America

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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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)

Luksus, Brooklyn NY

The whole foodie scene is still fairly new to me, I feel slightly out of my comfort zone when I eat at places that carry the famous Michelin star. Last year I spent six days in Belgium on a press tour where I was treated to fine dinners at several of these places. Some with stars, and some that were "just highly acclaimed". I just don't seem to talk the talk or walk the walk.  

But when I got the opportunity to dine with the former Noma chef at a restaurant focused only on beer pairings (there's literally no wine in there!) I couldn't resist. 

While waiting for the restaurant to open up I got a beer in the front bar, Tørst. That's Thirst for you non-Danes out there. 

 Drinking Evil Twin Low Life

Drinking Evil Twin Low Life

First of all, the pictures that I took of the plates doesn't come anywhere near the level of perfection that was put in front of me, why I've chose only a very few of them here. 

At the same time I was overwhelmed with impressions and tastes (and alcohol) so trying to keep all my thoughts together seemed impossible when I got back to my hotel room. 

I do however remember how much at home I felt. In this new city, in a different country among a bunch of people I'd never met, I felt more at home than anywhere else. As a first time lone traveler, it felt very new to me, and I believe I owe most of that to Daniel (Burns) and the excellent staff at Luksus. 

 Summer Saison from Blackberry Farm and Daniel Burns working his magic. 

Summer Saison from Blackberry Farm and Daniel Burns working his magic. 

I had front row seats to the kitchen where Daniel was working, so we got to chat about food, beer and life in Denmark. A warm and embracing conversation was all it took, I just hope Daniel could focus on his work while I was talking. 

All courses came with a carefully curated beer pairing and was spot on almost every time. I sensed a slight overdose on citrus among my first pairing, but that's only if I'm nitpicking. At work I do pairings for our eating guests as well, so I take notes when I see something working (or not working).  

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The beers selected were from all over the place. Different styles, different countries, yet all tasty!

My night didn't seem to end after the dessert though, a frothy, delicious flødebolle most Danes would only dream of creating. I left Daniel, my new friends next to me and went back into the bar, where another chef from Luksus was sitting. 

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Michael, who's been working at Luksus for quite some time have a mutual friend with me (thanks for the introduction Tyler!) so I was in for another chat about food and beer. It's incredible how those two things can bring strangers together. 

I got a tour of the kitchen downstairs and even peeked into the beer room. Any geeks dream coming true - and I have trouble thanking Michael enough for that I need to bring him a beer next time I come back to New York and Luksus/Tørst, he definetly deserves that. 

Of course I'll need to go back... If not for the food, then for the beers. There might be Speedway Stout on tap next time as well.