big alice brewing

9 Special Beers You Shouldn’t Miss at NYC Brewer’s Choice

GrowNYC estimates 6,000 pounds of New York-grown grains were used for tonight’s NYC Brewer’s Choice. In celebration of this Greenmarket Regional Grains Project, here are nine special beers that you should try.

We previewed Joshua M. Bernstein’s event on March 1, Cold Comfort: Lagers in the Historic Nassau Brewery Lagering Cave, but another don’t-miss during New York City Beer Week — perhaps the biggest — is tonight’s NYC Brewer’s Choice.

Hosted at Williamsburg’s Wythe Hotel, NYC Brewer’s Choice will feature 30-ish beers made with New York-sourced ingredients. This includes Edible Ale: Red Rye IPA, our collaboration with KelSo Beer Company!

The event is a showcase of GrowNYC’s Greenmarket Regional Grains Project, “a way to help facilitate local grain production from the ground up to the consumer,” says June Russell, manager of Greenmarket, GrowNYC. “We’ve tried to engage local brewers as potential grain buyers before, but there was this thing called malt that only seemed to come from Belgium that was a barrier to their participation.”

Russell credits the barrier-breaking to Hadley, Massachussetts’ Valley Malt, which opened in 2010.

“We finally had a place to have local grain malted on a small scale,” says Russell. “Malting facilities are the key infrastructure bottleneck in terms of getting more beer made with local grains.”

GrowNYC estimates 6,000 pounds of New York-grown grains, all malted by Valley Malt, were used for NYC Brewer’s Choice. Here are eight special beers (nine including the previously mentioned Edible Ale) that you don’t want to miss:

big alice brewing

Facebook / Big Alice Brewing

Big Alice Brewing — Long Island City, NY

Beer: Spiced Honeyed Smoked Ale
ABV: 14.6 percent
NY Ingredients: Honey (Wilk Apiary, Glendale)
What To Know: “Honey is an awesome local product because not only does it work so well in beer, but it’s also the distillation of the flora of our immediate surroundings — picking up agricultural notes from a local environment that you wouldn’t even think could produce food. We paired this with 100 percent smoked malt and flavored the results with lemony Cluster hops, as well as pink peppercorns, grains of paradise and juniper berries. That all comes together to create a light-bodied, floral ale with a smoky, spicy counterbalance.” [Robby Crafton, co-owner of Big Alice]

Beer: Coffee White Stout
ABV: 10.1 percent
NY Ingredients: Pilsner Malt (O’Mara Farms, Canastota), Coffee (Native Coffee Roasters, Astoria)
What To Know: “This seeks to marry a Belgian farmhouse ale with an imperial oatmeal stout. It’s light in color, but full of roasted coffee notes and tart pepperiness from the wheat and yeast, with a luscious silky body. It was single-hopped with Serebrianka hops, lending a perfumey layer of tobacco flavors to the background that accentuate the earthy quality of the beer and bridges the more subtle flavors of the coffee with those of the local grains. Definitely a beer that’s evocative of the old world and the new world, the exotic past and the re-emergence of local craftsmanship.” [Robby Crafton, co-owner of Big Alice]

blind bat brewery

Facebook / Blind Bat Brewery

Blind Bat Brewery — Centerport, NY

Beer: Hell Gate Golden Ale
ABV: 8.5 percent
NY Ingredients: Vienna Malt (O’Mara Farms, Canastota), Coriander (Seedsower Farm, Centerport)
What To Know: “This Belgian-Inspired ale  only uses grain from O’Mara Farms and the organic coriander is actually grown by wife, Regina. It’s deep-golden and unfiltered — a slightly more rustic version of the original we brew — with wine-like qualities and a bit of spicy citrus contributed by the coriander and bitterness from Slovenian Styrian Goldings hops.” [Paul Dlugokencky, owner of Blind Bat]

Beer: Long Island Potato Stout
ABV: 3.9 percent
NY Ingredients: Potatoes (Sang Lee Farms, Peconic)
What To Know: “This is a dry, twice-mashed Irish stout brewed with organic potatoes from Sang Lee Farms. The potatoes are boiled, mashed and added to the mash of barley. The taste is dry with some sweet chocolatey and roasted coffee notes. It’s also a bit earthy.” [Paul Dlugokencky, owner of Blind Bat]

greenport harbor brewery

Facebook / Greenport Harber Brewery

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company — Greenport, NY

Beer: NYC Common
ABV: 5.5 percent
NY Ingredients: 2-Row Pale Malt (Lakeview Organic Grain, Penn Yan)
What To Know: “Since we decided to feature a beer using New York-grown malt, we really wanted the malt to be the star of the show. We chose to brew a common lager, or California common — think Anchor Steam — which really has a smooth and clean feel to it. We added Magnum hops to add the perfect balance of herbal deliciousness.” [DJ Swanson, brewmaster of Greenport Harbor]

Beer: Cuvaison
ABV: 7.5 percent
NY Ingredients: Merlot grapes (McCall Wines, Cutchogue)
What To Know: “This has a Belgian-style golden ale base, with Merlot grapes grown by our friends at McCall Wines. The grapes were crushed fresh and added to the mash, along with 30 gallons of fresh-pressed juice at the end of the boil. The beer has a spicy Belgian yeast character, fruity notes of fresh grape, and a subtle acidity.” [DJ Swanson, brewmaster of Greenport Harbor]

grimm artisanal ales

Facebook / Grimm Artisanal Ales

Grimm Artisanal Ales — Brooklyn, NY

Beer: Golden Hour: Spelt Saison
ABV: 6.3 percent
NY Ingredients: Spelt (Lakeview Organic Grain, Penn Yan)
What To Know: “When choosing each ingredient for this beer, we thought about how the flavors and aromas, in unison, would create a complex farmhouse ale following in the tradition of authentic Belgian saisons. The organic spelt lends a soft, plush mouthfeel that is offset by the spiciness of our favorite Belgian farmhouse yeast and a firm underlying bitterness. German Hallertau and Tettnang finishing hops accentuate the pepper and citrus yeast character with herbal aromas and a hint of floral perfume. Overall, this beer is crisp and effervescent, bursting with bright flavors.”  [Lauren Grimm, co-owner of Grimm]

sixpoint

Facebook / Sixpoint

Sixpoint Craft Ales — Brooklyn, NY

Beer: I (Sweet Action) NY
ABV: 5.2 percent
NY Ingredients: 2-Row Pale Malt (Lakeview Organic Grain, Penn Yan), Pilsner Malt (O’Mara Farms, Canastota)
What To Know: “The name is a spinoff of the iconic I Heart NY t-shirt because it’s classic Sweet Action, but only a 20-gallon batch with a whole lot of love in it. The malt was really tasty — I could have munched on it all day, just by itself — and really added an interesting layer of depth and complexity to the standard recipe, which has more malt sweetness and complexity than a cream ale and pale ale, balanced with a bit of appley and citrusy hops. The thing that distinguishes Sweet Action from other beers is its intricate malt bill, and adding in some badass local grains only takes the uniqueness of the beer to a whole new level. I’m really looking forward to pouring it and drinking more of it.” [Heather McReynolds, brewer at Sixpoint]

Tickets for tonight’s NYC Brewer’s Choice are available here.

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Niko Krommydas regularly contributes to several branches of Edible, including Brooklyn, Buffalo, East End, Hudson Valley, Long Island and Nutmeg. He is editor of Craft Beer New York, available on Android and iPhone, and a columnist for Long Island Pulse and Yankee Brew News.