We all know that summer is perhaps New York’s finest season of revelry—bringing us free concerts, outdoor movie screenings, and festivals, fleas, and farmer’s markets galore. It also marks the return of one of my favorite New York summer activities: the Craft Beer Tasting Sail Series run by Manhattan By Sail. Every weekend through the fall Manhattan By Sail loads up it’s Clipper City Tall Ship, a 158 foot long sail boat designed after a Civil War schooner, full of beer drinkers and day drinking revelers, and sets sail in the gentle waves of the Hudson River. As if it weren’t enough to sail around the southern tip of Manhattan feeling like a pirate surveying incomparable views of the city as if you own them, each weekend features a different craft brewery serving samples of their finest beers.
Crew and customers raise the sails.
Beer drinkers regard the sails.
Saturday’s sails featured beers from the local institution Brooklyn Brewery. We started with the Greenmarket Wheat, a beer brewed with New York ingredients and only available in big bottles in the NYC area. The brew smells fresh and spring with an aroma of coriander and orange peel, and the slightly sweet funk from the Belgian yeast used. It’s sweet, a result of New York honey, balanced by a brisk spice from the wheat and coriander, citrus, and a pungent Belgian finish. The result is a refreshing brew, perfect for spring and the highlight of the tasting.
Lib Tietjen, our fearless guide, gets ready to pour the Brown Ale.
As we sailed Lib Tietjen of Urban Oyster Tours periodically interrupted our boozing to regale us with facts and tales about the history of beer in New York—like that 200 years ago sailors were paid in beer. Lib, a one time Bushwick resident herself, didn’t go overboard with the commentary, but made sure we knew what we were drinking and kept things lively. The sky was a picturesque blue filled with clouds, and it was breezy but warm enough on the water for it to finally feel like spring was here to stay. Buoyed by the view, the rocking of the ship, and the liberal beer pours, the mood on the boat was social and energetic with couples and larger groups meandering about sipping beer and nibbling on meats and cheeses.
Several tastes in, revelers enjoy the views and Erin feels the need to do a little boat dance.
In total the tasting included sizeable pours of five Brooklyn Brewery beers, served over the course of the two-hour sail. After the Greenmarket Wheat, we tried the Summer Ale, a light English-style ale with a faint floral aroma followed by bready and citrusy flavors. Next we sampled the Brooklyn Pilsner, a fine example of the classic Czech style that has long been an American favorite. It’s a bit bitter and floral, with some nice malt on the finish and never brewed with preservatives or stabilizers. It was followed by the Brown Ale, an American take on the British classic, made with six different malts to give it a super roasty malt character with hint of caramel, toffee, and chocolate, complimented by a strong hop presence. Finishing the sail was the Pennant Ale ’55, named for the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers team. It’s a Pale Ale headed off with some biscuity malts and some nice hop vibes at the finish.
Good-bye Clipper City–until next summer!
Manhattan By Sail’s Beer Tasting Sails depart Saturdays at noon for two hour sails from now until mid October. Each sail features beers from a different relatively local craft brewery. Brooklyn will be pouring again on 7/5 and 10/11. Tickets are $65 per person, but watch for deals on Living Social and GroupOn that can bring it down to $45. They include samples of five brews and cheese and meat platters.
Bushwick Brews is a weekly column dedicated to the exploration of Bushwick’s finest beers and New York beer culture written and curated by brewista Erin Wicks.