NYC Brewer’s Choice is the highlight of the annual NYC Beer Week (February 23-March 3, 2013). Join 20+ brewers who will each personally pour you his/her most special beers alongside a thoughtful food pairings TBA provided by NYC chefs and artisanal food producers.
In anticipation of the September 22nd, Brewer’s Choice, we spoke with co-host (and Blind Tiger champion), Dave Brodrick, about his relationship with beer and how the second annual event will be even better than the first!
How did Blind Tiger become involved in this year’s Brewer’s Choice?
Jimmy invited me to Brewer’s Choice last year as part of the Beer Sessions Radio team, and I thought it was the best event of NYC Beer Week. It was the combination of having the brewers and owners pouring their own beers, all paired up with great foods, and in a really nice venue. And it wasn’t too crowded, so we could meet a lot of brewers.
Have you had any experience in previous Craft Beer Weeks?
Yes, the Blind Tiger has been part of every NYC Craft Beer Week since it began, and I’ve been down to Philly Beer Week as well.
Blind Tiger is one of the early adopters of craft beer in NYC. How has the Craft Beer scene changed in the past 15 years?
When we first started back in ‘96, everyone was doing the same thing: pale ales, ambers, and an IPA—maybe a wheat beer. In truth, that was about all our customers could handle. Whenever we brought in something esoteric, my staff and I would wind up drinking a lot of it! However, it was a fun time, too. Sam Calagione and Rob Tod were just starting out, and we would try to come up with crazy ideas for events, like serving Dogfish Punkin’ Ale in gourds, which turned into the world’s biggest food fight. By 2000, people’s palates really began to change, and their knowledge increased, so we could sell more obscure stuff. Now, it’s the exact opposite: Ambers and pale ales are a tougher sell. All people want are the small one-offs: barrel-aged beers, sours, exotic hops, etc.
What qualities do you bring to this year’s Brewers Choice?
Lots of enthusiasm! Brewer’s Choice has the ingredients to be one of the great beer events in the country; a lot of the brewers have already said it’s one of their favorites, and we’re still working out the kinks. I think the marriage of artisanal beer with artisanal food is the biggest thing since micro-beers first came on the scene, which is why we’re so psyched to have Garrett Oliver as our keynote speaker this year. He’s the dean of putting great beer with great food.
What is one of your favorite beer events hosted by Blind Tiger?
I spend a lot of time on my farm in Vermont, so I have a serious soft spot for our Vermont Beer & Cheese Festival every spring. Right now, the Green Mountain State has some of the best young brewers in the world (hopefully we’ll get them for next year’s Brewer’s Choice—I’m already working on them). And Vermont has always had the best cheese. You put the two together and you get something special. I love celebrating the passion of artisanal producers.
How did you meet Jimmy and what was the first beer you remember drinking either with him or at Jimmy’s No. 43?
I’m probably not the first person to say this, but I feel like I’ve known Jimmy forever. I don’t even remember when we met, and I’ve had quite a few beers with him. Whatever the first one was, Jimmy has kept me pretty busy ever since. Not as busy as Jimmy, though. Nobody’s as busy as Jimmy.
Anything else you want to say about 2011’s Craft Beer Week?
Like everything else about craft beer, NYC Beer Week keeps getting better and better. It’s our chance to show people how far New York has come as a craft beer town.
In anticipation for Brewer’s Choice, the culminating event of NY Craft Beer Week, being hosted by the Good Beer Seal and Beer Sessions Radio on September 22nd, from 6-9 p.m. at City Winery, we sat down to ask Jimmy Carbone what he’s most looking forward to about this year’s event.
This is the fourth year for the Craft Beer Week but only the second for Brewer’s Choice. What was your early involvement with Craft Beer Week?
Jimmy’s No. 43 has been focused on craft beer since we opened in 2005. We participated in NY Craft Beer Week since its inception in 2008. This helped inspire our creation of the Good Beer Seal—along with July Good beer month—and we’ve worked closely with Josh Shaffner and Chris Cuzme ever since.
What made you launch Brewer’s Choice?
Last year, we created “NYC Brewer’s Choice” in tandem with NY Craft Beer Week. There needed to be a focused beer and food event that would really represent the NYC beer scene. We wanted to bring together top brewers from around the world who visit NYC regularly but maybe didn’t have a signature event where they could participate. NYC has a great food culture, so bringing the two together made sense. This year, NYC Brewer’s Choice is considered the must-attend party for visiting brewers. The focus is on the brewers themselves, and they’ll bring special rare bottles of beer and preview some new ones.
How will this year’s Brewer’s Choice be different from last year?
This year Garrett Oliver from Brooklyn Brewery will be keynote speaker. Garrett has made Brooklyn the mecca for brewers worldwide. He’ll be launching the Oxford Companion to Beer soon, so expect some surprise guests from the world of beer! The biggest addition to this year’s event is Dave Brodrick, owner of Blind Tiger, champion of small craft brewers, regular guest on Beer Sessions Radio, and one of the co-founders of the Good Beer Seal. He’s a buddy whom I respect. He is curating the list of brewers, so you’ll see some new faces like the brewers from White Birch (New Hampshire), Maine Beer Company Maine!), Crossroads from upstate NY, alongside many returning brewers as well. This was the best beer event for many in 2010, so we’re glad to see them return.
Anything else you want to say about 2011′s Craft Beer Week?
I just want to mention that many of the brewers have been or will be guests on Beer Sessions Radio (a co-sponsor of Brewers Choice). The key to NYC Brewers Choice : It’s not just a beer fest; it’s a party celebrating NY Craft Beer Week hosted by 20+ individual brewers themselves with their favorite foods alongside them. Tickets can be found here.