New York Lands Its First Certified Organic Craft Beer

As health-conscious as so many New Yorkers seem to be these days, it’s hard to believe that the Empire State has been without its own brand of organic beer. Until now. This week, Smart Beer Organic Golden Ale hits shelves across the five boroughs. The non-GMO craft brew is produced an hour upriver, in New Paltz. So it comes with the added allure of being (kinda) local. But is it any good? Only one way to find out: crack open a bottle of our beer of the week.

Beyond their color, golden ales are characterized by a crisp, lighter body and muted fruitiness on the palate. They tend to be broadly accessible, appealing, even, to traditional lager lovers. Smart Beer’s entry into the category comfortably hits those marks. Brewed with orange peel and licorice root, it opens up to reveal a peppery zest, distantly reminiscent of a Belgian-style witbier. At 5.5% alcohol, it’s an easy and inviting drink. The flavor profile isn’t defined by its organic, GMO-free origins. It just happens to boast those qualities as an ancillary benefit. Don’t approach it expecting some magical new beer-drinking experience to unfold itself before you. Drink it because it tastes good, and is brewed with worthy ingredients.

When he’s not peddling his new line of libations, Smart Beer’s founder, Gabriel Heymann, spends time as a yoga instructor. “I wanted to enjoy both my social life and my healthy lifestyle,” he said. “We shouldn’t have to sacrifice well-being in order to celebrate life’s moments, and that’s what this beer is about.” That, and a pleasant buzz. Retailing within the same general range as its non-organic counterparts — around $12 a six-pack — you’ll hardly notice a tax for the organic upgrade. 

The beer arrives in Brooklyn with a bang tomorrow, as Montana’s Trail House in Bushwick hosts a launch party, starting at 2 p.m. The Smart Beer Brand will soon expand to incorporate several other sought-after styles. Pick up a sixer on your way to your next yoga class. It’s difficult to get much more Brooklyn than that. 


How to Score Free Beer at Luke’s Lobster

An authentic Maine lobster roll is tough to beat. The success of Luke’s Lobster (multiple locations), which just opened its thirteenth Northeastern eatery, is a testament to the enduring allure of New England’s culinary staple. But with a new happy-hour deal, the popular seafood shack has stumbled upon a way to amplify something awesome into something legendary: free beer.

Luke’s has always offered optional chips, soda, and pickle with its three signature rolls (lobster, crab, and shrimp) for a $3 upcharge. Recently, though, the chain started running a special from 4 to 7 p.m. daily, during which you can sub a draft beer for that non-alcoholic beverage. And not just any old cup o’ suds; Luke’s specializes in craft offerings from Maine, naturally.

With only half a dozen lines at its Park Slope location, Luke’s currently devotes no fewer than five taps to beers from the land of lobster. This is in addition to several canned selections from Maine’s Baxter Brewing, including a refreshing session IPA brewed with green tea. If you must keep it local, the solitary non-Maine tap typically runs off-centered ales from Brooklyn’s own Grimm. A maritime-themed flight, served on a plank, allows you to sample your way through most of it.

But the best way to maximize Luke’s happy hour is with the $23 Taste of Maine platter. It consists of a half-portion of each of the three signature rolls, two crab claws, a pickle, Cape Cod potato chips, and a twelve-ounce pour of your choosing. For lovers of light, easy-drinking ales, pair it with the Allagash White — an undeniable crowd-pleaser and the restaurant’s biggest seller, by far. Hopheads will prefer the slightly bitter finish of Peeper Ale by Maine Beer Co., and if you have a more caramelized, malt-craving palate, request the Export from Shipyard.

Lobster lovers wading below the drinking age can still enjoy a notable array of alcohol-free offerings from the Pine Tree State. Ginger Spicy Brew from Maine Root Handcrafted Beverages is a standout. It’s a crisp tongue-tickler built around a sturdy foundation of herbaceous spice.