First Taste of Eataly's Birreria Slideshow
The brewers have joined forces to create three original Eataly Birreria brews (appropriately dubbed "Sophia," "Gina," and "Wanda" after famous Italian actresses). "Gina" is a pale ale made with thyme from near Musso's Italian brewery, while "Wanda" is a lovely brown chestnut ale. The brewpub's first in a line of rotating seasonal beers is "Sophia" (as in Loren), a wheat beer made with peppercorns that will be ready in a few weeks.
Calagione explained that the trio plans to draw inspiration for upcoming seasonal brews by walking through Eataly and each picking up an ingredient that grabs their attention. On deck to follow the "Sophia" is a beer that will feature Ugli fruit, ginger, and two types of Italian honey.
Birreria will feature 10 beers on draft in addition to the three made at the on-site brewery. Of those, four or five will be from the brewers' labels, one will be a New York craft beer, and, in keeping with Eataly's source-local theme, the rest will be craft brews from the Northeast. "And we're trying not to pick the breweries' flagship beers," explained Calagione. What's more, the menu will feature 30 bottled beer selections, with plans to expand the offerings to 75 in the not-too-distant future.
Calagione admitted that there were challenges in building a brewery on the 14th floor of a Manhattan building (think boilers). Still, he was proud to point out that Birreria is distinguished as the highest brewery on a man-made structure — not to mention one where the entire brew-to-glass process is done 100-percent on-site.
As a side note, the production of this completely unfiltered, naturally carbonated beer is overseen by brewmaster Brooks Carretta, an American-born homebrewer with Italian brewing training. (Talk about your making-it-big-time homebrewing fantasy.)
Don't expect to find any steins or pints here — the decidedly wine glass-esque beer glasses used here follow a design originally created by Musso in 2005 ("a glass for quality beer"). Since then he has created 26 different-shaped glasses, including this one which was designed specifically for the brewpub.
Chef Alex Pilas insists that the menu consists of "simple food, not a lot of bells and whistles." Tasting it you almost want to laugh because it so exceeds such a humble description. An out-of-this-world mushroom carpaccio with hazelnuts, and pork shoulder that has been brined in Dogfish Head Festina Pecche, braised, and deep-fried.
There are beer garden classics, too, but re-interpreted to the Eataly standard: a well-salted twisted pretzel roll, and Christmas-spiced blood sausage paired with savory cotecchino and spicy mustard. The emphasis here is on pairing beer and food for the gastronome set, and they do it well.
Out of respect for traditional Italian dining culture Birreria will offer a simple menu of wines served from casks.
Musso holds up the mock-ups of the Eataly-ified three brewers' logos — the change in design represents their unification on the project.