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      The essential ingredient to beer is malted grain. The grain with the greatest amount of the enzyme necessary to turn starch into sugar can be found adhering to the kernels of barley. Lacking modern technical and scientific tools did not mean that the folks brewing fermented beverages in ancient established settlements did know the importance of allowing various grains to almost sprout, stop the growth and dry the grain to use to make sweet liquids that would become desirable beverages.

      Today the agricultural industry includes mega-corporations tending to hundreds of thousands of acres of genetically altered grains designed for one purpose or another. They supply equally large grain processors who malt the grain, also to incredibly specific standards. These highly designed grains go on to be the ingredients of just as highly processed foods and beverages. Enormity insures consistency and uniformity.

      And then there are the small farmers, supplying traditional strains of grain grown in traditional ways and harvested for use in traditionally produced small operations producing artisanal foods and beverages.

      Recently I visited with two maltsters who were attending events at the 2015 New York City Beer Week. One was from New York and the other from Massachusetts. One of them also brews beer and runs a brewpub. The other is in the malting business specifically.

      Their observations say much about two things. The first is the part of “Passion” in a business plan. (The business plan you DON’T show the bank. The plan YOU believe in.) The second commonality is a solid understanding and belief in “interconnected”. Mega-corporations struggle with the latter while, as I discovered, use it to build relationships with businesses that may not seem related. I offer just one example. A maltster selling malt to a brewer and arranging for the spent grain to be trucked to a beef farmer who barters with the brewer who sets the farmer up with an account that specializes in locally produced vegetables, produce and meats.

      Why don’t I settle down, pour a beer in a favorite glass and let the maltsters I met tell their stories…

      First, from Oswego, New York, let me re-introduce you to Natalie Mattrazzzo, malster at The Farmhouse Brewery.


      Meet (L-R)

      Marty Mattrazzo and Natalie Mattrazzo

      Chatting with the folks from The Farmhouse Brewery of Owego, NY I discovered a brewery that not only brewed from locally grown grain, they grew and malted it themselves. I’ll let maltster Natalie Mattrazzo tell you about it…



      Now, from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts I would like to introduce Andrea Stanley, maltster at Valley Malt, Hadley, MA.


      She will give you a good idea of the essential challenges faced by small maltsters…

      Thanks to all who helped with this post…

      remember to click on the logos to visit the folks featured in this post.



      An E’Ville Brown Ale courts a BBQ Family


      Click logo to visit…


      Alphabet City Brewing Co.

      The folks at up-and-coming Alphabet City Brewing Co. and the folks at Times Square destination Virgil’s BBQ got together and arranged for “EVille Brown Ale” to meet up with the BBQ sisters; Texas Brisket, Miss West North Carolina and Miss East North Carolina, as well as the charmers from St. Louis and Kansas City and Memphis.

      As many different charms each tasty one had, his smooth sweet introduction and not a bitter note from beginning to end and refreshing finish only left the next meeting even more tempting.

      The first taste was a dish of the chicken wings. They were crisp and moist with a hint of smoke and a sauce that was on the edge of hot and pleasantly warm.

      Together the hearty E’Ville’s not-too-sweet and just-enough pucker-power made nice with the moist flesh and saucy complements of the chicken.

      The rest of the tasting that went on will have to be explained in another installment of “The Art of Beer and Food Arranged Marriages”.





      Tuesday 24 February 2015

      This year the New York City Beer Week organizers decided to hold the annual Brewer’s Choice Event at Sanders Studio space in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. On a cold, icy Tuesday late afternoon I found my way there, with the assistance of the G.P.S. application on my mobile phone. I wondered how many beer folks would find their way here.

      The scene on my arrival was very organized chaos. Husky, bearded chaps in parkas and baseball caps wandered around either searching for or tightly clutching plastic hoses and glistening keg-tapping equipment. The thud of beer kegs being positioned at the various pouring stations set the bass line as the sounds of assembly were joined by the murmur of the brewers and the first of their guests.

      Actually, I was on site an hour before the official opening in order to meet up with Paul Leone, Executive Director of the New York State Brewers Association. I found him with no difficulty and took the opportunity to ask him…

      What do you expect from this event in particular for the New York State Brewers Association?

      “What I like about Brewer’s Choice is that it highlights New York State breweries and the agriculture behind the beer like barley and hops that New York State is growing again in great quality and quantity. It’s as local as local can get and it’s important for people to taste as they get to talk to the Brewers on site pouring their samples.”

      How do you get this message across?

      “Right now we are engaged in a marketing campaign, thanks to funding from the Governor’s office, called “Think New York, Drink New York”. We are currently working with the ad agency BBDO on a strategy that is completely digital including online social media outlets such as the Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, as well as blogs. We’re also using a really creative video strategy that will tell our story in a very unique and creative way. We’re taking this route because the demographic were targeting is relatively young, including gen Xers and millennials, who primarily view content through their smartphones and online. That’s how were getting our message out right now.”

      What I found particularly interesting was the emphasis on using locally grown grain and hops in so many beers. After my chat with Paul Leone I made my way to one of the breweries he suggested I take a particular interest in. He was correct in his assumption.


      Meet (L-R)

      Marty Mattrazzo and Natalie Mattrazzo

      Chatting with the folks from The Farmhouse Brewery of Owego, NY I discovered a brewery that not only brewed from locally grown grain, they grew and malted it themselves. I’ll let maltster Natalie Mattrazzo tell you about it…

      5:55 interview audio


      Here at we will continue to explore the sources of the materials used in brewing our favorite beverage.

      Starting here in Brooklyn we’ll “Think New York, Drink New York”.

      And then… the world!


      BREWS & NEWS 12 March ‘15

      Join Cooper's Craft & Kitchen for the Founders Brewing Company Tapping

      Cooper's Craft & Kitchen 

      169 8th Avenue 

      Monday, March 16th, 6pm – 10pm 

      Cooper's Craft & Kitchen, the original craft beer destination, will be hosting Michigan brewery Founders Brewing Company at their Chelsea location on March 16th. The star of the show will be the Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout, which will be tapped at 7pm sharp (all other beers will be tapped at 6pm). The Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout is a must-try for any beer lover or craft beer aficionado! 

      Additional Founders beers that will be featured: 

      • Founders KBS bottles (2014)
      • Founders Blushing Monk
      • Founders Dark Penance
      • Founders Imperial Stout
      • Founders Black Rye
      • Founders Rübaeus 
      • Founders Devil Dancer
      • Founders Porter
      • Founders All Day IPA
      • Founders Reds Rye
      • Founders Nitro Pale Ale

      Attention Home Brewers!

      I received the following from the American Homebrewers Association and thought it would be a good idea to post it here… read on…

      Hi Peter --

      On St. Patrick’s Day, what’s the only thing better than Irish beer? Three words: Homebrewed Irish beer!

      Good news: the American Homebrewers Association has put together a list of St. Paddy's-themed brew styles, and if you act fast (i.e. start brewing now), you can have them in time for March 17:

      • ·         Dry Irish Stout:
      • ·         Irish Red Ale:
      • ·         Gruit:

      We hope you share this with your readers.

      Happy St. Paddy’s! And may the brews be ever in your favor. 


      Looking at life through “Beer Goggles” and want to wear the right ones?

      Click the following link and read the story of “The Ultimate Beer Glass Guide”


      From London, England… brewing news…

      Inside The Ram Brewery

      The Londonist reports:

      John is the sole remaining beer maker at Wandsworth's Ram Brewery, where brown booze has been crafted since Tudor times. From the 19th century, ..







      (PART ONE)



      This year it was snowing on the Saturday 21 February 2015. It wasn’t snowing enough to keep from kicking-off New York City Beer Week with an Opening Bash, held at the Altman Building in Manhattan. By the time I got there, just after two o’clock, there was a lively buzz to the place and the beer stations were almost all two or three deep.

      This year there was a focus on beers that were made from grains and hops grown in New York State. The effect was most interesting. Of particular interest was the use of New York State “Cascade” hops in a number of the beers served at the event. What was interesting was the unique flavor of the New York State version of “Cascade” hops. For over two decades the West Coast version of the “Cascade” hop has been the iconic hop of the ales brewed at the small breweries in the United States. Actually, it has also become the iconic flavor of a number of the nationally distributed brews as well. The New York State version has, as I mentioned, a unique flavor, much less citric than its western cousin and a bit more floral.

      As with most events of this size, I either concentrate on beers I have never tasted or beers of a similar style. This year I chose to go the “style” rout, to “Think New York and Drink New York” and monitor the Pale Ales and the I.P.A.s that were being poured.

      I invite you to come along with me and experience this year’s Opening Bash… the beers being served will be Cuzett Libations Session Saison, Empire’s Amber Ale, Ithaca’s “Flower Power” (just because I like it), Keg & Lantern’s Double I.P.A. and City Island’s Pale Ale.

      For more information on New York State breweries click on the following logo…


      Enjoy the Opening Bash...