Blog by Nigel Walsh


Breaking News! Random Casks Seen About Town!

I bet you are all wondering if I made it out to Fifth Hammer this past week.

Well I did, just not the way that I had planned … things happened.

I also managed to get out to Strong Rope in Red Hook as well … you know, things happened.

But I missed my weekly drop into JWF … yep, things happened.

“What is happening to our world?” you must be asking.

There does appear to be a collective insanity that has weaseled its way into every corner of humanity right now, but rest assured you will not be reading about any of that here.

Nope, this is where you can come to escape reality for a while; it is a little like Fox News in that way …

… or maybe not.

But there was a disturbance in The Force this week (no not that one on Saturday), and the Cask Whisperer is here to tell you all about it.

Random casks were seen all over town (well, Brooklyn and Queens) last week, and there may be more to come …

… are you afraid yet?

Good. Me neither.

It was all kind of exciting actually, and totally unexpected.

Red Hook: Strong Rope Brewery

The first inkling that something was going to be different was a comment that John from Strong Rope posted on last week’s blog.

Apparently, last Wednesday was May Day (May 1st – who knew?), and instead of dancing around maypoles with or without bells strapped to their ankles, or washing their collective faces in the early morning dew (I have done both in my time), the good folks at Strong Rope decided to brew a Maibock, and then decided to put a pin of it on their bar at Red Hook.

Now that is a tradition that I can really get with, and this year it was a tradition that I really got with.

So on Thursday, May 2nd (better late than never) I rushed over to Red Hook after work (Ed. Note: there is no way to rush to Red Hook), and indulged in three delicious pours of Gotham Grazer, a gloriously golden Helles Bock brewed in collaboration with Wagner Valley from up in the Finger Lakes.

It was a beautiful day and I sat outside for the first round, looking out over the harbor, watching the ferries and the cormorants.

By round two it had started to get a little busy, so I shuffled back into the shadows, and stayed there for the last one as well.

I had arrived by subway (and a good hike) but made sure that I took the ferries back home again; it was that nice out on the East River.

Greenpoint: Brouwerij Lane

Come Saturday morning it was gray and cool and a little drizzly, but still ideal walking weather, and I had a good walk planned.

The original intention was to go hang out at Fifth Hammer, and to get there by hiking from home, through the UES and over the 59th Street Bridge, but then I happened to spot an Instagram post from Brouwerij Lane on Saturday morning which mentioned that they were putting on a cask for their final First Firkin Friday (try saying that after a few) of the current season; why didn’t I know about this for all of the other First Fridays of the season?

Losing my touch.

As with Strong Rope two days prior, I was fairly confident that the cask would still be available, and I just had to extend my walk into Greenpoint, while avoiding getting too close to the black hole that is Fifth Hammer for me; at least until the way back.

So yes, I walked all the way from uptown Manhattan to the heart of Greenpoint, and had racked up 7.5 miles before the doors opened at Brouwerij Lane, and the first beer touched my lips.

But it wasn’t the cask … not yet.

That had to spend a little longer in the cold room before it was in good enough condition to be sampled; oh dear, somebody left it out of the cooler on Friday night.

So I made do with an OEC sour and a Wayward Lane cider, before the cask was deemed drinkable (confirmed by me), and I finally got my lips around a cask offering from Wayward Lane, their Penny Whip ESB.

Not the prettiest beer that I have ever had, which was to be expected after spending a night under a table in the back of the bar (the beer, not me), but it was dang tasty; some perfumed hoppiness up front, malt in the middle and a residual bitterness that lures you back for another one.

Several folk came in while I was seated at one of the high bar/tables towards the back, and I was very happy to see that I was not the only one who was drinking the cask.

A young couple and their sweet dog came in, ordered the cask, and then made the mistake of sitting close by me, where I immediately prattled on at them made polite conversation with them for quite some time, resulting in me extending my quick couple of pints into a four and a half hour session, and putting my planned pass by Fifth Hammer into jeopardy.

Time does seem to pass by quickly when you are in good company.

Long Island City: Fifth Hammer Brewing

But I did eventually make my way back across the Pulaski Bridge to LIC, and after a quick check of the ferry schedule, I waddled into Fifth Hammer for a quick (really this time) pint and a couple of bottles to take back to my wine cellar kitchen cabinet.

Fifth Hammer was busy but hadn’t quite hit the crazy hour yet, and I was able to park myself in my usual spot at the far corner of the bar, and enjoy what was a new beer for me, the Snakes on a Trail brown ale; deep brown with a serious foamy head and with both malty and caramel notes, again finishing with a dry bitterness.

I didn’t stay long as I did have that ferry to catch, but do plan on returning next weekend, when yet another random cask will be putting in an appearance, this time at Tørst in Greenpoint.

And, for those folk heading out to the Das Bock Lager Festival in a couple of weeks’ time, you will have the opportunity to sample the Strong Rope/Wagner Valley Gotham Grazer on cask for yourselves.

I actually managed to get ahead of those two, so …

… details below …

Scorecard w/e 05/07/24

In the past week, The Cask Whisperer has enjoyed the following casks:

  • Strong Rope (and Wagner Valley) Gotham Grazer Maibock @ Strong Rope Brewery
  • Wayward Lane Penny Whip ESB @ Brouwerij Lane
  • Fifth Hammer Snakes on a Trail Brown Ale @ Fifth Hammer Brewing

Upcoming Cask Festivals

5/18/2024: NYS British Real Ale Festival at Seneca Lake Brewing

5/19/2024 (double-dang): Yards Real Ale Invitational at Yards Brewery, Philadelphia PA

9/7/2024: Noah Webster House Real Ale Harvest Festival, West Hartford CT

11/8/2024: Two Roads Cask Fest at Area 2, Stratford CT

11/9/2024: 20th Annual Blue Point Cask Ale Festival, Patchogue NY

Upcoming Random NYC Casks

  • 5/11/2024: Fox Farm Tiddly Dark Mild @ Tørst
  • 5/18/2024: Strong Rope (and Wagner Valley) Gotham Grazer Maibock @ Das Bock

NYC Cask Venues

Known Operational/Active Beer Engines

  • Jones Wood Foundry (x2)
  • Fifth Hammer
  • Wild East
  • The Shakespeare (x3)
  • Cask Bar & Kitchen
  • Drop-off Service

Occasional Pins (worth a follow on Instagram)

  • Strong Rope
  • KCBC
  • Tørst
  • Blind Tiger Ale House
  • Threes Brewing
  • Brouwerij Lane

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