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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 Tag: idle hands

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)

LIVE BLOG! The 3rd Annual White Christmas Winter Warmer Beer Extravaganza!

Beerfriend Paul

Tonight Paul and Graham reaffirm their friendship by going out without the other Beer Friends to enjoy a night of Beer and Bourbon at everyone's favorite basement bar, Idle Hands. Tonight The Beer Friends are a day late (or a week) but are NOT a dollar short because The 3rd Annual White Christmas Winter Warmer Beer Extravaganza! is in full swing for the entire holiday season. We missed the first week of this holiday tradition; but good news for us, this is only week #2 of 4. So what if it was 60 degrees earlier this week, Lets get into some Winter Warmers!

Paul's 1st - Two Brothers Northwind: This is the seasonal imperial stout from our favorite brewery from Warrenville Illinois. This is a seemingly average 9 abv for an imperial stout, but it packs a punch. This stout goes down with a smokey flavor that finishes fantastic. It's got a lot of flavor that doesn't linger.

Graham's 1st - Two Brothers Northwind: Roasty! This brew has a coffee, burnt malt flavor to it that is absolutely delicious followed by a slight sweetness that could either be the alcohol (9%) or some other deviousness. A full pint of this could warm ya on any winter's day. Let's hope they put this one out in bottles in NYC soon...

Paul's 2nd - Troegs Mad Elf: This has become a recent favorite during the holiday season. This is a HUGE beer that is VERY tasty. It comes in at 11% abv, it's a Belgian quad brewed with cherries. It's sweet the way Phil would hate, but the rest of you would love... This beer is sweet, sour, and delicious.

Graham's 2nd - Troegs Mad Elf: Quads are some fantastic sort of brews. Add cherries, pump up the alcohol and add some other winters spices and you go from just a quad to some sort of winter warmer quad deliciousness. Which I'm totally into. The slight sweet, tartness compliments the complex mix of other favors bumped up with a warming quality you can't ignore. This is my winter everyday brew. Everyone has one of those right?

Paul's 3rd - Harpoon Winter Warmer + Harpoon Cider = Apple Pies: I've heard bad things about cider beer cocktails, and I understand why. I don't mean bad as in it tastes bad, to the contrary it tastes fantastic. Drink a couple of these in a night and you could be in trouble. It does, as advertised, taste like an Apple pie, and I could drink a couple of these before the cider sweetness had me yearning for something bitter. It a delightful drink that I plan to bring to a couple holiday parties this year.

Graham's 3rd - Harpoon Winter Warmer + Harpoon Cider = Apple Pies: They said it tastes like apple pie...AND it tastes like apple pie! In a really fantastic beer sort of way. Not too sweet, not too spicy and incredibly refreshing. Whoever came up with this combination (Rev) it works fantastically well. Hello Christmas dinner cocktail...

Paul's 4th - Sierra Nevada Celebration: A staple beer at all holiday family functions, this has been a beer I have been very familiar with in my adult life. This is what marks the holiday season for me every year. Sometime after Halloween I pick up my first 6 pack and I begin to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. This has always been lighter than I usually think winter beers would be, but the hop head in me smells the pine hops and it always takes me back to sitting next to the three on Christmas morning,

Enough with the nostalgia, this beer is fantastic! Get some and have a happy holiday season!

Graham's 4th - Sierra Nevada Celebration: Not as I remember it to be. In my memory Celebration was a spiced up dark, strong ale perfect for the winter season but also slightly generic when compared to other winter warmer style brews. This year Sierra Nevada shook things up in a delightfully hoppy way: they hopped the crap out of it. More reminiscent of an IPA than a winter brew with the winter part still noticeably present. It reminds me of an Winter IPA that I attempted, and failed, to brew once. I blamed the style. Thank you Sierra for reinspiring my dreams that such a brew is possible.

Paul's Whiskey taste-Original Moonshine: Another clear whiskey makes a appearance at a $10 Tasting. This is not the same as the last, but the smell and appearance are the same. This is sweet with a stench of booze that goes down smooth but tingles a little on the back end. I'm not terribly familiar with these "moonshines" but this is not as harsh as I would have expected. I certainly enjoyed this more than I thought I would.

Graham's Whiskey taste- Original Moonshine: Moonshine is strong. And tastes like strong booze. The smell of this moonshine is almost fruity, being that it's all corn, but the smell doesn't translate to the taste. Light, but fiery, it would warm you if you were dying of hypothermia. Beyond that, buckle down and prepare yourself for a hell raiser of a night with this one.

Check the Calendar at for more information on each week's $10 Tasting.

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!

Beer & Bourbon Tasting: Bronx Brewery

Beerfriend Paul

Tonight we went to a special $10 tasting at Idle Hands. We get to sample some of Bronx Brewery's finest. I've been looking forward to this since I read the Beer Event of the Week post. Paul's first - Bronx Pale Ale: The first taste on this journey is the base brew for the night and the most available of Bronx Brewery's beverages. This is a real good beer. I've had a few of these in the past few weeks and I really enjoy it. It's got a great flavor and doesn't overpower. This is a beer that I gravitate toward and I plan to keep it that way.

Graham's First - I really appreciate the dry bitter hop flavor alongside the sweet malty finish. Easily drinkable and fast to finish. I will be a happy man when this starts showing up more frequently on draft around the city.

Phil's First Bronx Pale Ale. It's a good starter. Slightly hoppy with a bit more on the sweet malty end in my book. It's a good solid pale ale that should taste pretty familiar to anyone that likes them.

Brad's First Bronx Pale Ale - enjoyable because it has a bite on the back end that's missing from typical Pale Ale.

Brad's Whiskey Woodford Reserve - this is a decent whiskey with a nice burn. Been trying to get into bourbon and this is certainly high on my list.

Paul's Whiskey Woodford Reserve - I agree with Brad about the burn. It is definitely there. It has a nice flavor to it. It kicks a little harder than than I am used to, it's definitely not bad but it may take some getting used to.

Phil's Whiskey Woodford Reserve - N/A

Graham's Whiskey Woodford Reserve - I like the burn. Let's you know you're alive. If you're used to it then you're doing something too right.

Paul's second - Bronx Bourbon Aged Pale Ale- Absolutely delicious! They took a good pale ale and made it one of the best beers I've had this year. The way bourbon affects the pale ale is incredible. This is a beer I will seek out again if it is ever available again.

Phil's 2nd Bronx Bourbon Aged Pale Ale - good god this is delicious! Everyone knows that I do NOT like bourbon, bourbon aged beer however is wonderful. Sweet to start off with the, the bourbon flavor takes over quickly and you don't look back. Finishes with a little hop taste and a good amount of the alcohol that bourbon lovers enjoy, but not too much to turn this beer guy off. Seek. This. Out.

Brad's Bronx Bourbon Barrel Aged Pale Ale it's a mouthful of a name that translates into silence from never wanting to talk again and drink this beer forever. Bronx Pale has a kick that I enjoy but can't enjoy more than one - the bourbon aging takes the kick out and mellows it out to a completely drinkable (on multiple levels) beverage. This is fantastic and I can't wait for their other stuff.

Graham's Third Bronx Bourbon aged Pale ale- ITS GREAT! It definitely takes the edge off the pale ale and replaces it with a smooth bourbony curve. The only problem is that I enjoyed the edge of the pale ale. I'm hit with equal parts disappointment and silky deliciousness. Still would prefer more bite.

Paul's meat! Slantshack Jerky- I certainly cannot claim to dissect beef jerky half as poorly as I can beer. This jerky is delicious (like that's a surprise). It's delicious beef jerky. I would get that again, I certainly plan on seeking out other flavor of Slantshack.

Brad's meat! Slantshack Jerky- Full disclosure... I'm uncomfortable talking about my meat online - but this was delicious aged in the Bronx Pale Ale - as someone who's recently gotten into pickling - I'm totally down with the process. Delicious but... Full disclosure... This is my first taste - is it all down from here?

Graham's meat! Slantshack Jerky- I enjoy me some jerky - staple of any good American road trip. This jerky isn't as flavorful at first but it evolves quickly in your mouth after you eat several hunks. All of a sudden you notice that the subtle spice and bourbon flavor has been growing this whole time - and you are powerless to stop it.

Phil's meat! Slantshack Jerky- I love jerky. Love it! This is some really good jerky, subtler than most that I've had, but the flavor fills out in a very nice way. Being aged in the Pale Ale is a nice touch and adds a good end to the flavor. I would take a couple of bags of this on any road tip.

Empire Brewing night at Idle Hands NYC

Phil Foleen

Hello Beer Friends Nation!!!! Phil here tonight we are live logging from the awesome basement bar Idle Hands in New York City for Empire Brewing's tasting night. The brewery is joined by Finger Lakes Distillery for a little compare and contrast. Paul and Graham will do the comparing and I will probably be the contrasting sit tight, we're gonna grab an intro beer and a burger and when the party gets started we'll let you in on the fun!


Phil's First: we have started off the evening with the Finger Lakes Distillery White Pike Whiskey. I am definitely the farthest thing from a whiskey fan here at The Beer Friends, but I have to say that this one out of all of the times I have had whiskeys in the past, this is the ONLY time I have not been completely turned off and can finish the one shot taster. I actually could have a full serving of this, which coming from me, says a lot.

Graham's Thoughts

Enticing creamy corn nose that makes you want to drink it all right away. It Drinks with a string corn flavor but it's quickly eclipsed with a warming sensation. Note: not burning, just warming. This whiskey is too smooth for the word burning. And delicious. Corn delicious that begs you to come back for more. And it's clear. Boom.

Paul's thoughts

This was a revelation for me. I have had a few corn whiskeys and none of them have been particularly delicious. This whiskey was sweet and easy to drink. Aged for only 18 minutes, it has almost no flavor of the barrel. It's incredibly easy to drink and absolutely delicious. I will look for and purchase this whiskey to keep on my shelf at home.

Phil's First Beer: Empire Scotch Ale

This beer is great. Bar none. empire's brewmaster was kind enough to be here and give us a little history lesson on Scotch beers and where/why they come from. The beer is very dark, in the best way. Very smooth and clean, with a pleasant bitter taste. Not sweet, and you really only taste is one on the front half of your tongue. All in all this is one you should keep an eye out for.

Graham's First Beer

As the man said - I don't like overly sweet beer so I made this one malty and dry. Exactly the way a scotch ale should be. Flavored by peat not sugar. I'll drink to that.

Paul's First Beer

To call this beer weak will be an insult to the brewmaster, but I will do it anyway because to anyone who's had some craft Scotch Ales will notice that this beverage is not as sweet as other Scotch ales. This Scotch ale doesn't punch you in the face like other Scotch ales do. Absolutely delicious, Empire continues to impress the more I drink.

Phil's Second Beer: Strong Ale

We have just been given the Strong Ale. As much as the Scotch Ale was delicious, this one for me is so much more in the right direction. Much more to my liking with the addition of a bunch of hoops to load the front end of the flavor with that great hoppy bitterness. This has now become my favorite Empire Beer. We learned here too that Empire really takes pride in differentiating between Hop sweetness and Hop flavor, and it definitely shows in the taste.

Graham's Second Beer

Strong ale? What comes to mind? Probably not this. Cause although strong ales are awesome this one is awesomer. Crisply hoppy with a focus on the flavor profile of the hop rather than the bitterness. The master brewer said the inspiration came from Arrogant Bastard. Try less malty sweet with a better, much better hop flavor.

Paul's Second Beer

This beer is awesome. I'm not sure it's something I can drink it all year round. But I'll take this beer anytime Labor day though Flag day. Quick crisp hop flavor at the beginning and a smooth finish. Impressively drinkable for a strong ale. I will be seeking this one out again and again.

Phil's Third Beer: Wheat Wine

I had my reservations about this one, given my aversion to Barleywines, but I will admit tha this one is a good sipping piece of beer. Super cloudy with a touch of the "rotten"(my personal description) taste that I attribute to a Barleywine, but it's sweet enough to counteract that with a touch of bitterness at the end to keep that super-sweet at bay.

Graham's Third

Interesting but not too exciting. Sweet and slightly alcohol-ish. Almost a little watery, but not quite. Just a tad on the week side. I kind of want my barley wines to be a kick in the face. This is more a dirty look.

Paul's Third

I am new to wheat wines and am willing to admit that. I am unsure how I feel about them. I have liked some a lot and I have had some that I am not so sure of. This one falls in the middle. It starts with a great flavor but as it rolls over it leaves a taste that lingers too long. I certainly do not dislike it, and I do enjoy drinking this beverage. This one will take another tasting to get an accurate reading. Perhaps a pint will be in order...

Phil's Fourth: Empire IPA

Alway a favorite of mine, I hint this is a good balance, if not a little on the sweet side. As an IPA it's really good, but for the hops SPF at this evening I'm gonna go with the Strong Ale.

Graham's Fourth

The Empire IPA is to me a crisp citrusy IPA that is easy to drink but not over the top. What it lacks in eXtensive flavor it thrives in easy drinkability. A six-pack of something that I would buy and drink very often.

Paul's Fourth

This is an IPA I'd like to see more. It's very balanced but leaves a nice bitterness on your tongue. It's a beer I enjoy but do not run into very often. I will echo Graham and say that if this was in a six pack I would seek it out.

Phil's Fifth: Empire Amber

For the final offering from Empire tonight we have the Empire Amber ale. It s got an interesting taste to it. As ambers go it s good middle of the road. It's got an almost coppery finish to it, taste wise, which isn't altogether unpleasant. Overall for me I would like or hops, but being one of the resident hopheads that should go without saying. A good ending for tonight but I'll take the strong ale any day.

Graham's Fifth

Amber ales are not really my thing unless they are hoppy enough to be an amber IPA. This one isn't quite but it is approaching something delicious. Something I would definitely order on multiple occasions. And I do appreciate the hops, however the style is always more malty for me than hoppy. Still, as usual Empire does it well - proving that New York State is truly the Empire State.

Paul's Fifth

I am different than Graham and I enjoy ambers very much. This one stacks up and then some. The balance in this beer is spectacular. It's incredibly drinkable and absolutely enjoyable. This is one of the beers they have started brewing in Brooklyn and is available in New York City(along with the Cream Ale and the IPA) and I look forward to finding this beer in more bars.

Keep an eye out for more and better beers from Empire as their new facility gets under way. This is definitely one to watch

Thanks so much to Empire for being here and to Finger Lakes Distillery too, Beer Friends signing off.