Who are you?
It may not look like it, but my roots are German.
New York left me in a dry spell last year, drinking nothing but Yuengling and Heineken in bulk from Rite Aide. I moved to Los Angeles trying my luck as an actor, realized how much I hate casinos, and saddled-up to the bar. Fortunately, that bar belonged to The Brewery at Abigaile. The spice of life in their West Coast IPA was just the inspiration I needed to volunteer an extra hand on brew day. Milling grain at sunrise over the Pacific and listening to King Diamond during mash-in was probably the first honest day’s work in my life. I learned that good beer is as simple as quality and quantity ingredients. Instead of chasing auditions, I began to chase beer all over California.
Why are you here?
The west is best but NYC is home. Let’s face it—life is competition and there are few industries where competitors support each other like craft beer. That said, there is a gulf of taste between east coast and west, big as the difference between lagers and ales. California boasts double, triple, dry-hopped everything and created a distinctly American industry in the process. I found a shared vision and spirit in Colorado, south to midwest, but New York is comparatively dry.
BeerAndTheCity began as a travel blog to document my time on the road. The purpose is now to answer why NY beer is rooted in more traditional, conservative recipes and identify local brewers changing the grid and challenging their audience. With IPA as the benchmark, we hope to crown a definitive East Coast India Pale Ale. My goal is to support the critical, cultural rise of microbrew in a macro-city. And, just to keep things interesting, we’ll do it all to a soundtrack of heavy metal.
Metal—what’s that all about?
Metal or not metal, that is the question. Metal is an all-encompassing term of approval, like the way women use *cute* but so much more hardcore. Wink. It’s no secret that I consider hops a magical desert island fruit, but instead of getting stranded in sensory analysis, I keep my rating simple. If a beer is Metal, it holds weight; a solid backbone with distinct voicing overhead. And just like hops, not all metal is bitter without imagination. In my experience, where there is good beer, there is heavy music and a brewmaster that plays guitar. I’m convinced working at a craft brewery is the only practical job for would-be rock stars. If beer is not metal, well, chances are it signed with a major label but kept the PO Box in Williamsburg.
So many potshots at Brooklyn; why all the hate?
Again—Williamsburg. And by Williamsburg, I mean hipsters. By hipsters, I mean PBR (though Modelo seems to be the next big thing). Pabst Blue Ribbon is a corporate product endlessly marketed with nostalgia, just like North Brooklyn these days. To my surprise, I recently complimented a guy waiting for the L train and wearing a t-shirt from Stone Brewing Company. Perhaps Bedford Avenue had finally swilled enough fizzy yellow beer. He scoffed thanks and explained to his friend it was one of the few shirts that didn’t look made for middle-aged brewers. If civilization can be judged by the beer it drinks, Billyburg has it coming.
OK…do you really believe beer is better than sex?
I’m glad you asked. So far, the strongest objection to my blog has been from a 76 year old radical (possibly 77 now), claiming that even the worst sex he ever had was pretty good and certainly better than beer. You’ll be happy to know he’s still virile. Please understand: the tagline is meant to be read as Beer is better than Sex [and the City], to undo any harm done by the ladies who lunch. As the microbrew movement began to pick-up speed elsewhere in the 90’s, ‘Sex and the City’ submerged New York in wine and cocktail culture. Doubtful that Carrie Bradshaw ever slummed it, but if she did I’m sure it was with the champagne of beers.
On a side note, I will say that sex is all the better now that my fiancé and I can talk craft beer to each other before…during…after…
Gross. Safe to say you’re a beer snob?
Yes. Not all beer is created equal. It’s amusing when commercial brands are praised for consistency even though what they do is consistently bad. So long as Pabst is cool, Blue Moon is craft, Sam Adams is anything more than a gateway beer and New York brewers stick to flagship lagers and blondes, murky/dirty IPA’s, the term beer snob is necessary. Every season is not meant to be sessionable.
I’ll probably regret asking, but what’s in all this for you?
I fully believe that beer will save my life, and hope to be writing you this time next year from the Great American Beer Festival.