Westchester's Beer Here Now: The Director’s Cut

Good Life Gourmet Pops Up at Village Dog, and Bye-Bye, Greenwich Lobster House. Welcome to Char!





I know what you’re thinking: has Sexton lost her damned mind? She just wrote this 4500-word cover article that exhaustively discusses the locally brewed beer scene (October Westchester Magazine, on your newsstands now) and now she has the supreme self-indulgence to offer her Director’s Cut?

Well, folks I’m here to say that I have, in fact, lost my damned mind and here is the precious stuff that I had to cut from my article. Here goes:

Two Great, Unsung Beer Bars: Craftsman Ale House and Holy Smoke BBQ

Harrison’s The Craftsman Ale House does not have a super-ambitious, on-trend menu (it serves pretty simple pub fare), so it didn’t quite fit into my article’s Five Best Restaurants for Food and Beer. BUT this great beer bar is exceptional in so many other ways. First and foremost, Craftsman Ale House offers a tidy, ever-changing list of excellent craft beers on tap.  These beers are available in handy flights for sipping, sampling, and comparing—but (and this one’s a bonus)—this is a beer bar by-and-for beer lovers. Do you have a geeky beer question about what you’re drinking? Say, where is Allagash’s Curieux made? What strain of hops does it use? How is it aged? What is its ABV? Go ahead and ask your waiter at The Craftsman. Not only does s/he know the answer, but, chances are, s/he knows a hell of a lot more, besides. PLUS, Craftsman Ale House has a particularly stunning spirits list. I’ve written about this before, but, in short, this carefully curated list includes all the exceptional, boutique, oddball, and local spirits on today’s craft distilling scene. And then there is the fact that Craftsman Ale House is operated by enthusiastic home brewers and hosts frequent home brewing events.

Of course, there also The Craftsman’s tap takeovers and brewer visits to consider. If you’d read my beer exegesis carefully (and who didn’t?), you would have read about the fabled Mikkel Jarnit-Bjergsø of the famous Danish gypsy brewery, Mikkeller, who actually has a twin brother who is actually also a brewer. (Folks, you can’t make this stuff up.) Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø is Mikkel’s twin and the brewer behind Brooklyn’s Evil Twin Brewery and Törst craft beer bar. Jeppe has brewed beers for Denmark’s—and, right now, the world’s—most fetishized restaurant, NOMA. In August, Jeppe stopped by The Craftsman, so guess what? You totally could have met the word’s coolest gypsy brewer in Harrison, New York. Whoa.

Then there is the delightfully opinionated beer list at Mahopac’s Holy Smoke BBQ. What the hell are they smoking up there (besides, well, meat)? While its 30 taps offer an interesting spread from local, national, and international breweries, it’s in the bottle list that things get really crazy. We’re talking 13 bottles that focus on the extreme, sumo-style, heavy weights of the beer world. All but two are over 8% ABV.  There are four barley wines, four stouts, two Belgian Strongs, a Belgian Tripel, an Old Ale, and a Wee Heavy. I’ll just drop a Wee Heavy link here in case that the guy on Jackass just popped into your mind.  All of the above will leave you staggering after two.  At Holy Smoke, growlers and flights of 5 ounce draught beers are also available. It’s not a surprise that the beer list at Holy Smoke was rated World Class (A+) by BeerAdvocate.com.

But then there is the surprise of Holy Smoke’s excellent whiskey list that bears the ultra-seductive charm of also being quite cheap. When we visited last week, we snagged a perfectly quaffable glass of Elijah Craig’s 12 yr. bourbon for $5.50. There were plenty of other seductive choices, many of which bore amusing southern names, that include the delightful Elmer T. Lee bourbon by Buffalo Trace at $6.25 per glass. Seriously, if I could afford the car fare back down from the bleak frozen tundra of Mahopac, I would drink whiskey at Holy Smoke all night.

 And now that we’ve completed our excessive, five-hour Director’s Cut, we rejoin our regularly scheduled programming, already in progress…

HotDate

Good Life Gourmet’s Pop-Up at Village Dog

Sept. 24th

We caught up with Good Life Gourmet’s Chef Eric Korn at a pop-up restaurant that he held last week at Mansion on Broadway. That particular White Plains catering establishment is currently being cheffed by Matt Safarawic, lately of BUtterfield 8. Safarowic, a former The Cookery associate, is thrilled to have made the move to Mansion on Broadway; he was also on hand last week to help Korn out at his Good Life Gourmet pop-up.

Now, you might have noticed that Korn has been popping up all over. His Golden Knives competition last May pitted notable local chefs—Korn, Juniper’s Alex Sze, Chutney Masala’s Navjot Arora, etc. etc—against each other in a good natured challenge, a la Chopped. Lately he’s been flexing his fine dining muscles with the occasional restaurant pop-up. Laughs Korn, “It’s just fun. Look, I do a lot of sandwiches and catering now, but I used to work in real restaurants. I went to school for it. These pop ups are a fun way to keep my restaurant skills sharp. It’s good to get out there and prove to myself that I can still do it.” Korn, laughing, shoots down the notion that these pop ups are R and D for a future fine dining venture. “I’ve got a new baby and another business! I’m not looking to expand.”

Check out Korn this week at his next restaurant pop-up, this time held at super-casual Village Dog in Tarrytown. Contact Good Life Gourmet (good-lifegourmet.com; 914.478-8080) for more details.

HotPlate

Lamb Roulade at Byram Newcomer, Char

Do you remember the Greenwich Lobster House? I’m thinking that you probably weren’t a regular, since the thing is no longer in actual business. Anyway, the owners of Dolphin on the Yonkers waterfront have taken over GLH’s Byram-side space (which is located just across the CT border from Tarry Lodge, bartaco, Willett House, etc.). They’ve turned it into a moody, slate-filled new American joint, Char. Expect cocktails and a democratic list of crowd-pleasing standards that includes this sexy, welcome-to-fall roast of fragrant, crackling lamb and super silky potatoes. Yum! Hello, sweater weather.

Fall Festival at Stone Barns!

Photo by Nicole FranzenStone Barns Center’s Annual Harvest Fest
Saturday, October 5, 2013
10 am to 3 pm

Pick and pickle fresh carrots, dosey doe your partner, hop on a hayride, and show off your farmer skills at the Farm Olympics—all while supporting Stone Barns’ mission to improve the way America eats and farms. Fun for the whole family! It’s a fall celebration and fundraiser not to be missed. Click here for more information and to buy tickets before they’re gone!

Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture
630 Bedford Rd
Pocantico Hills
(914) 366-6200
stonebarnscenter.org