Tag Archives: Microbrewery

75th Street brewery review

Saturday was a birthday celebration and therefore had to have some part of it spent drinking delicious brew. This year it was decided to try out a local microbrew. The 75th street brewery doesn’t have an extensive history but has been around long enough to establish itself as one of the few great local brewpubs. Let me get this out of the way and say that there was no bad beer.

I elected to start with a sampler. No better way to quickly survey the landscape of their beers than to try as many as you can as cheaply as you can. At a $1.50 apiece, a sampler of six beers was ordered. The current seasonal, the wheat, the IPA, the stout, the Irish red, and the raspberry wheat.

The first to be tasted was current seasonal. It may well be the now cliched Pumpkin beer but it is not cliched in taste. Starting light on the pallet, the spices used fully compliment the pumpkin instead of masking it. It was nice, eminently drinkable, and a little filling.

I then dove into the raspberry wheat. This is a beer to write home about. Effervescent with a tart zip that clears away all other tastes it leaves the mouth wanting more. I could easily find myself losing an entire day to drinking this.

I began to mix it up, jumping between the wheat and red while leaving the IPA and the Stout to the very finish. The Irish red was good, drinkable beer but nothing spectacular jumped out at me while it was washing down the appetizers. The same can be said of the wheat. An excellent beer for those who like the style to the exclusion of all others, while the rest of us will find it simply good in terms of taste and refreshment.

My personal feelings are that stouts need to be drank slightly warmer than most other beer and to be paired with food. Which is why I didn’t touch it until my fish and chips came. I moved on to my favorite type of beer, IPA. And it was good, very good. It was so enjoyable that the next time our waitress came by I ordered a pint to help finish off the meal.

A quick aside: Making a good IPA can be harder than some think because of trying to find the right balance between the sweet and bitter. Too bitter and the sweet comes out as sour . Too sweet and the hops disappears into the beer. Too sweet can paradoxically also lead to the brew having a sour aftertaste as well, something you never forget the first time it happens. So when you find a good IPA that gets the balance right, getting the mix between the bitter hops and sweet malt, that is something to celebrate. This, in my opinion, is an IPA to celebrate.

Finally, the stout was the only beer left. There is much to like. The creamy texture. The dark roasted caramel tastes. But there was also one thing to dislike. The smokey bite. It seem to hit at the wrong point in the drink. Just as I am getting to the transition between the cream and the caramel, the smoke would bite down hard which was particularly jarring. Having a drink with food did somewhat blunt the sharp edge of the smoke it did not disappear completely and makes me think that there was more going on with the beer than at first sip. While not for me, I can see where a stout with this sort of bite would find an appreciative audience.

This trip and the wonderful beer will definitely get me to go back a second time. It’s simply a matter of finding the time to do so.

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Why I brew

This is an important question for the homebrewer. Why do you brew? There are any number of reasons to do so. For me it has a lot to do with recapturing a part of my culture which was lost in the last century. With the National Prohibition Act and the subsequent shutting down of the neighborhood brewpub in the 1920s there was a good deal of the culture of beer that was destroyed. The recipes, the secrets, and so many traditions that were lost in a mere thirteen years that it has taken nearly a century come close to recapturing them.

The story of Prohibition is a bit of an odd one. In looking at the roots, you find a diverse entangling of people and groups which came together to form it. A few of the movement’s roots can be traced to the American west and the saloons that served as a center of a town’s political life. Believe it or not there was a group which called itself the “Anti-Saloon League” rooted in the 1850s which sought to eradicate these places. Then there are those groups whose reason for wanting to ban alcohol is rooted in anti-immigrant sentiment. Much like the “Reefer Madness” campaigns from the 1930s, there was more than one propaganda campaign which attempted to get a rise from the patriotic by linking the ownership and management of breweries to nebulous “foreign interests”.

And then there were the religious groups, largely Protestant and pietistic, who saw (and continue to do so today) imbibing alcohol as a personal sin.

Their success in 1919 meant more than just the banning of alcohol. It meant the loss of a culture. The closing of breweries, both local and national, did more than just send it underground. It killed a large part of that culture. Those employed as a brewmaster was now out of a job. Those who worked the pub and knew the regulars had to find different work. It is of little surprise that it was the small, neighborhood breweries that was the hardest hit and only recently have they begun to recover

At one time what we call the brewpub was the most common of places to find beer. As they do now, they brewed their because it was easiest way to get good, fresh beer. There was little choice in the matter. While there were national brands of beer and a factory for those brands in every major city, distribution of that beer was still somewhat troublesome. Troublesome in getting it to its destination without it being spoiled in some way or another.

So it was just simpler to make your own. Easier to make, easier to control, and much, much easier to transport since it didn’t have to go anywhere but upstairs.

Each one had their own recipes and their own methods for manufacture. These were passed down from generation to generation until one day there wasn’t a pub to brew for. Much of these were first done in their home, given to family and close friends to taste-test before being brought down to the pub. While Prohibition lasted all of 13 years the effects of this are still being felt today. The world was at the bottom of the Great Depression, meaning there was little, if any, chance that many of these pubs were able to secure the capital needed to reopen. The same goes for most of the regional breweries.

So it was that we lost a large part of our brewing history and culture. Who knows what wonderful brews you might have found around the corner from where you work or live?

I intend to find out.

That is why I brew.