Sunday, 18 August 2019

Brooklyn (owes the cut-price beer under me)

Keeping in the spirit of using an obscure album track for a cryptic title - as promoted by Retired Martin, some of you might know this one from classic American rockers, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, and their former band.

Continuing my search for cut-price beer on the shelves of local discount stores, I discovered that whilst Home Bargains eventually exhausted their quite extensive stocks of Goose Island Honkers (I picked up a second load last month, as did one of my work colleagues), they had instead obtained a supply of cans from New York’s renowned Brooklyn Brewery.

Two different types were on sale at just 79p a can, and what’s more being from the USA where, as we all know, everything’s bigger and better, they are 355ml tins, rather than the 330ml cans which are standard on this side of the Atlantic. 

The beers I picked up were Scorcher IPA 4.5% and Summer Ale 5.0% , but then to throw a further Brooklyn beer into the mix, I subsequently found East IPA 6.9% on sale at our local Tesco, for £1.04 a can.

All bargains for cash-strapped home drinkers, but it does lead to the question why are a couple of well-respected US breweries discounting their beers in this fashion? The answer in the case of Goose Island, was that Honkers is being discontinued, by AB InBev, who now own the brewery. But what about Brooklyn Brewery

Although Brooklyn retain their independence,  Japanese conglomerate Kirin Holdings, now own a 24.5% minority stake in the company. Brooklyn Brewery, unlike many of its American craft contemporaries, has long chased after growth abroad, and a couple of years ago was tipped to export around 150,000 barrels. 

Much of the company's  distribution in Europe, is through a  partnership with Carlsberg, but this doesn't explain why they would want to "dump" beer through UK discount stores.

So what about the beers themselves?

Scorcher IPA 4.5%. Golden in colour, rather than amber. Very bitter in a harsh sort of way, with little in the way of juicy malt to act as a counterbalance. Quite a thin beer, but certainly thirst quenching on a baking hot summer’s day. However, on a damp mid-August day in England, the effect is somewhat lost
Summer Ale 5.0%.  A refreshing and flavourful pale ale made specially for warm weather. The English two-row barley adds a degree of “breadiness,” which made me think it also contained a portion of maize.

This is not the case, and the malt is balanced with German and American hops to achieve a clean bitterness and a pleasant floral aroma.  The beer reminded me of certain native “Summer Ales,” in particular Westerham Brewery’s Summer Perle, but also Harvey's Olympia

East IPA 6.9%.  A  strong American-style IPA, despite the blurb on the can about joining the English tradition with spirited American hops, to create a well-balanced IPA.

There are certainly plenty of citrus aromas in this light amber coloured ale, and these combined with the resinous flavours from the hops, make for a very satisfying beer, despite the strength.

Conclusion:  with the possible exception of Scorcher, they are all quite quaffable beers, but like many which have crossed continents to reach these shores,  I suspect they would taste even better in a steamy bar, in downtown New York.


Matt said...

I blogged my own thoughts about some of Brooklyn's bottled beers a few years ago here.

Paul Bailey said...

Thank for sharing that link, Matt. I particularly enjoyed the video with Garrett Oliver talking the audience through Brooklyn’s range of beers.

I had the pleasure of meeting Garrett at GBBF one year, when he was signing copies of his beer and food matching book, “The Brewmaster’s Table,” which was one of the first publications to take an in depth look at matching beer with food. I bought a copy, and still refer to it, from time to time.

Reading through some of your descriptions, they aren’t a lot different to my own. It’s good to see Brooklyn continuing to turn out interesting beers, and good that we can get to try them on this side of the Atlantic.

Anonymous said...

That was another enjoyable read, Paul, so thanks.

Looking back over your posts, it's reassuring, to see a pub and beer blogger, who does not think that one of the essentials of a Proper Pub is that it should be a Safe Space for ignorant, loud-mouthed, right-wing bigots, to spout their bile unchallenged, nay, on the presumption that they will get a round of applause.

Sadly, the odd one here and there - and who would apparently aspire to dominate this field - seem to take the opposite view, and offer succour to that kind with links to reprehensible garbage such as this:

Paul Bailey said...

I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Anonymous (E?). Regrettably the cluster-fuck that is Britain today emboldens those right-wing bigots who masquerade under the cloak of libertarianism, and I’ve a pretty good idea where the link you posted originated from.

Today at work, a member of my staff spent most of her lunch-break on the phone to the Home Office, attempting to find out how her application for “settled status” is progressing. This is a lady who has made the UK her home; the place where she and her husband are raising their children and the country which has benefited from their knowledge and skills.

That we should treat our fellow EU citizens in such an authoritarian and undignified way appals me, but I see there is worse to come, with the vile Priti Patel going back on previous promises, and now threatening to end “freedom of movement” on day one of Brexit.

You don’t need to know much about history to understand the parallels here between Britain today, and Germany in the 1930’s, but it’s thanks to the ignoramuses who promote, share and attempt to normalise these “libertarian” views, that we’ve reached this sorry state of affairs.

Anonymous said...

I was, for a time, happy to indulge quite a wide range of views, but some of those who hitherto hid behind a veneer of civility have recently let slip their masks.

We have articles all over the web, like the one I cited, which implicitly condone crimes, such as the thuggish assault on Owen Jones and the harassment of MPs. Not only that, but they endlessly regurgitate the same inflammatory distortions, clearly intended to precipitate further such attacks and lawbreaking.

II'm sorry to hear of the inevitable problems being caused to your firm, and I hope that sense will finally prevail.

I won't comment in detail on the cretinous craft- drunk by Remain voters - bad, traditional cask - drunk by Leave ones - good divide, being pushed by some dimwits in this sphere. The divide, if any, is with lager anyway if you ask me.

Best wishes,