In what I hope becomes a venerable tradition, Shake Shack once again unveiled Shacktoberfest for the first ten days of October. The menu features a bunch of sausages blah blah blah… and beer! A big glass stein filled with beer for a good price! So naturally I had to avail myself of the nearest location to home and see if it’s worth the fuss.
No line outside on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I purposely went at a nonstandard hour in order to avoid long lines, and I was rewarded: 7 minutes from getting in line (at the top of the stairs) to placing my order, a shackburger and a Shacktoberfest stein filled with 24 ounces of Kelso Kellerfest. The purpose of ordering this big beer was to keep the stein, so for my $17 ($8 for the stein, $9 for the beer) this ought to be worth it, no?
My order took another thirteen minutes to be ready, but the beer was freshly poured. It would be nice if the beer portion of the order could be filled immediately while the burger sat in queue, allowing me a head start on my drinking, but alas, no such luck. There is, however, a C Line now at this location, so I could have ordered the burger separate from the beer.
Kelso Brewing is one of the three breweries currently in Brooklyn (along with Brooklyn and Sixpoint). Their capacity has been filled to the point they no longer brew beer for other breweries but concentrate on the Kelso beers and, their original intent, brewing beer for the Heartland mini-empire of brewpubs in Manhattan. Kelso allows head brewer Kelly Taylor to try some things he can’t do for the corporate accounts, and he’s shown he’s really quite talented when it comes to brewing lagers. The Kellerfest is a Marzen, or Oktoberfest, in style; historically these beers were brewed in March and lagered through the summer in a cool place, like a cave, to be brought out in late September for Oktoberfest. I don’t know if Kelly brewed this six months ago, but I do know what I like.
My beer, in all its glory. By the time I sat down, the head had dissipated somewhat, but you can see a little of the creamy head remaining atop a somewhat hazy amber beer. Keller translates to “cellar”, so think of a kellerbier like this as a beer straight from the cellar, i.e., an unfiltered pour from the tanks.
It’s a little grainy in the nose, but that’s coupled with a solid bready, melanoidin-laden aroma that’s a little sweet but not sugary, just full-on Oktoberfest. This carries into the taste, too, with the bready, cookie-dough like qualities mingling with what might be a bit too much bitterness and grassy flavor from the hops for the style, but certainly manageable. The finish is more of a malt explosion than the initial impressions, and I just can’t help taking another sip.
I’m really pleased that Kelso managed this style so well, but then I’ve never had anything of theirs that I wouldn’t drink again. I might be going back shortly to get a companion stein!
No trip to Shake Shack is complete without some sort of meaty sustenance, but I limited myself to a regular Shackburger, since I would be touring Flushing later that evening.
Doesn’t that look tasty? Plenty hot, and the standard potato bun hadn’t soaked through (yet) with beef juices.
Obligatory cross-section. Everything in its place, a little saggy, granted, but tasty, char-grilled meat with the right quantity of toppings.
While finishing off the beer, I gazed out of the “garden” just to marvel at what a lovely space Danny Meyer carved out from the Upper East Side for his newest New York City Shake Shack. The outside area used to be a skate shop and linen store years ago, and I’m glad a good use has been found for the space. You can enter and exit the Shack via the street instead of going inside, too, so if all you need is C-line provisions, you can more easily be accommodated from this direction.
I think you can tell what me recommendation will be: go to Shacktoberfest! I have a few favorites in the supported beer lineup. Besides the Kelso Kellerfest, the Penn Kaiser Pils on the Upper West Side (not a festbier, but very tasty) is well worth filling your stein with. Otherwise, the Southern Tier Harvest Ale at Madison Square Park, the Southampton Pumpkin Ale on the Upper West, and the Dogfish Punkin on the Upper East, in 12-ounce bottles, would be my choices to celebrate the season. It’s a great stein, and a great way to enjoy a beer from Shake Shack.