Welcome to Beer with Baby, a column in which beer writer Joshua Bernstein reviews craft brews through the eyes of a tired, over-stressed parent.
Feeding my daughter used to be a breeze. I’d give her a milk bottle, which she’d suck down as quickly as college kids shotgunning a beer. Sated, she’d happily return to what I call the Neglector 5000—the contraption allows Violet to jump up and down, accompanied by flashing lights and the cacophony of drunken monkeys in heat.
It’s like the world’s worst rainforest rave. But where I find irritation, my daughter sees ecstasy—the first of many generational differences we’ll encounter. But the Jumperoo, as the apparatus is called, is a perfect pacifier. For 15 or 20 minutes, Violet will gleefully bounce, providing me precious minutes to accomplish life’s more pressing tasks—like checking email and drinking beer.
We had a pleasant tradition in place: Feed Violet a bottle. Let her leap amid a primate-fueled din. Feed me a bottle. Everybody was happy. But in parenting, the status quo does not hold so for long. Every day, your child evolves, with new lightbulbs flickering in the brain. What was once a floppy sack of poop and crying slowly becomes a miniature human being, complete with opinions, emotions, grunts—so many grunts!—and the occasional slap.
“I guess you don’t want any more,” I said on one recent evening. She was displaying her newest skill, which is smacking a bottle from her lips and spattering me with milk. Lately, she’s lost interest in liquids, preferring to explore solids. I thought about spoon-feeding her puréed veggies, but that painstaking endeavor seriously curtails my drinking time. Instead, I filled a Ring Pop-like contraption with frozen berries, removed her shirt, and let her gum away.
With the infant occupied, I grabbed a can of Evil Twin’s NoMader Weisse. Over the last few years, Danish brewer Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø (his twin runs Mikkeller) has built his cultish reputation via a nomadic business model. By brewing beers at different facilities around the world, Jeppe can make wildly creative beers—such as the Imperial Doughnut Break (made with gobs of actual baked goods) and the Brettanomyces-driven Femme Fatale Yuzu Pale—wherever the winds take him.
Now based in Brooklyn, Jarnit-Bjergsø has made a mark in his adopted hometown. He helped open bespoke beer bar Tørst, and his collaborations include a chocolaty stout for Whole Foods and several offbeat brews for upscale hotel-restaurant the NoMad.
The first release was the NoMader Wit, a smooth, citrus-noted witbier with an earthiness supplied by Brettanomyces yeast. Building on that success, the latest offering is the Berliner-style NoMader Weisse—further proof of the sour German ale’s wildfire popularity. As Violet coated herself in cold fruit, I cracked the can open, releasing a lightly acidic bouquet of funk and lemon rind into the air.
I poured the beer into a glass, revealing a hazy-gold brew capped by an eggshell-white head. I took a taste, letting a pleasant tartness flash across my tongue; refreshing, not enamel-stripping. The clean-drinking Berliner weisse was appealing prickly, with a crispness suited for hot days when you crave something thirst-slaking, but also mildly alcoholic. I raised the glass again when Violet grunted, her cheeks tinged crimson.
“What do you want, sweetheart?” I asked. She extended her arms toward my can, her fruity ring falling to the floor. As a new parent, I’m always trying to connect to my daughter. From playing her ’90s hip-hop to giving her lime slices to gnaw on while I make guacamole, I’m introducing her to the bright new universe and hopefully forging a bond that, one day, may even endure her teenage years.
I let her grab the beer and a piece of my world. That’s my daughter, I thought, dreaming of the day that we’ll both share the same bottle.