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The Beer Friends write, review, and discuss Craft Beer as fans instead of experts.  They share their unique voice and affinity for craft beer through multiple platforms and offer a range of media to join their craft beer conversation.

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Filtering by Category: Bars

Live Blog! Clown Shoes and The Glenrothes at Idle Hands

Phil Foleen

Hello Beer Friends Nation! Tonight we are graced by one of our new favorite breweries from Massachusetts, Clown Shoes! Joining them is whiskey from The Glenrothes, so lets get started! Phil's First Clementine - being a Belgian beer this doesn't start off on the top of my list, BUT, the hops and the citrus pieces of the recipe really help to curb that Belgian yeast taste I hate so much. Which makes this one tolerable! The Belgian taste is there but a light citrusy clementine taste helps out, and there is a little bit of hoppy bitterness along the way as well.

Paul's First Clementine - I always hate to agree with Phil, but these kind of Belgian white beers are never at the top of my list either. However, that is only my opinion, and like most of my opinions it is easily proven wrong. This brew is light but has a ton of flavor. It's a light murky orange color with a flavor like its namesake.

Graham's First Clementine - it's been awhile since I've had a wit-bier so maybe that's why they all taste similar to me, so ill try to paint a unique picture of this one, as much as I can. Definitely citrus orange, hence the name, cloudy with a yeasty laid back tones. Light enough to drink during hot weather and almost flavorful enough to want all the time. If wit and hefe's were my style then I'd be into this one a lot more.

Phil's Second Hoppy Feet Black IPA - My current favorite style. Black IPAs bring the perfect balance of the hops I love and the toasty, burnt goodness that a darker beer will give you, this beer is no slouch in that department. Very malty nose, but a surprising hoppy bitterness that presents itself early on in your taste, followed up by a sweet and toasty end reminiscent of a barrel aged ale. I would recommend this and will definitely be having this again tonight.

Paul's Second Hoppy Feet - Black IPA's like this one have grown in popularity over the past few years. It's been a style that has seen some good beer and some very mediocre beers. The problem that I find with some Black beers is one flavor is too offensive. Especially with IPA's you run the risk of having an imbalance between the hop flavor and the roasted malts. The black ales I've enjoyed the most have found the correct balance and haven't had those overpowering flavors. Until this one, this is a black IPA with a strong hop and roasted malt flavor that I really enjoy. It's strong and hits you hard with flavor at the beginning and has a nice roasty flavor through the end.

Graham's Second Hoppy Feet - A black IPA is one of those piecemeal styles that sounds a lot better on paper than it does in person, USUALLY. There are a few exceptions: Sixpoint Diesel and... Well you get the picture. However I'm now happy to announce that, for me at least, another has joined the rank(s) of acceptable Black IPA's. Deep roast malt flavor, smoke, peat and a light coffee followed by a delicious blast of West Coast hops. Hoppy Feet truly meets the the black IPA style head on and wins.

Phil's Third Vampire Slayer - Delicious! If this is what it's like I can see why Abraham Lincoln got into the biz. Fantastically smokey and malty, but with very little alcohol taste to talent you know you're drinking a 10%'er. The smoked Baltic Porter roots are very present, and will not disappoint anyone looking for a dark and stormy pint.

Paul's Third Vampire Slayer- This is the best offering of the night. This is a smoked imperial porter brewed with holy water, you know, to kill vampires. This is a great imperial porter with a lot of flavor but it isn't terribly heavy. This is a big beer that is dangerously drinkable. Go get yourself s bomber and enjoy your evening.

Graham's Third Vampire Slayer - I (happily due to what creativity inevitably produces) think craft brewers have just started picking style and flavor profiles out of a grab bag these days. Black, imperial, IPA: genius! Rye, lager, witbier: delicious! Oyster, oatmeal, amber: holy beer gods yes! But honestly, when Clown Shoes picked smoked, milk, stout they hit the nail on the head. Smoke up front with a smooth slightly chocolate following that flows so much like cream that seems impossible at almost 10% ABV. Find this bottle near you and see what I mean.

Phil's whiskey Glenrothes Select Reserve- I will try it every time. This was warm and fuzzy on the way down, but still had that whiskey taste and burn. Not my thing

Paul's whiskey Glenrothes Select Reserve - Yes Phil, it goes down like whiskey BECAUE IT'S WHISKEY! This is a great single malt scotch that was aged in a bourbon cask and a sherry cask. Absolutely wonderful spirit that I look forward to enjoying again as well as what else this distillery has to offer.

Graham's whiskey Glenrothes Select Reserve - I'm not a huge whiskey connoisseur but I do know that this scotch is banging. It's real malty and smooth and when you smell/taste it the right way has flavors of cherry, fig and vanilla. One of my favorites in a long time, I gotta remember to pick a bottle of this one up soon.

BONUS ROUND!!!!!!

Graham - Clown Shoes Clementine Old Fashioned - When Rob said he could make an old fashioned with the Clown Shoes Clementine I said prove it to me. He then called me a dick. What he did was prove to me that a drink this good probably shouldn't be made, lest we all become breakfast drinkers. Big orangey taste upfront with the rest of the beer flavor following only to end with a smooth whiskey mixed with orange on the back of your tongue. Refreshing, warming, filing, effervescent, flavorful and an overall classy beverage. I'll be having one for breakfast tomorrow.

Paul- (see above)

Live blog! Idle Hands NY beer week kick off!

Phil Foleen

Hello Beer Friends Nation! Tonight we are back at Idle Hands for the slightly official kickoff of New York beer week with Kelso, Empire and the newcomer Singlecut. As always thanks to Rev and .rob for the awesome event and Dan at That Burger for TATCHOS!!!!!!! Let's get started! Phil's First: Kelso Rauchbier - I'm a big fan of the Rauchbier. graham and I have agreed its not a real pint contender unless you're looking for a sipping beer. Wonderfully smokey this one keeps the beer taste on the down low, but that's not a bad thing. I would usually only have one or two of these a night, but that because its a bit more specialized than others. Fortunately we have Jarlsberg cheese here with some samples to go along with the smokey goodness, a well balanced bitterness that helps balance the sweet smoke of the Kelso.

Graham's First: Kelso Rauchbier - Rauchbier is a delicious flavor of beer that I rarely get a chance to drink, and probably for good measure. If I had it all the time I probably would get smoked out. In the rare circumstances that I enjoy a Rauchbier I, well, enjoy it. Especially when it's paired with smokey Jarlsberg cheese like tonight. The Kelso Rauchbier has a hint of bacony meat smoke with a great earthy flavor behind it and a light hop bitterness that is delightfully embraced by the cheese.

Phil's Second: Empire Amber - always a good showing form the Empire crew, the Amber is a solid malt forward offering that hits well in the second round. A slight combination after taste of the malts and the hops finished cleanly and get you ready for the next taste.

Graham's Second: Empire Amber - Ambers are not usually my favorites: too heavy on the malts and not enough hop action. This one is mostly the same with the exception the nice hop bitterness in the back end of the back end. In reality, I'm not as praising of this beer because I'm some sort of hop monster, in the end it's one of the most well-balanced, easy-drinking ambers out of the northeast.

Phil's Third: Singlecut 18 Watt IPA - OH MAN is this good! Super hoppy in the best way. The aroma hits you even before your bring the glass up to take a sip. A lot of floral hop flavor right off the bat, bewitch a good sweetness on the back end that only compliments the hops you tasted 2 seconds before. This is one I will be getting another glass of, right after this glass! Can't wait to hit up the brewery for some fresh IPA. Yum yum.

Graham's Third: Singlecut 18 Watt IPA - I could talk about this IPA as having a super hoppy herbal aroma, or having a complex hop flavor or being a super drinkable 5% ABV. Or I could talk about the secret tasting of a rum barrel aged dopplebock that will eventually be poured in a nitrogenated fashion. Not that these two awesome things happened at the same time or anything...

Thanks again to Rev and Rob for the amazing event. Thanks to the breweries Kelso, Empire and Singlecut! Singlecut we'll be seeing you real soon for some more IPA/Rum aged Doppelboch in the very near future, Trista it was great to meet you!

Till next time BF Nation! (next week probably, who are we kidding)

SingleCut Beersmiths: 79 years overdue!

Phil Foleen

The Brewery 79 years!  That's how long it has been since Queens, New York has had its own proper brewery.  That's quite a long wait, but fear not Beer Friends Nation, we stopped by SingleCut Beersmiths in Astoria Queens to give you a sneak peak before their grand opening this Saturday.

Rich Buceta, President and Head Brewer at SingleCut, was kind enough to take a few minutes out of his busy schedule of prepping the brewery for the grand opening to chat with us about his new company.  Coming from an advertising background Rich graduated from the hallowed halls of homebrewing to the Greenpoint facility to learn the ins and outs of the trade.  Working his way up to finally open the Brewery that we found ourselves graciously sampling the almost complete Pilsner and Red Lagers that were in the final fermentation stages for Saturday.The Brewery

The brewery itself, while still under a bit of construction, looks and feels like what we have come to expect from a brewery that is focused on producing great beer, but doesn't want to ignore the most important part of their business, the Craft Beer Drinker.  coming up to the building you can't miss it with the giant words "SingleCut Beersmiths" painted on the sides.  on your way into the building you're greeting at the door by Rulpsen, the robotic fermenter mascot for the brewery on the door saying "enter here".

The first thing you see coming through the door makes you feel like you're right in the middle of the process.  giant shelves and bags of malts to your right, large tables for relaxing with your newly found favorite beer, the casks set up and ready for the aging process, and the bar straight and to the left.  All the surfaces are pristine and well put together, a nice natural wood finish to everything

you're welcoming view walking inside

bringing out a handicraft feeling of building something.

As you make your way around to the right hand side of the building, beckoned by the sight of the shiny stainless steel of the brewing equipment you pass the walk-in refrigerator on your left, just before the space opens up to the large rear warehouse space the houses the center of the brewing operation.

We were greeted enthusiastically by Rich, rubber boots and all, grabbing a taster glass for each of us and offering a quick sample of the two brews they were working on at the moment.  Chatting with him and sampling his beer we really got a feel for the direction this place is headed.  Rich is driven, he loves beer and he loves making it.  I though a great indicator was his push to develop a "hoppy lager" which he thinks is a severely under defined section of the Craft beer market and we are likely to agree with him, although if our tasting was any indication it IMG_2561wont be left alone for too long!

We are extremely excited about the prospects this brewery presents for the city.  Craft beer has had a growing presence in Queens for a number of years now and has been gaining traction year over year, but we were always missing that one essential  ingredient of a brewery to call our own and brag about to the other boroughs and beyond.  If our visit is any indication, this is the best thing that could happen to craft beer in Queens, so saddle up, head over for a fantastic beer, grab a t-shirt or pint glass and let's get the party started!

SingleCut Beersmiths will have their grand opening this Saturday December 8th from 12pm - 6pm.

After that they will be open every Thursday and Friday from 5p-8p and every Saturday from 12p-6p.

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=SingleCut+Beersmiths,+37th+Street,+NY&aq=0&oq=SingleCut+&sll=40.697488,-73.979681&sspn=0.822531,1.234589&t=h&ie=UTF8&hq=SingleCut+Beersmiths,&hnear=E+37th+St,+New+York,+10016&ll=40.778384,-73.901856&spn=0.067677,0.164705&output=embed&w=425&h=350]

Picture Gallery!

Bar Interview #1: Idle Hands Bar

Brad

Hello Beer Friends Nation! Beer Reviews with four dudes around a table?  Check.  Brewery Interview?  Check.  This week we cross another item off our to do list as we achieve an audience with The Rev from Idle Hands Bar.  Yes, this is the same Idle Hands Bar that we constantly do Live Blogs from, and yes we've had a bunch of conversations with The Rev, but this time... we filmed it!

Idle Hands has a Bar Birthday coming up on September 14th, so the timing couldn't be more perfect.  With great weekly events, these guys know how to throw a party and this one should be epic.  If you can't make it because you have "plans" be sure to join them September 28th for their Pumpkin Picking Party (click here for tickets).

If this wasn't awesome enough, be sure to check us out later in the week for a Beer Review with The Rev... the party begins.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csNHLZ2Hs4M]

New York Beer Events for the Week of August 20th - 25th

Brad

Hello Beer Friends Nation! We know why you've come here today, just sit back and let us plan your week of beer swigging events...

Monday August 20th -

Murray's Cheese is a locals favorite of most New Yorkers - legendary on Bleecker, I recently had a true New Yorker get so excited that "Murray's now sells beer!" As if the craft beer revolution was now official in his mind.  Well, those of us who've been following for quite some time welcome Murray's Cheese to the table and let's see what they got!  On Monday, August 20th, Murray's Cheese pairs with the Shelton Brothers to present "Belgian Beers and Cheese" - the problem is (with Murray's being new to the craft beer scene - we're very cheap) it's $75 to get in and availability is limited (10 seats for this class).

Murray's Cheese is located at 254 Bleecker St., New York, NY

Tuesday August 21st -

Who doesn't like a little competition?  If there is one thing New Yorkers do well is tell you how great New York is, and we love to prove it.  So head down to Mission Dolores for their NY vs CA Can Beer Night.  Representing CA are breweries such as: Bear Republic, Firestone Walker, Sierra Nevada, 21st Amendment, Stone, Lagunitas and Green Flash.  Representing NY are breweries such as: Southern Tier, Sixpoint, Kelso, Barrier, Empire, Brooklyn Brewery, and Captain Lawrence.  So make your list of great NY things, and stuff from California you can crap on - and head on down!

Mission Dolores is located at 249 4th Ave., Brooklyn, NY 

Wednesday August 22nd -

The baseball season is winding down and most fans have realized whether or not they have a chance for the off-season.  This means that now baseball games actually start to mean something!  Standings is celebrating it by having a few baseball themed beers on tap including Green Monsta Ale from Wachusett Brewing Co. (it doesn't suck like the Sox this year...) and Summer Love from Victory (see the Sox comment and apply to Phillies).  Best thing about Standings? It's directly above Jimmy's No. 43 so make it a doubleheader!

Standings Bar is located at 43 East 7th St., New York, NY

If this doesn't sound interesting - check out Mad River Brewery at Blind Tiger.  Be sure to get there early, the event starts at 3pm and fills up quickly!

Blind Tiger is located at 281 Bleecker St., New York, NY

Thursday August 23rd - 

Bierkraft is legendary in Craft Beer in New York City - so when they invite a "new comer" like Barrier it must be a big deal.  Well, that's partly true - Barrier Brewing Co. is a really big deal.  Barrier started just three years ago in a 1 barrel facility, yada yada yada... a few awards later they've expanded to a five barrel facility in Oceanside, NY.  If you see them around, try their stuff - if you haven't - get to Bierkraft on Thursday when Barrier takes over the taps.

Bierkraft is located at 191 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn, NY

Feel like playing some video games?  Check out the greatest idea for a bar since... well ever - at Barcade in Williamsburg.  Barcade has a excellent draft list (always) and this Thursday they invite Flying Dog from Maryland.  In addition to their great year round beers (Gonzo, Snake Bite IPA), the draft list looks very dangerous, so bring your wits and your quarters.

Barcade Brooklyn is located at 388 Union Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY

Friday August 24th - 

It's Friday!  Find a Happy Hour and enjoy yourself!  Be sure to check in on untappd.com and follow us at @thebeerfriends, @beerfriendbrad, @beerfriendphil, @beerfriendpaul, and @beerfriendgrahm and let us know what you're drinking!

Live Blog! Great Divide Night at Idle Hands

Phil Foleen

Hello Beer Friends Nation! It was a dark and story night. Two intrepid beer drinkers braved the elements, the sheeting rain and slow busses to bring you a night of one of our favorite breweries out of Colorado. Wetsocks and all we are always excited for a little Great Divide and a Cowboys From Hell burger with crab seasoned tater tots from That Burger. Read on for the goodness...

Phil's First Hoss - For the beers that we are having tonight, this one is probably the one I would've picked to drink first anyway. It's not an overly strong beer, but with good malty notes from the Rye it doesn't disappoint. Smooth all the way down to the bottom of the glass.

Brad's First Hoss - Hoss is a great beer, I've had it before and it's a perfect fall beer, but without a pumpkin theme so it's great to drink year round.

Brad's Second Titan IPA - As I just got done talking with (name drop in 3, 2, 1...) Dave Woodlock the Great Divide beer rep, I told him that Titan is top 5 IPA for me. Balanced and piney really gives it a nice Colorado IPA feel.

Phil's Second Titan IPA - this is one of my all time fav's from Great Divide. Nice and hoppy, hoppy almost to the point of a double IPA, but without that overbearing bitterness and sweet ending that is pretty typical of those. I agree with Brad that this is just a very well balanced beer, a little floral taste from the hopes too but not in a tea-leaf kinda way.

Phil's Third Hercules Double IPA - this is the great next step in hoppiness for tonight. I love this beer, very hoppy and it does have that double IPA sweetnes but it's ny ere for a little bit and doesn't become the defining flavor on your tongue. That's left up to the hops, thankfully.

Brad's Third Hercules Double IPA - Re-read the Titan Review above.... Now double it. This is a delicious brew with a sneaky 10ABV that will seduce you like a beautiful woman (or so I've heard beautiful women seduce people... Lucky bastards).

Phil's Fourth Yeti Stout - yum yum yum yum yum. This is such a great opposing taste to the rest of what we've had tonight. So smoky and so dark and so delicious, the bitterness is such a great point at the end. A slight coffee taste, good and burnt that just makes you want whole second glass right away.

Brad's Fourth Yeti Stout - as much as this pains me... I agree with Phil - mostly on the Yum Yum Yum Yum part. This is a delicious stout that of course Great Divide with put into all sorts of barrels (whiskey, bourbon) and different varieties... (Belgian, Oak aged, Chocolate, Espresso). What's amazing is the base beer is so delicious by itself!

Brad's Fifth Rumble IPA - I've had this before and I like what they do. Honestly I'd like it more if it was bourbon barrel aged and a double IPA but we can't always get what we want. Also that's incredibly unfair to the beer because the version at present is delicious as well.

Phil's Fifth Rumble IPA - I agree with Brad to a point (theres a lot of agreeing going on here tonight, maybe they put something in the beer) I would like this a bit more if it were a Bourbon Barrel, BUT it is still a very good beer. A little on the sweet side for me, but still hoppy enough to keep me on board. Definitely a good choice for the smaller glasses.

Thanks to Rev and Rob at Idle Hands Bar and Dave bringing the Great Divide around. Can't wait for the next one!

Live Blog! Idle Hands featuring Mission Brewery!

Phil Foleen

Hello Beer Friends Nation! Tonight, once again we are coming to you from the great Idle Hands Bar in New York City for the tasting night featuring Mission Brewery and Bushmills Irish Whiskey. We have a couple to get through so check back and see what we think!

Brad's First Mission Amber - Dave, the beer rep, introduced this as a "attempted alt beer that turned out as an amber" - the beer had a nice heavy taste but I would agree with the first attempt... To me this is an alt beer, just not smooth enough for the other Amber styles I've had.

Paul's First Mission Amber - They say amber, and it's close, but this tastes much more like a red. It was described as a beer that was supposed to be something else, as Brad cited, it was introduced to be an alt bier that turned into something else. It is not what they intended, but it certainly is a happy accident. It's a very drinkable brew that I look forward to seeing this one again.

Phil's First Mission Amber - It is amber, when you have an inch left at the bottom of your glass. Its a very mild brew, a little watery on the mouthfeel side of things, but really reminds me of a session ale. Not a lot of hops taste in the beginning, and a bit of a sheath taste at the end that doesn't linger. All in all a good one to start your drinking adventure off with and continue on.

Brad's Second Mission Blonde - I enjoyed this beer a lot, not a huge fan of German beer and the pure-ness of the style, but this is really light and refreshing.

Brad's Bourbon Tasting Bushmills - this was a lot smoother than I remember. As a big fan of bourbons, whiskeys are good but Irish whiskeys I tend to stay away from. this was smooth-ish and enjoyable for the 1 ounce pour (I got Phil's) that I had.

Paul's Second Mission Blonde - Admittedly I don't love blonde ales. I don't hate them, they just don't normally register on my radar. However, in a completely backhanded compliment way, this is a totally acceptable light beer. I actually even like how this beer tastes, I just don't buy this style a lot.

Phil's Second Mission Blonde - I'm with Paul actually, this is an acceptable lighter beer. Let's say your at an afternoon BBQ with the Fam. So far the first two that we have had are a perfect first and second beer for a family reunion picnic. Not too beery so you alienate the in-laws, but enough that you don't feel like your drinking kool-aid. This ones a bit wheats but that's about all I can pick out of it.

Brad's Third Mission Shipwrecked Double IPA - This is a delicious 2xIPA, upon first taste a "friend" said "what is this? 6.5?" which speaks to the smoothness of this 9.25% ABV.

Paul's Third Mission Shipwrecked Double IPA - This is the only Mission brew that I had seen before tonight. I never got one before today and that has proved to be the wrong choice. This is a very smooth 9.2% ABV double IPA that I could drink a couple of in a night. This beer can be described as, the beer friend favorite, "dangerously drinkable." Find and enjoy this beer.

Phil's Third Mission Shipwrecked Double IPA - I've had this one before and I agree with Paul, it's dangerous. Of character for what we've had so far tonight, this one has a very quick and intense hop front that quickly retreats into a sweet overall taste with a small malty finish. Nowhere would this lead you to believe that it's a 9.2 ABV, that's the dangerous part. Or awesome part, really.

Paul's Fourth Mission IPA - This is a very straight forward IPA. It has a good hop flavor and a great malt taste to it. If you want to introduce the style of IPA to someone this is a beer you could grab. I don't mean to call it normal, but it encompasses what I think an American IPA tastes like.

Brad's Fourth Mission IPA - this is going to sound insulting, but it's a good middle of the road IPA. There is a strange bitterness that hits on the front, leaves and returns on the aftertaste which I don't know if I like.

Phil's Fourth Mission IPA - I don't think that's insulting, actually. Tis is a good, taste defining IPA for Mission. If your looking for a beer that is going to set the tone for your brewery I think this one is a pretty good choice. It does trend toward the sweet side of the hop flavor, but you can still tell that it's an IPA. Not a lot of malt flavor so you'll have to stay happy with the sweetness for your glass.

Think as to Idle Hands and Mission Brewery for another great night! Can't wait for the next one!

Beer Friends out!

Live Blog! Empire Brewing & Four Roses at Idle Hands NYC

Phil Foleen

Hello Beer Friends Nation! It's Live Bloggin' time! We are coming to you, once again, from Idle Hands Bar here in New York City for Empire Brewing Night (previous Idle Hands Event - Previous Rattle N Hum) with Four Roses in the guest spot. For now we are laying low and getting ready with a few Oskar Blues G'Knights and burgers from That Burger, but stay tuned for the festivities, there might be a couple we have never had!

Paul's First: Empire IPA (full pour) - Had this one last time at the $10 Tasting. It's what you expect for a staple IPA from a good craft brewery. A good beer I'd like to see in six packs around the city. Until then I will settle for a pint where I can get it around the city.

Brad's First: Empire IPA (full pour) - Always enjoyable and reliable to be a good pour - what I mean is that typically only quality beer bars carry this quality beer with clean lines. Delicious.

Phil's First: Empire IPA (Full Pour) - always a good bet and never disappoints. Well rounded IPA, not too strong but still gives you a nice hop flavor that keeps you thinking this is an IPA.

Graham's First: IPA - for some reason the bitterness in this one is a lot stronger than I remember. I still like it but it was a bit intense as a first pour. Go for this brew as long as you are down with a slight punch to the face.

Brad's Second: Empire White Aphro (small taste) - this delicious sample (two ounces) is a Belgian wheat with hints of lavender - and awesome, can't wait to get more

Phil's Second: Empire White Aphro (Small Taste) - yes. It is a Belgian beer and yes you can definitely tell from the smell and the first part of the flavor, but I've always said my least favorite part of a Belgian beer is the sweetness at the end, and this beers variety of ingredients covers that very nicely.

Graham's Second: White Aphro (small taste)- I'm still convinced I've seen this one before around the halls of the Pony Bar. Either way, they say it's new to NYC (the Pony always did get their hands on some mysterious brew) and I couldn't be happier. Spicy, Belgiany and floral. This brew would be refreshing to a volcano.

Paul's Second: White Aphro (small taste)- Great brew for the summer. Crisp and refreshing with a great floral flavor. This is Empire's answer to the bigger breweries white ales, and it blows them away. This is currently rare one around the city, I look forward to seeing it more.

Paul's Bourbon Taste: Four Roses Single Barrel - had not had Four Roses before this and I am sad to say that I incorrectly categorized them. For some reason I had this distillery pegged for one I did not like. I do not remember what lead me to think this way, but all I can say is I was wrong.... Very very wrong. I am a lover of single barrel bourbons and this one does not disappoint. I suggest this to those who like the taste of their bourbon.

Brad's Bourbon Taste: Four Roses Single Barrel - this is very smooth for a delicious bourbon. The main characteristic I find on a first taste of bourbon is the harshness (maybe I'm not seasoned enough) of the bourbon - some are harsh and overpowering and some are smooth and this falls in the latter category. Enjoyed this in the past and will continue to enjoy in the future.

Phil's Bourbon Taste: Four Roses single Barrel - it tastes like bourbon. I gave mine to Brad and Graham.

Graham Bourbon Taste - smooth, kind of fruity with a nice alcohol taste. Warms you right up with a pleasant flavor and a burn that lets you know you're still a man.

Paul's Third: Empire Summer (Small Taste) - Its a light summer beer. It is heavy on the pilsner malts, and I don't mean that as a bad thing. It's got a nice hop flavor at the beginning before the malts take over. It's an nice take on an American pilsner.

Brad's Third: Empire Summer (Small Taste) - a typical summer beer - light and easy to drink, perfect for a growler and summer concert in Central Park.

Phil's Third: Empire Summer (Small Taste) - nice summer from Empire. A good balance between the hops and the very present Pilsner breads taste. Nice and light with a hint of citrus from the lemon it's fermented with, all in all a great light beer to have on a Saturday afternoon in the sunshine.

Graham's Third: Empire Summer (Small Taste) - The first thing this brew says to me is bread. In a good way. The forward malt factor adds a nice depth that is carried by the refreshing quality of this brew. Good for a summer day when you want a beer that has some substance.

Paul's Fourth: Liv and Let Rye (full pour) - This is their new Rye IPA, this is a style that is relatively new and one that I am a big fan of. This one has a great hop character that mixes well with the rye malts. This has a great flavor that leaves you refreshed, it's a great beer that I could drink anytime.

Brad's Fourth: Liv and Let Rye (full pour) - I like this a lot- with the recent influx of Rye beers in the market, this stands in the middle of strong rye taste and smoothness. I'll be sure to enjoy this taste because I don't know when I'll see this again (hard to type with crossed fingers...)

Phil's Fourth: Liv and Let Rye (full pour) - yum yum yum. I love rye IPA's and this one is no slouch to the style. Double the rye over what is usually put in one of these let's the bitterness run wild with the hops and gives a fantastic overall taste.

Graham's Fourth: Liv and Let Rye (full pour) - this brew creates a conundrum in my mind. Most of the rye beers I've had are super in your face deliciouscity. Empire boasts that they use almost double the average rye malts compared to other rye brewers. However, this one is kind of low key in comparison. Maybe it's because the other ryes are brewed with extra hops for that intense flavor. When I heard double rye malts however, I thought punch in the face. Not quite.

Paul's Fifth: Empire Blueberry Ale (small pour) - For a blueberry beer, and I don't want to talk down to blueberry beers, this is excellent. Lots of blueberry beers lose the fruit flavor to the beer flavor, but this one... This holds the blueberry flavor throughout and reminds me more of another carbonated alcoholic beverage than it does a beer. This isn't a bad thing either, it's a great blueberry beer. If you are open to that sort of thing and come across this beer get yourself a pint.

Brad's Fifth: Empire Blueberry Ale (small pour) - This is very tasty - not too blueberry and not too weak. Having toured Maine and their blueberry beer obsession - this is right up there.

Phil's Fifth: Empire Blueberry Ale (small pour) - this one is not a fruited up as you think. Usually the blueberry beers you find are overly fruity with either not enough beer taste, or a strong beer flavor that completes with the fruit. This one toes that line, maybe straying onto the beer side more than the fruit, with a nice bitter flavor to counter the sweetness of the blueberries. Another good summer afternoon choice in my book.

Graham's Fifth: Empire Blueberry Ale (small pour) - I enjoyed the blueberry thoroughly. Very reserved but still present. Nicely refreshing but not too sweet. Exactly what you want a brewer to do with the king of fruits.

The Beer Friends Sixth: Empire IPA - purchased by Dave (the owner) and Liv ( the NYC rep) for the bar - because they are that awesome. Congratulations to creating great craft beer and the hard work put into every drop.

And here we are. Our Empire t-shirts to show our love!

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Idle Hands Learn Beer Avery: Live Blog

Phil Foleen

Here we are, Brad and Phil, and our table partner and guest blogger Crystal (follow her on twitter @chhchh ) at the fantastic Idle Hands Bar for their Learn Beer And Bourbon event. First up are the bourbons from Knob Creek

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That's our local Knob Creek rep helping us though the history of Bourbon, and giving us the skinny on our two samples

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Phil's thoughts: yeah it's bourbon. I'm not a big bourbon guy, and this keeps me strong in that opinion. I'm just not that into the really strong alcohols, especially when I can taste so much of the concentration. To each their own, but I'll stick with getting as close as a Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout.

Brad's Thoughts: I'm the bizarro Phil, I love bourbon... Coming soon: Bourbon Friends! Now I need to find some friends... I've had all three bourbons offered (Knob Creek, Knob Creek Single Barrel, Basil Hayden) and enjoy the slight tasting notes around the alcohol taste. Next up... Avery!

Crystal's Thoughts: first bourbon of the night and warming up the pipes for that strong back of the throat alcohol taste. Not too bad, I can sip leisurely.

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Two gentlemen from our local very distributor who is responsible for Avery tonight, according to Rev here at Idle Hands they are going to destroy our palettes...bring it on!

1st up: Joe's Pilsner

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Phil: nice and light. For me it's walking the very thin line of being a watery beer, but it doesn't quite go that far. Good clean taste with a clean finish, it's definitely one to seek out.

Brad: This is a Pilsner that I can get behind. My biggest complaint about Pilsners is that they are watery, this Pilsner leans on the "beer" side and has some heavy to it.

18th Anniversary Beer

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Phil: 5 different yeasts and a Belgian yeast is definitely in there, still though it has a good fruit note in the smell that carries in to the taste pretty well. Still it's a Belgian.....

Brad: Enjoyed this beer at the Pony Bar second Anniversary event and this was a wonderful reminder. Starting to wonder if Avery ever makes a non-big beer.

Maharaj Imperial IPA

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Phil: yay for IPAs! Had this one before and it doesn't disappoint. Milder on the hops than some others, but still a good sweet taste to counter the higher alcohol from being and Imperial.

Brad: I dig it, the only problem is it brings up the Imperial vs Double IPA discussion with Phil that I spared you all from (it was 20 minutes)... Tryin to drown Phil out...

Crystal: my palate doesn't accept IPAs, Sorry phil. No further comment.

Hog Heaven

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Phil: y'know, as barleywines go this one is actually pretty good. Not very alcohoky or sweet, it has a good balance that i can appreciate. This one I could drink, don't quote me on this though.....

Brad: Full disclosure... when I started my Beer-education I had tried this barleywine and was very put off... so put off in fact that I tore the label off the bottle and kept it in my wallet as a reminder.  I've since changed but the label image will always have a special place in my memory.

Crystal: i don't recall ever having a barley beer. It's something new so give me some to sip, think, and talk about later.

Sammael Oak Aged

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Phil: Oh dear lord! I'm pretty sure the cut down some sort of devil oak tree, at least as far as the taste goes. Very oaky, a good amount of alcohol in the taste here, but if you take it in sips it's a great taste.

Brad: this is a great beer, loving the oak aged revolution and this fits perfectly, the beer might be biting but the barrel aged effect makes it smooth like the bourbons from earlier - needless to say I'm enjoying my night.

White Rascal on tap

Crystal: yes, this one is for me.

Brad: The rep said "This is what Blue Moon Should taste like", I agree - this is a great light taste.

The Fallen:

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The Offering:

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The Offering pt 2:

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Featured Brewery: John Harvard's Brew House

Brad

Hello Beer Friends Nation! Beer is a beautiful thing - often times the Beer Friends are caught up in how great it is and the far reaching effects of good beer and the industries it supports.  If you're laughing you haven't drank enough craft beer because this is a conversation I overhear more and more as people are moving from the Sam Adams and Harpoon's (the most popular craft breweries) to the Bear Republics and Oskar Blues (up and coming breweries).  There are more choices today then ten years ago and 1,700 more then 30 years ago, and the number of new breweries applying for licenses is growing daily.  The spirit of American entrepreneurial-ism is alive and well in craft beer.  While some are growing, some are just fine doing what they do and enjoying the craft.  An example of one such place I stumbled upon on my recent Boston Area Brewery tour is John Harvard's Brew House.

Growing up in Colorado (I know you've heard this one before...) I was used to the brewery and brew pub culture, seems to be tougher to find the space and resources on the East Coast but when I do come across them I always hop in for a pint.  On the Colorado Brewery tour we came across two (of many) where you can see the kettles behind the bar and you know it's a fresh beer.  The beers aren't always amazing but you find that diamond in the rough that you want to go back for the next night, for me it was the Belgian Pale Ale from John Harvard's.

I went to Boston as a tourist with a few goals in mind; 1.) Harpoon 2.) Sam Adams 3.) Boston Cannons game and a 4.) Red Sox game.  Saturday night was the Boston Cannons game at Harvard Stadium and the public transportation system sucks (hard to get places without going into the heart of the city and it stops running, yes STOPS at 12:30a), so my party and I took the red line to Harvard Square to walk down (15 minutes and over a bridge).  During the Colorado brewery tour we found Equinox Brewing by typing "brewery" into the Google Maps on our phone.  Well, Google Maps - you're two for two.

When you walk into John Harvard's you walk down a flight of stairs and the room is completely open.  There is family dinning on the right and the bar with visible kettles on the left.  Like a un-conquerable magnetic force, I was pulled to the bar.  They had four drafts and one cask that night (see awful iPhone picture in slideshow below) and I had my to-do list.

Pilsner Falscher - was a typical pilsner in my mind.  Light and somewhat airy - it didn't grab me like I want a pilsner too.

Muswell Mild - was a surprising taste, it was mild (hence the name) but with a full flavor, it's been a while since I had a mild that kept me coming back for more.

Le Bleu - was a pale ale with Maine blueberries.  In the first Beer Friends Brewery Trip, we visited 5 or so Maine breweries and they each proudly pushed their Blueberry ale's.  This was one of the better fruit beers I've had.

Belgian Pale Ale -  was the beer I had to come back for on the second night.  This was a delicious mixture of a not-to0-sweet belgian beer and a hopped pale ale, much like the one I enjoyed at Harpoon, but better.

Cask Pull - Summer - was a beer that I was confused by.  Typically I think of summer beers to be wheats and served colder, but this pulled from the cask was delicious, in all honesty I came back for this beer the second night too, but it was gone.

[slideshow]

All in all John Harvard's Brew House would be my local bar if I lived close to one.  With quality beers that you can only find at the brew house, it's something right up my alley, or from my childhood in Colorado.

John Harvard's Brew House has a few locations in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island.  The Harvard Square location is at 33 Dunster Street

[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=33+Dunster+Street,+Cambridge,+MA&aq=0&sll=40.763148,-73.996226&sspn=0.041021,0.060425&vpsrc=0&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=33+Dunster+St,+Cambridge,+Massachusetts+02138&z=14&ll=42.372586,-71.11916&output=embed&w=425&h=350]

Open Mon- Thurs: 11:30a - 12:30a Fri-Sat: 11:30a - 2:00a Sun: 11:30 - 12a