There is nothing like sitting outside on a Sunday, drinking a pint of something mighty fine, while real, live sunshine dances across your face, unfiltered by a window. This weekend may have felt less than spring-like when the sun went down, but I took advantage of the warm daylight hours to do a beer crawl (done, of course, solely in service to this column). Here are some of the best spring beers in the hood and where to drink them to maximize your start on a early tan.
Stone has long made some of my favorite IPAs so I was excited to learn that the first beer in their new Stochasticity Project, which debuted in February, is a Grapefruit IPA. The Stochasticity Project was develop to create innovative beers (Stochastic refers to a random variable) and this first delivers everything I love in an IPA just in time for spring. It’s a bright apricot color in the glass, particularly appealing in the the sunshine, and has the aroma of tart grapefruit rind and summery pine. The taste is similarly bright and bitter, full of the flavors associated with the Pacific Northwest style of IPA, with lots of citrus, pine, and resin punch, and a wonderfully crisp and pungent bite on the finish. The only way to enjoy it this spring is on the sidewalk cafe at The Bodega–one of the few places to offer sidewalk seating in the neighborhood—while taking advantage of the newfound sunlight. This week I’m including a Belgian-lover’s alternative to each of my pics, for those like my photograph Bart Koscinski, who are on a bit of a different beer wave-length than myself. Your Bodega Belgian alternate: the Saison de Lis from Perennial Artisanal Ales.
Great drinking to be had in the sunshine at the sidewalk cafe at The Bodega.
Leave it to The Rookery–Bushwick’s own modern pub house–to have such a rare and stellar Scottish find on tap. For the next stop on your beer crawl head out front to catch the rays on one of the only patios optimistic enough to already be in full swing this spring. We started with a flight of five of their delicious draughts (you can sample any 4 for $10) and settled on the Belhaven Wee Heavy, a Scottish ale, for a full pint. If we got our hop fix at The Bodega, here’s where we get our malt on. The Wee Heavy has a bready aroma that smells as though you’re sniffing the grain as it’s being ground. It’s creamy and malty and sweet on the tongue, without going overboard and getting too syrupy. It finishes with more of that raisin-sweet and a biscuity smokiness that’s almost peaty and entirely appropriate to this Scottish brew. The Belgian alternative: Ommegang’s Rare Vos.
A fine flight line-up at The Rookery.
Another great drinking spot for a sunny day: the patio at The Rookery.
#3 Bell’s Oberon at your place
The final brew of our weekend crawl has long been a summertime favorite of mine and is best enjoyed with some BBQ. So head on home, break out that dinky grill from the five and dime, and get cooking in your fav grilling locale–whether that means busting onto your roof, crashing the backyard at a friend’s place, or setting lawn chairs on the sidewalk outside your place. I recently told you all about my mild obsession with Bell’s Brewery and their NY Invasion. Well, the spring breeze has brought with it their Pale Wheat Ale made for outdoor drinking. It’s a light orange in the glass with a light bready and fruity aroma. It’s got a strong wheat flavor from the malt, balanced with some bright, citrusy hopping, and finishing crisp and dry. You can pick up a six pack of Oberon at a local bodega or Associated, or grab your growler and fill it with the fresh stuff now available at Hops and Hocks. We paired ours with Japanese-ginger marinated chicken and potatoes, mushrooms, and onions on the grill. Delicious. Belgian alternative: River Horse Tripel Horse.
Grab a sixer of Bell’s Oberon for your next BBQ.
Nothing like a little rooftop drinking to wind down a long day of Bushwick beers!
Bushwick Brews is a weekly column dedicated to the exploration of Bushwick’s finest beers written and curated by brewista Erin Wicks. Erin wants to know which brews you’re drinking locally. So let her know where you’re at, what you’re drinking, and hashtag it #bushwickbrews on Instagram and Twitter. She’ll be doing the same!