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2014: A Year of Beer in Review

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2014: We got married, Kevin grew a mustache for a good cause and the New York Islanders are currently tied for first place in their division, so all in all it’s been a good year. As such we figured why not take a look at the year that has been pretty good to us and celebrate the Beer Loves Company moments we have enjoyed the most. Heading toward the end of 2014 there is much to remember and celebrate. We wish the same for you in 2015. Happy New Year!

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In 2014 we brewed quite a few beers and even one called Saider that was a mash-up of a saison, cider and mead. This was also a year of cider brewing for us, once we discovered that you don’t have to stand in a freezing or sweltering garage, exposed to the elements, to produce this delicious beverage. Conveniently enough, cider can be “brewed” in the comfort of your home and though it seems simple there are many tweaks that can be made along the way to make the final product your own. We experimented with sour yeast, assorted fruits and our wedding toast was even made with a slightly sour raspberry cider (carbonated with maple syrup).  We’ll take that over champagne any day. Or most days.

 

Probably the highlight of our many conversations with brewers came this year when we interviewed DJ Swanson and Joe Hayes about their (then) brand new partnership. Greenport Harbor Brewing Company was in the midst of expansion and luckily for them Joe Hayes was able to be brought on board to work alongside his brother in beer DJ Swanson. Of course it’s always nice to take a ride out to the town of Greenport and sample their beers, but the two brewers were the real draw here. They shared many laughs, zings and stories and it was evident just how well their personal relationship would translate professionally. Oh and they let us sample so excellent beer too including the delicious anniversary brew #5 a Belgian Dubbel aged on cherries. We can only hope that one day we love each other as much as these two do.

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Spent Grain Oatmeal Raisin Cake-ies were one of the better things we (well, really Alicia) baked in 2014, which is kind of crazy since the recipe was a total “wing it” situation. For those of you who do not know Kevin personally, he is not much for winging it, but after tasting the results here we may have a convert on our hands. A little cake, a little cookie and a good way to use spent grain, we got a lot of positive feedback on Alicia’s off the cuff creation. If you feel a hankering to use your spent grain for baking we suggest you give these a try. They are super easy to make and have oatmeal in them, so they’re basically a perfect way to start your new years diet, right? Right?

 

Following an interesting (and delicious) experience at the 2013 National Homebrewers Conference we could not wait to attend the 2014 edition when we found out it was being held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This event was a highlight of our year for a few reasons. For starters, where else can you run into the crew from Founders Brewing Company walking around a convention center? Ah right, the same place where you can also walk to their brewery to sample beer only available on-site. The GR is also a place where you can walk to about ten other great brew pubs (hello, Brewery Vivant) and beer bars (Pyramid Scheme we’re looking at you) all within a twenty minute radius. Grand Rapids is also situated a short distance from Kalamazoo where we stopped by the uber-impressive Bell’s Brewery Incorporated with their Eccentric Cafe and some smaller spots too. If that was not enough brewing insanity for you we also discovered nearby Perrin Brewery which was one of our greatest surprise finds. Ever. We sampled a large number of beers they were pouring that day and did not find one that was disappointing. Styles ranged from a grapefruit IPA to several sours. Oh, the NHC itself was cool too serving up some excellent homebrew on club night, interesting seminars during the day and oodles to see in the exhibition hall. If you have not been to the NHC and you are an avid homebrewer we’d suggest attending this event which in 2015 is being held in San Diego.

OMG you guys Anheuser-Busch bought Blue Point Brewing Company, the beloved Long Island local Toasted Lager is being replaced with Bud Light and the sky is falling in Craft Beer Land (which if you don’t know is a place filled with beards, hops and flannel shirts). Turns out only one of these statements was true in 2014 and we both had some opinions on the matter. Now that the year is drawing to a close and the dust has settled (mostly), seemingly very little has changed on the surface at Blue Point. The same familiar faces are still behind the bar, the beer is still flowing and the tasting room has that same cozy feel it always has. Behind the scenes head brewer Christian Ryan moved on (to Brooklyn’s Cape Commons Brewing) amongst other adjustments and growing pains but the now ABInbev owned brewery located in Patchouge, NY has been churning out new styles of beer on what seems like a regular basis and plans to greatly expand their cask program in the near future. While they may be “the man” now they will always be “Long Island’s Brewery” too. As this was an early independent brewery experience for us it was a significant moment in our year.

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Kevin’s Take

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Alicia’s Take

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