I can’t believe Jacob’s Pickles has been around for about a year and I only just made it there for the first time last night—especially considering pickles and beer are two of my desert-island treats. And it still wouldn’t have been on my radar had it not been for the generous invite from the Jacob’s PR/Marketing team to a sour beer/pickle pairing dinner. And when I heard the name Jacob’s Pickles, I just pictured a storefront with a guy in a stained apron next to a giant barrel. But not this is a full-on sit-down restaurant complete with exposed-brick and all the usual acoutrements that shout, “Come hither, foodie!”
We had an eight-course menu, each paired with a specific beer somewhere on the sour spectrum.
1. The Bruery Hottenroth Berliner Weisse, paired with buttermilk biscuits and fixings that included honey, some sort of squirtable strawberry jam and a yet-to-be-identified sweet nectar. (Some of us thought maybe agáve, but it didn’t quite have the consistency).
2. Allagash Golden Brett with deviled eggs
3. Jolly Pumpkin Weizen Bam Biére with (OMFG so good) fried pickles and spicy red mayo
4. Another Jolly Pumpkin, this time the regular Bam Biére, with bratwurst and creole mustard
5. SingleCut LeVon LeCitron Saison with homemade meatballs and a sour green tomato (the food was a hit, the brew was a bit of a miss).
6. Carton Intermezzo with a petit honey chicken pickle sandwich. No, the chicken wasn’t pickled, as I had initially thought. It was a piece of fried chicken top with lots of pickle slices on a buttermilk biscuit (yes, as amazing as it sounds).
7. Another one from The Bruery, this one’s Tart of Darkness paired with a small chunk of Point Reyes blue cheese topped with cherry preserves. I have to say this was probably the most spot-on pairing of the night. Quite the gastronomic symphony.
8. Peekskill Brewery’s Simple Sour paired with a sour sorbet float. Now, as anyone else who was there can attest, when the Jacob’s team described the float as their take on an orange creamsicle (using blood oranges), I audibly yelped with glee (my go-to frozen combo). It wasn’t quite as creamy as I would’ve expected, but it was incredibly delicious tart twist on a classic. I have to admit that until last night I don’t think I’d actually tried any of Peekskill’s brews—admitting such elicited look of wide-eyed incredulity from my Brooklyn and Jersey City-based dining companions—which included Sarah and Giancarlo Annese from Beer Union (who just completed a book on beer throughout the state of New York), as well as John Kleinchester of Beertography and John Holl, author of The American Craft Beer Cookbook. But I must say there are few brews that are as aptly named as Simple Sour. It was simple. It was sour. And it was a great session beer, a realm in which sour fans frequently fear to tread. They’d better start treading there or they’re seriously missing out.
Long story short, I live in the area so I really should’ve been to Jacob’s already. There’s no excuse. If you’re visiting New York City, please don’t let the opportunity pass you by. Don’t waste your time at McSorley’s or any other sub-par tourist trap (ie: stay away from Times Square) at the expense of a chance to have an ale (or lager) and a meal at Jacob’s Pickles.
Did I mention there was a selection of about five different pickles (including pickled tomatoes and peppers!!) on the table at all times as if they were bread sticks?