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Tossing Poor Pizza

April 11, 2018

When you write a blog for a long time, you’re on the record about many many things.

At some point in the past I’ve written about the free pizza at The City Beer Hall. Because my feelings are generally pretty consistent over time, I can give you a reasonably good summary of what I most likely said. I also know this, because these are the same words I say whenever anyone asks me about the free pizza at The City Beer Hall.

It’s probably the best free pizza you’ll ever get at a bar, but it’s not good pizza.

And I suppose it’s not technically free either. When you buy a beer they give you a ticket to redeem in the kitchen. Presumably the cost is baked into the beer pours. It’s just a tortilla, a bit of sauce, a bit of cheese, and the time and energy of the one dedicated person cranking them out in the kitchen.

When you mention The City Beer Hall to someone, they will invariably mention the free pizza gimmick. It’s clever. It’s catchy. And even bad pizza is still pizza.

That said, I’m also on the record for hating the free pizza at The City Beer Hall, because not only does it distract attention from the really interesting things Dimitrios is doing in the kitchen, but it also fills up space in customers bellies so many won’t get the chance to experience the joys of the current menu.

With all this in mind, I have to make a confession.

On Saturday, the after party of the Albany Craft Beer Festival was at The City Beer Hall. And yes, even though I had started sampling beers at noon, at 8pm I walked down to grab a post festival celebratory drink.

They had the Other Half Mylar Bags on draft, and it was a delicious way to end the night.

I wasn’t hungry, per se. But there was a ticket for a free pizza. My palate was shot. I was probably not making the best decisions. And a free pizza sounded good. So I got one. And with a few shakings of grated cheese and hot pepper, the thing was hot, cheesy, and flavorful, if not particularly good.

And that’s when things get interesting. Because I got busted eating it. By Chef Dimitrios.

He too hates those pizzas. For presumably similar reasons. Now, I couldn’t tell you exactly what we said. My memory of the night is a little spotty. I do know that I didn’t want to be eating that pizza. And I know that he didn’t want me eating that pizza. So D did the kindest, most rational thing imaginable.

He took it away. Much to the amazement, shock, and horror of some onlooker nearby.

I mean, sure, I was eating it. But I was only eating it because it was there. Soon, Dimitrios came back, and the thing that was now there was an order of his house made Chicken Nugs. It turns out that for the price of a good beer, you can get a plate of pickle brine, super crunchy, fried chicken bites served with a sambal aioli.


Those were fantastic. Thank you chef.

And still, I wasn’t particularly hungry, so I made sure to share the plate with some of the other people who worked both sessions of the Albany Craft Beer Festival. What can I tell you, when I experience something delicious, I want to share that with others.

What this was, more than anything else, was a wakeup call to my better sensibilities. It was a reminder to stand by my values. It’s hard to say no to free pizza. It takes a certain kind of emotional strength that I was lacking at that very moment.

Hopefully I will do better in the future, and I hope you will too.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 11, 2018 3:42 pm

    I’ve never had the free slice at the beer hall, but your post reminded of a story that Tom Lehman (The Dough Doctor) told on the pizza forum that I thought was interesting. Here’s his post:

    “The thread topic brings up a story about a pizza manufacturer in Wisconsin that started out making pizzas and selling them to local bars along with a simple toaster oven to bake them in. The concept worked better than expected as bars were reporting that when the pizzas were served (at no cost to the patrons) beer sales rose significantly…great for business! As time went on other manufacturers, both large and small, got onto the wagon for a piece of the action and sold their pizzas at a lower cost which was received by open arms by the bars (remember that they were giving it away when the bar was busy) in short order the bars all discovered that when they used brand “X” pizzas (all others except for the original pizzas) the bar patrons ate the pizza but beer sales didn’t go up resulting in a potential loss of revenue….not a good thing! So they went back to the original pizzas (from the unnamed manufacturer) and viola! Consumption of beer again increased when the pizza was served, fact or fiction? Turns out it was fact, the manufacturer made their pizzas using the cold press forming method, that method requires the use of high levels of L-cysteine (sold in a commercial form called PZ-44), it just so happens that when used at high levels, L-cysteine mimics the effect of thirst on your lips….ahhhh, give me another beer! None of the other manufacturers used the cold press forming method so they didn’t need to use L-cysteine, and if they did it was at a much lower level so it didn’t mimic thirst as the higher levels did. You can see this for yourself if you use PZ-44 in your dough at roughly 3-times the recommended level. If you do this your dough management procedure should look like this: Mix, immediately scale and ball, rest for 10-minutes, open into a pizza skin, place onto an oiled pan, rest for 5-minutes, again press the dough out to completely fit the pan, dress and bake. To replicate those first pizzas mentioned par-bake the skins until they just begin to show color, immediately upon removal from the oven invert on a cooling screen to cool for 30-minutes, then dress and place into a toaster oven to finish the pizza. A little “pizza history” there.”

    Turns out that all free bar pizzas are not created equal.

  2. albanylandlord permalink
    April 12, 2018 4:03 pm

    I blame your bad decision on 7 hours of drinking. OTOH after 7 hours of drinking it wasn’t necessarily a bad decision…

    Love Dimitrios’ response!

  3. April 20, 2018 1:42 am

    Even if pizza is free, I refuse to eat it. Hate pizza :)

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