good shmeats

one food-loving vegetarian taking New York City's restaurants one plate at a time.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Bierkraft - Park Slope

Bierkraft (191 5th Avenue between Berkeley and Union)

Bierkraft on Park Slope's 5th Avenue is a neighborhood bullseye for artisanal cheese, a staggering selection of microbrews, and hand-crafted chocolates. If this description is not enticing enough, Bierkraft also holds free weekly tastings. Each Tuesday around 7:00pm, about 25 artisanal novices (as well as some closet home-brewers) crowd into Bierkraft's brightly-lit basement room to sample five pre-selected and paired beers and cheeses.

On March 7th, Bierkraft's tasting gave a nod to Women's History Month, featuring brews and cheeses crafted exclusively by women. The toothpick-speared cheese chunks and shot-glasses of beer were accompanied by historical her-story trivia (Queen Elizabeth I drank beer every morning at breakfast, for example).

Adding to the evening's feminine feel, Bierkraft's usual tasting hosts Bobby Reeves and Ben Granger were replaced by female staffers Krystal White and Sally Shelton. Although they were both knowledgeable and endearingly irreverant, their overall demeanor bordered too-close to ditzy, which lost them credibility as tasting hosts. ("What was I about to say? - I think I drank too much Triple.")

Note - While the cheeses listed below hail from several different cheese-makers, all of the beers are brewed by Stoudt's, which is owned by Carol Stoudt.

1. Pils and Sisters Bella Sorella
Beer: Mild and crisp, this German-style Pils is rather forgettable.
Cheese: Sweet, nutty, and buttery, the Bella Sorella is a semi-hard cheese with a deliciously crumbly consistency.

2. Scarlet Lady Ale and Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tan
Beer: This deep red beer is slightly bitter and described by one of our hosts as "shy."
Cheese: Sue Conely and Peggy at Cowgirl Creamery produce this salty, mild, and slightly mushroomy cheese. The Mt. Tam is Triple Cream, which means it has a high butterfat concentration.

3. Triple and Cypress Grove Humboldt fog
Beer: This beer is fruity and cider-like with a balanced malt flavor.
Cheese: The most outstanding cheese in the tasting. This refreshing goat cheese is both layered and wrapped with a beautiful vegetable ash, which is reminiscent of morning fog. It features three consistency strata, including a luscious melted edge where the bacteria in the rind comes into contact with the cheese.

4. Double IPA and Mouco Colorouge
Beer: Bitter and slightly pine-flavored, this was the strongest beer featured in the tasting (10% alcohol by volume)
Cheese: Described by the hosts as "funky," this Bavarian-style cheese boasts a bright orange rind. Despite having more kick than the other cheeses, the true flavor Mouco Colorouge hid behind the cracker that accompanied it.

5. Blond Double MaiBock and Brovetto Dairy Harpersfield Lavender.
Beer: Most outstanding beer in the tasting. This beer is only seasonally available (in spring). Dense and slightly sweet, the MaiBock arrived at Bierkraft the day of the tasting.
Cheese: This untraditional cheese comes from a small dairy farm in upstate New York. Firm and nutty, it is infused with lavender, which one participant thought tasted like soap. The hosts suggested a drizzle of honey to coax out the full lavender flavor.


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