Hospoda NYC Drink Writers Happy Hour

Hospoda Draft System

Last night I attended a media event at Hospoda here in NYC where they showcased their unique draft system by pouring Pilsner Urquell and couple Brooklyn Brewery beers. Hospoda has been on my restaurant list for a while and while their food gets rave reviews what caught my interest, when I first heard about them almost a year ago, was their draught system they call the Bohemian Beer Quadrunner. They use this to pour Pilsner Urquell in four different ways, each giving a different flavor.

Four different Pilsner Urquell pours. Sweet (top left), Slice (top right), Creme (bottom left), Neat (bottom right).
Four different Pilsner Urquell pours. Sweet (top left), Slice (top right), Creme (bottom left), Neat (bottom right). Images courtesy Hall Company.

As soon as I walked in I was handed a small glass (not the mug pictured above) that was mostly foam and told to drink it quickly. Since I’m always up for a drinking challenge (and they were providing beer and snacks) I obliged. My first thought was this tastes like it was poured out of a nitro tap. My second was that this was sweet, without the bite I normally associate with Pilsner Urquell. As I later learned, they use standard CO2 but their tap system aerates the beer and the bartender can vary the flow coming out to create anything from a standard pour to the foamy “Sweet” I just had.

Hospoda Draft System

I moved through their other Urquell pours, each one with less head and creaminess: Slice (four fingers of head); Creme (normal head–the classic way of pouring a Czech pilsner I was told); and Neat (no head). It was definitely an interesting way to taste the same beer and I’d recommend getting flight and enjoying all four.

Hospoda worked with Pilsner Urquell to create the “cold shipped express” initiative to get the beer from the brewery in the Czech Republic to the US in just two weeks, refrigerated throughout the journey. They take their beer seriously and the attention to detail in pouring, serving, and caring for the beer is noticeable. The centerpiece of the restaurant is the bar that houses the Quadrunner with a plexiglass floor in front of it that looks down into their spotless, well-organized beer and wine cooler.

After the Urquell I decided to try Brooklyn Brewery’s current Brewmaster’s Reserve, There Will Be Black, a hoppy black ale I had a month or so ago at the brewery. I liked it there and also when poured through Hospoda’s Quadrunner. Was it better? Worse? I have no idea since I don’t have tasting notes or a memory to speak of. After only serving Pilsner Urquell since they opened about a year and a half ago, why add Brooklyn Brewery’s beers? Hospoda started by purchasing a sixtel of Brooklyn Lager to try on the system and invited the owners and brewmaster Garrett Oliver to stop by to taste it—where they noted it tasted as fresh as it does from the brewery when poured through the Quadrunner.

If you are looking for a good, interesting beer experience that you can’t get anywhere else in the US along with some great Czech-inspired food I’d definitely check it out. There’s something for both the beer geeks and foodies in your party.

Disclaimer: At this event I and the other attendees received complimentary: beer and snacks from Hospoda; a complimentary mug from Pilsner Urquell; and a complimentary bottle opener from Brooklyn Brewery.

Shmaltz Jewbelation Sweet 16

The Shmaltz Sweet 16 has been out a few weeks now and I’ve been able to acquire said beer. If I was more serious about my self-given title of Beer Blogger–and life in general–I’d call this a review. Instead, I think semi-drunken-interweb-blog-ramble-thingy will suffice.

According to my astrology chart this is the 16th in their anniversary series. As much as it pains me, I’ll leave aside the Sweet Sixteen jokes and just tell you that like the last four or five Jewbelations I’ve had, this is worth the time, effort, and injury of repeatedly putting it in the lowest hole in your head. If this isn’t your mouth hole, adjust accordingly (and tell me all about it or post to Craigslist missed mouth hole connections and I’ll surely find it).

What makes this special? How about 16 malts and 16 hops in 16 additions? Did I mention it is like sucking the sweet malt nectar from a nubile nymph’s nipple? Of course I didn’t. Because I’m a gentleman. That’s why.

The long of the short (or however it goes) is that you should get this if/while you can. I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Unless you don’t like good things. Which, while it would explain why you read this blog, isn’t a way to live your life.

Review: Social Ave’s Beer EssentiALES Beer Glasses

A glass for (most) every style.

Beer EssentiALES are a new product from Social Ave., distributed by long-time glassware producer Luigi Bormioli. I wouldn’t review beer glasses without something to make them interesting and in this case there were two things. First, I have a couple sets of Luigi Bormioli cocktail glasses and really like the look and feel of them. Second, they are targeted to craft beer drinkers.

Note the set of glasses I used was provided to me by the manufacturer. The beer consumed was provided by me.

The glasses are made of borosilicate glass. This does two things. First, it makes them very light. More importantly though, it makes you feel like you are using a lab beaker to drink your beer and gives you a satisfied mad scientist feeling. I’ve had a couple friends use them and both commented on how light they were and their surprise that it felt good when they were used to heavier glassware. The style-specific shapes are a modern touch on the classics. [update: this also means they are strong. I tested this claim by dropping one when putting it away. It fell to the counter with no damage at all.]

I’d recommend these if you you’re looking for some interesting, nice looking beer glasses. As of 5/29/12 the only place I can find these online is Everything Kitchen ($29.99) but they should be on Amazon soon.

The Constant (Beer) Gardener

With the weather here in NYC showing spring-like tendencies after a winter that was the polar (sorry) opposite of last year’s, it is time to talk beer gardens. Chris at Brew York New York takes our online local media to task for their broad–possibly misinformed, probably click-baiting–definition of a beer garden.

Since I’ve only lived here for a bit over a year, I’m still inclined to think this isn’t a problem unique to New York City. Is this overarching definition a symptom of any city which could be termed a concrete jungle? Or is it playing to perceptions instead of reality? Just a cheap way to get article views? Something else completely?

Top Hops Beer Shop is Open in NYC

I saw this pop up on Urban Daddy the other day and just got the press release below. Dying to go now.

 

Top Hops Beer Shop:
Merchants and Advocates of Great Beer
Part Bottle Shop, Part Tasting Room, Part Classroom

New York, NY [January 19, 2012] – Top Hops Beer Shop is now open at 94 Orchard Street on the Lower East Side in Manhattan. A retail store and tasting bar designed to showcase great beer from around the world, Top Hops offers a selection upwards of 700 brands, both American craft and import, available for purchase and on-premise imbibing.

Top Hops encourages people who are passionate about beer to come together to share their enthusiasm and gain a better understanding of the magic that is hops, yeast, barley and water. And to make Top Hops a true hub for dynamic beer experiences, Top Hops will host guest brewers, visiting beer writers and beer pairing seminars.

Don’t know a Double IPA from a Dopplebock, or Saaz hops from the American Cascade variety? Not to worry, Top Hops welcomes beer drinkers of all knowledge levels, from the geek to the novice. Owner Ted Kenny has created a welcoming, unpretentious environment that encourages experimentation and — most importantly — fun. “It’s beer, after all,” says Kenny. “Hopefully we will introduce our customers to beers or styles they have never heard of or tried before.”

Serious beer drinkers, however, are in for a treat. A 30-foot custom-built wood and polished aluminum bar invites customers to belly up and enjoy a tasting flight or a glass of any of the 20 beers on tap, as well as any bottle available in the store.  Five of the 20 taps are dedicated to regional breweries including Greenport [Long Island], Kelso [Brooklyn], Captain Lawrence [Westchester, NY], Troegs [Hershey, PA] and River Horse [Lambertville, NJ]. Rotating taps will feature seasonal beers, limited editions and other hard to find selections, both domestic and imported. Growlers are available in 64-oz and 32-oz sizes for take home.

Never one to discriminate, Kenny has dedicated a tap line to Budweiser. “When served properly and stored and treated the way the brewer intended, Bud is in fact a good example of its style of beer, American Lager,” explains Kenny. “Most places don’t treat it properly, which is the issue.”

Here’s a fact that will make beer geeks smile, and give everyone the chance to taste the beers as they were meant to be tasted: Top Hops cleans their own draft lines and never goes longer than two weeks between cleanings. They are fanatic about clean draft lines. A blackboard behind the bars lists the date that each line was cleaned along with other pertinent details, including the date the keg was tapped, IBU, style, brewery, brewery location, and a description of the beer.

The bottle selection consists of nearly 700 brands and spans the globe with unparalleled breadth and depth. Top Hops works tirelessly to offer an unprecedented selection, with possibly the best selection of Belgian beers in New York City, including DeuS, Glaven Toren Saison and Contreras. Approximately half the inventory is dedicated to American craft beers, including offerings from cult gypsy brewers like Brian Stillwater of Stillwater Artisanal Ales.

A small menu of beer-friendly items is available, including a rotating selection of cheeses, charcuterie, olives, Mast Brothers chocolate and German-style pretzels, all sourced from The Essex Street Market around the corner. A small selection of wines by the glass, as well as non-alcoholic beverages, are also available for non-beer drinkers.

A native New Yorker, Ted Kenny spent 12 years in finance before seeing the light and moving to the beer business in 2006. He worked for the Anheuser-Busch/In Bev brewery and then distributor, learning something every day about beer. Kenny is a Certified Beer Server from the Cicerone Certification Program and is on his way to becoming a Certified Cicerone.  Similar to the process of becoming a Master Sommelier, a Certified Cicerone undergoes an exam that demonstrates a vast knowledge of beer, from its history, its different styles and how to pair them with food, as well as a working knowledge of draft beer equipment and proper storage.

All Top Hops employees are required to become Certified Beer Servers.  This commitment to knowledge and education is paramount to Kenny, “What’s the point of offering 700 beers if my staff can’t answer questions about them or pour them in the correct glass?”

Architect Russell Glover has created an inviting space using a palette of concrete, wood and aluminum – all the materials commonly found in a brewery. The heart and soul of the store are the two 26-foot long glass refrigerators that hold the cold bottles (organized by place of origin) and kegs that hug the right and left walls of the store, underneath an arched white-washed ceiling designed to look and feel like a beer cave.

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Top Hops is located at 94 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002; Telephone: 212-254-4677; Website: www.tophops.com. Top Hops is open seven days a week: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 2:00pm-10:00pm; Thursday 2:00pm-11:00pm; Friday 2:00pm-12:00am; Saturday 12:00pm-12:00am; Sunday 12:00pm-8:00pm.