Author: Terrero, Jose
Date published: May 11, 2011
Journal code: SYNT
Hopheads will rejoice on Friday, May 13, through Sunday, May 15, when J. Ryan's Pub, 253 E. Water St., hosts its first ale tasting tour. About 20 domestic brews will be available for tasting at about $2 to $4 for each seven-ounce glass. The event, which the J. Ryan's crew is calling Friday the Firkinteenth, pays homage to a tradition created by Syracuse's legendary Clark's Ale House.
"I felt it was something that needed to keep going. To continue the tradition that Clark's Ale House had started," says Bob Carvotta, manager at J. Ryan's.
Clark's tapped its final keg last September after 18 years of operation. The bar was closed in order to make room for the expansion of the Landmark Theatre. Several ales that were regulars at Clark's will appear on the tour, including Rouge's Black IPA and Syracuse's Middle Ages. Bear Republic, Scotch Ale, Southern Tier and others will be available as well.
The event kicks off when a firkin of Ithaca 13 gets tapped at 4 p.m.; the bulk of the tasting, however, takes place Saturday and Sunday. The firkins have 24 to 48 hours from when they're tapped before they lose their carbonation so J. Ryan's plans on pouring every last drop. A firkin, incidentally, is an old English unit of volume, equal to a quarter-keg.
The idea for the ale tasting started in January and Carvotta got busy making calls to breweries across the country. After finding a selection of places that agreed, all that was left was to find the kegs and an efficient way to distribute them.
Ale originally was used to describe a drink brewed without hops, unlike beer. These days, ale is brewed from malted barley with brewers' yeast, resulting in a sweet brew. Hops are added to balance the sweetness of the malt and impart a bitter flavor. Despite the bitterness found in hoppy ales, modern ales carry different fruity flavors like oranges and bananas that help ease the sharp taste.
They're not for all palates, but those who enjoy quaffing an ale will be able to choose a new favorite or two this weekend. While the ale tasting takes place in a reserved area of J. Ryan's, the pub's regular service will be available throughout the weekend. The firkins will be lined up by the side of the bar and hand-tapped for authenticity. Tickets can be purchased at the bar. For more information, call 399-5533.