Sunday, April 7, 2013

Starting a craft beer business

Hey there!! Sorry about  the lack of posts.  My intention was to start writing about the trials and tribulations of starting Growler & Gill Craft Beer Shoppe back in October when we first opened.  Unfortunately, since we've opened, the reception from the community has been so over-whelmingly positive that we haven't had time to catch our breath much less write about it.  All I can say at this point is that I hope I don't get too many opportunities to write.  That would mean that things are still going well. Some of the quick stats I can report are:

* We started with about 500 different bottled beers and now we have over 650
* We have gone through countless kegs on our 16 rotating taps
* We have added  menu of beer-centric food
* We have had over 25 breweries in for free beer tastings
* We are planning an outdoor beer garden behind our store
* We have embarked on our first beer festival called the Lower Hudson Valley Beer Festival

Like I said, I don't know how much time I'll have, but I will try to give regular updates



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday Cheer

It was Thanksgiving in Connecticut and in addition to the traditional Chardonnay and Cabernet, this year I presented a variety of craft beers to accompany the meal. While this new twist on the holiday beverage selection was met with some initial opposition, it soon became apparent that craft beer could hold its own against wine for any meal.

The first beer I presented was a Belgian Triple from St. Feuillien It paired very well with a creamy goat’s milk triple cream brie by Portneuf, and a more aggressive gorgonzola. The crisp, bright notes of the St. Feuillien balanced out the richness of the cheese, but were never overpowering. It is this balance that also let the triple work well with the sweet, briny shrimp we served as a second appetizer. Again, some clung to their trusty Chardonnay, but those who tased the St. Feuillien, agreed it was a welcome addition.

For the main course, I wanted to offer two distinctly different beers based on what the guests wanted. For those who wanted to stick with white wine, I offered a clean, crisp Radeberger Pilsner, and for those who preferred a stronger red, I offered a Maredsous Abbey Brown Ale. These two beers masterfully handle the complexity of flavors at a Thanksgiving table (turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc). The Radeberger was a nice counter-balance to the rich, buttery flavors, while the Maredsous was a fine compliment to creamy potatoes, earthy stuffing, and herbed, roast turkey.

For the desert, a classic pumpkin pie, the craft beer was a clear cut homerun. I presented two seasonal winter ales: Southern Tier 2XMAS, and Ithaca Cold Front. The cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves notes were nothing short of brilliant when paired with the very same ingredients in the pie. Yes, I know, a tasty pumpkin ale could have served the purpose, but I had an alterior motive: to bring these very ales to the Christmas dinner table. All in all, it was a grand meal, and helped support the case that craft beer is a good meal’s best friend.

Happy holidays to all,


Friday, November 16, 2012

Keegan's Brewery - Kingston, NY

Built in an unassuming brick factory on the outskirts of Kingston , NY is Keegan's Brewery.  The low key facade hides a large space that looks as if it could house well over 100 people.  There is a huge projector TV that shows NFL games on Sundays. The menu is short but very well prepared.

Their beer list is diverse but their flagship is aptly named Mother's Milk Stout.  It's rich and creamy like a chocolate shake.  For those who need even more flavor, try their Jo Mama's Milk Imperial Stout.  It adds a dose of coffee to all that sweetness and jacks the ABV up to 8%.  

If you are lucky, like we were, you'll catch Tommy Keegan at the bar.  We sat and talked beer for a while.  He spoke of living upstairs above the brewery for the first couple of years before his beer really caught on.  Tommy is about as down-to-Earth as they come.  

Makes me happy when I tap one of his kegs at Growler & Gill to support a local business man who is also a great guy.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Terrapin Pumpkinfest Review: The Perfect Marriage of Pumpkin Beer and Oktoberfest

Terrapin Pumpkinfest Review: The Perfect Marriage of Pumpkin Beer and Oktoberfest

Autumn is the greatest for seasonal beer releases, simply because that's when Pumpkin craft beers and traditional Oktoberfest beers are released.  Why did it take this long for somebody to come along and decide to brew both together?  We don't really know but we're glad that Terrapin finally came to the mind blowing decision to do so.

This wasn't exactly the easiest task either, traditionally an oktoberfest is a lager and a pumpkin beer is an ale.  This meant that Terrapin had to find a way to mix the two beer styles and marry their flavors effectively at the same time.  The end result was pumpkinfest, a pumpkin lager.

They did an impressive job albeit difficult circumstances.  The beer stands up very much so overall as a pumpkin beer rather than an oktoberfest.

The smell has a very strong smell of pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices but also opens up with a very rich malty scent.

The taste itself initially is more akin to a traditional oktoberfest beer but on the back end opens up to a pumpkin flavor with plenty of pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, nutmeg).  But what keeps it balanced in between the pumpkin and oktoberfest is definitely the marriage of the pumpkin flavors with a bready and caramel malt flavor all throughout.

Overall it is an impressive brew, it might not be my first choice for the fall season but it does accomplish two beer styles in one.  I'm rather excited to see if other breweries take on this task, I'd be interested to see what others could come up with.

Check last weeks first pumpkin review of the season (Dogfish Head Punkin Ale).

Terrapin Pumpkinfest 7.5/10

Monday, September 24, 2012

Beer Barrel Bourbon Whiskey: Not What You Think It Is

No, we didn't just title this post backwards.  This one really is about Beer Barrel Bourbon Craft Whiskey not Bourbon Barrel Aged Craft Beer.

The one and only New Holland Brewing Co and Artisan Spirits of Michigan has elected to start reversing this great barrel aging process.  It's well known in the craft industry that old bourbon barrels make for great beer, but nobody yet has tried this reverse process (nobody we know of at least).

New Holland will be using barrels from their famed Dragon's Milk Stout which itself is aged in Bourbon Barrels.

Here's some information from New Holland itself,

"Beer Barrel Bourbon is first aged in new American oak barrels for several years, before a three month beer-y slumber. The beer-barrel aging lends biscuity notes and a smooth malt character to the robust whiskey tones of toffee and caramel."

I don't know about you guys, but this is something I'm rather excited for.  I love beer, I love whiskey and I really love Bourbon Barrel Aged Beer.  It seems only logical that most of us out there seeking artisan crafted drinks will naturally enjoy Beer Barrel Bourbon.

Keep an eye out this goodness should be released on the first of October.