What to Drink This Week, With St. Gambrinus Owner Ray Darmstadt

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Hey, it’s Monday! Which means there’s a long way to go before another weekend is upon us! So that’s kind of terrible! But let’s look on the bright side: it seems that, just yesterday, we settled comfortably into the fall, and according to the weather forecast, 70-degree days are officially behind us. This is good for many reasons–sweaters, boots, “America,” –but chief among them is the degree to which it now feels even better to sit down on your couch at night with the sole purpose of enjoying a beer that is deserving of your undivided attention. (Or, nearly undivided, at least. You should really be listening to “America,” you know. Or anything on the playlist Forget the Flowers: Songs for Fall, which I made a few years back and continue to stand by.)

Anyway, I paid a visit to St. Gambrinus, the well stocked and extremely welcoming bar and bottle shop on Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill, to ask owner Ray Darmstadt for some recommendations. Here’s how he thinks you should get through the week…

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Harviestoun Brewery, Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12
I wasn’t familiar with this beer, or this brewery, even, but I couldn’t be happier to have been introduced to it. Brewed in Scotland, It’s an 8% ABV stout that’s aged not in the bourbon or wine barrels commonly used here in the U.S., but in Scotch barrels, which impart a hint of booziness and a whole lot of smoke, or, peatiness if you run in scotch-drinking circles. $10.99/12oz bottle.

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Founders Brewing Company, Dark Penance
A new seasonal offering from the renowned Michigan brewery, Dark Penance is an imperial (read: a boozy 8.9%) version of a style most non-beer-obsessed people remain unfamiliar with, the Black IPA. Essentially, it’s an IPA–meaning it’s heavily hopped, in this case resulting in lots of citrus and pine–but one made with dark malts–in this case Midnight Wheat malt–giving the beer its nearly black color and a hint of chocolate. $13.99/4-pack.

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Grimm Artisanal Ales, Bees With a Buzz
We just wrote about these folks a week or so back, when their outstanding Double Negative Imperial Stout unexpectedly took home a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival, but who are we to question Ray’s suggestions? Especially when the beer in question is as good as Bees With a Buzz, a newly released brandy barrel-aged version of their Bees in the Trappe bierre de miel brewed with clover honey and a belgian yeast. $17/22oz bottle.

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Allagash Brewing Company, Nancy
A sour red ale aged for almost a full year with brettanomyces and a shit-ton of cherries. Truth be told, I haven’t had this beer yet. It’s sitting on my dining room table waiting for me to decide whether I want to drink it now or give it another year or so for the brett to do it’s thing. So I can’t technically vouch for this beer, but I can say that any Allagash beer I’ve ever had in these (admittedly very expensive) 12.7oz cork-and-cage bottles has been ridiculously good. $17 per bottle.

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L’anjub Cervesa Artesana, Juliett Extra Stout
You don’t hear much around Brooklyn about craft beers from Spain, but Mr. Darmstadt singled this one out for its rich, chocolatey and coffee-forward flavor, all of which is packed into a relatively reserved 6% ABV. And look at that label design, you guys.

Follow Mike Conklin on Twitter @MikeConklin.

All photos by Jane Bruce.

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