It's not an alternative fact: New York City Beer Week is back! (So, then it's an ale-ternative fact?)
Organized by the New York City Brewers Guild, the ninth annual celebration of the metropolis' thriving beer scene starts tonight and runs through March 04, with more than 400 events (!!!) planned throughout the five boroughs. Unsurprisingly, breweries from the Bronx like Gun Hill Brewing Co. will be showcasing their works at some of these events, one of which is tomorrow evening's Opening Bash Invitational, Beer Week's official kickoff party.
Last year, Opening Bash was held aboard the Nautical Empress for a brews cruise around New York Harbor. But the setting for 2017's edition is stationary, at the Brooklyn Expo Center, and the city's breweries have invited their favorite comrades from around the world to pour alongside them.
Now, given the opener's name and new format, I've also invited some friends: the Bash Brothers, so expect a stirring Flying V with a cacophony of quacking to commence the unlimited sampling. Okay, that's an alternative fact. But here's an ale-ternative fact: Gun Hill will be serving East End Boogie, its new collaboration double IPA beer with Greenport Harbor Brewing Co., a brewery on the North Fork of Long Island, at the Opening Bash Invitational as well as several other events during Beer Week.
We recently spoke with the head brewers of Gun Hill (Chris Prout) and Greenport Harbor (Pat Alfred) about East End Boogie and where to find it. We also chatted about Gun Hill's third-anniversary party on March 4th and the limited-release beer made exclusively for its birthday.
Edible Bronx: What kind of beer is East End Boogie?
Chris Prout: It's a New England-style IPA, which is one of, if not the most the trendy styles in beer right now.
EB: For those uninitiated with the New England-style IPA, how would you describe it?
Pat Alfred: Juice! [Laughs.] I say in the last year the IPA has changed its "balance" and what you have is New England-style IPA. Now people are craving smoother, less bitter IPAs with juicier, fruiter hop profiles. What I think about that is pretty mixed. I'm all for the style's direction at this point but when I first fell in love with the IPA the profile was different: piney, resiny, earthy, dank, some citrus, maybe a bright appearance and a dry finish. It's quite the contrary now: IPAs are hazy, soft, nearly void of bitterness. But it's just proof of how brewers continue to push boundaries. I think it's a cool thing to see that evolution.
EB: So, what was the collaboration process like for East End Boogie?
PA: It was pretty straightforward. Chris and I formulated the recipe and sourced the ingredients over the course of a couple weeks. Then when the stars aligned, the Gun Hill guys ventured out to the North Fork and we brewed this awesome beer.
CP: The brew day was full of good times, technical precision, and hop additions!
EB: What about the recipe?
CP: Like a lot of these types of IPAs, there's a simple base of pilsner malt and flaked oats. We used Nelson Sauvin, Amarillo, and Citra hops, and fermented the beer with a Vermont ale yeast.
PA: And it felt like a real collaboration in the sense that we provided the Citra, and Gun Hill used their Nelson Sauvin and Amarillo hops. And the grain bill uses our house pilsner, and Gun Hill cropped some of the yeast they use to make hoppy beers with and brought it up to us. I was stoked to use a yeast strain that we hadn't fermented with before.
EB: What does the beer taste like?
PA: It tastes fantastic, an incredibly juicy and dank brew. White wine and dankness at the forefront, while juicy mango and guava notes hit mid-to-end palate. There's a smooth lingering bitterness at the finish.
CP: I get an assortment of awesome high-acid fruit flavors: grapefruit, passion fruit, lime. Also a grassy white-grape character along with a wafer-like malt character. Soft, really easy to drink. I think everyone is going to be dig it.
EB: Where will people be able to find it during Beer Week?
CP: So, we'll have it a most of our events this week: Bronx Alehouse on Monday, The Pony Bar on Tuesday, Brewer's Choice on Wednesday ... For the bar events, these are going to be tap takeovers with Greenport as well as Kelso and Barrier. It's also on tap at Gun Hill Tavern. There's a full event schedule up on the website.
EB: Chris, your third anniversary party is March 04 and you'll be releasing a special beer. What is it?
CP: We took our Void of Light stout and secondary fermented it with coconut and cocoa nibs. Literally tastes like a chocolate-coconut milkshake. Incredibly flavorful, a little thicker than the base version, but still a super silky mouthfeel. We'll be have that on draft at the party, just a couple of kegs, and we packed it in 120 bottles. It's pretty limited.
PA: That sounds awesome. Void of Light is a standout to me; an awesome example of the style. That beer was one of the first beers I had from you and I was like, "These guys are the real deal."