Beer Enthusiasts, Not Snobs

Beer Enthusiasts, Not Snobs

Westchester Triathlon and Beerventuring

We’re officially in fall and that means we had one last triathlon on the calendar, which actually means we had four more breweries to visit to and from the Zoot Westchester Tri in Rye.  This weekend we had Kuka (Andean) Brewing Company, Lock City Brewing, District 96 Beer Factory and Industrial Arts Brewing Company.   

 

Kuka (Andean) Brewing Company (Blauvelt, NY)

Off 287 at the Palisades mall exit (Blauvelt, NY) and in a large industrial park behind the Restaurant depot is a good sized contract brewery (Andean) that makes its own label (Kuka) in an oversized 20 barrel system.  Kuka has been in business for four years and has had a tap room for two; thanks to changes in the NYS alcohol regulations.  But they’re only open Friday and Saturday so plan accordingly.  The modest sized tap room is staffed by the owner of Kuka, who loves drinking beer but leaves the actual brewing to a hired professional.

There were three drafts available:  Kuka for ALS 2017 DIPA, Space Weedian IPA and Pretty Colored Marbles Saison.  Melissa’s favorite of the flight was Pretty Colored Marbles saison for obvious non-IPA reasons.  It was a good saison, however we hear the variants are even better than the classic that was offered today.   The Space Weedian was my second favorite of the flight and is your traditional IPA that exceeds average by a wide margin but isn’t as unique or flavorful as their limited run DIPA.  

Kuka Brewing participates in the Ales for ALS program which supports the ALS Therapy Development Institute by purchasing a special blend of hops from a supplier that grows hops solely for the Ales program.   Yes that was a long and confusing sentence, but what isn’t confusing was the great beer that was made from these hops.  I would rank this DIPA up with the stars; now only if they could replicate it annually and can it too…  If you had the chance to taste it fresh from the draft you were a lucky one.

Kuka’s price point is cheap by anyones standards but don’t let the price point fool you; this beer is worth more than you’re paying.  We picked up a 4 pack and two half-pints for $16 bucks in a time when many flights of four, 5oz pours are upwards of $10.  So from a cost-benefit perspective, we highly recommend the stop.  Also from a beer, and convenience to 287 perspective, we also recommend the stop.  Kuka earns a should stop 3.75 out of 5.  

Lock City Brewing (Stamford, CT)

We had to cross into CT for this next brewery that’s been on our radar since it opened a tap room in July.  Lock City Brewing of Stamford, CT adopted the name to pay homage to the old Yale & Towne manufacturing company that used to employ over a quarter of the city’s population.  The company was also famous for its innovative lock designs and thus the city nickname became Lock City.

This well-kept tap room was spacious for groups of 4 or 6, and the décor was classic industrial; themed of course to Yale & Towne.  The mobile bar, a classic keezer on wheels, seemed out of place but with 6 drafts on tap we really couldn’t complain too much.  We settled on a flight of 4 and ordered some burritos from Jefe’s Taco truck.  If you happen to run into the Jefe’s truck in Stamford, we highly recommend.

Research Drive #1: Generic 5.6% IPA.  Nothing too interesting, but a decent fridge beer.

Lock-O-Lantern: Melissa enjoyed the spices, as this beer is fall as f*ck.  A little too much spice (nutmeg?) but for their first pumpkin run, it was a much better attempt than many of its peers.  This beer will also get you white girl wasted because that 10% is extremely well hidden.

O.J. on Parole:  Back in the white bronco, O.J. tastes like juice, but not the Juice.  This is a perfect combination of Simcoe and Citra for the NE haze drinkers.   

Bugg’d Out Coffee Porter:  In my opinion, the best beer on flight. Which is crazy because I ranked Lock-O, and O.J. exceptionally high on Untappd.  According to the cheat sheet, this coffee porter is a Columbian cold-brew blend; and the coffee flavor is great.  However, the coffee is only the second best feature to the rich, smooth chocolate malts that produce a great nose, flavor and melt-in your mouth feel.  This is a prime example of a porter done right.  

Lock City Brewing has locked down several different flavor profiles and beer styles, and if you’re ever in Stamford, CT this is your must hit brewery.  We give Lock City Brewing 4.65 keys to the city out of 5.  

With a carbo-loaded beer gut, I believe I’m ready for a race tomorrow.  

Westchester Triathlon Recap

Starting my morning at 5 am, I headed to the beach in Rye, NY to meet 617 fellow crazy people for a sport that continuously punishes our bodies and pushes our limits.  Luckily, the sound was unseasonably warm for late September so the water wasn’t terribly cold; everyone wore a wetsuit anyways.   Many of my races are a water start, however this one was a run in… Which is always a pain in the butt because trying to pee while swimming is never fun.  ☺  Out of the water in 25 minutes.

The bike course was a lot hillier and more pot-holey than anticipated but nothing that my Domane couldn’t handle; she was built for the Paris-Roubaix after all.  Claire’s climb (the actual name of the climb) was ferocious and extremely challenging and the only thing keeping my two legs churning was the dream of cold beer at the finish line.  Averaged 18.2 mph; not too shabby.

The run started off great! I was cruising at a smooth 7:20 pace until the warm weather started to become ridiculously hot and I fell of the rails and plummeted down to a 8:30 pace on the last two miles.  I really came apart and really only cared about the beer tent at this point.  Everyone has a breaking point, and I broke with 8 measly laps around a high school track left.  I still averaged a 7:40 pace over the 10k, so I can’t be too disappointed with myself.

Its 10am, my official time is 2:45:12 for an Olympic distance triathlon and I’m not bummed with that time at all.  But I was kind of bummed that Captain Lawrence only sent in kegs of their pale ale, and the IPA… At 10am, after a triathlon, in 82 degree heat with no cloud cover or wind. I was hoping for a crisp pils, or a sweet hefe.  Normally I wouldn’t refer to this as “settling”, but I did settle on the pale as my body wouldn’t have stomached the IPA.  After all, we still have beer to drink on our way home.

With the race over, and officially beating my father by a wide margin, we headed over to the Westchester Mall for some P.F. Changs… Because who doesn’t enjoy spicy beef after a race?  It’s been a while since we hit a P.F. Chang so it was a welcomed change of pace that I didn’t have to pay for.  The rest of the family, completely overwhelmed by the size of the mall and plethora of stores decided to stick around to do some shopping so Melissa and I headed home-ish.

District 96 Beer Factory (New City, NY)

On a weird hair-pin, 1 way-ish, kind-of-a-dead-end street in New City, NY is District 96 Beer Factory.  This brewery is actually an off-shoot of a successful pub that’s housed on the opposite side of the building.  The industrial chic style has an unusual addition of various plants all around the taproom and brew house.  In addition to their own six drafts, they also had three guest taps and overall could sport 11 regular carb drafts and one nitro beer.  Today there were no nitro beers to be had ☹  In classic order from least to most favorite we had the following:

  • Bimbo Eruptions Blonde Ale:  Average blonde.
  • Amerikanisch Kolsch: Average kolsch.
  • Misunderestimated IPA: Our lesser favorite of the IPAs.  Better than average, but really lack luster when stacked against Leap’ng and Hopp-ng Fences.
  • Leap’ng Fences DIPA:  The lesser of the fences.  In my opinion they tried too hard with the ABV (only 8%) while losing the distinct flavor profile and smoothness found in Hoppy-ng Fences.  
  • Silent Majority Pale Ale:  It’s a Pale Ale that Melissa scored highly; this is certainly 1 of 2 of the must try beers at District 96.
  • Hoppy-ng Fences IPA: Despite being the lesser of the IPAs in Untappd scores, Hoppy-ng Fences proved to be our favorite.  It hit the sweet spot between bitter and juicy.  It wasn’t a full hazy paradise, but rather each element of the beer was distinct and undisturbed by alcohol content.  If you stack Hoppy-ng and Leap’ng side by side you will understand what I mean.  

Since this was a flight of eight we also had two guest drafts:   Hudson Valleys Phase Delay (sour) and Equilibriums Fractal Simcoe (IPA); both excellent additions to the flight.

District 96 is a great place to grab a bite, and watch the Giants lose on one side of the building or have a great conversation and board game night on the brewery side.  The tap line up as of writing this really catered to the hop-enthusiast so if you’re not really an APA or IPA person you’re not going to be impressed with the blonde or kolsch.  As we head into the winter, I’m sure stouts, porters and winter warmers are on their way for that nice nitro line they have.  District 96 earns a should visit 4.0 out of 5.      

 

Industrial Arts Brewing Company (Garnerville, NY)

Our last stop of the day is about 20 minutes north of District 96.  Industrial Arts of Garnerville, NY is located in the back of a very, very old industrial building and is reminiscent to some of the most impressive breweries found in New England; Two Roads of CT being a prime example of industrial space used correctly.  As I’ve stated a few times before, I’m a huge fan of these seemingly ancient factories.  The empty ones are a haunting reminder of the past, vast industrial power houses that used to rule both rural and city lands alike.  But the ones that have had upkeep make a premier choice for breweries that fit the theme.  Vaulted ceilings, room to expand.  

My attention to the facility was quickly interrupted when we met fellow beer adventurers who were rocking bright yellow Quinnipiac shirts.  Although neither of them went there, they have a son who finished his undergrad a few years ago and god-child currently attending.  And from what we hear, the god-child is a handful and doesn’t quite understand yet that you need to balance the books with the beer.  I’m sure he will figure it out soon enough.   

The beer.  No flights here, but they did have the half-pour option (5-8 oz?) so we grabbed Tools of the Trade Pale Ale, Rye Works RIPA,  Wrench NEIPA, and Week 52 Brett IPA.  Melissa immediately noticed that there were few options outside of the PA-IPA range, but she was lucky enough to have a Brett IPA available.  While I do enjoy my IPAs, even I am getting worn down by them and would like to see a little more diversity in a brewery lineup.  Yes, there was a pils, but the keg was “having issues” and we sampled the black lager, which was just “ok.”  Perhaps my own bias is a personal catch-22 when it comes to beer satisfaction after a long day.  

  • Tools of the Trade Pale Ale:  Well-balanced pale-ale that was refreshing. Not a whole lot to say about the beer itself other than it makes an excellent fridge/share beer.  In house they have relatively cheap 4-packs so we got one to go.  
  • Rye Works RIPA: We were expecting more rye from a beer called a RIPA.  I’m sure there was plenty of rye used in to make the wort but there wasn’t a whole lot of flavor follow up to warrant the name.  Slightly disappointed.  
  • Wrench NEIPA: Labeled as an intense juice bomb, this NEIPA was everything advertised.  Love or hate NEIPAs, its hard to dislike citrus in beer form.
  • Week 52 Brett IPA: Melissa’s beer of choice.  A sour IPA; imagine that.  While I was not overly fond of this beer, its easy to imagine why someone would gravitate to this beer over the black lager considering the beer availability.

Its easy to see why Industrial Arts is loved by many.  They make some decent beer; but nothing too spectacular.  As noted before, the limited style range at the time of our visit would be a bit frustrating to non-PA/IPA lovers.  But for those of us who enjoy a good IPA, Wrench is your must try here.  The building is georgeous, but be prepared to make a lengthy deviation from a highway should you visit.  Industrial Arts earns a 3.8 out of 5.   

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We’re Andrew and Melissa. We met in college and discovered our love for craft beer and different breweries shortly after that. Andrew is from upstate NY and Melissa is from Connecticut but now we both live in the beautiful state of New Jersey and love to explore new places and try new beers together.

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