch much, Brooklyn?

I'd show them: I'd give this beer a proper review. So here goes.

Silver Anniversary Lager (9% ABV)

Appearance: a deep apricot colour with reddish-brown tones, and a thick, foamy head that leaves a thin cap.

Nose: mild, orange citrus and light hops.

Palate: orange rind, lightly burnt toffee, with a mild coffee finish that is well-balanced between a hoppy bitterness and a malty sweetness.

Overall impression: this is a rich-bodied dobblebock lager for a serious session. The high alcohol content doesn't come out at first, but after a couple of sips it begins to linger in the finish, though not enough to overpower. Instead, it culminates to a raspy honey aftertaste.

Beer O'Clock rating: 3.5

Well-played, Brooklyn. I had nothing bad to say about this lager while I was drinking it in your establishment, but I found the other ales I tried had blown it away. Now that I had it on its own, I discovered it was even better than when I had it on Saturday.

Perhaps my disappointment in not having the talked-up BamBoozle has been alleviated with this second chance. I'm glad I had the opportunity to give this lager a fair shake. It may not have been the beer I had thought was being sold to me, but I'm happy it was the beer I was given. Of course, now I also want to try the BamBoozle.

If only I could be compensated for the bottle that popped on my way back to the hotel... (hint, hint).


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