The team behind The Good Beer Seal want to make sure you're having the best possible beer experience in New York City--especially during July, which they have baptized "Good Beer Month" (as in, they have an official document from City Hall saying it's true). Jimmy Carbone, Gary Gillis, and Ray Deter are craft beer advocates, and all-around brewski lovers, who have made it their mission to identify bars and restaurants that are dedicated to bringing good beer to the community. On behalf of the team, Jimmy Carbone answered our questions about TGBS's mission and what pairs best with a DiFara slice, Katz's pastrami sandwich, and Momofuku pork bun.
How did you come up with Good Beer Seal? We wanted to recognize independent New York City beer bars that define the genre of "beer bars" with the goals of creating a working association of bar owners. With the rise of craft beer, the good beer bars should be perceived as tasting rooms for local breweries, as well as unique, destinations for New York City to market to the world.
Tell us about your criteria to determine whether or not an establishment earns the Good Beer Seal. In this order, in particular: 80-percent craft beer, with a strong draft and/or cask beer program, a pub feel, plus intangibles like involvement in the community, relationships with other good beer bars, unique features like limited imports, and special tastings. There are a lot of bars and restaurants in New York City that serve craft beer. Not all will receive "good beer seals." We are in the process of determining which establishments will receive the seal. Also, some media might adopt the seal in the same way Michelin ratings are used to designate quality restaurants.
How did July become "Good Beer Month" in New York? We wrote a letter to the mayor, and a few weeks ago his office called. A proclamation was issued that "July 2009 is New York City Good Beer Month." Several people helped by writing drafts. It is about recognizing small businesses that are working to better New York City.
What's going on as part of Good Beer Month? The Good Beer Seal will be active with beer, food, and non-profit events throughout the year. Good Beer Month has several events lined up:
- Local Grill-Off on Tuesday, July 21: A benefit for Slow Food NYC at Water Taxi Beach, Long Island City.
- Good Beer at BAM on Wednesday, July 29: A food and beer tasting event co-hosted with Edible Manhattan magazine.
- Drawing Day on Saturday, July 18: Artists will draw in several good beer bars from 1 to 5 p.m.
- Bike to the Bars' first ride on Sunday, July 26 at 2 p.m. Meet at DBA in Williamsburg.
The Good Beer Seal bars each will host one or two events throughout the month as well. The main goal of the Good Beer Seal is to promote the good beer bars themselves.
What's the Bike to the Bars initiative? Another way to support a good cause. Many of us are bicyclists. For example, the Williamsburg Bridge approach on Delancey is not very safe. We hope to draw attention to it by supporting the "Delancey Ride." Bike to the Bars is also another way to define our scene. We ride bikes, we ride bikes to bars, we would rather organize interesting bike rides that finish at a good beer bar, than something more "pedestrian" like a mega pub crawl.
Help us pick the perfect beer to drink with...
1. A square slice of Di Fara pizza: Since it's also such a New York City (albeit new) icon, Six Point Craft Ales' Sweet Action Ale. It's almost an IPA, but less hoppy, and brewed in Brooklyn. Or one of the unbelievable, complex new wave of Italian beers imported by B. United, like Piccolo Sessonette from Italy
2. A pastrami sandwich from Katz's: Something to cut the richness, like a nice Belgian-style Flemish ale (which is slightly sour) such as Ommegang's Grand Cru Rouge from Cooperstown, New York; or from Germany, a Berliner Weisse, also slightly sour; or anything from Jolly Pumpkin Brewery in Michigan. You need that hint of sourness to pair with the pastrami.
3. A Momofuku pork bun: More fun with this. Is there a hint of sweet, plum sauce? I can't remember. Saison Dupont (Belgian Farmhouse Ale), Green Flash Saison (San Diego), and Six Point Righteous Rye would all work well.
It actually happened a few years ago at a small restaurant called Patio Dining that had a daily market menu. If it were to happen again, I would ask Sara to make: pasta with breadcrumbs and anchovies, a slow-cooked brisket, simple roasted potatoes, salad with chicory or dandelion, and finish off with a dessert pizza , in the style of the grandma Sicilian pan pizza she makes at Pizzeria Veloce. I'd ask Garrett Oliver to pick the beers.
Favorite bagel? Never get enough bagels, but love the mini bagels sold at Russ & Daughters.
Best late-night eats? Veselka, if you are in the East Village, for pierogies and blintzes. Pommes Frites for Belgian fries. Even better, some herring from Russ & Daughters on toast, or "herring with training wheels" at Jimmys No. 43, if you get there by midnight when the kitchen closes.
Undiscovered gem? A new, tiny German beer and wurst joint in the East Village called Wechsler's Curry Wurst. [Ed. Note: Ed reviewed the currywurst palace recently.] Also, Il Brigante for wood oven pizza. Neil is a buddy of pizza chef Mark Bello.
What's in your fridge (that you'd be embarrassed to tell us about)? My wife's "sea plant mask." We mostly buy food from local farmers. I'm embarrassed we have a leftover roasted chicken from Whole Foods.
Food you won't eat? I could get in trouble for this, but peas, if not freshly shucked. No frozen, no canned. Eggs, unless done just right.
Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours? Dan Lerner, a long-time wine salesman guru for Michael Skurnik wines.
What's the best recommendation he's given you? Il Buco, where my wife and I went on our first date.