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Preview: Uptown Beer Garden

Preview: Uptown Beer Garden

The Uptown Beer Garden is returning to 1735 JFK Boulevard for its third season. The pop-up is a collaborative effort of BRU Craft & Wurst, U-Bahn, Finn McCool’s, and Cinder, unified under the parent company Craft Concepts Group.

This year, the garden will expand to include a fourth bar. Each bar will feature house cocktails, multiple sangria flavors, eight different craft cans, and eight different craft drafts. These include three custom drafts, brewed specifically for the garden.

“I was lucky enough to get to 2SP and Pizza Boy to brew ‘summer-focused’ IPA’s,” said Alex Bokulich, Director of Operations for Craft Concepts. “Next week I’m headed to Tampa to brew a custom-fruited Berliner Weisse with Casey at Coppertail.”

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Bokulich provided us with a detailed rundown on what to expect from these custom drafts:

Pizza Boy Uptown IPA #2

Last year we asked Pizza Boy to brew us a light bodied, highly aromatic/hop forward, but clean and easy drinking IPA, with moderate back end bitterness.  The end result was exactly what we wished for, so this year we took the same malt base (Pilsner, Pale, touch of Cara), and bittering hops (33lbs of Simcoe/Amarillo), plus a massive dry hop addition of 88lbs of Citra, Simcoe, Amarillo, and Falconers Flight.  The end result will be a hop-forward 6.5-6.8% ABV IPA, while maintaining a medium body (light for the style), with bright, active aromatics, but a clean, dry, and refreshing finish.  We all love hop bombs as much as anybody else, but with a long season of heat and the sun ahead of us, the goal was to make this our ‘big beer’ on the list, but still something that a reasonable person can drink a few of, without wiping themselves out for the day!

2SP Solar Baby

This was designed as a house brew for our group of bars in early March, but went over so well, we decided to modify the recipe and run it for the summer at the beer garden.  Originally, Solar Baby was a blonde session ale, brewed with 100% Galaxy hops & a massive addition of local wildflower honey.  The beer was exquisite, a true session ale, 5% ABV with massive delicate fruit & floral notes from the Galaxy, and a very light body and juicy finish.  The decision for Uptown was to provide a bit more structure to the beer, increasing the bittering by a touch (still minimal, although more than the first run), and to cut the Galaxy with Citra and a touch of Equinox.  The final result will be a 5% ABV blonde honey pale ale/session IPA with big fruity aromatics and a touch of sweetness & blossom on the finish from the honey.

Coppertail TBD

This beer doesn’t have a name yet, because we still haven’t made it!  Currently, the base Berliner is being brewed and then at the end of this week we will finish it with a blend of fresh fruit and botanicals from the Sunshine State.  The end result will be a fruit-forward, 3.5% ABV tart wheat ale with a feather-light body & gentle (although apparent) acidity.  The fruit is not yet confirmed, but we are leaning towards a tropical blend, likely with vanilla bean to provide complexity & a touch of creaminess on the finish.  Think about being eleven years old and eating a popsicle on a hot afternoon… we want this to be the beer-version of that feeling.

Bokulich hopes that this season Uptown will be able to bring their food menu up to par with the beer and beverages.

“Ultimately, we want to comfortably appeal to folks just grazing for a bite post-work or during happy hour, as well as be able to engage and satisfy folks looking to grab a table and dig in for a while,” he said.

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While the full menu will be released closer to the opening date, here’s a sneak peek at what to expect, courtesy of Bokulich:

APPS & SNACKS

A vegetable-focused selection of finger foods designed with the idea to compliment our kabob and sandwich sections.  They’ll all be casual dining as everything here should be able to be comfortably eaten with fingers, and of course an emphasis on items that will taste good when it’s 85 and 120% humidity.  The final list will be six or seven items, and will include one or two meat items as well.  These recipes aren’t done yet, but the menu spot is fixed. Some examples of what will be included:

Grilled Flatbread

Summer Dip

Warm Pretzel (pilsner mustard)

Grilled Broccoli (hop salt & lemon aioli)

KABOBS

This was our big hit last year, so we decided to try to build on that success and increase the quality and ‘involvement’ of the recipes for this season.  Last year we had six meat skewers and two all-veggie ones, but the veg never really seemed to stand up to their carnivorous counterparts.  Part of the decision to go so veg-heavy on the appetizers was so that we could incorporate meat and veg together on these kabobs and not run the risk of shutting out our vegetarian friends. We are looking at six items.  Some examples of what to expect:

Porter-Glazed Pork Belly w/ Peach & Red Onion

Peri Peri Shrimp w/ Zucchini, Cherry Tomato

SANDWICHES

Last but not least, we’ll have a half dozen creative takes on standard sandwiches including a badass burger, a veggie burger, crabcake, and probably some kind of pork and chicken jawns.  

Uptown will open May 11th and run through mid-September, with the UpToberFest party as the closing ceremony (date TBD). Operating hours will be  5:00-10:00 on Monday and Tuesday, 2:00-midnight on Wednesday through Saturday and closed on Sundays.

About Mat Falco

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