Canned Beer

The Bronx Brewery Breaks Out With New Cans

Bronx PaleDoug Schneider Photography 

I used to have an alcoholic roommate who loved nothing more than sipping 16-ounce cans of crappy American beer by the six-pack. "Come on, put a pint in your palm," he'd say, passing me Bud or Coors or whatever was cheapest at the corner bodega.

Who was I to turn down free beer? I'd join him in drinking one 16-ounce can after another. He'd continue to six, sometimes 12, multiplying his hangover with each emptying can. I would tap out at four pints. Four was a respectable number of pints, the perfect amount to sip and not spend the next morning crunching Tylenol as if it were candy.

Methinks New York's craft beer industry also understands the power of four. The last few years have seen local darlings Sixpoint strike it big with their striking, cube-shape four-packs of pint cans. Most every bar and bodega worth its salt stocks them in their coolers. Now, this week marks the arrival of the city's next cube of craft beer: Bronx Pale Ale.

Over the last year, Bronx Brewery has carved out a swell little spot for itself with its variations on the pale ale theme. There's the Black Pale Ale, Rye Pale, Belgian Pale Ale and a host of other barrel-aged one-offs. But everything circles back to the easy-drinking base beer that's doctored with plenty of citrusy, floral Centennial and Cascade hops. To date, the beer has only been available on draft.

"Growlers are really expanding, but they’re not ubiquitous," says Bronx Brewery general manager Chris Gallant. "Cans give people the ability to take the beer home with them."

To make that a reality, the brewery began searching for a canning facility, settling on City Brewing's La Crosse, Wisconsin, plant. Head brewer Damian Brown headed to Wisconsin to make sure the facility had the recipe nailed down, then the 16-ounce cans started rolling off the line.

This move is important for several reasons. With the Wisconsin brewery handling production of the core brand, the Bronx Brewery can instead focus on their specialty beers. "It frees us up to do the innovative stuff in the Bronx," Gallant says, such as the forthcoming Summer Pale Ale made with experimental Hopsteiner 04190 hop. And the beers will be brewed in the Bronx. Currently, Brown crafts them at Connecticut's Cottrell Brewing, but plans are charging ahead for the Bronx team to open its recently ordered 20-barrel brewhouse and tap room in the BoogieDown borough, hopefully by the end of the year.

Architecture plans are currently being finalized, Gallant says, but in the meantime the brewery is expanding across the state. Drafts and cans can now be found in Westchester and Long Island, and Bronx beer has also hit Albany and across the Capital District—heck, all the way to the Canadian border.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx Brewery is on fire.

Look for Bronx Pale Ale at Whole Foods, Fairway, Trader Joe's and everywhere that better beer is sold. They should run you $9.99 a four-pack.

Welcome to the Year of the Craft-Beer Tall Boy

Now you can try that with a 16-ounce craft beer! Photo: Flickr/ALittaM

In my early, drunken twenties, not long after I shook my cost-driven affection for forty-ouncers of malt liquor, I fell under the sway of a tall boy. Well, perhaps I should say tall boys, because there’s no way I could glug just one 16-ounce can of beer.

Unlike the standard 12-ounce can, the tall boy has serious heft. It feels substantial, an honest pint for an honest price. But as my tastes morphed over the years, from mass-produced watery lagers to bitter IPAs and roasty stouts, I left the tall boy in my rearview mirror. You see, tall boys were the territory of Bud and Coors. Craft beer held no quarter in tall aluminum cylinders.

In recent years though, craft breweries have begun reclaiming the can, which keeps beer fresher by sealing it off from destructive light and oxygen. First came the 12-ounce vessels, which are now populated by Brooklyn Brewery, New Belgium and Oskar Blues, whose hoppy Dale’s Pale Ale trailblazed the crush-it-against-your-head category. Now comes the next step in the metal revolution: Craft beer in 16-ounces cans.

Be still my beating heart. This year, 16-ouncers stuffed with sublime craft brews are poised to take the mainstream leap. The next big thing in beer is, well, big beers. Here are five of our favorite tall boys to try.

1. Sun King Wee Muckle Too often, Scotch ales are smoky messes best dumped down the drain. But Indianapolis’ Sun King absolutely nailed Wee Muckle, creating a malt-forward brew with lovely flavors of toffee, brown sugar and just a touch of peat lurking beneath the surface. There’s a good reason Wee Muckle won gold at last year’s Great American Beer Festival.

2. Surly Brewing Coffee Bender For each batch of Minnesota-based Surly’s Coffee Bender, the porter­–brown ale hybrid is cold-steeped with micro-batches of locally roasted Guatemalan coffee beans, creating a malty, robust easy-drinker with a lingering hop finish and barely any bitterness.

3. Tallgrass Brewing Buffalo Sweat What’s Buffalo Sweat? For this Kansas brewery, it’s a knockout milk stout. Loads of roasted barley provide Buffalo with a deep brown hue, while a dose of cream sugar makes the stout smooth, rich and oh-so sippable.

4. Golden Road Brewing Point the Way IPA Compared to San Diego and San Francisco, Los Angeles has long lagged behind when it comes to craft beer. That’s why I was so pleased to discover Golden Road on my last swing through L.A. My favorite is this low-alcohol IPA (just 5.2 percent ABV) with a pleasing aroma of peaches and passion fruit.

5. Fort George Brewery + Public House Vortex IPA Based in Astoria, Oregon, this excellent brewery offers numerous terrific tall boys, including the brisk, surprisingly hoppy 1811 Lager and the rich, outsize Vortex boasting a bright bouquet of citrus and pine. Though there’s plenty of grapefruit and sticky caramel on the palate, the IPA remains mega-quaffable.

*This story originally ran in Food Republic.

Flyin' High

Like many air travelers, when I fly on a plane I like to tie one on. For me, drinking alcohol is the best way to endure a screaming infant two rows over or turbulence as rocky as a roller coaster. Look at it this way: If the airplane is going down, then I’d rather be flying high. My preferred liquid medicine is beer. Sadly, most airlines stick to wan offerings such as Budweiser, Miller or, if they’re feeling particularly thematic during international jaunts, Corona or Sapporo. Hey, you’re flying to Japan! Though I’m a captive customer, I can’t fathom paying Manhattan-bar prices for these weak, watery suds. Instead, I stick to the airplane-size bottles of vodka or whiskey, relishing the fact that every single sky-high sip is a rapid trip to inebriation. (That’s due to a one-two punch of altitude and low cabin pressure.)

But last week, the website (yes, I’m the sort of man who spends his days perusing websites dedicated to canned beer) dropped this tidbit of titillating intelligence: A few select airlines had come to their senses and started to stock cans of quality craft beer. My world was rocked.

Which beers will I drink while flying high? Head over Food Republic to check out my picks. Drink it up!

10 Great Brews, in Cans. No Kidding

Photo: Mike Davis

For the latest issue of MIX, the food and drink magazine of the Oregonian, the editors asked me turn my jaundiced liver to the best canned beers available in the Pacific Northwest. In the course of my, err, research (heavens, I never tire of that joke) I found numerous worthy beers, and many standouts. Seriously, the Fort George Vortex IPA and 1811 Lager are two of my favorite beer find of 2011 so far. To read about them, as well as the New Belgium Ranger IPA and Anderson Valley Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema, check out my article over at MIX. Drink it up!

The Beer Drinker's Dilemma

For this week's New York magazine, I contributed a couple articles to get New Yorkers thirsting for the just-arrived outdoor-drinking season. To start, I wrote up five of the tastiest canned beers to hit the NYC market, including Avery Joe's Premium American Pilsner and Sixpoint's the Crisp. Secondly, I surveyed some of the city's newest, and best, spots to sip some craft beer outside, name-checking Eataly's Birreria and Greenpoint's terrific and criminally unsung t.b.d. It's a thirsty job, sure, but I'm glad I get to do it.

Uncommon Brewers' Siamese Twin - Beer of the Week

Mmm...I love twins.

Well, well, what sort of liver-killer do I have in store for y'all this week? It's Siamese Twin, the Thai-flavored, Belgian-style beer hailing from Santa Cruz, California's Uncommon Brewers. It's kissed with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, giving the brew an exotic bent that lends itself well to curries and other incendiary eats. Curious? Read the full write-up over at Slashfood, my friends. Drink it up!