Who doesn't like free beer? At Franklin Park last night, the purchase of a pint of Smuttynose IPA earned the lucky buyer a free glass of a "clone," brewed right down the street as part of Bitter and Esther's monthly "Brew Like the Pros" home brewing series. The brainchild of Tim Stendahl, a local beer aficionado, homebrewer, and rep for Brooklyn's Union Beer Distributors, Brew Like the Pros offers local amateur brewers a chance to try to replicate one of their favorite microbrews with Stendahl, using recipes and, on occasion, ingredients from the original brewery. After the requisite waiting period, Stendahl then takes the brew on the road to a local bar, most often Washington Commons (though he promises ILFA he'll be frequenting Franklin Park and perhaps the Crown Inn more often), where participants (and lucky patrons and bloggers) get to compare their effort to the real deal. As Stendahl put it, everyone wins - Bitter and Esther's sells home brewing supplies, local home brewers take home knowledge, the brewery and the bar draw attention to their wares and sell beer. The point, as he puts it, is to emphasize that brewing a great beer isn't all that hard - it's brewing that beer consistently that's the challenge.
If brewing is your thing, "Brew Like the Pros" brews every second Saturday of the Month. This coming Saturday, they'll be replicating Dale's Pale Ale, a canned staple at many a Brooklyn bar, and next month, they'll be trying their hands at a Norwegian porter. If, like ILFA, you're more of a drinker than a brewer, keep an eye on the Bitter and Esther's site for the next comparative tasting. As for the beer itself, the clone was slightly less carbonated and slightly cloudier than the Smuttynose, but the taste was remarkably similar, which is to say, delicious.