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Beer of the year: Breweries compete for the Ruppert’s Cup during Beer Week

Beard and beers: The head brewer of Sunset Park’s Five Boroughs Brewing, Nick Griffin, has concocted a wheat beer using New York state grains for the Ruppert’s Cup beer competition.
Brooklyn Paper
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Their Cup runneth over!

Seven Kings County breweries will battle each other — and a handful of outer-borough brewers — to see who makes the best beer as part of New York City Beer Week, which starts on Feb. 24. The winner of the Ruppert’s Cup competition will not only be able to lord it over the other members of the New York City Brewer’s Guild, said the president of that group, but will hoist an enormous stein of suds.

“If you win the Ruppert’s Cup, you get bragging rights,” said Kelly Taylor, the co-founder of Kelso Beer Company. “And it’s a pretty cool trophy.”

The Ruppert’s Cup — named for 19th century brewer and Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert — is a five-gallon keg with a handle welded to the side, said Taylor, so it can hold a lot of beer.

Each competitor for the Cup must craft a special brew, made entirely with ingredients grown in the state of New York. The grains native to the Empire State lend themselves to darker, more complex beers, said Taylor.

“I think they lend themselves more to ales, because they’re a little richer, have a little more structure and depth of character,” he said, though he noted that inventive brewers have made a wide variety of brews with the ingredients.

The hops native to New York can be used for almost any beer, said the head brewer of Gowanus’s Strong Rope Brewery.

“They lend themselves well to any beer style you can think of,” said Jason Sahler, who will brew an India Pale Ale for the competition. “The quality of the ingredients has increased exponentially in the five years that they have been around. It’s up to the brewer now, to create something out of this new palette.”

In addition to state malts and hops, Flatbush brewery Island to Island plans to use local apples and cranberries to make a fruity pilsner, while Coney Island Beer plans to serve a English barleywine with a whopping 10.5% abv. SixPoint will tap a curious New England-style India Pale Lager, Randolph beer will pour a French-style biere de garde, Greenpoint’s Keg and Lantern will brew two concoctions: a pale ale and a pilsner. Five Boroughs Brewing Company, based in Sunset Park, will make a “Rooftop Wheat” hefeweisen that is perfect for the coming spring weather, said its head brewer.

“We called our beer Rooftop Wheat because we thought it was the perfect style of beer to enjoy on rooftops across the city as winter turns to spring,” said Nick Griffin.

Each brewer will serve its entry at the Beer Week Opening Bash party on Feb. 24, but voting will not take place until the final event of Beer Week, at a tasting brunch at Randolph Beer in Dumbo on March 4.

But the competition is not especially fierce, noted the Coney Island brewer Matt McCall.

“The craft industry is one that is very inclusive and — to us brewers at least — not based on competition, as we think that anybody drinking craft is winning,” he said. “With that being said, the Ruppert’s Cup allows us to have some friendly competition between neighbors, and raise our game to the next level.”

More than two dozen Beer Week events will take place in Brooklyn during the 10-day festival. Here are a few of the highlights:

Opening Bash

More than 30 beer makers from New York City, and another 50 of the best breweries beyond the boroughs, will serve unlimited samples to guests.

Brooklyn Expo Center (72 Noble St. at Franklin Street in Greenpoint, www.nycbrewed.com). Feb. 24 at 6 pm. $80.

Talking beer

Members of the Kings County Brewers Collective, along with non-Brooklyn brewers from Grimm, Pipeworks, Barrier, and Equilibrium breweries, tell stories of the brewing life at this panel discussion.

The Well (272 Meserole St. between Bushwick Place and Waterbury Street in Bushwick, www.thewellbrooklyn.com). Feb. 25 at 5 pm. Free.

Grain vs. Grape

A battle of the food pairings, as a sommelier and a cicerone (that’s the beer equivalent) debate whether wine or beer goes best with food. A selection of foods paired with each will be available for purchase.

Randolph Beer Dumbo [82 Prospect St. between Pearl and Jay streets in Dumbo, (646) 383–3623, www.randolphbeer.com]. March 1 at 7 pm. Free.

IPAs and Jerk

Pair jerk chicken wings with four different IPAs from different breweries, at a Caribbean-inspired brewery.

Island to Island Brewery [642 Rogers Ave. between Parkside and Clarkson avenues in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, (646) 769–0490, www.islandtoislandbrewery.com]. March 3, 4–9 pm. Free.

Ruppert’s Cup Awards Brunch

Pour any of the New York beers competing for the Rupperts Cup from Randolph’s self-serve beer wall, then vote for your favorite!

Randolph Beer Dumbo [82 Prospect St. between Pearl and Jay streets in Dumbo, (646) 383–3623, www.randolphbeer.com]. March 4, noon–2 pm. Free.

Reach arts editor Bill Roundy at broundy@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507.
Updated 5:48 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

K. Jacob Ruppert from formerly Yorkville says:
I fondly remember being a member of the judging panel of the Ruppert's Cup back in 2003 at the Tiger's Eye in Brooklyn. It was an honor as a descendant of Jacob Ruppert Sr. to do so. However, I remember the trophy as being one of our old trophy steins that we minted in Germany for promotional purposes given at particular tournaments (bowling, baseball, sports car racing, etc.). I had no idea it was replaced with a 5-gallon keg!

I am so pleased to read of Mr. Griffin's wheat beer made of NYS grains. When we were in business (collectively over 120 years) we exclusively used hops grown in central NY State from the Cooperstown valley. Nice to see traditions are kept going.

As a member of the Ruppert Family, I wish Beer Week the best of success!

K. Jacob Ruppert
Natchitoches, LA
www.jacobruppert.com
Feb. 23, 10:05 am

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