Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Coney Island Brewing Company Hosts an NYCBG Event

Sunday, August 12th was the first event hosted by the New York City Brewers Guild (NYCBG) since the NYCBG Founder's bash back on May 22nd at the Brooklyn Brewery. So I headed over to Coney Island, Brooklyn to the world's smallest commercial production brewery, Coney Island Brewing Company (CIBC). This was my first event since the knee surgery setback. It was good to get back up on the craft beer event horse.

The brewery is literally right next to the Coney Island Circus Sideshow at W. 12th St and Surf Ave. They are not kidding when they say they are the smallest. The space is perhaps 10 ft deep and 15-20 ft long. There are 2 counters, one for serving samples and the other for brewing the one gallon batches.

There is a small commercial cooler in the corner for beach-goer off-sales. All beer looks to be served from bottles for tastings, or poured to slake your thirst as you head to the beach or a nip before heading back to the subway.

Morgan and the 1 gallon brewery
Upon entering, I first noticed the guy in the snappy baby-blue work jumper over by the brewing setup. I mean come on, who could miss a baby blue jumper? Kind of stands out in a small space.

The brewer's name is Morgan and he was working on the 1 gallon brew for the day. I introduce myself and ask him what the style du jour is today. It sounds intriguing….a Celery Saison! I love saisons! I observe for a bit as he dumps in some whole leaf Saaz hops.

To note, there were about a half a dozen, gallon jug brews in various stages of fermentation on the countertop.

I just realized I forgot to ask if and how I could try the Celery Saison when it is ready. Fortunately I get a second chance to secure a tasting next weekend when the Brooklyn Brewsers go to CIBC as guest brewers.

Sara, the CIBC rep confirming RSVPs and our gracious host and server for the visit, is behind the tasting counter eagerly looking to pour some samples. She immediately offered me a sample of about 6-8 different CIBC brews, most of which are award winning craft beers. I chose the Mermaid Pilsner as my starter and began to work my way through the lineup. The picture to the left pretty much tells the story of what brews were initially up for the tasting offering.

It seems Sara has to often field inquiries about whether they carry any Bud/Miller/Coors beers. More than 1 person came in looking for a macro beer to satisfy a last minute beer on the beach craving.

Note to Coney Island beach-goers: If you see the word beer or brewery on your way up W. 12th St. to the beach and get a sudden craving for a brew-ski, you cannot dip into Coney Island Brewing Company for a last minute 6-pack 'o macro. They only purvey their own line of freakishly crafty brews.

I was 2 or 3 samples into the tasting when Jeremy Cowan, Shmaltz Brewing Company and CIBC founder and owner, had arrived. Jeremy is also a published author with his book, "Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah:  How It Took 13 Years, Extreme Jewish Brewing, and Circus Sideshow Freaks to Make Shmaltz Brewing an International Success.I was very glad to get another chance to talk to him as I approached Jeremy back at the NYCBG Founder's Bash about sitting for a Craft You interview. He's a very busy man but he is interested in doing the interview so be patient as I try to get him to pin down a date in the near future.

Sara and Jeremy
Another great thing about when an owner shows up is that the owner often gives to cue to "bring out the really good stuff." Out came the Barrel-Aged Human Blockhead and the collaboration with Terrapin Beer Company, Reunion Ale '12. I have had the barrel-aged blockhead before and I just love its strong "sweet boozy maltiness."

The Reunion Ale '12 goes on the drink again list as it also features a prominent maltiness that finishes somewhat dessert-like with the chocolate, vanilla, and a hint of cinnamon.

Reunion Ale '12 benefits the Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research.

Finally, owners are great because they know people. Jeremy entices us with a complimentary entry into the Freakshow next door.

The performers literally perform "freakish" feats that push the envelope of what the body should typically be able to handle. I mean really, hanging a bowling ball from your earlobes with carabiners and swinging it around! And we got to meet the current Human Blockhead…although he looked to be in his 20's so it is unlikely he was the barrel-aged version. He really "nailed" his performance. How's that for some Coney Island schtick?

Some of the Coney Island brews are inspired by the performers next door at the Coney Island Circus Sideshow.

As every Coney Island trip should begin or end, it is a prerequisite to get a dog or two at the original Nathan's Famous hotdog stand. Internationally, Nathan's is known for their July 4th hotdog eating contest.

My particular tradition is to order a Killian's Irish Red with my dogs. It's about as "craft" as they serve and you know what, it has always been quite tasty and satisfying on the warm summer days I have spent at Coney Island. Even the experienced craft beer palates of my Brooklyn Brewsers friends found it quaffable.

I look forward to returning to Coney Island next week for Brooklyn Brewsers guest brew, more CIBC samples (please!), and a Nathan's dog or two washed down with a Killian's.

8-20-12 Update: The interview date is nailed down and is in the "very near" future. I did not make it to the collaboration homebrew yesterday so there will be no post about that event. I had homework to do for that interview that is in the "very near" future. Keep an eye on my tweets for the interview post!

One other thing- I did confirm that I will get to taste the Celery Saison (second time brewed so it must be a keeper!) at an upcoming CIBC event and the Brooklyn Brewser / Coney Island Brewing Company collaboration brews (one confirmed to be a smoked Saison) at an upcoming Beer Street event. I most certainly will be posting about these events.


  1. Feedback from Jeremy Cowan via email-

    hey joe-
    this is awesome thanks man!
    btw great drinking minds shtick alike:
    "Craft Beer Coaching- Tastes great! More Fulfilling!"

  2. Feedback from Sara White of Coney Island Brewing Company via email-


    I love this article and am so happy to have met you!

  3. Personal feedback from Jeremy Cowan during his interview that he shared this blog post with the entire NYCBG.

    Thanks to Jeremy for passing it along.