03 November 2016

Brooklyn brews

Time constraints meant I didn't get to do anything like as much exploring of Brooklyn's beer scene as I'd wanted to on my recent visit to New York. It all ended up being squeezed into one frantic Saturday afternoon in Williamsburg.

We emerged out of the subway just at Keg & Lantern, and while it wasn't on the list it was still a brewpub, and serving food, so in we went. The place rambles a bit from the high-tabled front bar with big-screen sports, to a roomy lounge, to a beer garden at the back. I took the unusual step of ordering a flight of their offerings, and got...

Country Time, a clear Berliner weisse the colour of white gold. It's sharply sour, desperately seeking to impress with how properly tart it is. There's a strange sort of pear fruitiness, but not acetone or a similar off-flavour. This is clean and, while maybe something of a drama queen, a very decent refresher, calling to mind quality old-fashioned lemonade. Aaaand I've just figured out why it's called that.

L-R: Mr White, Mirage, Country Time, Green Eyes
The other sour beer on the paddle was Mr White, a barrel aged one. It's a slightly hazy pale gold colour with the same lack of head as its country cousin. The flavour is a strange mix of sweet and funk, with overtones of Gewürztraminer -- that sort of unctuous grape thing -- mixed with a musky aftershave spice. This one just doesn't gel together at all well.

The session IPA is called Mirage and is nicely full-bodied, though I suppose at all of 4.6% ABV that's not too difficult. There's a spicy sandalwood quality in the foretaste which I enjoyed, and some orange juice freshness. But again there's a parallel strand of unpleasantness: a saccharine metallic twang and a totally out-of-place lactic sourness in the aftertaste. Very nearly very good, but just misses the mark.

Finally the straight-up IPA Green Eyes. It's quite a thick beastie, the heavy texture doing a good job of floating some seriously intense hop flavours. Classic pine resins form the aroma while the flavour is an invigorating fresh green grass bite. This one is definitely not trying to be too complex or clever, playing its three chords competently and entertainingly.

Tørst was next, and I covered that yesterday. From there we ducked around some derelict blocks, into a part of Williamsburg still in the throes of redevelopment, with the garages and building merchants mostly gone but not every building yet turned into a nightclub or boutique hotel. In amongst this lot is the Brooklyn Brewery, and there was a queue outside.

We'd had a couple of Brooklyn beers already, in the days leading up to this. Brooklyn Oktoberfest, for example, on the first evening. It's a hot and biscuity number, roaring with melanoidins, for something wholesome and warming but rather plain. Brooklyn Pilsner had also shown up, quite a workaday example of the style with a good malt base but sadly lacking in hop character other than an odd tinny tang.

But back to Williamsburg on Saturday afternoon. Queuing to get into a brewery was a new one for me, and not something I'm planning to make a habit of, but it didn't take long. Inside the party was in full swing and another line had formed for the bar. With five beer tokens to spend, we figured that two at a time was the way to handle it.

L: Lacto Futura. R: Bel Air
I went sour again for my first round, starting with Lacto Futura, a Berliner weisse of 4.4% ABV. It's a clear yellow colour and very much down-the-line as regards the style, pushing soft fruit and wheaty cereal to the fore, backed by only a very mild tartness. It might come across as dull to some but I found it very refreshing and drinkable.

I followed it with Bel Air, described on the board as "a breezy, tart, dry-hopped sour ale". Sounds like my sort of thing, even at a rather hefty 5.8% ABV. It looked innocent enou