Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Something's brewing at Sycamore

Justin Israelson and Gary Jonas aren’t so great at homebrewing.

“We always complicate the matter,” said Israelson, who operates Sycamore Bar and Flowershop with Jonas. “Instead of just doing what you’re supposed to, it’s, ‘Let’s add this ingredient in,’ and, of course, it messes it up.”

To avoid that problem, the duo has invited 20 “beer professionals” to show off their stuff in the first ever Brooklyn Wort competition on Aug. 21 at their Flatbush bar (the competition takes its name from the term for pre-yeasted brew).

“When you usually do these competitions, you’re mailing the samples to the judges. It takes months,” said Israelson. “We thought it would be fun to get a competition going where it’s live and see how creative people can be.”

Like a U2 concert at Madison Square Garden, the sign-up list filled up almost instantaneously.

“There’s tons and tons and tons of homebrewers in Brooklyn,” said Ben Granger of Park Slope’s Bierkraft, who’ll be one of six judges deciding the $800 prize. “That, combined with the fact that there’s actual money involved.”

Israelson is expecting Belgian-style bitters, pale ales, and IPAs at his first competition. And beer lovers won’t miss an ounce, either, as the tickeet price includes samples of all 20 concoctions, as well as a plate full of barbecue.

You might even pick up a tip or two for your own homebrewing experiments.

“I’m hoping to learn something from these guys,” said Israelson.

So start perfecting those homebrews now.

Brooklyn Wort at Sycamore Bar and Flowershop [1118 Cortelyou Rd. near Westminster Road, (347) 240-5850], Aug. 21 at 5 pm (the 2:30 pm tasting is sold out). Tickets $20. For info, visit


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