Bridge and Tunnel Brewery is starting off on a nano-scale; brewing 1.5 barrel batches. Sixtel kegs turn over quickly, so if you run into one of these beers, enjoy it while it lasts.


The beer names are aimed at capturing aspects of the outer boroughs, and New York City in general. Being born and raised here in this city, I find a lot of the old character and attitude that was once widespread is being lost from memory. The history of a place is not only the things that have happened, but the people who have populated an area. Some of the inpirations that I have for beer names come from people, and/or small events  that happened in the boroughs that I think are interesting to revisit.

With that said:

Angry Amel Dunkelweizen


A dark German style wheat beer, with a big clove/banana nose, a mouthful of malty goodness, and a clean finish, followed by that weizen aftertaste that keeps you coming back for more.  

5.3% Alcohol by Volume - 21 IBUs


The name was inspired by harsh and recurring memories of a neighbor the brewer had growing up, who happened to be named Amel (yeeesh). Amel was dark brooding older German guy with a heavy accent, who lived across the street from the brewer, in a corner house (right where the brewer and his friends, as kids, played stickball and two hand touch football pretty much the entire year after school, for years. Amel maintained the most amazingly manicured hedged around his house - impeccable. We occassionally knocked a ball in his garden behind the hedges. He would often threaten to cut our ears off with a worn (and probably not very sharp) pair of hedge clippers. The result was that when we needed to get a choice football back, or whatever else went astray, we'd huddle together, then practically draw straws as to who would breach the hedges. He was such a maniac that I decided to name a beer after him.

Tiger Eyes Hazelnut Brown Ale

A brown ale modeled after English browns, deep mahogany in color, and a strong malty backbone that accentuates a moderate hazelnut presence in the flavor profile. Nothing overpowers anything else, and one bar owner described this beer as 'sweet yet savory, with a clean quick finish.'
5.5% Alcohol by Volume. 30 IBUs.

The name itself? Well, I sort of was focusing on what comes to mind when I think of the color of this beer. My dad, years ago used to have a tiger eye ring - cool ring that was roughly the same color. Tiger Eyes I also have heard used as a pet name. One article in Time Out New York stated that I created the beer as an ode to brown eyed women (no comment). No point in over analysing the name of this beer. Maybe one day I'll break it down in the blog on this website. There is a tie-in to New York history - be it a loose connecting of the dots.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this beer.

Ol Gilmartin Milk and Oatmeal Stout

A milk stout brewed with a generous addition of flaked oats in the mash. It's sweet, malty, yet roasty, with the aim of being a little more a robust milk stout, thus capturing some flavor aspects of an oatmeal stout. I like both styles - so I figured I'd try to combine aspects of both.
5% Alcohol by Volume. 28 IBUs.

Ol Gilmartin was the first beer style that rolled out of Bridge and Tunnel Brewery, and it had a lot of initial success. It's a tribute beer to someone that intended to be my original partner in this brewery. This person was strong, and stoic, and was a constant source of encouragement as the system itself was being built. A person that faced and rose above many challenges, and I can only hope to emulate these characteristics.


Slaughter House Stampeed Black Rye IPA
8% Alcohol by Volume, 80 IBUs. Completely opaque, with a fluffy white head, a big citrus/piney aroma from ample dry hopping, clean hop flavor, and 80 IBUs of back end bitterness to finish the job.



The name itself? - oh boy. Here it goes. When I was a kid, I had a father-figure in my life - an old Italian dude that was born in 1916, and grew up down near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He spent 6 years in the military (including 3 years in North Africa and Europe during WWII). A boxer during his military years, and a fighter (literally and figuratively) to the end. And by literally I mean this guy taking out a neighbor who crossed him at the ripe age of 75.
So this guy used to tell very colorful stories, often around the dinner table. As a kid, I just listened. I didn't realize how special most of the stories were in terms of historical significance.
When he was a little boy growing up on the streets of Brooklyn down near the navy yard, he had vivid memories of vessels coming into dock, and offloading cattle from the vessels, which were then hearded in large clusters down the cobblestone streets, to the slaughter houses. And if you were on the street when they were coming, he recalled literally having to duck into doorways, or climb up stoops to get our of their path. Imagine that? Cattle blazing down the streets in Brooklyn, and scaring the shit out of the general population. A little back roads history of New York City.

Photo of Slaughter House Stampede at DBA Brooklyn - on cask - taken April 2013.

Red Bird Express Belgian Red IPA - 6.8% ABV, 65 IBUs.

 

This is an IPA with a reddish hue, and fermented with a Belgian yeast strain. Lots of esters, and lots of back end bite.

 

This beer is named for the old Red Bird 7 trains that used to run on the elevator line through the Queens neighborhoods of Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Corona, and Flushing. The trains themselves were pretty cool - all red, and of sturdy construction. The elevator line that it used to run on is a different story (ie. the platforms that sway back and forth, 3 stories off the ground when trains approach). The Red Bird 7 Train is the center piece of the Bridge and Tunnel Brewery Logo, and was chosen not just because it was a sharp train, but because of the neighborhoods that it passed through. Those neighborhoods are some of the most diverse towns in the entire United States.  but in the United States. Those neighborhoods are some of the most diverse neighborhoods literally in the United States.

 

Pickin' Up The Change - Chipotle Porter - 6.2% ABV, 40 IBUs.


A Robust Porter recipe, with the addition of smoked Chipotle Peppers in both the boil and in secondary. Roasty, chocolate notes in the aroma and flavor, along with a hint of smoke from the Chipotles, followed by a back-end heat that is unmistakably smoky and warm.


The name "Pickin' Up The Change" is a slam dance move that originated out of New York City back in the mid 80s. Choosing that name is a nod to the New York City Hardcore movement that had a strong presence in the outer boroughs and Lower Manhattan back in the 80s. Many styles of music, even after a decade, become dated. NYC Hardcore may be viewed as such. But 'NYHC' was more than a music style, but for many young teens, a means for walking a straighter line, and for maintaining perspective. "Strength above all" was a common mantra, and lyrics urging to "think for yourself, and think for the best" (Cro-mags) were embraced by a large population of youth in New York City, at a time when the city had one of the worst violent crime rates in the entire United States. Back then, neighborhoods were divided, violence was rampant, drugs were in every school yard, park, and on street corners. With such conditions, it was easy to either fall through the cracks, or just lose perspective - for some.... to just give up. But for many kids, NYHC was a rallying cry to rise above the 'hard times.'


Incidentally, some of the higher profile bands at that time - derived from Queens, primarily from Astoria. Thumbs up to that crew - must have been something in the water.

Stickball and Johnny Pumps Session IPA
A session IPA - 5% Alcohol by Volume, 85 IBUs, and dry hopped vigorously for a big citrusy hop aroma.

1642 Mespeatches Ale - Honey/Spruce, 6.2% Alc. by Vol., 30 IBUs -  using ingredients available during time of first NYC colonists.


In 1642, the first Dutch settlers came to Queens from Manhattan, setting up camp in the very town that Bridge and Tunnel Brewery is located (Maspeth). However, Queens was obviously not an uninhabited land - at that time the Mespeatches Indian tribe were living here, and doing just fine. The Dutch settlers probably rolled into town throwing their weight around. One thing led to another, and within the first year, the Mespeatches basically booted the settlers out, and sent them packing back to Manhattan in no uncertain terms (tuned em up good). Incidentally, that tribe's main village was located on the high ground east of Mount Zion Cemetery in Maspeth, and the name "Maspeth" comes from that tribe's name.
As for the beer, since the Dutch and the English were so fearful of drinking fresh water, and relied heavily on beer as a means for hydration, there's no doubt that beer was brewed in Maspeth in 1642. So I put together a recipe for a drinkable, session-y beer that may have been brewed in that year, considering what ingredients were available to the Dutch settlers.
At that time, barley, and hops were imported from England and not in regular supply. So what colonists did in those lean years was supplement their grain bill with additional fermentables, such as rye, wheat, corn, buckwheat, honey. All of those ingredients were included in the recipe. In fact, the honey for this first batch was donated by Tom Wilk - from a bee hive literally located in Maspeth. In terms of hops, the strain that was available in the 1600s was Cluster, which was a hybrid of an English variety, and a local hop strain that grew in New York. But if Cluster was in short supply, there were 3 other ingredients that could be used to supplement the bittering - they were birch, sassafras, and spruce. Cluster was used in this recipe, in addition to a pound of spruce tips. The final product is an amber colored, moderately hoppy ale, slightly cloudy from the wheat, slightly sweet from the honey, with a subtle earthy bite from the spruce.

Twenty-Spot and a SwitchBlade - Coffee Cream Ale 5.8% Alc. by Vol., 32 IBUs.

Cream Ale recipe with the infusion of ground coffee. The beer was originally brewed for the 3rd anniversary party of The Queens Kickshaw. The idea of a coffee infused cream ale came from Kickshaw being such coffee heads (as well as craft beer, and cider). The name was the brain child of Kickshaw co-owner: Ben Sandler, and is a tie in to a story of Ben's childhood growing up in Long Island City New York back in the 80s. (Photo of Ben pouring Twenty Spot on nitro.)

 

A description of the name and story was written in the spring edition of Yankee Brew News by writer Niko Krommydas. It read as follows:

 

 

"The big hassle in New York City used to be the constant threat and possibility of being mugged," said Castagna. "When Ben was a kid attending grammar school in Queens, his dad would send him to school with a switchblade in one pocket, and a twenty-dollar bill in the other, and basically leave it up to him to decide whether or not he wanted to throw the twenty bucks down or carve his attackers up like a Thanksgiving turkey."

Junior's Clean Glasses Irish Red Ale - 5.8% Alc. by Vol., 28 IBUs.

Many decades ago, there was a bar on the corner of 46th Street, and 30th Avenue in Astoria owned by an Irish proprietor named Coffey. The establishment was named Coffey’s Corner (current location of Irish bar: The Quays). At that time, this particular section of Astoria, on the border of Woodside, was heavily populated by an Irish American community, and “Junior” was a young boy named Francis Coffey, who was nephew to the proprietor of Coffey’s Corner. Francis spent his formative years in the bar growing up, initially as a bar back, then on to becoming a bartender for his uncle.

Coffey’s Corner was a popular and successful establishment, filling the role of a ‘public house’ for many of the old school Irish that lived in the neighborhood. It was part of the landscape, along with a funeral home within eye-shot of Coffey’s Corner, and Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church a little ways further up.
When Francis was a boy working behind the bar, his uncle would keep tabs on the activity at the funeral home. If people were filing into the home for a wake, Francis’s uncle would say in his Irish brogue “Junior – make sure all of the glasses are clean. Tonight’s gonna be a busy night.” And sure enough, as the wake let out, the attendees would then file into Coffey’s Corner to celebrate the memory of their departed. And Francis would do as he was told. Each night, at the commencement of a showing at the funeral home, Junior would have every item of glassware clean and ready to receive libations.

The definition of a libation is a ritual pouring of a liquid as an offering to a god or spirit or in memory of those who have died – usually a fermented beverage. The practice goes back to antiquity. The Romans used unmixed wine. In India – ghee. In Japan, sake was the libation of choice. The Incas used a fermented beverage named chicha. Sometimes the ritual entails pouring the liquid to the ground as a sacrifice. In the case of the Irish living along 30th Avenue on the east side of Steinway, no liquid was wasted, the libations of choice were beer and whisky, and young Junior was instrumental in a successful send-off, time and time again. And maybe those informal, unspoken rituals had an impact on Francis’s young mind, and his abilities and drive to search as an adult.

Our protagonist: Junior - Frank Coffey is now coming on 8 decades old. In his twenties, Frank went on to become a Trappist Monk for a few years taking on a strict vow of silence in a monastery in upstate New York. Unable to contain all of his life stories, and his drive for more, he then transitioned into the Marines and became a fighter pilot. After finishing his time with the military, he re-entered civilian life and became an accountant, and went on to marry a very attractive blond and proceeded to live happily ever after. A few years back, Frank literally drowned out at Rockaway Beach, and survived – landed himself in the news and all (there are better ways to capture attention Frank). Now he’s grandfather to 2 boys and a girl, and keeps on telling great tales.
Bone Orchard Vanilla Porter - 6.2% Alc. by Vol., 40 IBUs. A robust porter recipe with split Madagascar Vanilla beans added to the boil and secondary.
BONE ORCHARD ~ Noteworthy NYC Cemetery Facts.

Past

From the time of the first immigrants to New York City, there were large numbers of people settling in Manhattan, and often living out their lives there. Cemeteries became a part of the landscape. However, things were bound to change with the island’s limited space, waves of immigration, overpopulation (and resulting sanitation issues).

Cemeteries historically have been built on higher ground, with the idea that it’s better to have a dry cemetery than to have a cemetery potentially in a flood zone (floating grandma situation).

In the 1830s a wave of immigration from Ireland and Central Europe created a large pump in population. Then in 1849, a cholera epidemic took hold on Manhattan Island, and at the time, it was suspected that contaminated water was as a result of run-off from the Manhattan cemeteries into the lower, more populated areas. As a result, in 1852, a law was passed, prohibiting any more burials on the island of Manhattan.

Further immigration to Manhattan Island created a situation in which the existing cemeteries were increasingly eyed for potential real estate development. This resulted in a policy of relocating, or just building right over Manhattan cemeteries. With that said:

The first functions of Queens New York, and parts of Brooklyn were as a series of sprawling cemeteries for those living out their lives in Manhattan.

From 1854 to 1856, more than 15,000 bodies (skeletons) were transferred from cemeteries and churchyards in Manhattan, to Cypress Hills Cemetery – into mass graves.

The practice of using Queens as a resting place continued into the 1900s, and resulted in 29 large cemeteries taking root in Queens, in what came to be known as “The Cemetery Belt.”

Some of the best civic parks in Manhattan were at one time, cemeteries. The list of parks include Madison Square Park, Union Square Park, Washington Square Park, Bryant Park, City Hall Park. Reclaiming the land was partly justified because these parks functioned as “Potter’s Fields”.

To this day, there are still an estimated 20,000 people buried under Washington Square Park.

Present:

Cemeteries for many kids growing up in Western Queens were seen as a place to walk in the grass, and simulate being in “the country.”

Queens and Brooklyn cemeteries used to be under patrol at night – by “Greenies” (cemetery security staff), and not to be mistaken for “Brownies” (train track security staff). Greenies and Brownies differed in their uniform appearance, but their job description was essentially the same – to keep trespassers out.

Greenies and Brownies were feared equally because they were armed with salt guns – essentially high powered pellet guns that broke the skin with a pellet made of salt (talk about putting salt into a wound). A shot in the leg from a salt gun was said to be enough to make running very difficult, if not impossible. If you were caught, you’d receive a JD card (juvenile delinquent). Everyone knew someone, who knew someone else, who had a family member, neighbor, or distant foe who had received a JD card (although few people actually ever saw one).

Another feared entity in the Queens cemeteries, were self-proclaimed ‘Satan Worshipers.’ Rumors abounded of friends of a friend, of a cousin’s acquaintance being chased through cemeteries by people in robes, as well as rumors of animal sacrifice. In retrospect, most of these stories were probably urban legend, but it was enough to creep the average kid out if taking a short cut through a cemetery.

Future:

Recently, a radio segment aired in which the challenges of Global Warming were discussed in the context of the way it may change how people live in New York City. In addition to the construction of storm barriers, and sea walls is the challenge of identifying new potential flood (and non-flood) zones. The segment was quick to point out that the existing cemeteries in Queens and Brooklyn are prime locations since they were all built on the highest grounds in those boroughs (here we go again).

Disclaimer: the brewer of Bridge and Tunnel Brewery has never been chased by Greenies (although had an encounter once with Brownies), never received a JD card, did often take short cuts through the cemeteries during the day time, and once, did find a goat’s head in the grass cut in half. Maybe the Satan worshipping wasn’t urban legend after all.
3 Sisters Pumpkin Ale - 6.5% Alc. by Vol. 32 IBUs.

A spiced pumpkin ale reminiscent of pumpkin pie, using roughly 1 pound of fresh pumpkin per 1 gallon of finished beer. On the nano scale, that amounts to 50 lbs of pumpkins, individually carved from their rinds, roasted one at a time in stages over the course of a week, chilled, then added to the boil during brew day. the fresh pumpkin creates a massive sludge residue, and clean-up is a bitch, but it's a special beer to brew around the fall holidays.

 

3 Sisters was a North East Native American reference to 3 food items that tribes considered key food groups - squash, corn, and beans. So in addition to pumpkin, the recipe also includes Great Northern beans in the mash, and flaked corn. The reference is also a tribute to the brewer's 3 small daughters (and future brewers - dare to dream).