New York has had a good start in the hive of microbreweries cropping up across the nation, creating budding enthusiasts for the game and amateur super-tasters. New York’s place in the market is well deserved, and the spike won’t quit, and nobody wants it to. Below are some tasty iterations born and bred with New York attitude.
First at bat is Bronx Brewery, centering their instincts on the pale ale market, craft beer’s holiest of waters in the race to master the perfectly layered pungent and citrus interplay. The brewery’s staple year-round roster includes American Pale Ale, Session IPA, Rye Ale, and Belgian Pale Ale and have best harnessed their powers into the Rye Ale, the most complex effort of the four. It’s a New York-syncratic blend of Rye, which plays well with the Northwest hop characteristics. It’s vigorously pungent and hand in glove with the floral profiles, a nicely balanced medium body with just the right IPA snarl brewed with German and English malts and piney, spicy US hops. Also worth noting is the Session IPA, with tropical fruit tonalities and biscuity red wheat malt and hop blast, with a light ABV for easy handling.
Bronx brewery also has a nice seasonal lineup of Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter pale ales named respectively and well suited for each season’s accords. The brewery is also releasing a marquee “B-sides” division, borrowing from music industry vernacular, deserving its own playtime for the cult enthusiasts. Various B-sides will be released this upcoming year: Uptown (Jan.- Feb.); Rye Fidelity (Mar.-Apr.); Say Hey (May-June); Boom Boom (Jul.-Aug.); El Serrano (Sep.-Oct.).
The currently available winter single is On the Black. For those who are baseball challenged, the name is a nod to the black border on home plate that’s buried and referenced when a thrown pitch nicks the edge within the strike zone—and proximity minded to Yankee’s Stadium. On the Black boasts a roasty, malty beginning with chocolate essences, like a Porter doppelganger with faint citrus West Coast El Dorado and Citra hops— unpasteurized and unfiltered in this brew. It’s barely a pale ale because of its light bite but definitely present behind the dark malty intro. OTB has a lighter body than a black IPA, with no creamy accords. Definitely a toasty, dark elixir for winter’s bones. Check out The Bronx Brewery for tastings and availability.
Also on tap is The Waldorf Buzz, an idiosyncratic brew representing the iconic hotel. Frank Caiafa, Beverage Manager, partnered with Empire Brewing from the Finger Lakes region with an earlier creation, “The Greatest of Them Ale,” released earlier in the year. Adding to the Waldorf’s artisan cocktail menu, Frank wanted to create a branded beer to evince the hotel’s historical mythology, specifically in reference to its old Waldorf-labeled liquor bottles behind the bar. And, he wanted to make the brew approachable for all audiences, not just for niche tastes and wanted a partnership with a brewery that would include The Waldorf Buzz with its seasonal lineup. It’s a nut brown ale base and pours a very dark brown almost as dark as a porter, with a distinctive, rich roasty body. It’s marquee feature is that’s brewed with actual honey from the Waldorf’s rooftop, a rich sanctuary of organically grown produce used in select dishes. Don’t expect a honey blast because it isn’t an additive but rather fermented creating a faint aftertaste. Despite the brew’s roasty dominance, the ABV is only 6.0% playing it safe for beer lovers of all ilks, and leaves a clean finish.
Frank will also be publishing a new definitive cocktail guide including some newly fangled recipes. In the meantime, the Buzz will be humming through the winter months only. Available at the Waldorf Astoria.
Leading New York’s craft brewery boom is Blue Point Brewery, based in Long Island and in business for the last 20 years. The brewery’s flagship beer, “Toasted Lager”—and winner of many Beer Cup awards— is included with other notable beers such as “Hop Illusion” in their year round lineup. But to top-off the fall and winter months (if they ever get here) are some hearty seasonals. All three clearly represent Blue Point’s malt driven beers.
Pumpkin Ale is such, with a malty backbone and faint nutmeg and clove to enhance the pumpkin profiles. There are no hyperbolic additives, nor is the fall favorite for pumpkin hawks. It’s a good beer for those who aren’t totally committed to pumpkin fever or for the initiates.
Still available is the residual Oktoberfest. Typically malty of the style, but it’s sweeter and a little more aromatic and grainy with an organic quality. American hops are added on the backend for a richer, hoppier iteration that complements the slight caramel and honey notes.
Last in the queue is Winter Ale, the most complicated and warming of three. It’s an amber ale base, and pours a vivid mahogany color brewed with a versatile selection of pale, Vienna, crystal, and chocolate malts for a layered taste uncommon for winter seasonals. Coriander spices and brown sugar are well balanced without trying to add character. And its ABV of 7.7% remains in the background. Check for availability at Blue Point Brewery.
New on the market for the health conscious but who still want a nuanced beer, is Smart Beer, brewed in Saratoga Springs and New York’s first organic, non-GMO brew. It will fool you into thinking it’s a Belgian ale, but it doesn’t have the cloudiness and weight made with organic barley, orange peel, and licorice root. It pours a golden color with a crisp, light beer finish at ABV 5.5%. Check for availability at Smart Beer Company.