The craft beer scene is becoming increasingly crowded. And just because something is new and small doesn’t guarantee it’s going to be any good. Nothing can be more disheartening than sipping on a pint of something subpar — particularly when you consider what they’re charging at bars these days. It behooves us to have guidance navigating these murky channels of hops and malt. Jimmy Carbone is happy to take the helm. The self-made restaurateur and craft enthusiast hosts a weekly beer-centric broadcast on the Heritage Radio Network, Tuesday evenings at 5 p.m. For his tireless efforts spreading the gospel of grog, I raise a glass to good old Mr. Carbone. And I’ve got just the stuff to fill said glass: Dunkel Lager from Sly Fox Brewing, our beer of the week.
There are a number of reasons why this traditional Bavarian-style dark beer is appropriate. The most immediate, of course, is that you can currently find it on draft at Jimmy’s No. 43, Carbone’s eponymous eatery on the edge of the East Village. But beyond local availability, lagers brewed in the German tradition are gaining steady traction among craft cognoscenti. Long overshadowed by the heavy-hitting ales and imperial stouts that have dominated American bottle shops, it suddenly appears as if the Reinheitsgebot is ready to reign once more.
That multisyllabic München mouthful refers to the Bavarian Purity Law of 1487, which established the only four ingredients permissible in German brews: hops, barley, yeast, and water. Seems straightforward, yet consider the diverse array of styles birthed by variations of those simple starting blocks. In the case of the Dunkel, Sly Fox uses dark malt to effect a toasted, slightly hazelnut-like finish to their sessionable 5.3 percent beer. A man of distinctive style, Carbone surely must appreciate this beer’s nod to a genre as classically German as Beethoven himself.
The lagering process requires patience — and brewing vessels that must remain occupied for upwards of a month. In that same time, a commercial brewery can turn over three batches of ready-to-drink ales. Saddled by the constraints of capitalism, don’t ever expect the lager to land as much shelf space as the American IPA. But perhaps that’s what contributes to its growing appeal. Good things come to those who wait. Thankfully, you’ll only have to wait till Tuesday at 5 p.m. to hear more about this particular pintful and many others on Beer Sessions Radio.
Originally available in cans, Sly Fox’s current release of Dunkel Lager is only available in draft at Jimmy’s No. 43 and other fine beer outlets throughout the city. Check local listings for showtimes.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 12, 2014