And Now A Word From Our Sponsor

Just a few of the stops I hit up in Germany last month!

Just a few of the stops I hit up in Germany last month!

I’m baaaack! ***

The past couple days have been challenging for a lot of people. One of the things I double down on whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed or sad or bewildered or [enter predicate adjective of your choice here] is gratitude. Some days, I may only manage to be grateful for beer (or running water)! The past month or so, I’ve had a great number of people, businesses, organizations and things for which to be grateful, but not a lot of time to share with you, my loyal readers!

So, take a break from the “noise” and please allow me to thank a few folks.

#1. The Pink Boots Society

PBS exists to support women in beer; more specifically, they provide educational opportunities for women in beer through seminars, peer-support, mentoring and scholarships. About two months ago, I saw a post for one of their more audacious scholarships called Beer, Bratwurst & Beyond: a trip to Bavaria/Germany with most expenses paid, including airfare. I plan at some point to write more in detail about the application process, but I submitted the day the application was due and gave no more thought about it. Typically, the PBS scholarships I have considered were a few hundred dollars (keep in mind that as a writer, I wouldn’t typically qualify for their advanced brewing programs), so I truly doubted I would ever receive a scholarship worth several thousand dollars. However, a few weeks after the submission deadline, I received a call from Kris at PBS letting me know I had been selected alongside five other amazing women! We have a “pay it forward” component, and I hope to be working on a piece for publication along with sister scholarship recipient Monica Mondragon (a laboratory/QC manager and assistant barrel manager at Santa Fe Brewing Co.), whose technical expertise I will heavily lean on in the article we’re writing together.

But I never would have undertaken this trip without the underwriting of PBS. So thanks to these women, and look for a NYC chapter launched by yours truly in the coming weeks/months! (If you are a woman in beer, please become a member here; dues are only $35/year or $25 if you’re still a student.)

#2. Tom Conrad and Treasures of Europe Tours

While the tour itself was, in fact, open to men, the only males on the trip turned out to be our German-speaking bus driver, Karl-Heinz, and our tour guide, Tom Conrad. Tom was affable and unflappable. He really went over and beyond to make this a great tour. While there were a few hitches, he was flexible enough to make allowances for a group of women who didn’t always want to stick to the letter of the tour’s itinerary. Without expressly asking him, I got the sense that Tom is a one-man show (or nearly) at his company, and I am all about supporting the independent business person, especially now that our political climate is bound to shift in favor of ever larger corporate entities! Please please please… if you are looking to do a tour (he has what appears to be an awesome Christmas markets tour

Side note: I visited a German Christmas market many moons ago and its beauty literally made me cry in ecstasy… full disclosure: I had just returned from living in the Soviet Union for four months, so my emotions were highly charged for any stimuli!

—so even if beer is not your object, there’s plenty more adventure that awaits you), hit him up!

#3. The Town of Spalt, Germany

Never a fan of the "selfie," I took many on this trip, including one with the Mayor of Spalt.

Never a fan of the “selfie,” I took many on this trip, including one with the Mayor of Spalt.

This quaint village in Bavaria pulled out all the stops for us… they even threw a parade! No, not really. I mean, the parade was real but it was for their yearly Kirchweih festival, an annual celebration of the town’s church raising (that feels more like an autumnal May Day, replete with music and maypole!). However, they put us up front and made us the signature guests so that it did truly feel as though the parade had been created just for us.

Spalt mayor Udo Weingart and deputy mayor Alfred Zottmann were a delight as our self-appointed ambassadors. While the parade was for the town, they made us guests of honor (of which not the least benefit was we received the first pours from their ultra-fresh—and freshly made—Saumarkt Bier). We were also given a private tour of the Spalt Hops Museum, a lovely German dinner and access to a rockabilly-style concert in the beer hall later that evening. All-in-all, the city set the bar high on what to expect from German hospitality.

#4. Boston Beer Company and Barth-Haas Group

The food and beer that followed made this table setting look practically rustic!

The food/beer that followed made this table setting look practically rustic!

Who knew a lesser-known founding father could have such an impact on the larger beer world! The makers of Sam Adams have an on-going relationship with one of the largest hops farms in the Hallertau region, and the folks at Stanglmair family farm offered up one of the best—and least expected—visits of the entire trip when on a drizzly post-harvest day, Stefan Stanglmair (a 21st-generation hops farmer; yes! you read that right: his family has been farming hops since 1722!) gave us a rousing tour followed up by a to-die-for food-and-beer-pairing dinner that capped off a week of already over-the-top-amazing experiences. It’s wonderful that a company, which has grown so dramatically over the decades that the Brewers Association has had to change its own definition of “craft beer,” gives back to the community that loves beer so much.

As Germany’s Barth-Haas Group sponsored the outing and dinner, I thank them heartily for what was possibly the highlight of my trip. (And as I plan to write more on this topic with Monica, I’ll just leave it at that!)

#5. Various German Trade Organizations

While the list of breweries we visited is too extensive for the purposes of this article, I would be remiss if I didn’t single out two of Germany’s trade organizations that generously gave of their time (and possibly monetary support, a rare overture towards Americans from the heart of Europe): Private Brauereien Bayern (Bavarian Association of Private Breweries) and Managing Director Oliver Dawid, who helped lead an animated discussion over lunch at Pyraser Bier (note: German website); and Bierland Oberfranken (Association of Breweries in Upper Franconia) and Managing Director Bernhard Sauer. Vielen Dank!

#6. Various American Beer-Related Businesses

Finally, last but not least, are a trio of other breweries that helped support the tour and a three more businesses that work with brewers to get the beer made, stored, delivered or otherwise served up to a loving beer public. They include:

If you’ve read thus far, you may wonder if I’m being paid to mention any of these folks. I am not. I am under no obligation to them whatsoever. But at a time when there’s a lot of anger and finger-pointing going on, it’s important to remember to whom we owe a debt of gratitude. That’s the kind of debt that takes nothing from the recipient in terms of payback: A little time, a little open-heartedness, a hand held out to shake in earnest. And a robust, “Thank you. Thank you very much.” (Cue Elvis, as I’m leaving the building.)

Please check back (or subscribe by email at left—scroll down for mobile—so I pop up in your inbox to notify you of my infrequent updates!) for more on my German adventure.

*** So, here’s the thing about being a freelancer: You have to work to get paid. I take some umbrage at being called a “blogger,” because the reality is this is my blog. Look how often I am here, which is not a lot. I have other blogs, too, and I’m not there much either. I don’t have the luxury to be a blogger very often, as I am working as a beer journalist. Sometimes I have a bit of time to jot down some notes, but if I have a great idea for a beer-related article, I’m trying to pitch it to a publication that nets me more than this humble blog ever could. But I have missed you all, and I continue to be grateful for your attention and support!

It’s July Good Beer Month… Where To Drink

Proclamation2014_2For New Yorkers, it seems like every other day there’s some incredible beer release or cool gathering. The whole “too many beers, too little time” can seem overwhelming, but there are certain times of the year when being a part of the beer scene is like running a marathon.

July Good Beer Month is certainly one of those times. For 31 days every July, NYC celebrates as the Mayor’s office delivers the July Good Beer Month Proclamation (if you want the audio version, listen here at the 30 minute mark for Garrett Oliver’s oration… it’s brilliant!):

Office of the Mayor, City of New York – PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS, July is Good Beer Month in New York City. And at barbecues and picnics and pubs and groggeries across the five Boroughs, our city’s residents and visitors are getting into the spirit and are beating the summer’s heat with cold beers. Even more refreshing is the fact that some of the best brews we have in the fridge and on tap are made right here in New York as our city’s craft beer scene continues to thrive.

WHEREAS, like any top quality product, good beer is the result of dedication of many people. Growing New York’s collegial, knowledgeable, independent beer community has required the passion and expertise of farmers, brewers, distributors, importers and devoted patrons alike. The community has also focused on keeping its industry sustainable and environmentally conscious. Brewers have formed partnerships with both city farms and local artisans, and foster the kind of conversations that keep their taverns and tasting rooms great places to share big ideas about what’s next in craft brewing.

The proclamation continues, acknowledging the Good Beer Seal bars (full disclosure, I blog for GBS). But what’s really cool is the Mayor’s support for five years and how craft beer has truly grown in the city. Here are a handful of the events you will want to check out this month. And feel free to tag me (@BKLYNbeerbitch) or the Good Beer Seal (@goodbeerseal) on Twitter for RTs; I want to know what you’re drinking and where you’re headed in July.

My favorites for the month include:

  • The Total Long Island City ImmersionSaturday, July 13th – Starting at noon, you can score a pass to get free beer samples from Brooklyn Brewery, among others, as you wind your way through LIC’s best pubs, patios and brunch spots.
  • The Parisian Ball on Governors Island – Saturday, July 13th – Starting at 4 p.m. and going until the wee hours of Bastille Day, you can be a kid again with vintage rides, music, libations and—one can muse—a central square for beheadings (no, not really; that was The Bitch’s attempt at a joke). This site offers slightly discounted tickets from the official website. It is 21+.
  • Mission Dolores Hosts Pioneers of American CraftWednesday, July 17th – MD does some counter programming from all the rare and unusual stuff going on tap across the city by putting the “Old Guard” beers of Anchor, Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada and Brooklyn Brewery. Sure, they’re your father’s craft beers, but I’m probably old enough to date your dad so it works for The Bitch!
  • Duvel/Ommegang Belgian Independence Day Celebration at Sunswick 35/35Thursday, July 18th – If you don’t make it out to Governors Island for Bastille Day, this is the next best Euro-independence event I could find to slate your need to act all superior to us ‘Mericans. Added bonus for those not able to make it to BCTC in August.
  • July Good Beer Month Presents NY State Food & Beer Expo – Saturday, July 27th – Come to Williamsburg’s East River Park for a great lineup of beer from KelSo, Shmaltz/Coney Island, Sixpoint and Brooklyn Brewery, among many others. Entry is at 90 Kent, and GA tickets will be available day of. VIP will be on sale the week of 7/15 at Good Beer Seal.
  • Prix Fixe dinner featuring Jeff O’Neill of Peekskill BrewingTuesday, July 30th – Jimmy’s No. 43 will be hosting Jeff O’Neill for a beer pairing dinner. Here’s hoping Jeff brings his Simple Sour!
  • Edible’s Good Beer at 82 Mercer – Wednesday, July 31st – This is the premiere event that wraps up July Good Beer Month each year. Try to score a ticket now, because they typically sell out well in advance.