Brewery

Other Half, Brooklyn NY

There's few places in New York, that has seen the same level of success as the good folks over at Other Half. After less than three years, they've risen to success as a stand-out in the ever expanding beer scene. With an intense focus on hoppy quenchers and the importance of being a local brewery, they haven't seemed to slow down, since their doors opened to the public.

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My visit this February marks my second time coming through the doors in Brooklyn. Contrary to last visit, there's a beer release on this particular day - a collaboration with Russian Zagovor Brewery.

It's a long time coming as the Imperial Stout has been sitting on French Oak Red Wine Barrels. Those same barrels has then been stuffed with birch staves soaked in Armenian Brandy. If that's not enough, some of the beer have gotten raspberries and cocoa nibs added, hence a double release. I grabbed one of each to take home.

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More on Space Soyez Sauce (as it's called) later...

The warehouse and the bar is as packed as ever, with very few places to stand and even fewer to sit. I fight for a place just next to the bar, perfect view for the taplist and not getting in the way of the line, that seems to stretch out the door. Today there's even a door man, who suggest I get a Motueke + Galaxy.

I obliged!

I obliged!

It may or may not have been a good idea. Starting with an Imperial IPA could seem counterintuitive, as I would like to try more than one beer. None the less, it lives up to the name with tons of fruit, as I've come to expect from Other Half. Slight note of citrus evens it out a bit, and only the bitterness seems to be slightly missing.

The missing bitterness seems to have fled to 3rd Anniversary, I had the day before. 

But as my day has already included two other breweries (Interboro + Finback) and I'm not yet done for the day, I find my last beer on the board, Small Green Everything. Not straying far from the usual, with massive amounts of fruit and citrus. Would've been even better as a starter, but none the less it convinces me I need to bring home some more beers from Other Half.

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Before heading home I get a hold of a can of Hop Showers, in a surprise trading for one of my Finback cans, and a bottle of Cane Life, a collaboration with J. Wakefield. They all fit nicely in my suitcase.

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An American comes to Europe

When you take a good look at Stone, it's hard to combine that with the words micro brewery. But 'craft' is still deeply ingrained in their DNA. With several outlets in the US, they're the first American brewery to open their own facility overseas. Something like that doesn't go un-noticed. With such a name and brand behind you, there's bound to a grand opening party. And as a participant, I can guarantee they succeeded.

Part of the restaurant.

Part of the restaurant.

This is my second visit to Stone, as I was there only two months ago. Back then there was still a lot left to be done, but everyone pulled through and out of seemingly nothing an enormous beer garden rose. My partner in crime for the opening was Andrew and according to him, the Berlin chapter looks and feels quite a lot like the one in Escondido - in a really good way. Big, open, spacious and playful comes to mind, but organic and friendly shouldn't be left out. This place is massive, even if I tried to not count the outdoor area, which seems to be taken directly from California and planted in Berlin.

Andrew with our first couple of beers.

Andrew with our first couple of beers.

But what makes this so special, is not only the restaurant and beer garden. If not even more important, the brewery. The corner stone (pun intended) is the beer and all of the flagship beers will now be brewed in Berlin, with local, fresh ingredients. And that's important, especially for Berlin!

A city that seems to be in it's infancy when it comes to craft beer. Double IPA's are a rare sight, Imperial Stouts are far between, and craft beer places are in general hard to come by, spread across the city. With a giant production like Stone, the small brewers have got some serious competition on their hands.

One of the out door bars. Notice the Stone Farking W00tstout.

One of the out door bars. Notice the Stone Farking W00tstout.

Previously mention w00tstout posing for the camera

Previously mention w00tstout posing for the camera

I won't go into too much detail about what was present at the opening, mostly because I didn't take notes, but also because that list would be massive. I believe to have heard there was 88 different beers on tap during the opening night, where most was in the main bar located in the restaurant, some were in the library bar and yet some more were located outside at smaller stands. 

Fresh hops.

Fresh hops.

My hope is for Stone to bring their Enjoy By series to Berlin and start putting some much needed focus on freshness. Whether that'll be the case or not, Stone is here to stay and I'll be on the sideline, watching, waiting. Anticipating!

The happiest man at the opening

The happiest man at the opening

On a sidenote, I got to meet Greg (the happiest man at the opening) while he was in Copenhagen only a couple of weeks later. I even got to serve him food at Banksia, before bugging him about various beer related geeky questions at Taphouse.

Stone Brewing, welcome to Berlin and welcome to Copenhagen. 

Great Notion, Portland OR

It's never a surpsise that there's still places in Portland I haven't yet been to. I do feel like I've found my favorites, but this time around, I can add an extra stop to my "usuals". Before even setting a foot at the premises I talked to my sister-in-law about the lack of IPA centric moguls in Portland, despite the massive amount of breweries. Not many of the breweries known outside of Portland have hit the IPA goldmine yet, but Great Notion is about to change that.

Lumberjack

Lumberjack

Located in Alberta, where the Mash Tun used to reside and filled to the brim with lumberjacks from various artist. One of them happens to a favorite of mine, Timber, whose shirts I am wearing as I'm writing this. The place is fairly big, yet quite spacious, with the bar taking only a small part of the area, surrounded by tables of various sizes. We're quickly seated and handed menus.

Highlights from the menu

Highlights from the menu

The first thing that catches my eyes are what you see above. House dry hopped Bourbon, but more about that later. I needed to work up some courage for it.

Great Notion, Juice Jr.

Great Notion, Juice Jr.

But beer was what we came for, and the beers did not dissapoint. Juice Jr. was my first choice, as I was still trying to work up to that Bourbon, a six percent IPA seemed like the right choice. The juice part was spot on, with a huge amount of fruit and a mouthfeel thicker than most. Meanwhile Sister-in-law picked a heavier IPA called Ripe. Good, but Juice Jr. was a hard act to follow. The Editor picked a Blueberry Muffin (beer, not actual muffin!) - a sour ale, that delivered exactly what it says on the tin. Tons of blueberries on the nose, but a light and refreshing sour aspect, that balances everything so perfectly!

Sister-in-law and Bourbon

Sister-in-law and Bourbon

And with the lighter beers out of the way, we're ready for some dry hopped Bourbon - and some fries. The bourbon was... interesting. Unlike anything I've tried before, I might not order it again, but it did give me great ideas for some cocktails. More on that later.

Bourbon, hops and fries.

Bourbon, hops and fries.

Beer menu.

Beer menu.

Funky Brewster and Double Stack we're last on the list. While Funky Brewster was an excellent beer it paled in comparison to Double Stack. Most things will though. An 8.5% Stout with loads of pancake, maple syrup and a mouthfeel that's rarely seen in beers this "easy". Might even have been on of my favorite beers on my whole trip to Portland this time around.

My only concern was the amount of taps. It seemed like a lot of them were left empty and that cut our visit a bit shorter. But the quality of the beers is enough to warrant another visit next time i arrive in PDX.

De Garde, Corvallis OR

I've been to Oregon a few times, and I've been close to Corvallis enough times to almost smell the brewery. Fourth times seems to be the charm as I finally made my way to the warehouse that holds one of my favorite sour breweries.

Carved in wood.  

Carved in wood.  

Up there with Castillon, on the top shelf in my cellar, is where I stash my De Garde beers. As they're hard to come by around these parts, I try to spread it out as best I can. Going to a brewery feels as close to unlimited supply as it ever gets - it's like heaven... 

Taste the rainbow.  

Taste the rainbow.  

Everything in the taproom seems so well thought out. The tables, all the memorabilia on the walls, the neat shelfs in the top and the backdrop of the bar. It's exactly what you'd expect from de Garde. Classy without being overly flashy, yet still cosy enough to easily let people spend several hours on the premises. 

We ended up trying the whole menu on the board alongside a couple of bottles, and we of course ran in to some new favorites.  

Cantillon, artwork and a guy with a donkey on his head. 

Cantillon, artwork and a guy with a donkey on his head. 

Avenue no. 2 was probably the most interesting that day. A farmhouse sour with Marion berries aged on oak, already sounds intriguing on paper, but the taste was nothing but amazing. Dry, tart but deliciously fruity, almost like jam. Definitely a highlight on an already phenomenale tap list!

Tap list

Tap list

And as mentioned we also made our dig into some of the bottles on hand at the brewery. A very fine selection of some of their best stuff made is available. Prices are a bit steep, but for a Dane, not unheard of it. We tried to keep to a decent budget, but could've easily splurged if we'd let our hearts choose. 

The editor and the bottles

The editor and the bottles

Thank you de Garde. Keep up the good work (and start shipping to Copenhagen)

Cantillon in Pictures, Brussels

A picture says more than a thousand words, so when I got to visit one of my favourite breweries, I teamed up with the brilliant mind of Jan Odekamp. Jan had been following me and five other bloggers around, during a trip arranged by Visit Flanders, that took us to seven cities around the Flandern Area. I had already seen his excellent skills at work, making me actually look good on camera, so my faith in him was great.

He didn't disappoint, and as you can see from the pictures, Cantillon is a beautiful place with an interior unlike any other brewery I've seen before. Somewhere in-between the old barrels, among the spiderwebs under the wooden roof, magic happens. Jan captured it perfectly!

You should do yourself a favour and follow Jan Opdekamp on his Tumblr and tell him he's awesome. Right now he has a picture of a dinosaur, and dinosaurs are pretty freakin awesome too!