Blog: Judgement of Brooklyn 2014
Well it’s about time that somebody slam the gavel and definitively declare the very best in wines and beers through the course of a singular evening of tasting. Saturday night, Fort Greene’s Skylight One Hanson played host to a modernized recreation of history with the first ever “Judgment of Brooklyn.” Bringing together some of the finest offerings of Brooklyn’s food and drink scene, the not so blind tasting was adapted from the original ‘Judgement of Paris ’76′ event where the eventual winners would be crowned and celebrated. Using an electronic voting system, guest votes would be tallied and subsequently revealed, bestowing some unparalleled honors on the beer and wine victors – the praise of the Brooklyn drinker.
The three hour event would help to benefit nonprofit partner “God’s Love We Deliver,” an organization that works to prepare nutritious meals to underprivileged folks at different neighborhood distribution centers across New York and New Jersey. With 4,600 cooked meals daily, the group can use all the additional funds within reason to ensure their work continues in perpetuity. And if Saturday evening’s incredibly well attended three hour experience was any indication, to the more than 800 guests the “Judgement of Brooklyn” was a resounding success.
The contest for supremacy was particularly fierce with 32 different beers broken up into 8 different style categories from Lagers and Wheats to IPAs, Porters and Sours and the wines were similarly divided between Sparklings, Rieslings and Chardonnays to Rhones, Pinots, and Cabernets. In between the array of beers and wines, local restaurants and vendors like Between Buns, Rustik Tavern, Madiba and Sweet Dreams were doling out for purchase foods. We grabbed bites of Pelzer’s Pretzels, some “BBQ Baked Peanuts with Buttermilk Cornbread” from Dekalb Restaurant and some tasty Mexican fare from B’klyn Burro during the course of the proceedings. And fittingly, a live house band added to the already festive vibe inside the former bank building with a full horns section to help ‘drum’ up the competition.
With 64 total selections to choose from, we methodically worked our way around the room following an initial visit to the second floor Connoisseur Lounge which was replete with some small bites and views down upon the gathered crowd in the main space. Following a pour (and a complimentary straw fedora) of ginger beer courtesy of Crabbie’s, we began sipping on some wines. Though we typically are preferential to red wines, whites like the “Red Tail Ridge Barrel Chardonnay” and the “Gruet Blanc de Noirs,” both of which retail under $18 were winners for their excellent value. But tastewise, the “Peirson Meyer Sauvignon Blanc” ($34.99) was a home run. The Napa harvested wine was very approachable, with a spicy apple nose and a crisp, refreshing finish- the ideal tasting notes for a cold white wine, especially with the current uptick in temperature.
As we progressed to the red wines, we were a bit more discerning. Though well balanced, the “Pont de Gassac” Cabernet Sauvignon ($15.99) fell a bit flat for us- a bit too earthy at the time of tasting. Similarly the “Chateau Les Gravieres de la Brandille” ($14.99), was a soft and spicy Bordeaux blend that somehow missed the mark on Saturday, but with proper aging, the wine should develop quite nicely over time. On the other hand, we went wild for the “Au Bon Climat Isabelle Morgan,” ($52.99), a sensational Pinot Noir that’s darker than we’re typically used to drinking. That said, what a difference- bursting with red berries, some subtle oak and an exceptionally smooth finish.
On the beer side, our vote- as always- went to the “Bronx Pale Ale,” a beer that has grown on us to the point that we’ll drink it ice cold regardless of the time of year. Other beers that we really enjoyed were ones we tasted for the first time across each spectrum- the Bellhaven “Twisted Thistle IPA,” the Avery “White Rascal” wheat, the Ithaca “Groundbreak” saison, and even the Harviestoun “Bitter and Twisted” pale ale, incredibly drinkable at just 4.2% alcohol. And Samuel Adams’ subtle and sweet “Honey Queen,” not even listed on our voting sheet was an absolute revelation- worth tasting if you find it in your travels. To our surprise, Sixpoint’s “Gorilla Warfare Coffee Porter” was selected as the finest beer of the first annual “Judgement of Brooklyn”- not because it wasn’t exceptional, but because we typically eschew the stouts and porters in favor of lighter draught beers. But the judges had chosen (you can find the full list of winners below), slamming their gavel in authoritative fashion and rather than be held in contempt, we’d much rather abide by their decision, rendered by their expert palates.