It started with Kevin's request: "as long as it's quieter, a lot quieter, than the last one..." There's no quieter beer emporium than Burp Castle, where the staff will literally "shush" you if your voices are getting too loud. (I know this from experience: our gang is generally well behaved, but quiet is not somethings we excel at.) However, we are only expecting three tonight, so I like our chances.
I got to Burp Castle early, so I started with a Blanche de Bruxelles Witbier, from Belgium's Brasserie Lefebvre. It's a nice witbeir, in the style of Hoegaarden. It is fruity and aromatic with a slight tang to it—it's not sweet, though. I love its golden yellow color.
David soon showed and we moved to the outdoor biergarten. Most joints have a back door that leads to a backyard lot between the rear of the building and the rear of the building on the next block. At Burp Castle, the "garden" is really a small steel cage an the front of the building. It is by no means verdant, nor does it transport you out of the city, but it does present incredible opportunities for people-watching while you imbibe. Different, but cool.
My second round was a Weihenstephaner Oktoberfestbier. It's an okay Maibock; a little bitter, though at 5.8% ABV, it packs a punch. (By the way, Maibocks and Oktoberfests are traditionally the same recipe: one is for Spring, and the other is for Fall.)
Third round was a Wells Banana Bread (5.2% ABV) from the same folks who bring you Young's Double Chocolate Stout. Yes! It is just what you would expect—it smeels and tastes just like banana bread, although it is by no means cloying. This was nice. Wells and Young's describes it thusly: "Tempting banoffee [sic] aromas tempered by a grassy, lemony nose all leading to a finely balanced, fresh, delicate flavour of peppery hops with a lingering dry finish." Yum!
David stepped out for a sec to get some takeout Japanese food; this was accompanied by some Pilsener, I think. My next round was a Brouwerij Liefmans Fruitesse (4.2% ABV), a beautiful pale red lambic in a 10 oz. goblet, or as David put it, "a chalice of your finest ale." The Fruitesse is excellent, with an intense flavor of strawberries, raspberries, black cherries, elderberries and blueberries. Very Nice! I would definitely try to get this again. It's not at all cloying like the Lindemans Framboise. David's next brew was a Marten's Witte (4.8% ABV), another nice wit that may have slightly edged out the Blanche de Bruxelles (on this night, anyway).
David mentioned that even Duane-Reade (the NYC version of Walgreens) is filling growlers at two stores now! And Gristedes Supermarket at 33rd & 3rd is too, even giving you the growler for free! How did I miss this? I love America!
After a pause to let David catch up, we went for the brew we knew would be a fitting finish: Southern Tier's Crème Brûlèe. Wowser—So good! The mouthfeel, the flavoring, the balance of the beer—are all perfect. It's malty, with a deep caramel taste and notes of vanilla, custard and brown sugar. "Dessert in a chalice." It's a 10 oz. chalice, but at 9.5% ABV, this is definitely a sipping beer. We both want another.
However, there was a problem with the plan. Arlo, our estimable barkeep, informed me that he had just tapped out the keg. My grave disappointment and utter heartbreak must have shown. "But," he winked, "I have another keg downstairs!" Win!!! I would gladly wait an extra ten minutes (or more) to have this beer. And so, in time, we had a second round of Crème Brûlèes. It is that good. Out-freaking-standing!
We talked about assorted odd subjects, such as Midnight in Paris, The Great Gatsby, and according to my notes, "Parker Posey's resting bitch-face." David postively recommended Guardians of the Galaxy. Kevin got hung up at work and never made it, so technically no quorum, but it was a welcome finish to the summer.
Note: We've tried well over 400 beers over the years. If you haven't checked out our Beerlist, give it a look.
41 East 7th Street,
New York, NY 10003