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Project: Brew and Suds …

Just to show you that your humble host and correspondent isn’t a one trick pony, we have decided to expand our fun by introducing a new Project category.  As a reminder to our long-term readers (and you newbies who are flocking to us in droves) “Projects” are main categories of thoughts/areas interest/specialized topics/etc. designed to more narrowly focus on a specific topic and therein, give us hopefully some clarity of thought and writing.

So it all started this past Christmas when this eager lad (me) ripped open one of many Santa’s gifts that I beheld, in puzzlement, a box from the Red Envelope; when said eager lad ripped apart the paper and tore into the outer box did I behold a box entitled “Everyday IPA” from the Brooklyn Brew Shop.  What did Santa have in store for me … what prey tell could this be?  It turns out that The Boss and Santa were in league with one another to do even more damage to my liver by inviting me to take up home brewing.

Yes … that is it … our new humble Project will set about to more deeply dive into that other source of imbibing bliss … brewed liquor in its many forms … brewed liquor we make ourselves … brewed liquor we sample out … beer and more.  So there you have it — Project Brew and Suds is launched.

Why focus additional attention on beer and other brewed alcohol-based liquids? Simple answer in many parts — for one, beer is one of the oldest, most storied forms of imbibing alcohol in Man’s short time on this planet. Second, it has as much a rich history in this (and others as well) country as distilled spirits do.  Third and likely most fun, the ability to sample such a wide range of product offerings, made by both large corporate producers to the small, regional specialties crafted by artisans in workshops, we get to experiment with and experience the same fun had when sampling different types of spirits.

Today’s post is intended to be some-what short and sweet, setting the stage for our new project.  As such, a little history — I was never a huge beer fan, like most (but likely far less so than most) I dabbled in beer in my formative years (college and graduate school); by dabbled I mean I sucked on a bottle of near water tasting trash for hours on end, hoping to get a twinge of a buzz on but also not hoping to destroy my college fund.  There was nothing to these moments in time that was in any way illuminating; nothing that made me think (as cooking always did to and for me … I was after-all, a near classically trained cook who to this day wonders why he didn’t follow his truest of passions, but instead sought fame and fortune in the depressing world of finance) that I needed or wanted to learn more about it.  When I immersed myself in learning all there is to know about the art of craft cocktail making and spirits starting several years back, a drop of beer probably hadn’t crossed my lips in years — at least not on its own and not because it wasn’t part of a bigger cocktail experience. Beer, on its own and for its own sake wasn’t an area of interest.   So what changed? As was the case with my rum education, it took a humbled bottle of Red Stripe on a family trip to Jamaica to turn things around … or it was the match that lit my interest.

That little bottle of suds, sipped while in 100+ degree heat on a beach in the Caribbean did it to me … it was refreshing; it tasted great; it was the perfect drink to have in my hand in that moment.  Not a Daiquiri; not a Mai Tai; not a spirit’s-based drink … but an ice cold, lager-style beer.  Upon arriving back in the Big Apple, I headed straight away to the local store, picked up a six pack of Red Stripe and Hoegaarden and proceeded to get interested in what beer (and later on, other brewed alcoholic libations) is all about.

With our new Project and a vested interest in mind, let me be the first to encourage you try out a local restaurant and/or bar that focus on beer as it is a great entry point into trying out new suds.  Recently I visited a newer establishment near the home base on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, named The Jeffrey.  I picked a horribly wrong time to go although I’m not sure if there is a right time to go, but hitting this place at 6 pm on a Friday evening found me literally face to face with 100’s of “young” professionals enjoying a post work/post work week libation.  It was packed, crowded and hard to hear … but boy oh boy do they have a great beer menu.  I sampled an IPA style beer from Spain (if memory serves) and a great Ale style beer from a regional producer.  Great beers, great staff and if given time, probably a great addition to the Upper East Side restaurant and bar scene.

So you may be asking, how did Santa’s (and The Boss’) little gift work out? More details to follow in our next post in this series, but needless to say, it was a disaster.  We learned firsthand, as it is in baking, that you must follow measurements, processes and procedures to a tee … don’t assume like cooking, you can wing it a bit here and there and all will come out well … but as I said, more to come.

So let’s see if we can’t have a little fun together exploring the brewed arts — as always, we want to hear from you … especially if anyone has a great home brew recipe to share. Who knows … maybe this little venture will also lead us down different, equally exciting paths.

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