We kicked off with the Other Half can release at The City Beer Hall. I really enjoy attending can releases because they just ooze craft beer culture. Everyone is in a good mood, conversations with strangers flow easily, and the can trading while you wait can get exciting! If you were there Saturday, March 31st around 8:30am, you may have noticed a silver minivan roll backwards almost hitting the Other Half truck while a panicked Other Half employee ran towards them… that was me… driving the minivan. Embarrassing, but, Derek let me know that I entertained some people in line so, you’re welcome!
Now Monday April 2nd, the night of the Hudson Valley Brew Dinner, this is where craft beer culture truly shone. The owners of Sloop, Industrial Arts, West Kill, and Plan Bee Brewing each took time to discuss with us their brewery’s histories and their own personal relationship the Hudson Valley Region. I was captivated by the comradery and support between the four owners, and their passion for the art of brewing and sharing their creations with the rest of us. They each showcased a special beer that was paired with a delicious plate prepared by Chef Dimitrios. During the course of the evening there were many mentions made of the Hudson Valley being the Napa Valley of craft beer. With this in mind one might say that Chef Dimitrios’s plates were the Hudson River running thought it! His unexpected creations were carefully orchestrated to bring out the feature notes of the beers without upstaging their sometimes subtle hints. It was beautiful.
Derek’s Taste –
It started innocently enough. I was just excited to hit an Other Half can release that didn't involve a six hour round trip or $45 in tolls (stupid bridges)...
I was a little disappointed when I woke to find that they'd limited quantities of Double Citra Daydream to 3 4-packs but I just figured I'd buy more Green Down to the Socks instead. Having already grabbed a good amount of The Other Day at a previous release I figured that was the way to go. In retrospect I wish I'd grabbed more of the The Other Day, it’s even better than the last time.
After scoring a couple cases, half of which was allocated for trades (a story for a later post...) Statia and I and the kids headed in to have a pour. Mylar Bags was on tap, and I was not to be denied! (This had become a white whale beer for me - always a day late or a day early to get any in Brooklyn for a couple years now).
The Mylar Bags did not disappoint, but was just possibly overshadowed by the Yeah From the Chairlift collab with Hoof Hearted that blew me away. In any case, the real story of the day happened when we all realized how hungry we were. Of course that might have had something to do with the aromas wafting in from Dimitrios' breakfast sandwich station he had set up while we waited in line for cans
In the course of gushing embarrassingly over one of the best breakfast sandwiches I've ever had. (The El Camino - eggs, cheese, Dimitrios's own refried beans, and jalapeno peppers,) Dimitrios encouraged is to stop by on Monday for the Hudson Valley Beer Dinner. Didn't take a lot of arm twisting...
Fast forward to Monday night, or how this became City Beer Hall weekend:
I ran into all the usual suspects from the Albany Craft Beer Scene, not the least of which was my friend and yours, Jeremy Hosier, who was instrumental in composing both the dinner and Albany Craft Beer Week in general. Colin and Lauren, now of Delaware Supply, were on hand, as was Drew of the Brew Crew (sorry, Drew, couldn't resist...)
Before dinner, I availed myself of a few more Other Half beers I hadn't had. The Citra Azacca was excellent, and the collab with Alvarado Street, Shred Stick Annihilation was very worthy as well. Nothing could have prepared me for just how well thought out the dinner pairings were, though.
You can read the details of the pairings on the menu, rather than my heavy handed descriptions, but I guess you had to be there to understand the sublime pairings of beer and food, each bringing out the flavors in the other. To that end, let me just say: Bravo, Dimitrios Menagias, Bravo! Sloop's Bourbon Bean Baked Stout was a perfect complement to the (ABSURD) zucchini bread French toast, which could have easily doubled as dessert.
My palate half destroyed, only the BLT could help me taste the Weights and Measures, which was everything I hoped it would be. For those of you who don't know, I am a confirmed hophead. As much as I can appreciate different beers, I mostly seek out pale ales and IPAs.
All the more satisfying (and surprising) was how much I appreciated the West Kill Sap House brown ale, as well as Mike Barcone's tale of its origin. And the Pretzel Trout Schnitzel was sublime. SUBLIME.
Even more surprising (for me, the hops lover) was the beer that stole the show, Plan Bee's Tulsi Blue wild ale, and, again, Evan Watson's prosaic explanation of how it came to be.
If you appreciate beer and the processes of brewing, or if you want to see just how amazing well-crafted beer and superb food can complement each other, put this dinner on your calendar next year, and by all means stop down and see Dimitrios at City Beer Hall!