There are a multitude of classic food-related moments throughout Seinfeld's nine seasons, and a small brewery on Long Island is incorporating some of them into its recipes.
Barrage Brewing Company, a one-barrel operation based in East Farmingdale, now makes two beers inspired by Seinfeld: Yada Yada Yada and The Restivus. Both are brown ales, and both are infused with foodstuffs given prominent storylines in episodes of the iconic sitcom; the former is with Snickers, and the latter with chocolate babka.
Yada Yada Yada was the first of the two brewed, unveiled in May of 2014 at a local gastropub named Morrison's. Barrage designed the recipe for a Seinfeld_-themed event. "We've partnered with [Morrison's] for a _Seinfeld beer dinner the last two years and about a month before the first, I thought it'd be fun to make something fun and limited for one of the courses. So we started tossing around ideas on making a beer based on the show," explains Steve Pominski, owner and brewmaster.
The result was Yada, whose identity is shaped by two classic episodes: "The Pledge Drive," which follows George's new aristocratic method of consuming the log-shaped, milk chocolate-enrobed candy, and "The Yada Yada." When it debuted at the five-course dinner last year, the reaction among attendees was "pure insanity," Pominski recalls. "And it's this thing that's never really stopped. It was only supposed to be made once but people kept asking and asking for the 'Snickers beer.' It's a year later and we still can't make enough. It's definitely become our most popular beer."
Pominski describes the brew as "drinking a glass of liquid Snickers, like someone liquefied a shitload and put them into a glass." That someone is Pominski, who disassembles nearly six pounds of the fun-size bars for every batch (roughly 30 gallons) before adding them during fermentation. "We essentially dry-hop the beer with Snickers. We call it Snickering."
Pominski always has two fermenters full of Yada, and he's in the process of partnering with a distributor to secure 50-pound, pre-ground boxes of the chocolate once the brewery expands later this year. Its unrelenting popularity has also resulted in Barrage creating a second _Seinfeld_-inspired liquid, The Restivus, which debuted last week at a follow-up dinner at Morrison's. (Character-themed courses included mulligatawny soup and a big salad with marble-rye croutons and Mackinaw peaches!)
We chatted with Pominski to learn more about the chocolate babka-stuffed brew.
MUNCHIES: Before we talk about the new beer, we have to ask: What's your favorite episode of Seinfeld? Steve Pominski: Oh, man. That's tough. Too many to name. I'll say that the episodes we've picked to name the two beers are definitely at the top of the list. And the episodes that each of the ingredients are in, those too. But it's too tough to pick just one.
The Restivus, your second _Seinfeld_-inspired beer, debuted last week. How did you prepare to make a beer with chocolate babka? I basically went to a bunch of local bakeries and sampled their babkas, just to get the specific flavors nailed down. Not the worst type of research project out there.
Which babka did you pick? Believe it or not, we got them from a Trader Joe's near the brewery. Their bakery is really underrated. Also, I knew I'd be able to go there at any time and grab a bunch.
How many babkas did you use? Ten.
When did you add them during brewing? During the last few minutes of the boil. Then we let them sit in the wort before it went to the fermenter.
We broke them up and placed them in muslin bags that kind of look like socks and let the beer infuse through the bags. We were worried that the babka could have wild yeasts, which in turn could cause the beer to become sour and have off flavors, but fortunately that didn't happen.
How does the beer taste? I think it's great. It has a deep fudge taste with a hint of cinnamon and a slight sweetness. I think the best part, though, is the finish. It's wonderful. It's this yeasty, bread-like quality.
What do your customers think of it? Well, we debuted it like Yada during the Morrison's dinner, so we had a room full of people waiting specifically to taste that beer. I was a little worried that it wasn't going to live up to the hype, but the response was that we hit another home run. When it was being passed around, I could here people commenting on the chocolate-fudge aroma and that the beer had a creamy appearance. Everyone dug it that night and we're already planning to brew it again. It's like Yada all over again.
Are you surprised by the popularity of both? Definitely. But at the same time, our strength has always lied in our darker beers, the stouts and porters. We have a beer called Tribal Cow, this crazy milk stout with loads of toasted coconut and caramel. And we also have a beer with salted caramel and fudge. They're both really popular.
I'd like to think all of our beers are great but I guess our dark beers are our most popular because they aren't your typical dark beers, which tend to be roasty. We try to add other flavors to offset the roasted flavors and booziness with things like caramel, raisins, fudge, white chocolate, dark chocolate, toasted coconut. Plus, when I started homebrewing about 20 years ago, pretty much all I made were porters, stouts, brown ales, and dark English styles. So over time you learn what works and what doesn't.
Both of the beers are brown ales. What do you like about the style? I think the American brown is a great vessel to transport the flavors of a dessert. Again, if you brew a beer like this as a stout or porter, I think you run the risk of the roast character cutting into the characteristics of the adjunct. Also with those styles, it could easily turn out to be too heavy of a body. I love the body of a brown ale; it's not too heavy, but it's also not watery.
What's the probability of brewing a third beer inspired by the show, maybe one with Junior Mints or calzones? [_Laughs._] At this point I'll probably have to. One of my friends actually wants me to use Bosco. If we do it, that's gonna be the last one. And we'll probably name it No Beer For You!
Thanks for speaking with us, Steve.