Where are the geekiest outings for NYC Beer Week?

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetSo, tomorrow marks the start of NYC Beer Week. Earlier today, I was at 508 Gastrobrewery talking with Chris Cuzme about the state of beer in NYC while drinking the new Coffee & Donut Stout, a yummy 6.7% ABV collaboration brew that launches EST Beer, a new commercial brewing company from the co-founders of Brooklyn Brew Shop.

When surrounded by knowledgeable beer folk, it’s easy to forget that there are many in the NYC Beer Community that want NYC Beer Week to cater to the wine and whiskey crowd, as I like to call them, people who are either new to craft beer or are not the typical beer drinkers. And there are a lot of tastings and tap takeovers throughout the city that should be enjoyed by novice beer drinkers.

But with so many events on the calendar for the coming 10 days, which ones have a geek factor that savvy beer drinkers won’t want to miss? Here are my favorites (and be sure to check out my beer calendar here), listed in order, so you can serve yourself up with a non-stop barrage of the best beers NYC Beer Week has to offer:

Saturday the 22nd –

Start things off early (they open at noon) at Spuyten Duyvil’s Big Woody 2014, where you can grab a couple big beers and wood-aged beers before sobering up and heading into Manhattan for New & Rare Beer Night: Wild, Barrel-Aged, & Rare Beers with Jonathan Moxey at Clinton Hall. This is an awesome chance to purchase some killer brews (you must RSVP for free, pay-as-you-go at event from 7-10:30 p.m.), including La Boheme, a wild sour beer brewed with Brett and Lacto yeasts, aged in red wine barrels for 2 years, and steeped in Michigan tart cherries for 6 months. They’ve got the only keg in NYC!
Other beers include Perennial Trixie, Heart of Gold, Sum Imperial Coffee Stout, among others.

Sunday the 23rd –

Cuzme says the early session of CASKALOT: A Festive Celebration of NYC Cask Conditioned Ales at 508 Gastrobrewery is pretty much sold out. So sleep in and wander out in the evening for the session from 6-9 p.m.  $45 ticket here. Includes three hours of unlimited pours of cask conditioned ales by NYC Brewers Guild Brewers.

Monday the 24th –

Head to the West Villiage for Murray’s Cheese Bar Annual Beer Dinner with Jeff O’Neil. Murray’s Cheese Bar Annual Beer Dinner featuring one our favorite local brewers: Peekskill Brewery. 5 courses of cheese-centric dishes; each perfectly paired with a Peekskill brew and will include some amazing rarities that never make it to NYC. 2 seatings: 5:30pm & 8:30pm. $65 tickets here.

Tuesday the 25th –

Dogfish Head Tap Take-Over at The Pony Bar (UES) With Head Brewer Tim Hawn. Meet the brewer with 20 lines and a cask of all your favorite Dogfish Head, vintage selections, and rarely seen specialties.

Wednesday the 26th –

NYC Brewer’s Choice at the Wythe Hotel. From 6-9:30, brewers serving their own beer from nearly 30 breweries, including locally sourced grains in the following beers:

  • Captain Lawrence will pour Cream of the Crop – a Cream Ale brewed with NY 6 row barley and corn from Valley Malt.
  • Blind Bat Brewing is bringing Hell Gate Golden Ale, which incorporates Valley Malt barley grown by O’Mara’s Farm in Canastota, NY, and with coriander grown in Centerport Long Island at Seed Sower Farm; plus they’ll have Long Island Potato Stout – a Dry Irish Stout brewed with organic potatoes grown by Fred Lee of Sang Lee Farms in Peconic, NY.
  • Queens’ brewery Big Alice will pour Coffee Belgium White Stout and Spiced Honey Smoked Ale – both with Valley Malt grains.
  • Empire Brewing is bringing Wheat Wine Red Winter with wheat from Valley Malt, 2 row from Farmhouse Malting NYC, and Cascade Hops from Hop Farm NY.
  • Crossroads has Midnight RYEder – a Black Rye IPA brewed with 6 row barley and Danko Rye from Valley Malt.
  • Sixpoint Craft Ales will bring a special batch of Sweet Action made using 100% NY State ingredients.
  • Greenport Harbor is bringing Cali Common made with Valley Malt grains and Cuvaison – a Belgian strong using merlot grapes from NY State Winery of the Year and Greenport’s neighbor in Cutchogue, McCall’s Vineyard.
  • Peekskill has “Aristocrats” – Sour Ale made with 100% NY State ingredients, NY Pale Ale.
  • White Birch  will pour Rye Brown Ale.

Tickets here.

Thursday the 27th –

From noon on, hop the path to Jersey City for “Bridge & Tunnel” Night at Barcade. Consider this is great counter programming to NYC Beer Week in that they are featuring beers from craft breweries not available in New York. Beers include:

  • B. Nektar Zombie Killer – 7.0% ABV – Cherry Cyser
  • Boaks Abbey Brown Ale – 7.0% – Big Belgian Brown Ale
  • Bolero Snort Lucky Buck – 4.0% – Irish Stout on Nitro
  • Epic Brainless on Peaches – 10.5% – Belgian style Strong Pale Ale aged in French Chardonnay barrels and blended with organic peach puree
  • Great Lakes Conways Irish Ale – 6.5% – Irish Ale
  • Kane Head High – 6.5% – American style India Pale Ale
  • Kane Simplicity – 8.7% – Belgian style Golden Strong Ale
  • Lancaster Gold Star Pilsner – 5.5% – Czech style Pilsner
  • Lost Abbey Deliverance – 12.5% – A blend of bourbon barrel aged Serpent’s Stout and brandy barrel aged Angel’s Share.
  • Neshaminy Creek Imperial Chocolate Mudbank – 8.5% – Imperial Milk Stout brewed with semi-sweet Belgian chocolate
  • NJ Beer Co. Wee Heavy – 8.3% – Scotch Ale
  • Port Mongo – 8.5% – Imperial India Pale Ale
  • Saucony Creek Lord of Misrule – 9.5% – Belgian style Strong Dark Ale
  • Terrapin “Cinnamon Roll’d” Wake-n-Bake – 9.4% – Imperial Oatmeal Stout brewed with coffee and cinnamon
  • Thomas Creek Coffee Oatmeal Stout – 8.0% – Oatmeal Stout brewed with coffee
  • Yards “Corsica” Love Stout – 5.0% – Stout brewed with whole fresh oysters and cold press Corsica coffee from La Colombe.

And on the way back, get your chocolate fix at ChocoBrewvana: The Chocolicious Beer Dinner at 508 Gastrobrewery. Cuzme pairs beers to a chocolate-themed dinner co-hosted by Clay Gordon, chocolate critic and founder of The Chocolate Life. Chocolate will be included as an integral component of every course, and each will be paired with a specific house made craft beer. This is a dinner unlike any other and is not to be missed. Ticket ($80 here) includes 6 courses and 6 beers. From 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Friday the 28th –

This could be a his-hers night, or you can start out at New York Beer Company for the 2nd Annual New York State Brewers Convention with Blue Point, Bronx Brewery, Ommegang, Kelso and others starting at 5 p.m. and then head over to Glorietta Baldy in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights area for Women & Beer First from 7p.m. There will be specials lady-brewed beers with the brewers, homebrewers, and industry professionals representing some of the most popular craft breweries worldwide.

Saturday the 1st –

You’re in the homestretch, so might as well head over to one of the two Saturday sessions at the NYC Craft Beer Festival – Spring Seasonal event at the Lexington Armory. Go forth and drink from more than 150 craft beer offerings. Although if you want food and to avoid the crowds, go ahead and spring for the $125 VIP Connoisseur Lounge, where the lines are typically quite short and the chefs top-drawer. Tickets here.

Sunday the 2nd –

Pre-game your Oscar party over at Mug’s Alehouse in Williamsburg at Split Thy Skull XV. All day Sunday, its big beers like tone Matt’s Burning Rosids Imperial Cherrywood Smoked Saison.


Countdown to NYC Beer Week: Nano-Beer Vegetarian Nonsense™ Brewer Chris Cuzme of 508 Gastrobrewery

508GastrobreweryAs we count down to NYC Beer Week (hint: it starts this Saturday, February 24th), we’re checking in with some of the amazing brewers that will be at Jimmy’s No. 43 next week pouring some of their favorite brews. First up is our Nano-Beer Vegetarian Nonsense™ Dinner (tickets here), a five-course vegetarian dinner with beer pairings from five up-and-coming (or even well established) nano-brewers.

And because life is unpredictable, we’re starting with dessert first: A chocolate stout paired with Caramel Bread Pudding. And yes, it is called Saxual Healing after Chris’s side gig (hint: he’s in a band).

We had a chance to talk to Chris Cuzme, homebrewer extraordinaire and “Saxabrewer” at 508 Gastrobrewery, who will be bringing his yummy brew to Monday’s dinner. When he’s not hanging with the Wandering Star guys or playing in his band (yes, he does play the saxaphone), he can be found at 508 Greenwich, pouring his own beers.

What was the first beer you ever drank and the circumstances?

The first taste of memory was a sip of Budweiser…at 8 yrs old. My father, Pepe Cuzme, gave me a sip whilst overlooking the pond at his bachelor pad (my parents had split up when I was five) whilst he had custody of me for the weekend.

When did you realize that your “homebrew” was ready for primetime (i.e. consumer worthy)?

For years I’ve been drinking homebrew that matched or surpassed that of many commercially made libations. And I know a plethora of incredible brewers that have absolutely no interest in making it a profession. I commend that. My beers are not better than theirs, and I continue to learn from my homebrewing brethren and the community of brewers in NYC.  There’s a book called Zen And The Art of Guitar Playing where they talk about composing for people or playing a certain way to appease the audience.  The book reads to say that such is a pointless endeavor. Not only will you sacrifice your enjoyment in the art, you’ll be chasing trends which are forever fleeting, instead of leading trends.  Although everyone is unique, there are people out there with tastes similar to yours. Play for yourself, and those people will find you and enjoy your music. With this in mind, I brew. I believe there’s an audience of consumers that would agree with my tastes and trust they will find me here at 508 now that I am displaying them in a public forum.

Cans, bottles or keg-only? Explain your answer.

Keg only, and cornikegs at that. It’s what we work with here at 508 as we only brew for in house consumption. And our set up, from brewing to packaging to serving, is really a glorified homebrew operation: a nano “franken-brewery,” if you will. Eventually I will bottle maybe, but only for styles that want for and would benefit from bottle conditioning (Belgian styles, barley wines and imperials). I am not set up here at 508 to package otherwise.

What is your desert island beer (i.e. if you could only drink one beer—or one brewer’s selection—for the rest of your life, what would it be and why)?

Is it cold on the island? Is food aplenty? What kind of animals am I hunting and will I run out of wood eventually so as to no longer smoke my meat and fish? Not. A. Fair. Question. Need more island info… [Bitch’s Note: I love this answer!]

How do craft beer brewers compete with “pseudo-craft,” i.e. special label beers being put out by factory-based commercial brewers (Anheuser-Busch and their ilk)? Do you worry that the average beer drinker will think that craft is just a more-expensive version of the bland lager they’ve always imbibed?

Truthfully I don’t care as much as most about this. A good beer is a good beer no matter who makes it. Friends don’t let friends think and drink! That said, it’s not that I “don’t” care and it is important to remember that every time somebody orders a beer they’re placing a vote regarding the direction of the beer industry. I do think it’s important to drink craft and support/drink local when possible, but only if you like the beverage.

What’s your biggest challenge as a nano-brewer?

Keeping up with the demand I’m setting for myself and cleaning kegs! I may be the head brewer but I’m mostly a keg cleaner that brews in his spare time!

What else do you want us to know about 508 Gastrobrewery?

We are the smallest of three brewpubs in NYC, under the license of a restaurant brewery, brewing solely for in-house customers. We take our beer and our food very seriously. Being so small, and without the demand to repeat specific beers, every batch is special and brewed 55 gallons at a time. We intend to run the gamut of styles throughout the year and feature local homebrew clubs and stores through brewing collaborative recipes. We like fun and magic and you!