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2015 Year in Review

Douglas Amport Blog

What a fun year for beer 2015 was. So many cool events happened, it makes my head spin. Bitter & Esters is proud to have organized and/or participated in so many of them. Just check out this list:

  • Beer and Pie charity tasting for Charlie Papazian’s birthday. (I’ve still got a few pounds to lose from that one.)
  • Brew for Autism which happens every year on Staten Island. Put on by Pour Standards and the Richmond County Beer club, last year they raised over $14,000 for Autism Speaks. Happening again this year on January 30th, get your tickets now!
  • Bobby Bendily’s Miller High Life challenge at 706 bar! He really tried to clone Miller but his beer was just too good.
  • Tara Whitsitt and Fermentation on Wheels gave a sold out Get Cultured! class at the store. Congratulations to Tara signing a book deal this year! Look for her book and bus coming to a city near you in 2017. 
  • Had a blast at Brewnity at the Bellhouse. Raising over $3000 for City Harvest, two other amazing things came from that event. The Brewsicians, a band made entirely of home brewers, was born.
  • The Brewminaries homebrew club began! With over 50 members this awesome group of guys and gals aren’t slowing down anytime soon. (We love you Brewmies!).
  • Rockaway invites the Brewminaries and B&E to brew five barrels of beer on their system! Ryes of the Brewminaries (a hoppy rye ale) was a hit. It spurned a killer pub crawl and a bike ride to Rockaway, Transmitter and Big Alice Breweries.
  • Michael Tonsmeire, aka the Mad Fermentationist stopped by the shop to share some brew and sign copies of his book American sour beers. Super cool guy with tons of knowledge, one of my favorite events of the year.
  • The Suds in Solidarity benefit (another Brewnity event) for those affected by the East Village explosion earlier in the year. This was the second gig for the Homebrewsicians. We rocked.
  • The 6th generation head brewer of Pilsner Urquell, Vaclav Burka, visited the store and spoke with home brewers about...Pilsners of course! They also sponsored a home brew pilsner contest with a $500 first prize. Congratulations Xavi!
  • We held our second NYC Brewer’s Pro Am with Brew to Share at Covenhoven. The only Pro Am in NYC, it is a real honor to work with some of our talented local breweries and home brewers. Congratulations to Justin Wilson on the win. You bet we’ll be doing it again this year. Maybe you too will get to brew your beer at a local brewery! We hosted our second brewery bike tour to celebrate Justin’s winning beer release at Dirk the Norseman.
  • Mary Izett's book, Speed Brewing came out this year. Mary held a free Speed Brewing demo at the store and we had the first ever Speed Brewing Contest. We gave people 3 weeks to come up with their best fast concoction. Congratulations to Ivee with her Guava Soda.
  • Two of the leading figures in the beer and fermentation community, Mary Izett and Chris Cuzme, got hitched. Their wedding was held right at the base of the Williamsburg bridge and was a who’s who of the beer community. Everyone had such a good time, it was a night to remember. Congratulations you two!
  • I got to do a home brew demo at Babes in Toyland. Very well received and well, kind of sexy. I hope they invite me back!
  • The Brewminaries hit it big with their home brew event, Prost! Held at Industry City Distillery, it was an amazing event and even brought Bobby back from Mississippi for the weekend. (Check out a great video of the event here!)
  • With the help of the Brewminaries we held an experimental hop tasting to benefit Ales for ALS. The hop, HBC438, has mint and melon notes and works great in darker ales. We raised $250 for Ales for ALS and were able to give Loftus farm some valuable feedback on this brand new variety.
  • We did our second Community apple press day. Joy and Jeremy from Proper Cider are so awesome bringing their grinder and presses to the store. We did two days this year and it was fantastic. We’ll do a tasting of the ciders made that day later on this year. We hope to do a third Cider press day at the end of 2016, stay tuned.
  • We ended the year with an amazing barrel aged beer tasting with Goose Island. Mike Seigle from Goose Island gave awesome info on their barrel age program and we had eight, yes eight tastings of both Goose barrel aged beers and local barrel aged brews. What a great learning event.

Probably one of the best things to happen this year is our friends Oskar and Erik Norlander and Peter Salmond winning Homebrewers of the Year at the National Homebrew Contest. They showed the world that New York City is kicking ass! Another cool thing is the issue of Zymurgy that featured those guys also contained a picture of me and Douglas with Charlie Papazian along with the recipe he created for our store. This blew our minds to say the least. All this over the course of 12 months including our fantastic monthly beer swaps, lots of beginning and advanced classes, brewing on premises and running a retail store! I wouldn’t change it for the world. There is no way any of this would happen without your support, thank you. Together we make this community. Let’s keep showing the world that New York City is a beer city.  Thanks also to all of the breweries, clubs, bloggers, press and behind the scenes folks. Douglas and I also want to give a sloppy wet kiss super big thank you to our employees, Ovieh, John, David, Robert and Zach. You guys keep this machine running. We’re starting 2016 with Brewpiphany, a wort give away at Kelso brewery combined with our monthly bottle swap. A kick ass way to start a kick ass year! Happy New year everyone!

 John LaPolla Headshot



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