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I always feel a bit sheepish when I tell the sommelier at a high-end restaurant that I’d prefer beer to wine. Luckily, the brilliant team at NYC’s Eleven Madison Park is determined to elevate beer’s status in the fine dining scene. My beer expert friend, writer Christian DeBenedetti, recently directed me to some news he’d read on Brooklyn Brewery’s blog about its beer collaboration with Eleven Madison Park.
The news prompted me to call Eleven Madison Park general manager Will Guidara to get the scoop. “The role of beer in fine dining needs to change,” says Guidara. “Restaurants of our caliber always focus on wine but we’re also intensely focused on cocktails, coffee, tea and right now we’re amidst a full-on beer onslaught.” Kirk Kelewae, Eleven Madison Park’s resident beer expert, along with chef Daniel Humm and Brooklyn Brewery's Garret Oliver, are creating two barrel-aged, bottle-conditioned large-format beers. Nine Pin Brown Ale is named after the game played in the story “Rip Van Winkle” (both beers will be aged in Old Rip Van Winkle bourbon barrels). Local 11 will be a barrel-aged version of Brooklyn Brewery’s popular Local 2. The designer Milton Glaser will create the labels. Guidara says the beer will be exclusive to Eleven Madison Park, with maybe a few cases going to other friends in the industry.
Both beers will make their debut at a special Eleven Madison Park beer dinner June 26, which will also feature other unique beers that Oliver has been experimenting with, like a beer aged on lees from Riesling. “We sold half the tickets within an hour of announcing the event,” says Guidara. Only about 20 tickets are left. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a seat.