Friday, January 27, 2006

Marty's Party

Well today was the big day. Marty Markowitz's second inaugural celebration. Hey, anytime I can score free food and drinks I am there. Plus I was actually honored for being a Brooklyn character. I was in some pretty good company too, company that ranged from a couple of sanitation workers who saved someone's life to a Muslim cab driver who returned a suitcase full of diamonds to a Hasidic jewelry dealer. But the affair didn't start until 6:00 P.M. and so I had time to stop in for a beer at a neat place, Thomas Biesel, in the neighborhood.

Thomas Biesel is located at 25 Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. It has a small old wooden bar with a silver foot rail tucked into a corner of a small Viennese restaurant. The pork cheeks with caraway seeds, sauerkraut and sevietten knodel (dumplings) looked tasty. There was a silver T shaped beer station with five mysterious black handles. No domestic beers were being poured and there was no American Budweiser available. Just good stuff.

Bar Man Enjoying His Beer

There was a nice bar back of old wood, glass shelves and mirrors. Somewhat bulging pale orange tube shaped lights hang over the bar and milk glass old fashioned lights hang over the small dining area that have a few tables with white cloth tablecloths. There are a lot of metal signs hanging on the walls but they are all in German so I have no idea what they said. One was obviously for a beer though, Ottogringer Bier.

The walls were a combination of pale yellow and dark wood paneling. Blackboards and mirrors with dinner specials and there wine and beer selections also hang on the walls. This place advertises itself as a bistro bar with a beer garden but the beer garden is just a sidewalk seating area, open air in the summer and enclosed during the winter. The Brooklyn Opera House is right across the street and they do a good business before the performances. The Opera House across the street does add a bit to the Viennese atmosphere. Candles on the bar, the soft lights, the old world ambience all combine to give off a romantic aura. I made reservations to take the Mysterious Chinese Woman here for Valentine's day. You may recall that last year I missed it because I was getting sloshed on Margarita's at Radio Mexico.

After downing a delicious draft Gosser I headed over to the Brooklyn Technical High School for the big event.

The place was packed and fairly disorganized in terms of crowd control. A bit of bedlam with everyone trying to sign in. I got a VIP pass because I was being mentioned in Marty's speech so that meant I, along with a couple hundred other VIPs were squeezed into a narrow hall way that was made even narrower by tables of buffet food, small round tables, and, happily, a bar. Even though it was packed, and I do mean packed, I managed to check our coats, grab a couple of snacks, and a couple of glasses of decent red wine. Their was no hard liquor or beer, but a really nice selection of wines.

After noshing a bit I headed into the main event where I got to see Mayor Bloomberg swear in Marty. I have come to the conclusion that being short, Jewish, kind of cute, and funny are real assets when it comes to running for political office in New York.

Mayor Bloomberg

The two State Senators, The Honorable Charles Schumer and The Honorable Hillary Clinton also made brief appearances. Schumer was the funny too. Hillary tried to be, but she just isn't naturally funny.

The Honorable Hillary Clinton and Borough President Marty

They had a lot of entertainment and Cousin Brucie, a Brooklyn native, although he has moved away, was the MC.

I must confess I left a bit early but got tied up in the hallway, which wasn't quite as crowded at this point, talking to people who were interested in my visits to a thousand bars. The buffet and bar were still going strong so I took advantage and had a couple more glasses of wine.

I needed to come down a bit after this event so I stopped at Hank's Saloon on the way home and had a beer and a shot of Maker's Mark. Well, I tried to have a shot but I got talkng to another customer and the bartender about drinks. When I mentioned that I liked Maker's Mark Manhattan's the bartender, you have to love her name, Mishelle Meow, said she made great Manhattans and took what was left of my shot, added more to it and whipped me up a quite good Manhattan. No bitters and pretty powerful, but it hit the spot.

Mishelle Meow Whipping Up A Mean Manhattan

The entertainment here wasn't quite the same as at the inaugural celebration though.

After all the excitement of the day I toddled off home quite satisfied with myself.


Rochester Bar Man said...

Some of my best friends are Democrats, but ain't it just like 'em to serve only wine, no beer? (Not that there's anything wrong with wine, mind you, but a keg of Brooklyn Lager would've been a nice touch.) Anyway - one of the perks of being a barfly is being able to turn any event into an excuse - I mean opportunity - to visit a nearby watering hole. I'd never heard of Thomas Biesel or Hank's but they both look enjoyable, even though they seem to be at nearly opposite ends of the bar spectrum. It just goes to show that there is no one "perfect" kind of bar; good bars can come in all stripes, and thank God, they do.


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We all know the effects (and after-effects) of beer. But lifting a glass of cool liquid to your mouth on a scorching hot day, have you ever stopped to consider the processes and ingredients involved in making it? Well maybe not but here is the answer anyway!

Simply, beer is a fermented combination of water, barley, yeast and hops. The major variation in any beer is the type of yeast used in the fermentation process.

Let's look at the properties of this beverage.
Water is the main ingredient of beer. In the past, the purity of the water influenced the final result and was specific to the region of the earth from which it came. Today, water is filtered of these impurities, although pure water supplies are still ideally preferred by elite brewers.

Barley malt is an extremely important ingredient in beer as it is the main source of fermentable sugar. Many new breweries use barley malt extract, in either syrup or powder form, as this form ferments much quicker. It also contains many minerals and vitamins that help the yeast to grow.

Without yeast, beer would not exist. Yeast is a unique single cell organism that eats sugar and expels alcohol and carbon dioxide, two of the more recognizable ingredients of beer. Yeast comes in several variations, of which there are two major categories that determine the type of beer produced; Ale yeast and Lager yeast. If yeast alone were used the beer would be extremely sweet and therefore another ingredient needs to be added to reach the final product.

Hops are the flowers of the hop plant, a climbing vine plant that grows well in many differing climates. Hops contain acids which add bitterness to beer. Adding bitterness to beer helps to balance the sweetness, as well as acting as a natural preservative. Add more hops to the mixture and you will get a more bitter taste. This kind of beer is extremely popular in Britian and is simply referred to as "Bitter" (the original names are always the best!).

Variations of these ingredients create different tasting beers as well as having an affect on the alcoholic content.
When making your own beer many good resources are available which provide home brewing kits. It is important to read the ingredients of the packets in order to ascertain which has the best mixture according to your needs. One quick tip which many home brewers fail to adhere to is this: "Use fresh still water"!

Many have often sought information on how to make beer and the basic homebrewing equipment is not very expensive you can get what you need, for as little as $100.
In order to start making beer, you will need the following: A brewpot, Primary fermenter, Airlock and stopper, Bottling bucket, Bottles, Bottle brush, Bottle capper, and a thermometer.
In addition you can even use items from your kitchen to aid in the beer making. A breakdown of all the equipment is as follows: Brewpot A brewpot is made of stainless steel or enamel-coated metal which has at least 15 litre capacity, but it's no good if it's made of aluminum or if it's a chipped enamelized pot, (these will make the beer taste funny). The brew pot is used to boil the ingredients thus begins the first stage of beer making.

Primary fermenter

The primary fermenter is where the beer begins to ferment and become that fabulous stuff that makes you so funny and charming. The primary fermenter must have a minimum capacity of 26 litres and an air tight seal it must also accommodate the airlock and rubber stopper. Make sure the one you buy is made of food-grade plastic, as it wont allow the bad stuff in or let the good stuff out.

Airlock and stopper

The airlock is a handy gadget which allows carbon dioxide to escape from your primary fermenter during fermentation, it is this process that keeps it from exploding, but it doesn't allow any of the bad air from outside to enter. It fits into a rubber stopper, and is placed into the top of your primary fermenter. The stoppers are numbered according to size, so make sure you use the correct stopper for the correct hole

Plastic hose

This is a food grade plastic hose which measures approximately 5 feet in length. It is needed to transfer the beer from system to system, and it is imperitive that it is kept clean and free from damage or clogs

Bottling bucket

This is a large, food-grade plastic bucket with a tap for drawing water at the bottom, it needs to be as big as your primary fermenter, because you need the capacity to pour all the liquid from your primary fermenter into a bottling bucket prior to bottling up.


After fermentation, you place the beer in bottles for secondary fermentation and storage. You need enough bottles to hold all the beer you're going to make, the best kind of bottles are solid glass ones with smooth tops (not the twist-off kind) that will accept a cap from a bottle capper. You can use plastic ones with screw-on lids, but they arent as good for fermentation and dont look as well.

Whether you use glass or plastic bottles, make sure they are dark-colored. Light damages beer, i would recommend green or brown bottles.

Bottle brush

This is a thin, curvy brush which is used to clean bottles because of the the shape of the brush it makes it very affective at getting the bottle spotless. We haven't even gotten into how clean everything has to be, but we will, and the bottle brush is a specialized bit of cleaning equipment that you will require in order to maintain your bottle kit.

Bottle capper

If you take buy glass bottles, you will need some sort of bottle capper and caps, of course, and you can buy them from any brewing supplies store. The best sort of bottle capper is one which can be affixed to a surface and worked with one hand while you hold the bottle with the other.


This is a thermometer which can be stuck to the side of your fermenter, they are just thin strips of plastic which are self adhesive, and can be found in any brewing supplies store, or from a pet shop or aquarium. Not everything costs money though even some household equipment can be used.

Household items

In addition to the above specialized equipment, you will need the following household items:
* Small bowl
* Saucepan
* Rubber spatula
* Oven mitts/pot handlers
* Big mixing spoon (stainless steel or plastic)
So there you have the ingredients and the method to make your home brew, all you need now is to get yourself a beer making kit and your on the way to beer heaven.
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