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Archive for the ‘Brewer: Southampton Publick House’ Category

Fantome Saison

December 22nd, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brasserie Fantome, Brewer: Southampton Publick House, Country: America, Country: Belgium, Grade: A regular, Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

8% ABV from a 750 mL

I never thought I’d be a saison fan, but sure enough, I have become one late in 2009.  Coincidentally well out of saison season as we hit the snowy, bitter winter of New York.  Oh well, I’ve never exactly drank to season any how.  Of course, it’s easy to fall for these French-named, Belgian beers when you’re drinking some of the best of the style, as I did twice in the last week while snowed-in and with nothing to do but get drunk and play Cranium by myself (harder than you think).

I’d been looking for Fantome Saison for well over a year since I’m a shameless follower of the Beer Advocate Top 100, where Fantome has long resided and, luckily, I finally stumbled upon a sole bottle at a beer store in lower Manhattan.  Believe me, I paid a handsome penny too but it was well worth it.  I loved Fantome mainly because it’s not what I–probably erroneously–”expect” from a saison. It’s not thin, it’s not simplistic, it’s not bordering on non-alcohlic.  No, this sucker is like a double saison.  It opened so foamy it seemed like new life was still being created as it just oozed from my bottle.  Incredibly citric with the usual suspects of lemon, orange, and peach giving it a little tartness though this is no simplistic brew.  Very refreshing as per the style, but with some nice heft as well, though still majorly drinkable.  This was a solo drinking effort, and unlike Amelia Earhart I enjoyed every single second of the journey.


Southampton Cuvee des Fleurs

7.7% ABV from a 750 mL

While some of Southampton’s “little” bottles and tap-only selections are no great shakes, their big boys, specifically from the “750 Series,” are nothing but huge winners and that is again the case here.  You’d have to be an expert horticulturist to completely understand what you’re drinking as des Fleurs is flavored with a blend of edible flowers including L. augustifolia, A. nobilis, C. officinalis, R. canina and H. lupulus.  OK, whatever.  Excluding hops of course, the only other beers I can ever recall drinking that are made from, you know, flower flowers would be Elysian’s Avatar Jasmine IPA and Dieu du Ciel! Rosee D’hibiscus and neither of them hold a candle to this effort.  Extraordinarily fragrant, truly like stuffing your head in a rose garden while someone sprays perfume over you, the taste is also deliciously herby and sweet, atypically full-bodied and thick for a saison as well.  I just sucked it down like Vitamin Water.  Of course it’s incredibly unique, but this is truly one of the most flavorful saisons I’ve ever had and one of my most pleasant drinking surprises of the year.  (Then again, so was Southampton’s Grand Cru.  Perhaps I’m just not showing these Publick House boys enough due deference yet?  Never again will I folly.)  I shared this beer with my two non-beer connoisseur sisters who absolutely adored it as well, leading me to believe that us fellas can now present this beautiful flower beer to our wives instead of, you know, real flowers.  Of course, I’m not married, so why the fuck would you trust me on that?

Fantome Saison and Southampton Cuvee des Fleurs are truly at the apex of the saison style alongside only, let’s say, Boulevard Saison-Brett and, maybe, Hennepin and they should be sought out accordingly.  (And don’t think I don’t feel like a bit of yokel for having three of my four favorite saisons being from Kansas City, upstate New York, and Long Island.)


Southampton Grand Cru

August 6th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Southampton Publick House, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

9.8% ABV from a 750 mL bottle

Here’s a little tip:  if I’ve “heard” of some “good” restaurant, or store, or part of some town that we need to visit, check out, see…don’t listen to me.  Or, at least, realize that I’m simply trying to secretly steer us near a desired beer.

Such was the case earlier this week when my mom was visiting my sister way out on the tip of Long Island in Port Jefferson.  They invited me to take the two-hour EXPRESS–God lord!–train out from Manhattan for dinner one night and I agreed.  You see, I had a plan.

“So, Aaron, what kind of food would you like for dinner tomorrow night?”

“Oh, you know, mom, whatever.”

“Whatever?  Thai?  Italian?  American?”

“Yeah, something like American food is fine.  I’m really easy, just whatever.”  PAUSE.  As if I had just had a great realization.  “You know…now that I think about it, I believe I recently read about a great little restaurant that just might be out that way.”

I sent my mom and my sister a link to the Southampton Publick House’s PDF menu and, wouldn’t you know it, they liked the looks of it.

So, early in the afternoon on Wednesday, I took the train all the way to the end of the line where my sister and mom picked me up in the car for a 45 minute ride through Long Island farm lands and sleepy hamlet after snoozing village before we finally arrived in the tiny town of Southampton.  There, we found ourselves on a residential neighborhood’s cul-de-sac street where what appeared to be a former mansion had been converted into greatness.

(Always puttin' on the Ritz, Aaron calls ahead to assure that exposed knees and socklessness are not against establishment dress code)

The Southampton Publick House is massive, nearly palatial, a whole estate with a lawn and outdoor seating galore and an infinite amount of different dining rooms inside, highlighted by a huge bar up front.  Upon entering my mom saw the working brew vats displayed off to the side through a window and she noticed the beer bottles on the wall with Southampton’s name and logo on each and every one.  A leery glare at me.

“This is some sort of brewery, huh?”

She then smiled at me.  She knows her son.  She had probably let me dupe her into going there.  What a great mom.

But what a great restaurant.  Not just a brewpub with a 100% focus on beer and an inept menu of greasy food simply for soaking up the booze so that you may drink more, the Southampton Publick House is surely fine dining.  A teetotaler could even have a great night there, and since the majority of diners were blue-haired blueblood Hamptons WASPs, I’d say I may have actually been the only person there to get loaded.

I got to sample a variety of delicious menu items including the Irish nachos (essentially a mix of some of the best French fries I have truly ever had, topped with nacho fixin’s), Thai spiced jumbo duck wings with orange ginger dipping sauce (could easily replace buffalo wings and bleu cheese as America’s ubiquitious bar snack), the gorgonzola-crusted pub steak (a flawless blend of stinky cheese and juicy meat), and a rack of baby back ribs (so gigantic and smoky I was sure they were beef, but a smell and succulent taste that was 100% pig.)

But one particular beer was why I had really come to Southampton…

I’d had some other Southampton brews in the past and found them nothing more than mediocre to slightly above average, though, admittedly, I had never tried any of their pricier big bottle selections.  The one brew I had connived my way to town for, though, was the 93rd ranked beer in the world, their Grand Cru selection.  Though, I was somewhat dubious at the lofty positioning of this beer, I was nevertheless anxious to try it.

And…I was floored!  It was truly delicious.  Such an unexpected surprise.  Sure I thought it would be good based simply on its esteemed standing, but Southampton had shown me nothing in the past to make me think they had this much greatness inside of them.  And one doesn’t usually expect such heights to be reached by a Belgian pale ale.  An imperial stout, a bourbon barreled beer, a DIPA, sure.  But a Belgian pale?  A Belgian pale made by a little Long Island brewpub with middling distribution?  Crazy.  Usually Belgian pales are just yeasty, a tad spicy, and, though palatable, somewhat boring.  But Southampton’s Grand Cru is absolutely packed with flavor and complexity.  Dried orange peel, coriander, star anise, pineapple, mangoes, a touch of sweet malts, and a slight delicious mustiness.  For the ABV this is as drinkable as lemonade and I had to slow myself down so I could actually properly savor it.

Yes, I am being a tad enthusiastic, and I wasn’t even sure whether this was an A or A+ as I greedily slurped it down.  My enthusiasm probably came from the fact that, though it’s local, I never thought I’d have the Grand Cru or even drink at the Publick House and I was having a truly great evening.  We were having a truly great evening.  My mom and sister even greatly enjoyed the Grand Cru and, for the first time, I saw an “AHA!” look in their eyes which was them finally “getting” how I could have such a beer passion.  How beer could achieve such heights in my mind.  Maybe I no longer will have to dupe them into going on beer adventures with me in the future.  (”So long as you don’t write about me on your blog!” says mom.)

I think this might be the best Americanized Belgium beer around and I wish I could send a bottle to every non-NY beer geek I know so they could see for themselves.  Whatever the case, even if the next time I have it I’m not quite as blown away, I do think it’s up there with the best of the style, even better than Brooklyn’s splendid Local 1.

Afterward, I had a flight of all the taps on the menu I had yet to try–L to R:  Tripel, Bavarian Wheat, Summer kolsch, Secret Ale altbier, and Lager–and though I could tell they were all good, solidly crafted beers, the Grand Cru was so fucking delicious, was still lingering so much on my palate, that it had turned these fine brews into tiny shots of dirty bathwater.  I simply wanted more Grand Cru.


Southampton IPA

July 25th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Southampton Publick House, Country: America, Grade: B-/C+, Style: IPA

6.5% ABV

I’ve mentioned before that I feel like IPAs are pretty much the standard bearers for American brewers. You got a good IPA, you’re probably a pretty decent brewery. Got a bad one and you’re brewery probably is mediocre. Don’t even have an IPA in your line and you’re a big, bad, stinky corporate macrobrewery.

I’d had some Southampton beers in the past and generally enjoyed them, so when I saw their IPA at Whole Foods I was excited to give it a whirl. I doubted it would be a masterpiece, but thought it should be pretty good. Plus, I’m a flat out homer bigot in favor of New York breweries.

I was generally right. The beer was nothing special, but still a very solid IPA. Smells floral and piney, not too powerful. Modestly hopped but not super flavorful. Slight fruit notes. Little too carbonated. Bitter aftertaste. Very drinkable. I’d polish off a six-pack of this again with no thought, but I wouldn’t drink this if I need a masterpiece to savor for the evening.


Southampton Double White Ale

June 16th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: Southampton Publick House, Country: America, Grade: B regular, Style: Belgian White

7% ABV

I’m the guy that’s always trying new things out, looking for something better in this world. When I’m out of town I’m searching for obscure little holes-in-the-wall to dine at. When it comes to movies I want to find the most obscure foreign ones to watch. And, of course, I’m on a constant Ponce de Leon-like canvassing of the globe for new and exciting beers to try. My lifestyle is one reason I live in New York — because I know I will always have a bevy of new restaurants, bars, and other establishments to take a gamble on. It’s my insatiable thirst for finding the Elysian Fields of everything.

However, most people aren’t like this and even I will admit that there are positives and negatives to living both my way of life and its antithesis. If you just like to consume the mass-produced things of culture you will generally be happy. Stuff like “Iron Man,” Chili’s, and Budweiser is good enough I suppose, and certainly not “challenging.” At the least, you know summer blockbusters, chain restaurant food, and macro beers are NOT going to be mindblowingly heinous (except for Corona I guess. Oh, and Stella. And most light beers suck too. Ah, but I digress). But, when you go out on a limb and try something obscure you could find a homerun, but sometimes you can also find a total dud, and the scale is more tilted toward the latter I’ve come to find. Being complex and “going for it” is the only way to reach greatness and create masterpieces, but it’s also the only way to sink to abject failure. I’m willing to go for it though.

Thus, after a scorching round of golf on Saturday, we headed to the liquor store where my friends Graig and King Otto went for several six packs of Bud Light. I grabbed a sixer of Southampton’s Double White. “Do you like that beer?” Nope. I’d never had it before quite frankly. My friends were correct to question me on the whimsical acquisition. Like always, there was a terrific chance that after a single sip of beer number one I would regret my purchase (see: The Great Leinenkugel Debacle of Last Weekend). So why try it? Some insight to my thinking: well…firstly it was the only beer in stock that I’d never had before, exempting ciders, girlie malted beverages, and near beers). Plus, I’d heard good things about the brewer. I’m not exactly a huge fan of many white ales but I’m a sucker for New York state beers and any time you see “double” (or better yet “triple” or “quadruple” or maybe some day “quintiple”) on the label you know you’re going to have a brew with some pop. I like pop. My six Southampton Double White Ales equal 42% of total ABV while my friends’ six Bud Lights total 25.2% ABV. Wow, that’s pretty stark when the numbers are laid out in front of you. Now I’m starting to realize why I’m always the friend getting in trouble, making scenes, and losing my cell phones and dignity when we go tie one on. When you are drinking quality beer and matching your friends and their pisswater round for round, you are on a nitro-infused racecar headed for asshole-dom while they’re cruising along in the pace car.

Of course, I was mocked for the rest of the day as being a beer snob for simply not being normal and grabbing a mass-produced American beer, but, eh, what can you do about it? Maybe I should mock my friends for drinking weaker beer than me. I was really torn on this beer. It has a nice smell and is incredibly spicy. One of the spiciest beers I can ever recall having. Thinking back on it now I almost feel like I really enjoyed the beer, but the fact of the matter is that I didn’t find it a complete success. Some sips I was loving it, others I wasn’t. It’s very carbonated but still goes down well. I didn’t know the ABV as I drank it and was guessing it around 6% so it has that going for it. I wouldn’t say this was a great beer, but for a light summer beer around the BBQ it ain’t half bad. And it’s certainly unique. It’s very flavorful and packs a punch. I would maybe try this again. My friends will definitely try their Bud Lights again. And again. And again, and again…ad nauseum. Which fittingly enough is Latin meaning “to the point of nausea.”