Monday, March 7, 2011

Jimmy's No. 43 Launches Beer Steward Program

One of the truly great things about coming to Jimmy's No. 43 are the really amazing people who frequent the bar. Some of them have an incredible knowledge of beer, whether as members of the NYC Homebrewer's Guild, the Real Alewives of NYC, students of the Beer Judge Certification Program or the Cicerone Beer Server program, among the many beer-related educational and enthusiast groups. The Volunteer Beer Steward program is a way to formally organize some of these knowledgeable beer lovers to help out with the many educational tasting and pairing programs at Jimmy's No 43. Please meet one of our new Volunteer Beer Stewards... Brett Thompson!

Please tell us briefly about who you are and why you decided to become a Volunteer Beer Steward at Jimmy's No. 43. 

I am a married father of one who loves good craft beer and occasionally finds time to brew some at home. I met Jimmy through volunteering at several events that he hosted last year (Meatopia, Pig Island, and Brewers Choice). When he emailed me to asked if I would be interested in helping out with his Tuesday Tastings, I jumped at the chance.

What is your relationship to beer and why is good beer important to you?

I started homebrewing almost two years ago and from that experience learned that good beer—craft beer—can be a work of art the same way a well-cooked meal or a touchdown pass can. Just the right arch on the ball. The perfect amount of cocoa in the Five-Alarm Chili. That unique bit of hopping to add just the right subtle undertone of grapefruit to a pale ale can make all the difference. To me beer is something to be experienced with food, life, friends and by yourself.

What's the most memorable beer tasting you can remember?

My most memorable tasting is probably my first exposure to good beer. In Bellingham, WA, at Boundary Bay Brewery, they have a scotch ale that is like a meal made from the Gods of the Highlands. Every time I head back there I always grab a pint or three. More recently it would probably at Brewers Choice last year; just the shear volume of choices from Ommegang to Pretty Things to Goose Island and Kelso. I went home a happy man that night. 

You walk into a bar (with or without the priest and rabbi) and don't recognize the names of any of the craft beers on the menu. Describe to the bartender, in beer terminology, what you want to drink.

If it is a hot day, I might ask for a pale ale with some good solid hoppiness to it. A cold day might be more of a stout with good roasted flavors and thick head. I may just ask him the last time the lines have been cleaned and, if he can't remember, get a glass of water.

Any favorite beer literature you could recommend for our book club?

A book that was immensely helpful to me in understanding how beer is made is How to Brew by John Palmer. The book covers the basics of homebrewing up to advanced topics such as the correct water profile for different types of beer. It helped me to identify off flavors in beer, both ones I made and ones in commercial examples, and helped broaden my horizons to beers that seemed exotic to me (Saisons and Sour Ales are now two of my favorites). 

What times/days do you plan to be available at Jimmy's as a Volunteer Beer Steward and what kinds of services do you hope to provide?
I will be working at Jimmy's No 43 this Tuesday (3/8) and every third Tuesday going forward. We have a rotation of three Stewards helping at the tastings. When I am pouring samples for the tastings I try to (1) not spill, (2) be as helpful as possible in answering questions regarding the beers being poured (or telling people where the bathroom is), and (3) making sure that everyone is having a good time and learning about new beers

Final thoughts…

A big thanks to Jimmy for letting me help with this. I love beer, and watching other people get turned on to great craft beer is awesome.