Other Half Acre @ Gold Star Beer Counter


I find myself bugging my roommates a lot about beer-related events. At this point, I’m amazed they don’t immediately roll their eyes whenever I say something like, “so there’s this beer thing happening…”

Imagine my delight when my roomie Sarah told me about an event at Gold Star Beer Counter in Brooklyn! As a native Chicagoan, she was excited to see that they were celebrating the debut of Rainbow Never Ends, a double IPA brewed collaboratively by Chicago’s Half Acre and Brooklyn’s Other Half. As Other Half happens to be one of my favorite breweries, I couldn’t resist. Even better, my two other roomies agreed to come along!


Gold Star Beer Counter is an adorable bar. As you can see from the picture above, it was full to bursting when we arrived. We still managed to weasel our way up to the bar to get our first beers of the night. Eventually, the crowd parted and we were able to snag one of only three tables. I think the beer gods were listening to me; moments earlier, I’d been complaining that I had nowhere to set down my beer so I could take pictures.

Note the crowd, and the bottles! All the bottles!

Sarah started out with Rainbow Never Ends, since it was the belle of the ball that night. It was a nice double IPA full of hoppy goodness, and deceptively light for an 8.5% beer. It ended on an herbal syrupy note that wasn’t overly bitter. Delightful!

My own beer was also a delight. Since I’d never had Half Acre’s beers before, I decided to start off with their Freedom of ’78. This IPA was brewed with guava – if you have an IPA brewed with tropical fruit on your menu, you can bet I’m going to order it. There was so much guava in this, you guys. It was essentially a hopped, alcoholic guava soda and I loved it.

That’s the Freedom of ’78 in front, and the Rainbow Never Ends in the background.

For my second beer, I decided to go against my usual preferences and try Half Acre’s Gin Barrel Aged Pony Pilsner. I’m definitely not typically a pilsner drinker. I find a lot of them have a distinct, off-putting aftertaste. the Pony Pilsner doesn’t have that. The gin comes through loud and clear, and it has lots of herbal and floral elements. Looking for a gin and tonic with the body of a beer? This is your pony. (I now have Ginuwine’s Pony stuck in my head. Again.)

ride it, my pony/my saddle’s waiting, come on and jump on this tasty beer

At this point, Sarah and I were getting peckish. Beer cheese to the rescue! Even better, it was made with Daisy Cutter, Half Acre’s flagship pale all. It was indeed very beery, a little spicy, and wonderfully delicious. It was also served with an entire sleeve of Ritz crackers for only $6!

And that, my friends, is called winning. 

At that point, my two other roommates decided to be responsible adults and call it a night. Sarah and I decided that we had more beer to drink! I stopped taking notes at this point, so I can’t say much about the other beers we tried. However, I did have a sip of Other Half’s Peachwood Aged, which was very surprising. It tasted like peaches, champagne, and diamonds. Just one sip made me feel like I was dripping in jewels.

We ended up befriending the people next to us, and they very kindly let us try some of their beers. At one point, they left a full bottle of stout sitting on their table while they all drunkenly migrated to the bar. I may have stolen an extra pour or two.

Guilty as charged. Whoops! 

My beer-thieving ways are usually a sign it’s time to go home. So after making a few more friends, off we went to the subway! One ill-advised (but amazing) pizza stop later, we were home. Another night of wonderful beeriness accomplished. Miraculously, I even avoided impulse-buying any bottles – although I can’t promise that it won’t happen in the very near future.


Only Brooklyn Tap Takeover @ The Wilky

Bed-Stuy isn’t typically a neighborhood you’d associate with craft beer, despite the hints of gentrification in the form of new coffee shops and French bistros (There’s two within a five block radius on Malcolm X. Two!). Which is why I was ecstatic when The Wilky opened up on Patchen this past winter. 18 taps? Check! 10 minute walk from my apartment? Check! Frequent special events and tap takeovers? Ultra check!

I’ve been here for a few special Wednesdays before – particularly notable was the Goose Island Bourbon Country Vertical Tasting, where they served three vintages of the renowned imperial stout.

Also one of the owners took a picture of us that would have been totally adorable if my eyes weren’t closed. (photo by Jimmy Fisher)

This week, The Wilky showed its local pride with a line-up that exclusively featured beers from Brooklyn. Most of them were already breweries I know and love, like Other Half and Evil Twin. However, a few of the names were still unfamiliar – so that’s where I started, with a nice glass of Folksbier’s Selvina. (Apologies for the terrible photography, I don’t have access to a decent camera at the moment.)

Folksbier Selvina – Bière de Garde/Alsatian Farmhouse Ale, 7.5%


This one’s brewed with rose hips! That floral goodness comes out slightly on the aroma, which is mostly the scent of a freshly baked banana muffin. On the taste, that Belgian banana yeastiness hit me first, and kept building. After a few sips, it died down and I could taste hints of clove, floral notes, and honey. The Selvina is almost mead-like in flavor, but finished nice and crisp like a white wine. It shows that Folksbier is a brewery that puts a great deal of care into their yeast, and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more of their beers. The brewery is apparently based in Carroll Gardens, but sadly not open to the public.

Next, I went with a wild ale, because if you have a wild ale on tap, I’m probably going to drink it.

Grimm Artisan Ales Rainbow Dome – Wild ale brewed with apricots, 5%

Yeah, it’s super dark, but I was really proud of the framing with those candles in the back!

This was hands down my favorite of the night. Its yellow, hazy appearance was calling to me from the moment it was set down in front of me. The aroma was even better, with some huge mango, pineapple, and orange juice. It was like someone had taken a mimosa and combined it with really good lemonade.

It tasted like brunch. Funky apricot right up top, mango and pineapple throughout with some nice pepper and lemon zest notes. The sour hits fast but fades quickly to a delightful barnyard funk. (Side note: before I started drinking sours, I didn’t think “barnyard funk” could ever be a good thing.) It’s peppery, it’s juicy, it made me want a giant plate of bacon and hash browns.

Although  I could drink sours all night long, I took it in a different direction with my next selection.

Evil Twin Wet Dream – Espresso brown ale, 6%

Photo via Evil Twin’s website, because I got lazy.

And now for something completely different! This was like dessert – essentially, it was a stout with the body of a brown ale. Still, my favorite thing about this beer is the name. Every time I think about it, I giggle.

But on to the beer. There was lots of espresso in this Wet Dream (hurr hurr), and it builds a lot. The taste was reminiscent of a nice strong cold brew that has some deep, dark chocolate notes. It was tasty, but so intense that I wish I only had half the pour I got. I mean, it was light in terms of alcohol content, but big and full bodied in a way that made me feel like it was much stronger.

My last choice was also mostly based on the name:

Other Half (in collaboration with Omnipollo and Tired Hands) Debbie Downer – IPA brewed with mango and white chocolate, 6.5%

Image via BeerAdvocate

Really, I’ll take any opportunity to reference one of my favorite SNL sketches!

I love Other Half’s IPAs because they really do excellent things with their hops, and this one is no different. Lots of grassy stuff and lemon pith. My first sip was a little off-putting – maybe there was a hint of cream cheese right up top? There was also a sweet, milky aftertaste that reminded me why I don’t usually eat white chocolate. The Debbie Downer did get better as it warmed up. the flavors melded together and the mango came out a lot more, mixing with that milkiness to create something reminiscent of a mango lassi.

The full beer list, for the curious.

All in all, it was a solid line up, and another great event at The Wilky! Looks like their next event is a tap takeover by Grimm Artisan Ales ON MY BIRTHDAY. When August 3rd rolls around, you’ll know where to find me (and buy me a drink)!

On the Subject of Beer Festivals

Hey, remember that time I took a really, really long hiatus without warning? Yeah, me neither. (But seriously: sorry! I’m back now, I promise.)

Note to self: when attending beer festivals with unlimited samplers, keep in mind that you are a lightweight. If you don’t, and end up having over 40 five-ounce glasses in three hours, you will end up sobbing into a slice at Two Boots Pizza. At 4:30pm. On Halloween. And that is the ugly truth, my friends.

ryan gosling
Once again, I have disappointed Ryan Gosling (via Giphy)

I went into last October’s NYC Craft Beer Festival with the best of intentions. Having volunteered the night before, I was pleasantly surprised with a VIP pass to the next afternoon’s session. It was Halloween, but no big deal, I figured. Since the session started at 1pm, I’d have plenty of time to pace myself, try some good beers and sober up enough to go out with my friends that evening.

Downside to being a volunteer = not being allowed to taste the beer you’re serving. So I was extra excited to gain entry the next day.

You’d think I’d know myself better by now, especially when the VIP pass allowed me an extra hour of drinking (An extra hour to pace myself, I thought naively). We also had access to a curtained-off lounge. As soon as I walked in, I noticed a sign leading to secret area.

They didn’t do a great job of keeping it secret, tbh.

I asked two people about it: one claimed you had to pay extra, the other said you didn’t. I decided to try my luck – the worst they could do is kick me out, right? So in I went, immediately recognizing two other volunteers. Surely that must mean I’m allowed to be here!

Sitting in front of me was a dream: a line-up of ten or so bottles of beers I’d never tried before, as well as Dieu Du Ciel’s Pêché Mortel! I immediately goaded my friends into trying it (I can’t hide my Montreal pride) and proceeded to taste as many beers as I could.

Eight months later and I’m still drooling over that Troy cider.

After six or seven samples, another volunteer appeared and proclaimed that we needed a special armband to be there – which I decidedly did not have. Whoops! I grabbed one last sample from the bartender and quickly made my exit.

By that time, I was tipsy. I continued on with my volunteer friends for a while. Let me tell you, it’s not easy keeping up with two dudes over six feet tall when you are definitely not one.

But all that beer was just so tasty!

By the time we were ushered out so the next sessions could start, the whole world was a blur. Obviously, I did not make it to my Halloween party that night (see above RE: crying into pizza).

But at least The Dude abides, as he always does. Two Boots’ artwork definitely cheered me up.

My recommendation? Bring a buddy who can drink at least three times as much as you can.

Especially if that buddy comes with coffee.

That’s what I did for February’s Extreme Beer Festival in Boston. I decided to accept that as a lightweight, I probably shouldn’t finish any beers that I wasn’t absolutely in love with. Beer Nerd Boyfriend was there for that. I was prepared to be the Robin to his beer-soaked Batman. As we stood in line before the start of the festival, I thought I was ready; I had mapped out the bathrooms, we had a list of priority beers, I made Nick promise we’d stop for food after an hour or two.

And then it all went out the window as soon as I walked in the door.


I was surrounded by taps, excited beer nerds, and some of the weirdest stuff I’d ever seen – peanut butter beer? Barrel aged everything? TOMATO GOSE?

That Tomato Gose was from these guys, and it was delicious.

Before I knew it, I was tipsy turvy at 4:30pm again, eating nachos at a nearby pub and embarrassing Beer Nerd Boyfriend with my public declarations of love.

The face of shame (note how it’s still light outside).

Was it all worth it? Hell yes. But I like to think I learned my lesson. Maybe. How about you just ask me after the next beer festival?

N.B. I’m all about moderation and definitely don’t condone drinking like this all the time. Or even most of the time. Two times a year is pretty ideal, actually. And please, for Pete’s sake, never drink and drive! Pete will thank you later when you call him an Uber.

Super Short Beer Reviews!

This has been such an insane week! So insane, in fact, that I while I have notes for this week’s post, I’ve had no time to actually write it. I’m going to have to delay it – mostly due to an activity related to next week’s post! And Halloween. That too. (I don’t even have a costume yet! Help!)

To tide you over until I can post a full article, here are short reviews of two beers from Oddside Ales in Grand Haven, Michigan. We didn’t have the time to stop by their brewery on our trip, but managed to grab a few of their bottles in Kalamazoo. You may remember their Granny’s Apple Pie beer from my beer haul post last week. The following two beers are also part of their usual line up.

How Now Brown Cow, Brown Ale, 6%

20151025_212633The first thing I love about this beer is the bottle. All Oddside Ales beers have taglines of sorts, usually a description of what’s in the beer. This one, however, simply reads “The arsonist has oddly shaped feet.” This beer is absurd, and I love it! The beer itself isn’t quite as distinctive as the bottle, but still quite tasty, easy drinking. There’s lots of coffee on the nose. The taste is of a lot of coffee, a bit of chocolate, and a little metallic tinge. It is very drinkable!

Firefly Pale Ale, 5.75%

20151024_213423This unique pale ale is brewed with papaya and habanero peppers. I was a little hesitant off the bat, because it seemed like my bottle had a lot of debris in it – but I decided to go ahead and taste is anyways. It still had a lovely aroma, full of citrus, papaya, and grassy hoppiness. It tasted just fine! Very strong papaya and citrus notes, along with a subtle burn that builds, and a light bitterness. Whatever was in my bottle, it didn’t seem to impact the taste at all.

Stay tuned next week for not one, but TWO new articles! I’ll update this on a regular schedule someday, I promise.

Weekend Holiday Beer Haul!

It’s been quite the week for your favorite Beer Intern! I’m typing this up a little later than expected (it’s still technically Thursday, right?) because I’m still recovering from the incredible weekend I had. Last Saturday, I joined my family in celebrating the wedding of my cousin Ally and her now-husband Jason at the gorgeous Mont Tremblant in Quebec.

We spent the weekend drinking, dancing and eating too much – basically, all the things you’re supposed to do at a wedding.

Such a beautiful wedding!
Such a beautiful wedding!

But before we kicked off the wedding weekend, Beer Nerd Boyfriend and I had a day to dive into our stash of tasty treats. Some of these beers were leftovers from our Michigan trip, and some I had just picked up at Prospect Heights Beer Works, my go-to bottle shopping spot. Without further ado, here are some short reviews of what turned out to be a very excellent beer night. 20151016_210124

2015 Le Terroir Dry Hopped Sour Ale, New Belgium

We started off with a sour we picked up as we left Kalamazoo. This dry hopped sour ale is a yearly release, and each batch is aged for three years in giant wooden barrels called foeders. The result is a beer that hits some citrus and grass notes on the nose, but undeniably stars some serious sour cherry. The taste is tart and funky, like a good sour should be. The cherry builds slowly, and the finish is sour, bitter and sweet all at once. Those citrus notes from the hops are there too. Yum!20151016_213237Chocolate Sombrero, Clown Shoes (brewed by the Mercury Brewing Company)

This one was a complete surprise. Neither of us had ever heard of Clown Shoes or Mercury Brewing from Ipswich, Massachusetts. We just bought it because – well, c’mon, look at that label! How could you not? Especially when the beer in question is a chocolate stout brewed to be reminiscent of Mexican hot chocolate. I think I’ll let Clown Shoes describe the beer, because I don’t think I can do any better than this:

Roasted dark malts plus extra chocolate malts plus ancho chile plus cinnamon plus vanilla extract plus a chocolate loving, beer drinking, Clown Shoes wearing, multi-limbed, gorgeous and glorious Mexican wrestler on the label. That’s the recipe for a Chocolate Sombrero!

All of that is right there, both in the aroma and the taste (including the wrestler). The mouthfeel is beautifully thick, and intensely chocolatey. The spice and vanilla build gently, and the cinnamon is both very present and very delicious. This is just such a fun beer!20151016_223233

Forgotten Tales of the Last Gypsy Blender: Series 1 Vol 1, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

Once again we returned to our beloved sours for this saison brewed with tamarind and mango. This is a collaboration between Jolly Pumpkin, one of our favorite makers of sour beers and a stop on our Michigan tour, and Celina Tio, chef/owner of JULIAN and The Belfry in Kansas City. This brew is definitely mango-like in its orange hue, and gives off an aroma of tartness, peachy funk, citrus sweetness and a lot of orange. The taste is like a fresh, tart glass of orange juice; fairly sweet across but with bright citrus, a ton of mango and a pineapple funk near the end that builds to a grapefruit bitterness. In the words of Beer Nerd Boyfriend, “it’s citrus salad in a glass.”20151016_234359

Granny’s Apple Pie, Odd Side Ales

The last beer on our list was from Odd Side Ales, a brewery we didn’t have time to check out on our travels through Michigan. It’s an ale with cider, milk sugar and spices. The color is murky brown, exactly like fresh cider. It smells like a lot of apple, cinnamon and booze. To me, it tasted about the same. Strong on the apple, a little floral, lots of spices and vanilla, some crust-like stuff in the middle along with an astringent finish. Not my favorite beer of the night, but then again I’m not a huge apple pie fan. It did a fine job of replicating all the right flavors of a fall favorite pie. If you love apple pie, you’ll probably like this. 20151017_003012

There you have it, an evening’s worth of delicious beers! And now I’m off to nurse my still hurting legs – that DJ was serious business. Trust me, dancing was mandatory at this wedding.

Adventures in Manhattan: Greenwich Village Edition

Sometimes I forget where I live. Even after a year, it’s still weird to think that I can hop on a subway train and arrive at Times Square less than an hour later. Weird that I’ve been (unsuccessfully) attempting to get rush tickets to Hamilton, a probable 2016 Tony-Award winner, with a friend on a weekly basis. This week, it was nice to be reminded why I love this city so much, even if it’s big and loud and cluttered and dirty and sometimes more than a little smelly.

On Wednesday evening, I decided to venture out to Greenwich Village by myself to check out Blind Tiger Ale House, a bar I’ve been meaning to check out for a long time. It’s just one of those craft beer places that seems to show up on every single list of best bars in Manhattan.  The deciding factor yesterday was an Other Half Brewing Company event. A ton of their brews would be available on tap at Blind Tiger – 27, to be exact. I’ve only tried a few of Other Half’s beers, but they’ve all been stellar. Considering this brewery is still less that two years old, I made attending this event to try a couple of pints a priority. (Ironically enough, Other Half’s brewery is actually located in Brooklyn, about three subway stops away from my apartment.)20151014_202257By the time I made it over to Blind Tiger, it was PACKED. I had expected it to be full – even if it is lower, it is still Manhattan, after all – but this was nuts. It was an adventure just to get near the bar, and even more so to put in a drink order. I decided to pick the beer I wanted most, and go from there.

All the beers on that list are from Other Half. Bald head not cropped because it's hilarious.
All the beers on that list are from Other Half. Bald head not cropped because it’s hilarious.

That beer was the red wine barrel-aged Grand Cru Tripel, quite a heavyweight at 8%. Although it was very dark, I noted the deep red hue. The aroma was heavy on the berries, with a bit of wine-like tartness and perhaps a lingering hint of banana and spice. It was a delicious beer; starting off with the taste of dark red berries and a little bit of wood and a slow but steady build-up of robust red wine and booziness. It had a bitter, dry finish. Another one knocked out of the park by Other Half, as far as I was concerned.

A terrible attempt at photography in a dark, crowded space. Shout out to the guy on the phone for letting me perch on the corner of the bar.

After my beer, I decided to go outside to regroup. I had had the intention of trying a few beers, but I hadn’t banked on it being quite that busy (a silly move). So, already a little tipsy (I’m a lightweight, what can I say), I started to wander around Bleecker Street, just for fun. Luckily, I found an open bookstore right around the corner. Since my defenses were down and I have an addiction to bookstores, I left with a couple of purchases.

Guess which one was the true impulse buy.
Guess which one was the true impulse buy.

Then, I had gelato for dinner at GROM, a little shop that had caught my eye on the way to Blind Tiger. Although it was quite pricey for such a small serving, it was fortunately very delicious. My particular favorite was the lemon and ginger sorbet, which wasn’t overly sweet and definitely made the ginger the star of the show. 20151014_204840Then, I just wandered around, taking in the night and the noise until I retreated back to Brooklyn. Even though the night didn’t quite go as planned, I still had a great time and got to try at least one new, delicious beer. After a long summer in Ottawa, I just found myself feeling like I was back in my element, back in this crazy place. And without a doubt, Other Half’s brewery will be one of my stops in the near future!

Baking With Pumpkin Beer!

Listen, it’s no secret that I love fall. How could you not? The leaves are turning, sweater weather is finally upon us, and everything you can eat or drink involves pumpkin. In fact, I can directly identify with the following clip from Iliza Shlesinger’s comedy special Freezing Hot: (WARNING: There’s a fair amount of profanity here, so maybe don’t watch this at work. Also the quality is terrible – I recommending heading to Netflix to watch the full special, if you can.)

So last weekend I commenced Operation PUMPKIN EVERYTHING. I started by picking up two seasonal beers I know are quite widely available and beloved; Southern Tier’s Warlock, an imperial stout, and the Pumpking imperial ale. The Pumpking is a little too sweet for my tastes, but I figured it would be perfect for use in a dessert.20151004_180651

First of all, I had to make a main course. I decided to go for the ideal fall meal – a hearty vegan chili, made with the Warlock for some extra warmth. I based myself on this recipe and improvised based on what I had. Zucchini? Kale? Extra cocoa? In the pot it went!

Well, everything except the dish soap in the background, that is.

Since I’d bought a large bottle of the Warlock, I had some leftover. Not a problem. I do quite like the Warlock. It’s strong on the pumpkin spice, molasses and booze on the nose. The taste reminds me of a cup of coffee with some of Starbuck’s pumpkin spice syrup mixed in. It also masks the fact that this is a 10% beer – maybe a dangerous choice for my baking exploits, but a tasty one nonetheless.20151004_190222

While the chili simmered away, I put the Pumpking to good use and began making this pumpkin bread. It ended up much more bread-like than I expected, although this may be due to the vegetable oil I used instead of the butter. Even with the intense sweetness of the Pumpking, the bread itself wasn’t sweet at all. However, it was quite tasty when it came out of the oven, drizzled with a bit of honey. Next time, I’d double the amount of pumpkin, and probably add a touch more sugar.

When I get excited about baked goods, I take blurry pictures.
When I get excited about baked goods, I take blurry pictures.

The chili turned out great – I may have been a little overzealous with the cocoa but the pumpkin came through loud and clear, and the Warlock added a little more depth to it. Not at all a bad way to use up some veggies that were starting to look shady!20151004_185435

And with that, my pumpkin cravings were satisfied.



Ahem. Sorry.