NYC Beer Renaissance Notes

Inspired by legwork on this article

NYC Beer Renaissance

And Local Cheese to Match

92Y January 28, 2016

Instructor Martin Johnson

Stillwater Yacht (Lager, 4.5% ABV, gypsy)

Nancy’s Camembert (Pasteurized Sheep’s Milk, Chatham, NY)


Finback Age of Reason (Saison 5.7% ABV, Queens)

Beecher’s Flagship (Raw Cow’s Milk, Manhattan)


Finback IPA (India Pale Ale, 7.2% ABV, Queens)

Beecher’s Flagsheep (2/3 Raw Cow’s Milk, 1/3 Sheep’s Milk)


Finback Starchild (Grapefruit Sour, 4.6% ABV, Queens)

Jos Vulto Miranda Raw Cow’s Milk, Walton, NY)


Finback Massif (Baltic Porter, 8.4% ABV, Queens)

Beecher’s Smoked Flagship (Raw Cow’s Milk, either Manhattan or Seattle)


Evil Twin Even More Jesus (Imperial Stout, 12% ABV, gypsy)

Arethusa Blue (raw cow’s milk, Litchfield, CT)


Beer Resource

Cheese Resource:


Next Class: Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles February 11.



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Beer and Cheese Pairing Notes January 5

Beer and Cheese Pairings January 5, 2016

My series of pairings featuring dark beers and blues got off to an excellent start. Both Sunday and Monday, people were receptive to the offerings, and that was my primary concern. In the past when Westside Market East Village shoppers were offered blues or darker beers, they shied away.

On Sunday, I chose St. Agur, a creamy, peppery French blue to pair with Stillwater Surround, an Imperial Wheat Stout. The idea was that the lighter texture and hints of chocolate from the beer would pair nicely with the more gruff overtones from the cheese. Not only did people engage the samples, but they parsed the pairing and some people even bought the cheese.

Mondays are often problematic as New Yorkers are on their worst behavior. This particular Monday I saw three different customers deliberately ram another customer from behind to try and get past them. I felt as if I should don a striped shirt and whistle and put yellow flags in my back pocket (I’m sorry sir we’re penalizing you for that personal foul, yep gimme that rotisserie chicken you can’t have it…yeah I know it’s the last one…) In that context I was wary of wandering the crowded aisles with the board, but it worked out fine. I chose the Point Reyes Blue which is lighter and crumblier and paired it with Wulver, a barrel aged Scotch Ale from Thirsty Dog. I thought the pepper and earth of the cheese would be balanced by the caramel notes of the beer. I also thought that on a chilly January evening, NYers would warm to the idea of a 10% ABV brew.

Next time out I’m eager to try a sweeter blue, perhaps something from sheep’s milk, like Ewe Blue, and pair it with a drier dark beer.

Colston Bassett Stilton 01

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Beer and Cheese Pairing Notes, December 2015

Cabot Clothbound Cheddar

My apologies for the infrequency of these dispatches, they have become a casualty of my success both with the beer program and with the writing phase of my professional life. In other words, the beer program’s success began to involve extra time maintaining the Instagram account and of course much more time in the store putting beer on the shelf. Yes, we have a stock clerk, but here’s one key difference between cheese and beer and a grocery store and a boutique. The people I worked with in cheese had an eye toward higher stations in the culinary world; they had a passion for food and of course cheese. The people I work with in grocery stores and especially in grocery beer sections are there to do a job and go home; even though craft beer is a 20 billion dollar a year business, it’s not something that my stock clerks see as a bright future. They are great people and I love my coworkers, but I can’t expect them to parse the difference between Maine Beer Company Lunch and MO or Founders Backwoods Bastard and Breakfast Stout. And I mean in the bottle, not in the glass. Thus I spent two-three hours a day taking care of the shelves in addition to handling the social media marketing, merchandising and much of the purchasing. In store promotion, the fancy term I use for sampling beer and cheese often gets pushed to the back burner, and these days when I get home journalism awaits.

But I did do some in store promotion in December, some where I work at Westside Market East Village and some at three different Whole Foods. Most of it involved trying to break the general public’s resistance to darker beers. During the warmer months, I sought to demonstrate that not all lighter craft beers are India Pale Ales, and that the best india Pale Ales are not just a mouthful of bitter. To that end I frequently introduced the public to Saisons, Helles Lagers, Sours and the like. In December I sought to acquaint the public with the joys of scotch ales, doppelbocks, schwarzbiers, milk stouts, and a few others. The idea was to demonstrate that not all dark beers and the malt and hops equivalent of black coffee.

At Westside I used a mix of classic brews like Schneider Weisse Aventinus, with recently arrived seasonal dark beers like barrel aged Wulver, Evil Twin Christmas Eve in a New York City Hotel Room, Stillwater Surround, The Bruery’s Eight Maids-A-Milking, Stillwater Folklore. At Whole Foods, I was on the clock for Brooklyn Brewery introducing their new Insulated, a dark lager. The WF gigs were a pairing with Flagship, a remarkable cheddar from Beecher’s Handmade. Flagship is a cheddar made with a bit of Gruyere cheese culture so there’s a sweet and nutty component to its flavor profile. Since I often sample Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, I was ready and eager to explain the cheesemaking process, much to the delight of the Beecher’s people. At Westside I used cheddars like Prairie Breeze Milton, the aforementioned Cabot Clothbound, and the occasional dose of Basque Sheep or Marcel Petite Comte as pairing companions.

It has been effective. People are delighted that cheddar is proving to be much more than they originally anticipated, and that not all dark beers finish like black coffee. In January, I’m going to press my campaign into blue cheeses. Ports and Stilton, no! Porters and Stilton, that’s the ticket. Now if only I could persuade the cheese buyer to get me some Stichelton.

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Some More Recent Posts from Beer Geeks TV Blog

On Great NYC Beer Bars

At Beer Geeks TV Blog on Three Great NYC Beer Bars.
Three Great Barrel Aged Beers
Beers and Thanksgiving
Evil Twin
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At Beer Geeks TV Blog on NYC IPA and on the new Paste Magazine Stout List

These new IPA’s are phenomenally bright!

The Paste List judges stouts!

Evil Twin

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Four Blog Posts from Beer Geeks TV Blog

It’s been a busy month.  Here are my latest posts from Beer Geeks TV

On Men, Women and Beer

On the need for a better lexicon

On Why Beer Should be Sold Like Wine

On Liking Beer with Stuff in it.


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Beer and Cheese Pairings October 2

Midnight Moon

There are several reasons that these dispatches have become less frequent. For one, some of the pairings have become routine and feel less newsworthy as a result. Some of the good ones get lost in the writing workload that I have (definitely a good problem) and then other times, I’ve worked so many extra hours at the store, Westside Market East Village that the last thing I want to do when I get home is write about my retail endeavors. The extra hours owe to the nifty coincidence of the busy season starting just as a new stock clerk gets settled in. The new guy is more conscientious than his predecessor but English isn’t his first language and he is still learning to parse the difference between the nine types of Lagunitas and eight varieties of Founders we carry. Asking him to grasp the six varieties of Stillwater or five of Maine Beer Company….yeah, that falls on my shoulders these days.

Anyway, Friday is a night I usually look forward to meeting the public with samples of beer and cheese. People are usually receptive and chatty. This Friday was tougher though. It was the first rainy and cold day of the autumn and on top of that the weather forecasts warned of a hurricane. New Yorkers used to shrug off hurricane forecasts, but Sandy, three years ago knocked the city in general and downtown Manhattan for a loop. Power was out in many areas for weeks, and everywhere for days. So I decided not to take any big risks. When my colleague on the cheese counter suggested I use up some Midnight Moon that he was going to trim, I was thrilled. Midnight Moon is an aged goat gouda from Holland via California and it has a smooth delivery and gentle sweetness that makes it an instant crowd pleaser. Aged Goudas with their sweet overtones and salty finish in general pair well with India Pale Ales and we are having a Double IPA moment. The clientele went crazy for the Grimm’s After Image and before that the Pipeworks Ninja v. Unicorn. We just got the Westbrook Citrus Ninja Exchange and those bottles are moving briskly, perhaps the best selling big bottle right now. I’m hoping to have a dedicated NYC section by the first of the year. Yeah, everyone has Sixpoint and Brooklyn, but I want to anchor a sales area around the work of the new Gotham breweries like Singlecut, Finback and Other Half.

We have two Singlecut bottles, Does Anyone Remember Laughter, an excellent IPA full of orange zest and smoky overtones and a new one, TNT Bon Bon, a Double IPA. I chose the latter to pair. It has a grapefruity finish that I figured would contrast nicely with the Midnight Moon’s smoothness. It did, and people either gravitated toward one or the other. It brought people out of their shell for a minute (“damn that’s good, can you show me where that is” was a common response to the items), which is all you can ask for from people with hurricanes on their mind.

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