The Phoenix That is Barrier Brewing

Barrier Phoenix

By Special Guest Contributor AG “I Drink Piss IPAs”

When the superstorm of the century, Hurricane Sandy, crashed onto the south shores of Long Island, there was no escaping its wrath.  Thousands of homes and businesses up and down the shore were left picking up the pieces and starting over.

The irony here at DWTH was that there was never a better time to crack open a cold one to forget your troubles, yet no local breweries were up and running because of the destruction.

Cut to 2013, when from the ashes of a small tap room in Oceanside NY, and with the help of well bought insurance and the government’s purse, Barrier Brewing re-opened its doors and united a community in desperate need of some good goddam beer.  Barrier, you saved us!

Yes we know the story is sappy, and filled with Hollywood style redemption, but we love the beer there and we love war stories while we drink.  Since 2013 they’ve opened a pretty kick ass taproom in the brewery and have started shipping their products down the East Coast.

So if you find your way into an East Coast bar, and see a Barrier Brewing tap there- order that damn beer!  Find the closest person next to you, and while you drink it, tell them about the beer that survived the storm.  At the very least, the story might get you laid.

Keep an eye out for the following Barrier brews:
– Frau Blücher (Rauchbier) – smoked bacon in a glass.  A DWTH favorite
– Copernicus (Cream Ale) – if it’s on Nitro you are in for a slip and slide of pure flavor
– Rembrandt (Robust Porter)
– Undertow (Dunkel Rauch)

Suds Story

We once drank a beer.  It was a delicious beer.  It hit every sense- starting with the eyes and ears, moving to the nose, with taste and touch not far behind.  Sure, our knees didn’t buckle, but that’s only because we were sitting down.

Now this beer only remains a mystery.  There is no written documentation of it, no picture, no receipt, there is nothing but a memory.

Yet, the memory is not real.  It is only an ideal, something to be discovered.

So it has become our mission, to find this beer, this 10 out of 10.  Yes, we have Franziskaner Weissbier (Naturtrub) as a 9.5 and hold it as the golden standard of Hefes, nay, all beers.  It is possible that nothing will ever top it, and our final act will be changing Franziskaner to a 10/10.  However, until that day, we will remain on the hunt.



Flea Market Beers

Now that spring is fighting it’s way through this late winter, flea markets are back!pickers


Who doesn’t love walking around in parking lots picking around another person’s goods while eating something fried up real good?  I’ll tell you – those same people drinking craft beer.  When a flea market sells a beer from a local vendor, you buy it!  That’s an order.  It makes the experience much more whole for the following reasons:

  1. your bargaining skills will be enhanced as your confidence increases
  2. that questionable fish taco all of sudden tastes much better than the first bite
  3. the wait for your significant other to pick over rusted jewelry, crusted comics, or ripped clothing somehow becomes bearable

LIC Flea in Long Island City, Queens offers beers from Big Alice (personal favorite of ours) and Rockaway Brewing every week.  EVERY WEEK.  Well, really weekend but that happens at the end of every week therefore it still counts.

On top of that the DWTH crew happened to run into two separate parties of people we know but didn’t know were also flea-ing.  Where did we bump into them?  On line for another round of beers, proving that beer a simply makes a flea market experience that much better.

We’ll flea you there!

The Rise and Fall of the Beer Festival

There was a time when the DWTH crew would mark out for every beer festival on east side of the Mississippi.  However it is very easy to get festival fatigue, especially when you don’t travel.

Often time the beer vendors do not rotate enough so you are dealing with repeat beers.  If it was a brewery that featured a new or seasonal beer each time it would make it worthwhile, but understandably breweries are bringing their flagship to introduce first timers to their brews.

What it comes down to is attending a few festivals across the country to mix things up.  The best festival NYC offered was the Craft Experience as reviewed earlier, but that was 3 (!) years ago and it hasn’t ran since.

Boston has the Extreme Beer Fest from Beer Advocate which is all of the most offbeat beers (read: tartest of the sours, biggest of the barleywines, and the most “wait, there’s what in this beer?” moments)

The Great American Beer Festival in Denver is still on our bucket list too.

In the meantime, hitting all of the best beer bars in the US and beyond is a job we’ve gladly accepted.



Recently both JC and I have posted about the beauties of rauchbiers aka smoked beers.

It should come to no surprise that yet another excellent beer style originated out of Germany.  Germany – what can’t they do wrong?!

Aecht Schlenkerla Fastenbier is the king of the category but now there are plenty of other countries taking their stake in the game including hometown favorite Barrier Brewing and their Frau Blucher.  Next time your in Oceanside, be sure to sip the smoke!




Goodbye IPAs, Hello Sours!

It’s amazing what a year can do on the craft beer scene.  Here at Down With the Hops, we celebrate every time we step into a bar and see the number of gross IPAs dropping off the chalkboard while the number of sours climb in rank.

Hops had their time in the sun, now it’s clearly bacteria time.  Who would have thought something with such a negative connotation could produce such beautiful tasting beers?

The general public is shifting their taste from, “brettanoma-what?”

Sour Puss


To, yes I’d love another gose please! Tasty Sour


And for this, we are grateful people are realizing how delicious beer can be without having the IBUs constantly skyrocketing





The Great Left Hand Milk Stout Swindle



Next time you’re buying Left Hand Milk Stout for your home consumption, make sure you opt for the Nitro version.  The standard Milk Stout bottle is a sad excuse for what you are getting at the bar.

Last we checked in, at any bar (it’s a mainstay at Union Hall [see the Beer Map]) we had a strong inclination for it.

Stout (Milk) Left Hand Milk Stout 6.5 7.5 7 Chocolate Full Stout! so smooth – great go to

Now if you want to take it home and make the mistake of buying the non-Nitro bottle, you are left with a lifeless cup of joe that doesn’t have a cascading waterfall of flavor to ride and drops down to a 4-4.5

It’s disappointing to say the least but in the name of science and all things numbers, we will compare the two bottles side by side for the most accurate description.

In the meantime, you’ve been warned.



Too Experienced: The Craft Experience

Finally… a beer festival that can live up to it’s price tag.



JC and I were blessed to attend the press session which resulted in a more relaxed atmosphere of business owners, distributors, and writers tasting beers.  Along with the brewmasters in attendance, constant hot food circulating, and a massive pile of chocolate and cheese – this was definitely the best of the fests.

The Craft Experience was marketed as an elite event open for the first time to the public.  The venue screamed this being among art galleries in Chelsea.  All fancy pants aside, we are here for the beer.

And it delivered.  In addition to having brewery tables, there were distributor tables that had a few beers from the same country.   For example, a Belgian table had plenty of different Saisons, a German with Hefeweizens and Pilsners, etc.

On top of that there were spirits – which for the sake of being able to still walk home that night, we sampled only one, the Ballast Point Old Grove Gin which fits nicely into the disappointed category for that brewery.  They make whiskey, but it’s unavailable in NY (walk back West where you came from Ballast Point).

Did we mention the food?  Us whores devoured the hors d’oeuvres. From grilled cheese, mini burgers, chicken & fig skewers, shrimp cocktail…there was plenty, but never enough when you’re drinking for hours.

Most importantly, because the brewmasters, presidents and CEO’s of the breweries were there, they wanted to talk to you about the beer.  Unlike most beer fests aka cattle farms, you weren’t waiting on lines for ages only to be pushed away by the next eager beaver pounding their two ounce sample.

Ideally all beer events would be 1 ticket for a multiple day festival (like the magical Fancy Food Show) so there is no rush and a conversation with someone serving the beer isn’t unheard of, or looked down upon.  But with the popularity of these events, most event planners are looking to milk the cows for all they got.

A festival like this gives hope to those looking for something beyond a race against the clock drinking marathon.


Type Company Name JC # CE # Avg # Notes
Stout (Milk) Samuel Smith Chocolate Stout 8 8 8 lots of chocolate, touch of java. Served hot could pass as hot chocolate
Pilsner (German Style) Neumarkter Lammsbräu Organic Pilser 7.5 6.5 7 best pilsner ever, crisp, drop water taste, clean
Lambic (Fruit) Brouwerij Lindemans Lindemans Framboise 8.5 9 9 perfect balance of sweet/sour, pure dessert in a bottle, drinking raspberry jelly. Pleasurable pucker!


Pumpkin Ale The Bruery Autumn Maple 1.5 2.5 2 dry medicine, nausea inducer (stick to their sour)
Gimmick/Spiced Moa Breakfast Ale 3.5 1.5 2.5 bitter version of Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat (not an improvement) raised .5 since East Ville Des Folies
Gimmick/Spiced Pyramid Apricot Ale 3.5 2.5 3 very fake, artificial perfume, nothing positive


We’re looking forward to being invited back next year.




PS Check out those real glasses, not plastic shot glasses.  That sums up the entire event.

Portland Maine’s Best

If you’re going to Portland, Maine Allagash is a must stop.  Like most, our introduction began with their White (liked it more before discovering German wheats, American version of wheat, good start, a true 5.75).

Actual beer taste aside, the set up of their tasting room is excellent for many reasons:

1. You don’t have to go on a tour to “earn” a taste.

2. You literally walk up to the bar and they ask, “How many do you have and where are you sitting?” Because yes, they bring the flights to you.

3. There’s an outdoor area along with a food truck outside.

4. The flight glasses and paddle are just so damn classy:


If only every brewery took strangers in with such open arms…. and free.

Pictured above (all scores CE only):

White– same as usual except creamier from the source tap – 6
House– smells like pale ale, taste just like one too, hoppy, citrusy, not too much bang – 5
Bourbon Barrel Black– weak whiskey nose, strong alcohol finish, want more smoke- 4.5
Allagash Fluxus 2013– coffee/chocolate note, very little orange, rich- 5.5

An excellent way to start a trip into Portland…or end if you don’t buckle up!  So please, please, please, please, please hire an escort to drive you around or have a friend who doesn’t mind not indulging, or just become friends with Benny the Cab.


Fox Mulder Bock

Mulder Bock

After a tough day at the office Fox Mulder prefers a Spoetzl Shiner Bock (bland, drop caramel, easy to drink but not enjoyable, watery JC: 4.5, CE:4 , Avg: 4.5).

This was back in 2000 so at least he was ahead of the curve as it is now in many bars replacing Narragansett Lager as a cheap go to.

To explain how he ended up with one: It was the episode’s director’s favorite beer.  Vince Gilligan happened to direct it so the next person to say, how were you not watching Breaking Bad???? You could explain, I was busy catching up on the X-Files first.  For those interested parties – it is episode “Je Souhaite” (S07E21) and has Will Sasso as well.