Some of the country's best restaurants are teaming up with breweries to create their own signature beers. Here, some of the newest collaborations.
Pok Pok + Evil Twin = The Darkness
Evil Twin owner and brewer Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø started going to Pok Pok NY when he moved to New York from Denmark about two years ago. “I just absolutely love what Andy Ricker does,” he says. “And when there’s something I really like, I want to be involved in it.” After getting his pilsner on tap at Ricker’s Whiskey Soda Lounge, Jarnit-Bjergsø started work on a darker option. He and Ricker came up with The Darkness, a black lager made with roasted malts partially inspired by Thailand’s limited beer scene, where there is light beer and there is German-style Schwartz or black beer. “We just did a better version of both,” he says. The Darkness is currently on tap at Pok Pok NY, where you’ll often find Jarnit-Bjergsø drinking a cocktail. “I never drink beer when I’m at Pok Pok,” he says. “Even though I’ve made all the beers there, I just want to drink his cocktails.”
Mission Chinese + Mikkeller = Mission Chinese Food Beer
Mission Chinese Food’s Sichuan pepper-addicted fans will soon have another reason to frequent both outposts of F&W Best New Chef 2013 Danny Bowien’s cult restaurant. Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, the founder and owner of the Copenhagen-based Mikkeller (and the twin brother of Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø) created a Sichuan pepper-infused pilsner for Mission Chinese, the label of which features a fire-breathing Bowien-headed dragon. Bjergsø, who spent many nights at Misson's San Francisco outpost, was inspired by the restaurant’s signature flavors. “I added Sichuan peppers because that’s their trademark,” Bjergsø says. “And I gave it a light smoky touch with some smoke malt to give it the impression of the barbecue dishes they do.” The beer isn’t overly spicy, but you can definitely taste the peppers and sense the Sichuan numbness. Mission Chinese in San Francisco will serve the beer, as will Mikkeller’s San Francisco bar.
Tosca Café + Fort Point Beer Company = Tosca Café Ale
Restaurateur Ken Friedman and chef April Bloomfield are pioneers in the world of proprietary restaurant beers. In the past, they've worked with Brooklyn Brewery to create a signature bitter at the Spotted Pig, Sixpoint to make an oyster stout at the John Dory and Greenport Harbor to create a citrusy IPA at Salvation Taco. Their latest collaborative beer is with the just-opened Fort Point Beer Company, a San Francisco-based producer that sprung from Mill Valley Beerworks. Bloomfield worked with the brewers to create a Kölsch-style ale for San Francisco’s Tosca Café, which she and Friedman recently renovated and reopened. To give the ale some Bay Area flavor, brewers added yerba santa, a minty herb that grows on nearby Mount Tamalpais.
Maison Premiere + Barrier Brewing = Oyster Stout #1 & #2
When the Long Island-based Barrier Brewing first started working with Maison Premiere, Williamsburg’s New Orleans-inspired oyster and absinthe den, the stout was the least popular beer on tap. Now, people go crazy for it. One simple addition made the difference: oyster shells. Barrier brewer and owner Craig Frymark worked with the bar to create a signature oyster stout made with shucked shells. The first brew, which was released this past October, was made with only European Flat oysters. The second brew, which is currently on tap, was made with a variety of shells. The differences are subtle. Both versions of the beer are refreshing with salty, sea air notes, but to Frymark, the Eastern Flat version is fresher, more like the ocean. For the third brew, which they will start in February, Frymark plans on making a version flavored solely with west coast shells.