Not sure what took me so long, but I finally made it out to the Brooklyn Brewery last weekend. I’d always wanted to go, but when you live in New York, you take the city for granted. That’s why it’s so great when you have visitors from out-of-town. You get to do all the things you planned to do, but never did. Last weekend when the Kim sisters (Soo and Joo) were back in New York from Seoul, we made a trip to the brewery for the Saturday tours.
The brewery doesn’t operate on the weekends, so don’t expect to see beer-making in action. What you will see is the room where the beer is made and hear some background on how the Brooklyn Brewery came to be. There’s a funny story involving the founders and the mob. (Probably funny to the founders only in hindsight.) After the brief history lesson and a short Q&A, the group was released to the beer hall for tastings.
To purchase beers, you need to buy tokens ($4 a token or $20 for 6, beers cost 1-2 tokens). We initially got four tokens, but later traded them in for six when we realized two of the beers we wanted cost two tokens. Do yourself a favor and buy six from the start. The woman selling the tokens wasn’t too happy when we asked for two more at the cost of $20 for 6. Initially she refused stating the transaction was over, but at the end she begrudgingly acquiesced. I would have bought her a beer in thanks, but that would have required another token.
We ordered the following beers: Brooklyner Weisse ($4), Post Road Pumpkin Ale ($4), Brooklyn BLAST! ($8), and Brooklyn Detonation Ale ($8). The last two are part of the Brewmaster’s Reserve Series and are draft-only and available on tap for only another month or so. The Brooklyner Weiss was as usual refreshing and crisp, the Pumpkin Ale wasn’t too sweet but could have had a stronger pumpkin flavor, and the BLAST! with a ABV (alcohol by volume) of 8% was considerably light. The BLAST! is one of those beers that would sneak up on you in the evening. My favorite, however, was the Detonation. Made with British caramel malts, the beer has a deep rich malt flavor without being bitter. ABV is a whopping 10.2% so be careful with this bad boy. It’s strong, but quite drinkable. I felt the effects immediately after a few sips.
The brewery doesn’t sell any food except chips, but they do allow you to order or bring food. We unfortunately arrived empty-handed, and not wanting to order delivery and ruin our appetites for lunch, we got tipsy drinking on empty stomachs. So I strongly advise you to go prepared. But if you do forget, and need a snack afterwards, do what we did and go around the corner for some wings at Brooklyn Bowl.
The menu at Brooklyn Bowl was created by the folks over at Blue Ribbon, so the food is definitely better than your average bowling alley. We ordered the Basket O’ Smoked BBQ Wings (24 pieces for $30). The giant wings, juicy and meaty, were covered with a smoky sweet barbecue sauce that tasted of nutty sesame oil. For those who wanted more sauce, there was extra on the side along with some blue cheese dressing topped with more crumbled blue cheese, but heavily sauced and well seasoned, more sauce wasn’t really necessary. However, the wings do pose a possible problem: how do you bowl with slippery barbecue sauce slicked fingers? For us it didn’t matter. As soon as the wings appeared, all bowling activities ceased for a full twenty minutes as we quietly, but purposefully chomped away.
Brooklyn Brewery is open to the public Friday evenings and the weekend. The brewery is also participating during NY Craft Beer Week, which is currently in progress. Delicious smoked wings can be found at a bowling alley near you, as long as you live in Williamsburge or have a MetroCard.