Monthly Archives: September 2008

Where to drink if you’re in New York and it isn’t Craft Beer Week

Or, What Josh Schaffner taught me about getting drunk in the Big Apple

This is part two of a previous post in which I interview Josh Schaffner about NY Craft Beer Week, the beerfest he created. Below are reviewed a collection of bars that Schaffner included in his beer crawls, but luckily for us, they are all awesome year-round.

The Diamond 43 Franklin Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn (718-383-5030) thediamondbrooklyn.com

The industrial warehouses that make up this area of Greenpoint make this bar a diamond in the rough (pun very much intended). The essence of this bar is a lowkey establishment that doesn’t have the longest tap list (8), but certainly one of the most carefully crafted. Pairing regional brews from the northeastern US and beyond with time-tested staples from Europe, The Diamond is often a smaller brewery’s introduction to the New York beer scene. Continue reading

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AHU: A man for all Saisons… and IPAs, and Bocks

McGill Grad starts his own big city beerfest

At your average beer festival, a ticket gets you a plastic mug and some tokens allowing you to join a few hundred like-minded individuals in two-ounce samples from more breweries than you can count – all under a tent in some park. Nothing about the experience jibes with the way beer is meant to be drunk.

Enter Josh Schaffner, McGill grad (’06, Geographical urban systems) and wavemaker on the New York beer scene. At just 24-years-old, he has conceived and brought to fruition NY Craft Beer Week, featuring 95 beers from the northeastern United States and happening right now in New York. Continue reading

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AHU: The 100-mile diet, liquid edition

As the first days of school and the last days of summer are upon us, one phase of drinking slowly morphs into another. Languidly beating the heat on a terrasse with a bottle of beer in hand turns into complaining about profs and exams over pints at Biftek. The reality of student drinking is that it’s often centred more on where and why you’re drinking rather than what you’re drinking. Even more disheartening for the student beer enthusiast is watching as large, corporate beer factories are chosen first, time and again, just for their price.

However, thanks to a 25-year-in-the-making revolution in beer taste, craft beer is all around us. Continue reading

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AHU: Old world beer in New France

Originally published in The McGill Daily on April 7, 2008.

graphic by Noelani Eidse

graphic by Noelani Eidse

If, somehow, beer culture was a religion – and the zealous, prophetical, and dogmatic sides of the industry do exist – Belgium would be the holy land. Of the places on the globe where beer is given its due respect, nowhere is it revered as much as in Belgium. Belgian culture is beer culture. Because of this, an earnest admiration of Belgium’s beers, their original styles, and history, have become the hallmarks of beer geekdom.

Here in Quebec, Belgian beer is certainly celebrated. Some breweries, like the American Allagash or Ommegang, or the Chambly-based Unibroue, excusively brew Belgian-style beers. Others, like the local brewpub Dieu du Ciel, keep a few tried and true Belgian styles on the roster. Over centuries of practice, Belgian brewers have crafted so many different beers that the Belgian style is easily assimilated into modern beer culture.

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AHU: Because the beer won’t brew itself

Originally published in The McGill Daily on January 31, 2008. Keep reading for a homebrew recipe and instructions on how to make your own Brown Ale.

graphic by David Pullmer

graphic by David Pullmer

Forty-five years after the repeal of Prohibition in America – that 13-year federal black hole of fun and good spirits – the vestiges of this legislation forbade the brewing of beer by private citizens. But in 1978, the U.S. Congress passed a bill reinstating homebrewing into the public sphere, which then-president Jimmy Carter later ratified. This bill resulted in a flurry of activity in the craft brewing world. It provided an entry point for anyone to turn a hobby into a career, and many of these professional brewers began with just a pot and a big spoon.

Homebrewing is, by nature and practice, a laid-back pastime. Continue reading

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AHU: Beer without borders?

Originally published in The McGill Daily on January 10, 2008.

It was from the Wikipedia entry for the malt liquor Olde English 800 that I first learned the horrible truth.

I’ve always known that inter-provincial trade barriers were the arch-villain of Canadian craft-brewing culture, but didn’t know the extent to which they thwarted a national appreciation for beer. As Chris Johnston, Director of Packaging and Information for Steam Whistle Brewing in Toronto, explains, “Previous to the early nineties, you needed to have a brewery in the province in order to sell beer there.” Once that restriction was lifted, brewers were free to ship their products over provincial borders, but now with a heavy tax: the local alcohol boards treat the incoming Canadian beer as a foreign import. Suddenly, a small-scale beer from Manitoba is taxed as much as Olde English. Continue reading

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