by Marc Demeule
April 2nd, day off and sunny time. In a car driven by friends, it’s my first visit to New York City for another beer trip. As usual, our first stop was at customs. We were not alone. Too many people like us decided to take advantage of Easter time in a city that could satisfy our eyes and, in our case, our thirsty throats. It took an hour and forty five minutes before being welcomed to the United States of America. Smile, Big Brother is now watching us.
Spuyten Devil was visited three times during that trip. The tap turnover revealed a diverse selection of bottles. The little terrace behind the bar is just perfect in the afternoon when the temperature reaches up to 27 (about 81 F) degrees. In the evening, the place got rapidly crowded. Can 50 people have a seat inside? Probably not.
Best beer tasted: Kuhnhenn Mayhem Belgian Dark Strong Ale
The Barcade is the perfect bar if you liked the 80’s as much as I did. Nostalgia is a good seller. The bar owns a collection of classic arcade machines like Paperboy, Contra, Donkey Kong, 1942… A real kid garden. The beer menu is more than interesting with 24 taps and one cask. The beers poured were too cold. Nevertheless, the bar was a little bit overcrowded so the beer temperature didn’t preoccupy me that much. It could be nice to visit again this bar, but at the open time to avoid the crowd.
Best beer tasted: Ithaca Cascazilla
Our tourists’ visit led us to the Empire State Building where we discovered that this noble giant houses a brewery named Heartland Brewery and Rotisserie. Driven by the discovery instinct, we tried their eight brews. My first impression was the similitude with the Rock Bottom in PDX. Those impressions were only true of the motif. Not one of the beers were infected, but nothing was interesting, even the IPA wasn’t much to speak of. This place is for the family, not good for a beer crawl. Anyway, we took a crazy cab (the myth is true; they really do drive like hell!) and reached our next destination.
Least unpalatable tasted: Farmer Jon’s Oatmeal Stout
The Blind Tiger
I’d like to live in this neighbourhood and have this place for my daily draft beer. Dick’s Brewery has invaded the tap menu (18 of their 28 offerings) when we showed up. Those tiny bars are getting crowded rapidly and I’m getting to an age when you appreciate having a drink and a seat.
Best beer tasted: Allagash White
Rattle n Hum
The next time I come back to New York, it will be my first destination. Their slogan, “No crap on tap” is true for the 40 taps and two casks proposed. Cool staff and rock music of the 90’s complete the ambiance of this taproom. Eight taps were dedicated to Bear Republic during our visit.
Best beer tasted: Bear Republic Rebellion Simcoe
The Ginger Man proposes a cozy lounge ambiance. When you can have access to their comfortable sofas, you conclude that you could spend the rest of the night there, with the 66 different taps offered.
Best beer tasted: Birrificio Pausa Cafè, Tosta
If you’re a vegan, skip the following lines. The Fette Sau BBQ will fulfill your meat expectations. Lamb, pork shoulder, Angus beef, beans, and sausages are served and priced according to the weight. The more you eat, the more you pay. Built in an old garage, this place is owned by the Spuyten Devil folks. We were there for the opening and I was surprised by the queue of meat lovers.
And the beers? Nine taps, served in Mason jars for 5$ a pint. Great selection.
Best beer tasted: Arcadia White
d.b.a wasn’t scheduled in our brew tour, but I discovered it as another nice place with an inviting terrace. You know, kind of bar without excessive noise and without a giga plasma tv on every wall? Just nice. What did I find there? A bottle of HOTD Fred #75 for 6$. Isn’t that life beautiful? Don’t try to guess on the best beer tasted here.
After a mix of arcade and beers, the owners of the Barcade decided to mix another concept with beer: bowling. Here is the Gutter. Take a pair of bowling shoes and strike! My score: 105
Best beer tasted: Dogfish Head Raison d’être
1800 bottles. I don’t care if it is the largest selection in the world, I’m just happy to be there for beer shopping. They have everything, even some Fred and Ruth. Bill: ± 216 $
Gilded Otter Brewing Company. On our way back, we tried this awesome brewery. It is the first time that I see the brewing installations located through the place like this. Unfortunately, the beers are very ordinary. The brewer will need to improve his recipes. It is not just necessary to have products that are not infected, but you need to improve your products as well. On a strictly beer point of view, it was a deception.
Conclusion: There are great beer places in New York City and every style is offered so you can always find something that will accommodate your palate, but you may expect to pay a bit too much for bottled beers. What about Brooklyn Brewery? It was closed. Even brewers can expect a break for Easter.
Next major beer event in Québec will be Le mondial de la bière in June. Come and visit us!