Draft Magazine is a nationally published magazine focused beer culture. They have been around since 2006, sometimes featuring celebrities on their covers. All in all, its not the nerds guide to beer. Its more of a sassy celebration of all things barley pop.
Don’t let my description drive you away. Draft Magazine is good. In fact, all 3 of the Beer Blotter writers are subscribers. We enjoy the fact that Draft presents a global expose on happenings in the beer world. Its really a good way to locate beer venues from around the world.
Just this week, Draft released its annual Top 100 beer bars list. This list is sorted geographically into 4 regions. I was afraid that they were attempting to force options for each of these regions, but it appears that the selections are not equally divided (for example, the Northeast has many more than the South). So, it appears that the choices are without prejudice.
In scouring the list, I was very pleased to see places like Avenue Pub (New Orleans), Apex (Portland), Blind Lady Alehouse (San Diego) and our very own Monk’s hole – The Stumbling Monk (Seattle).
But, one cannot peruse the list without finding their own list of absentees. While less deserving pubs made it (i.e. Cooter Browns (New Orleans), Green Dragon (Portland), McNulty’s Bier Markt (Cleveland)), some of the nation’s most celebrated beer venues are missing.
While that absentee list will differ for each of us, here are my Top 5 Absentees:
- Brouwers Cafe (Seattle) – They must have pissed off a Draft Magazine writer. Many of us know that Brouwers can sometimes rub the wrong way (and its been stated by commenters here on the site), but there is no better selection of ale in the NW. Brouwers routinely procures 60 taps of rare beer, one of the best bottle lists in the country and an unprecedented number of unmatched in-house beer festivals (See Sour Fest, Hopfest, Big Wood, and Hard Liver). Again, they must have pissed someone off.
- Bangers & Lace (Chicago) – This might simply be too early for Draft to call this place a winner. But, Bangers & Lace has quickly ascended to the top of the Chicago beer world. Presenting an unmatched selection of rare beer, along with phenomenal food, B&L deserves a spot. Guest writer For Whom the Bell Toales agrees that this is the #1 beer venue in Chi-town.
- Small Bar (San Diego) – Ok Ok, they got it mostly right. Hamilton’s Tavern, Blind Lady Alehouse, and O’Brien’s Pub should all be on the list. But, Small Bar gives that Top 3 a run for their money. Mixing a spectacular beer selection with epic food and spunky surroundings, I think it deserved a spot above many of the LA selections.
- Brew Kettle (Strongsville, OH) – Draft picked one of the many Cleveland suburb favorites – Buckeye Beer Engine. But, I think they got the wrong one. The Brew Kettle blends an incredible draft lineup (thank god for the connection with Founders), house made ales, and some spectactular bar grub. Get drunk enough? Go brew a batch in the back. Beyond that – its just a cool dark place to grab a beer.
- New York’s Forgotten Trio – Ginger Man, Mug’s Alehouse and d.b.a. (NY, NY) – They picked a lot of NY spots. I can understand that its pretty tough to run into your editor’s office and say we picked the Top 100 – 20 of them are in NY. Its a tough job to pick between the excellent spots in NYC. In my mind, they got the top 3 on the list – Rattle N Hum, Blind Tiger and Spuyten Duyvil. Those three are iconic, and the three places that I spend the most time while in NY. But, the above three all deserve a shot at the list. The Ginger Man is just a few blocks from Rattle N Hum – many would say its the cooler bar. Mug’s is tucked away in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. But unlike the uber-hipster crowd at Spuyten Duyvil, you will find comfort at this grog spot. d.b.a. is the lone East Village fave. d.b.a. has been pouring beer for a long time and has an excellent wide spread selection.
I will say, writing the Top 5 absentees was pretty tough. All in all they did a great job finding the appropriate bars. The Top 100 is a worthy list and you should take a glance.
What else is missing!?
After a long day at the mountain, we are just going to jump right into it.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Hebrew/Coney Island Beer Tasting: Jacksonville, Florida
7:00PM-9:00PM @ European Street Cafe
Get a taste of New York tonight with a tasting of 8 beers from Hebrew/Coney Island Brewing Co. On tap tonight: Albino Pytho; Jewbelation; Coney Island Lager; Sword Swallower Lager; Human Blockhead; Lenny’s RIPA; Genesis and Massiah.
Ommegang Beer Dinner: Rhinebeck, New York
5:00PM-9:00PM @ Terrapin
Upstate New York is home to Brewery Ommegang. Tonight entails a three course meal paired with 9 different Ommegang beers such as Chocolate Indulgence, Beirre de Mars and Three Philosophers. There are menu items for both meat lovers and vegatarians.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Pliny the YOUNGER Keg Tapping: Seattle, Washington
5:00PM or 6:00PM- until its GONE @ Brouwer’s Cafe
PTY, Russian River Brewing Co.’s triple IPA has made it up North to Seattle. We missed the keg at Collin’s Pub on Friday, but we are NOT missing out this time around. This keg is bound to be kicked in an hour, maybe even less, so get there early.
Mardi Gras Celebration: Grand Rapids, Michigan
4:00PM-12:00AM @ HopCat
Okay, so Michigan is a lot colder than New Orleans, but you can still partake in the Mardi Gras festivities. Beads, a faux parade and Abita beer for all!
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Cigar City Unleased: New York, New York
7:00PM-3:00AM @ Rattle -n- Hum
Upright Brewers Dinner: Portland, Oregon
6:00PM – 8:00PM @ Aquariva
A four course meal paired with Upright Brewing’s seasonal beers. This dinner is limited to 25 people at $40.00 per person. Call the restaurant for reservations at 503-802-5850. Beers to be had include: Gose (rare german wheat beer brewed tart with coriander and salt); Flora Rustica (old world saison brewed with yarrow and calendula flowers); Oyster Stout (stout brewed with oysters); Billy the Mountain (pinot barrel aged old ale). Billy the Mountain is especially unique.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Cask Night: Sturbridge, Massachusetts
5:00PM-7:00PM @ Pioneer Brewing Co.
Pioneer Brewing Co. has Cask Conditioned their Stout and added a handful of fresh Cascade Hops. This will be their first time with a Cask Condition brew. Chris Courtney, the assistant brewer will be in attendance to answer any questions you may have. Look for more Cask Conditioned beers in 2010 from Pioneer Brewing Co.
Midwest Night: Brooklyn, New York
6:00PM- 10:00PM @ Baracade
Since 1/3 of Beer Blotter reigns from the great state of Ohio, we wanted to feature this event. Stop by to sample around 20 different beers from the middle of the USA. The draft list isnt posted, but one can only hope breweries like Great Lakes, Founders and Three Floyds will be available for your enjoyment.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Release Party for Great Divide Brews: Denver, Colorado
6:00PM- 10:00PM @ Great Divide Brewing Co.
$20 admission covers snacks and all the Great Divide beer you want, within reason of course. Hoss, Claymore, Colette Saison and Espresso Oak Aged Yeti will be released tonight. Good stuff! Go there.
Bourbon County Stout Vertical Tasting: Chicago, Illinois
8:00PM-10:00PM @ The Long Room
Sample 2007, 2008, and 2009 Bourbon County Stout with the folks from Goose Island Beer Co. Those that show up early enough will also have a chance to sample our very special treat, 2005 Bourbon County Stout. Limited amounts of each, so the beer is first come, first served. This beer ages very well, so it will be interesting to compare the taste through the years.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Dogfish Head Tasting: Bellport, New York
1:00PM-5:00PM @ Bellport Cold Beer and Soda
Dogfish Head beers are available for sale as well as to taste—>6 -8 beers will be for samples! The following beers (only a few are named here) are available in bottles – Singles – 4pks – 6pks – 750’s: Chicory Stout; Midas Touch; Palo Santo Marron and Burton Baton.
HOP FEST: Owosso, Michigan
11:00AM-11:00PM @ Wrought Iron Grill
8 IPA’s on tap, 2 firkins and select bottles will be featured all day starting at 11am. Heated outdoor seating will be available as well as entertainment, food pairings and door prizes. Breweries included will be Short’s Brewing Co., Bell’s, Founders, Avery, Victory, Stone Brewing Co., plus many more.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Hell with the Lid Off Barleywine Fest: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1:00PM-5:00PM @ Kelly’s Bar and Lounge
Tis’ the season for Barleywines, so stop by the 6th Annual Barleywine Fest. A massive collection, draft list available upon arrival for those of you lucky enough to participate.
Meet and Greet with The Bruery: Atlanta, Georgia
6:30PM-8:30PM @ The Porter Beer Bar
As mentioned above, we are moving into the barleywine season, so keep an eye out for featured barleywines at your favorite beer bars! Beer Blotter is looking forward to the barleywine festival at Beveridge Place Pub beginning on the 26th with 24 Dedicated Barleywine Taps and 50 different barleywines rotating throughout the Fest! Attending an event, want to attend an event, want to want to attend an event? Leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers!
After an amazing beer weekend in Portland, Oregon (more on that tomorrow), Beer Blotter is back on schedule with your weekly events. The weeks just keep passing us by and many great beer related festivals await us here in Seattle (Belgiumfest 2010 and Strangebrew festival). But for now, here is what’s going on in Beer USA.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Stout Fest: Chicago, Illinois
11:00 AM until close @ Quenchers Saloon
We are already on day 11 of 31. Yes, thats right, Stout Fest runs from January 1, 2010 until January 31, 2010- every single day. The goal? Well Quenchers has created four groups with five stouts in each group (buy four stouts, get one free). Spend the month of January drinking as many stouts as possible and “closing out” each group and winning congratulatory stouts. Here a beer from each group: Founder’s Breakfast Stout, Avery’s Out of Bounds Stout, Hitachino Espresso Stout and Left Hand Oak Aged Imp. Stout.
Bridgeport Tasting and Meet the Brewer: Portland, Oregon
6:00PM- 8:00PM @ Belmont Station
Come join local craft brewers for a tasting at Belmont Station. BridgePort Brewing Co. is considered Portland’s oldest craft brewing company. Tonight you will be able to sample, the Highland Ambush Scotch Ale, Hop Czar, Bourbon Barrel Aged Ebenezer and MORE
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Founders Black Biscuit Tapping Party: Columbus, Ohio
7:00-9:00 PM @ Bodgea
Details from ratebeer.com state, “Special guests Michael Bell and John Host from Founders Brewing Co. will be in to tap Founders Black Biscuit, an old ale/porter that was aged in a maple bourbon barrel that was stored in the old gypsum mines beneath Grand Rapids. 11% abv 50 ibu’s .” Founders is a one of a kind brewery and specializes in stouts and porters. This event is not to be missed. It is free and 50% happy hour prices will apply between the hours of 7:00PM and 8:00PM.
Weyerbacher Fireside Ale Promotion Night: Mount Holly, New Jersey
7:00PM- close @ High Street Grill
Stop by High Street Grill and enjoy a pint of Weyerbacker’s Fireside Ale, a dark ale with a hint of roasted, smoke flavor. From 7:00PM-10:00PM this beer will be featured along side 16 other taps, live Irish music and $10.00 all you can eat mussels. A perfect food paring for a beer with a rich maltiness, slight bitterness and robust flavor.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
3 Floyd’s Night: Jefferson, Indiana
4:00PM until close @ Rocky’s Sub Pub
If you do not go to this event, we will be so disappointed! Not only can you enjoy a pizza from Rocky’s, you get to try 10 or more beers from 3 Floyd’s Brewing Co. What the beer drinkers of Seattle would do for such an event! Here….it….is….Moloko, a sweet stout, Dreadnaught IPA, Ham on Rye, Broo Doo, an Oktober style brew, Pride and Joy, Alpha King, Gumballhead, Alpha Klaus, Robert the Bruce, Großer Kurfürst, and Alpha King on cask. Not to mention, Lincoln Anderson will be there from the brewery!
Goose Island Beers Galore!: New York, New York
5:00PM- until close @ Rattle-N-Hum
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Dogfish Head Night: Glenside, Pennsylvania
starts at 7:00 PM @ Union Jacks
Michigan Microbrew Night: Lansing, Michigan
7:00PM-9:00PM @ Reno’s Sports Bar West
For only two hours, you can come experience the great beers of the Mid-western state that is Michigan. Featured breweries include Atwater, Founders, Arcadia, Michigan, Mount Pleasant, Shorts, Bell’s, New Holland, Dark Horse and Dragonmead. $15 Advance, $20 at door, includes 10 samples, snacks, and a raffle drawing. There is a whole lot going on in these two hours!
Friday, January 15, 2010
Great Alaska Beer and Barleywine Festival: Anchorage, Alaska
5:00PM- 10:00 PM @ William A. Egan Convention Center
The price of this festival rivals that of many at $30.00. The major difference is that you get 30 tastes! Make sure you grab some food during and stay hydrated! Live music and amazing food will accompany a line of beers worth the trek across Canada. Dogfish head features their Chicory Stout, Great Divide’s Old Ruffian Barleywine will grace the stage, Midnight Sun Brewing Co. has 10 beers for pouring (TEN!), Brewery Ommegang., Orval, Rochefort, Rodenbach…it certainly does not start nor stop there. Check out the event’s official website here!
Black Tot Day with Avery Brewing: Boulder, Colorado
5:00PM- 8:00PM @ Avery Brewing Co.
Straight from “source”–> Be there to make sure you get some bottles of this incredible and indelibly unique brew. Imperial Oatmeal Stout aged in Gosling’s Rum barrels. Huge. Chewy. Endlessly deep. Smooth beyond belief with endless amounts of subtle flavors that work their way out as you sip. This beer is so good that you can quaff a pint or sip and savor a few ounces with equal ease. The only difficult part is deciding what you want to do with it! $8 per 12oz bottle. Max 6 bottles per customer. We’ll have just a tad over 300 cases of this beer (24/12oz.) to go around. Limited one time release, with a few cases being sent to select states. Coming to Black Tot Day at the Avery Tap Room is the only way to GUARANTEE that you get your hands on some bottles! We’ll also have 5 gallon kegs tapped of unoaked, rye barrel and bourbon barrel versions of the Imperial Oatmeal Stout, along with Black Tot itself. We’ll be pouring a single 5 gallon keg of each and no more…when they’re gone they’re gone! $3 per taster. No door charge!
Saturday, January 16, 2010
The Great Alaskan Beer and Barleywine Festival Continues from 6:00PM-10:00PM
Brooklyn Brewery Night: Greensburg, Pennsylvania
7:00PM- 9:00PM @ Mister Bones Bistro and Brew Hub
Seating is limited at a cost of $15.00 and you will be able to sample Brooklyn Brewery’s Lager, IPA, and Brown ale. Brooklyn will also bring a limited release beer for everyone to sample. The bistro will be creating a special menu for the evening, full of foods that will compliment the different styles of beer featured. The signature light hors d’oeuvres will be included with the purchase of an event ticket. (The full menu will also be available)
World Beer Festival: Columbia, South Carolina
(2 sessions) 12:00 PM- 4:00PM & 6:00PM-10:00PM @ the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center
With over 150 vendors, local music and 300 beers, for $40.00 you can sample has little or as much as your heart and liver desire. For more information about the event click here and for pictures from the event last January, click right….here.
Sunday, January 27, 2010
Valley Brew Beer Dinner: San Francisco, California
starts at 6:00PM @ Anchor and Hope Restaurant
Victory Brewing Beer Dinner: Grand Rapids, Michigan
6:00PM-8:00PM @ HopCat
Victory Brewing out of Pennsylvia is featured at tonight’s beer and food pairing dinner. Tonight four beers will be paired with four dishes. The beers you can expect to taste include, Yakima Twilight, Wild Devil, Baltic Thunder and the very rare V-12.
The holidays are surely over, as this week proved difficult in chosing which events to feature. From large beer festivals to small, intimate dinners, we hope those in attendance have a damn good time. If you attend any of the mentioned events, want to share an event or have any suggestions for the event blog, leave a comment or email us at email@example.com. Cheers and have a great beer drinking week!
Ok, I just realized that 1999 was 11, yes 11 years ago. Just imagine all of the great beer we will drink for the next 11! For the first week of 2010, we bring you beer events, the only way to start year off right.
Monday, January 4, 2010
Sad to say, the first Monday of the year proves uneventful. So grab something special from your cellar and drink up! In place of events for the day, as everyone is catching up from the holidays, we present you with “Whats on Tap” at one of our local favorite beer bars, Naked City. Head to the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle to try, Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada’s Life and Limb, Speakeasy’s Old Godfather Barleywine, Russian River Damnation and Port Brewing’s Santa’s Little Helper. All amazing and/or new beers!
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Victory is Mine!: Burlington, Vermont
5:00 PM – 11:00 PM at American Flatbread Burlington Hearth
Pennsylvania’s Victory Brewing is heading up North for a night and they are bringing the goods. Prima Pils; Golden Monkey; Hop Wallap ON CASK; Storm King Imperial Stout; Helios; Old Horizontal Barleywine; Yakima Twilight; and Wild Devil which is only available in bottles. We recently had the Old Horizontal Barleywine and it was amazing. That beer alone would entice us to attend this event. However, Victory has a great range of styles for all beer lovers.
Bigger, Badder, Blacker Beer Week: Portland, Oregon
Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 3:00 PM until Friday, January 8, 2010 at 11:00 PM at Belmont Station
Not only is Belmont Station worth a trip due to their amazing bottle selection, but attached is a beer cafe. This week, the cafe will have the following “dark” beers on tap: Deschutes Abyss & Black Butte 21, Great Divide Chocolate Yeti, Hebrew Jewbelation 13, Alaskan Baltic Porter and Firestone Walker Velvet Mirkin, among others. Your mouth should be watering just from reading this list. We can only hope that some will survive for Saturday as we make our way to Portland.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
The Shelton Brothers Presents: New York, New York
4:00 PM until close at the Blind Tiger Ale House
The Shelton Brothers, importers of fine, microbrewed beers from around the world are at the Blind Tiger to showcase some of the finest. The beers on tap for the night/event include Nøgne Ø Winter, Cantillon Pure Kriek (100 on ratebeer.com), Ridgeway Bad Elf and Mikkeller Imperial Pils, among others. Tonight is a great night to try some beers from afar!
Hop Slam: Cincinnati, Ohio
4:00PM- 9:00 PM at JeanRo
Come join Bell’s Brewery for the release of HopSlam, a bitter, hoppy ale. Tonight’s specials include $1.00 off all Bell’s Brewery’s beers and cheap treats! Later this week on Saturday, Bell’s Brewery will continue to promote HopSlam at the Whole Foods Market in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Vintage 2007 Old Stone Guardian Barleywine Tapping: Las Vegas, Nevada
5:00 PM-12:00 AM at Aces & Ales
Las Vegas has more to offer than strippers, lights, gambling and strong cocktails. Stop by Aces & Ales to enjoy a beer worth the two year wait. Stone Brewing’s Old Guardian is a bold barleywine with prevalent hop notes. Being poured from the tap, these flavors and the thick body will be sinfully enhanced.
Friday, January 8, 2010
First Ever Williamsburg Cask Ale Festival: New York, New York
Friday January 8, 2010 at 1:00 PM until Sunday. January 10, 2010 at D.B.A.
Expect at least 12 rare and tasty cask beers to be pouring over the weekend, including beers not normally seen in cask in NYC. Stop by the newest of the three D.B.A. locations in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to see whats flowing. Beer Blotter has been to the New Orleans and East Village locations, enjoying pint after pint during our trips. Great atmosphere, great beer lists!
Where the Wild Beers Are: Atlanta, Georgia
6:00 PM until 8:00 PM at The Porter Beer Bar
Need we say more than…Allagash Brewing Co. is taking over the tap list at this Atlanta beer bar for two hours???? Didn’ t think so. The list will include the following beers: Hugh Malone; Fluxus; Odyssey; Interlude; Victory; Burnam Road; Four; Triple; White; and Curieux. Taste, take notes and report back….please.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Hair of the Dog Tasting: Tustin, California
2:00PM to 8:00 PM at Whole Foods
For those of you close enough to Tustin, stop by your local Whole Foods, bring $10.00 and try a variety of Hair of the Dog beers. Now you all must know of our new found obsession with this brewery. Thank you Brouwer’s Cafe and Big Wood Fest 2009. For six hours, Whole Foods will be pouring Adam, Ruth, Fred & Blue Dot.
Blue Point Raids the Taps!: New York, New York
5:00 PM until close at Rattle-N-Hum
Not only do you want to just be at this bar because of its location, beer selection and excellent bartenders, you want to taste many, all and every beer from Long Island’s Blue Point Brewery. Although we are not familiar with all the beers, here are a few on the list that sound interesting or just plain good: Sour Cherry Imperial Stout; Toasted Lager; Oatmeal Stout; Hoptical Illusion and Winter Wizard.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
The Pale Side of Tasting Beer: Los Angeles, California
5:00 PM until 10:00 PM at 55 Degree Wine
This local “beverage” shop is hosting a Sunday evening tasting of pale, blonde, fresh, and even hoppy ales. Featuring four Belgium beer and one from France, this tasting will not only tantalize your taste buds but will expand your mind. We intend to drink only French, German and Belgium beers for the month of February as Beer Blotter gears up and primes our livers for the epic trip to Europe in March. More to report on that later.
Another week has come and gone, and another week is ahead. There are so many great events every week around the country, its difficult to pick and choose. However, we hope that our weekly events span the country, touch on a variety of styles and introuduce new breweries and venues. If you attend an event this week, are looking forward to an event or even want to promote your own event, please leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well the trip to New York was everything we expected and more. A lot more, as in painful mornings and the worst headache of one man’s imbibing career (12/27 is a day that will live in infamy).
You could not be there, but we wish you could. So, lets take a peak inside the 3.5 days of NYC beer jaunting in a 3 part segment known simply as “The NYChronicles.”
Christmas is in the air – then its gone. This is a traditional and historically catastrophic comedown. A month long climax and subsequent deep descent stemming from childhood wishes and dreams. But, the cruel honesty of adulthood sets in and you recognize that you only get about 12 hours of real Christmas spirit, then its back to your mobile device, answering emails of customers, back to the bankbook to ensure your account is not overdrawn, and back to the reality that gifts are enjoyed by wearing them on your back and not by tearing open a box for 1 to 2 hours of technological amazement.
But ah ha! Christmas this year was a teaser for things to come. Christmas brought joy, happiness, a few beers (see article) and some curious thoughts of what might be ahead as we traipsed closer to beer jaunting madness. For this Christmas season, the Blotter crew slept well on Christmas Eve, hoping to shred through some gifts (thanks Mom and Linda for the beer gifts) and move on to a long awaited and epic journey to the depths of the NYC beer doldrums – hahahahaha!
OK OK – its not scary. Its also not “doldrums” by any stretch of the word. Its a wondrous and beautiful community of swanky beer bars, old style beer warehouses, acclaimed breweries (though few) and cross-town competition. We had about 72 hours total. We had to sleep, eat, travel (Bay Ridge, Brooklyn is not close to Manhattan), attend events (hello Knicks game and Broadway) and work off hangovers with brisk runs which became shorter and shorter each day.
All in all – we did damn good. Here’s the story.
Awake in Brooklyn.
We are staying in the Bay Ridge Neighborhood of Brooklyn. Here you will not find any acknowledgeable beer establishments (mini-shoutout to Kettle Black and Salty Dog for their great bar food though), but you will find Ben’s Pizzeria and Bagel Boy – both food leaders in their respective categories. Nothing primes the stomach for beer consumption like a Bagel Boy Everything bagel following a brisk 5K run. Bagel Boy is great, and worth the morning hike.
We are off for the big city. My companion has a date to see Wicked on Broadway with her amazing mother and rarely does a man get the opportunity to embark on the big city alone, during a family holiday. I relish in this chance.
Approach….Manhattan: New Beer Distributors and Bowery Beer Room
I am being dropped off in Lower Manhattan by the World Trade Center site. I used to work next door to the site in 2005 during my hiatus from Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans. Not amazingly, nothing has changed. The site remains largely undeveloped in over 9 years since cleanup began.
I am jumping on the JMZ (brown) line, going north, headed for Bowery and the Lower East Side. When we lived in Manhattan in 2005 we trounced this area nightly. The music scene is incredible, launching careers of the Ramones, Patti Smith and Interpol. I remember spending New Years 2005 in Hi Fi Lounge, up on Ave A, enjoying every last moment. Hi Fi is still kicking and still has the best assortment of music relics on the walls – along with a good beer or two.
But I am on a mission. A mission to find New Beer Distributors (NBD). NBD is a small warehouse on Chrystie and Rivington right below Houston and to the immediate east of Bowery off the Bowery J stop on the subway.
I had heard that NBD had an incredible selection, including several extremely rare items, as well as some vintage bottles. I heard right. They also showcase 4 or 5 taps for filling growlers. None of their offerings were run of the mill, ranging from Southern Tier Choklat to Ramstein Eisbock!
In pursuing the bottle collection I found that their most impressive collection was US beer. They had an equally impressive collection of East Coast and West Coast ales, as well as some excellent Midwest faves (hello Hoppin Frog and Kuhnhenn).
I whipped out a small backpack (remember, Im wandering the city all day) and started collecting. Of course, my eyes were too big for my backpack and I had to do the ole “exclude the least necessary” trick, counting down from #1 until the pack was full. Here is what I found:
Brooklyn Black Ops – dum da da da – she’s a beaut. This was our No. 1 goal for bringing something back. The label tells the tale – “Black Ops is not a beer.” Im fine with that. Whatever is inside is going to be worth the $19.00 price tag (which is cheaper than any other place by about 3-5 bucks).
Cigar City Improvisation (Oatmeal Rye Brown Ale – Yum)
Weyerbacher 13th Anniversary (this year WB did a finely crafted imperial stout, inspired by Belgian Quads – 13.6%!)
Two Brothers Heavier Handed Oak-Aged IPA (bulked up version of the original IPA)
Arcadia Imperial Stout
St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout (a Montreal favorite)
Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA
Troegs Flying Moulan (acclaimed barleywine – 99 Rate Beer)
Captain Lawrence Double IPA
I also noticed some amazing St. Somewhere beers (all three that are bottled) and a slew of Smuttynose limited IPAs. But alas, I accepted my bounty, thanked the amazingly kind shop owner and carried on up to Houston to grab a sandwich at the famous Katz Delicatessen.
Katz is too good that its become a nightmare. The only way to truly enjoy this place is to come with one other friend, have that person snake a table quick and you weasel your way in at the counter. Once you get to the counter order a lot of different meats, as the sandwich artist will carve you slices to enjoy while you wait. You must get the pastrami – best in the world.
After scarfing down a hald corned beef and half pastrami on rye, I headed back west to take a stop in to the Whole Foods Bowery Beer Room on my way back to the subway. This is the only “beer-centric” Whole Foods that i have seen, harboring at least 1000 different beers and a half-dozen beers on tap, to fill your growler.
I am in quite a rush (behind schedule due to ogling that ensued at NBD), with a full backpack, so I do a lap of the place. Prices are bit heftier than NBD and the selection is a not as impressive. But, the beer room has excellent resources, a bountiful Belgian collection (better than NBD’s) and parking!
Heading North: Rattle N Hum
After finishing my lap – I head back west to the 4/6 green line. I am taking the 6 north up to 33rd Street and Madison. There I will seek out the establishment for which I had held highest hopes – Rattle N Hum.
Rattle N Hum is owned by an Irish chap in his 30s, who often hangs about the bar with his golden retriever. You get the feeling that he is incredibly well-liked by his staff and the regular patrons.
The bar is laden with posters of amazing beer events my palette will not be afforded. Though I crave to be present for the Weyerbacher cask event on 12/29/09 – I cant make.
The bar has my favorite beer menu – and thanks for the copy goes to the wonderful bartender! The menu shows 42 taps, each of which includes the location of the brewery, BeerAdvocate.com rating, and the alcohol by volume. The beers are sorted by their styling for ease of location. One of the best things – you will be hard-pressed to find more than one offering from any one brewer. This ensures that 40 breweries are hitting the taps. (Plus: They have 4 cask beers!)
On the draft list and notable:
Cigar City Jai Alai IPA – I was amazed to see this. Us West Coasters often dream of getting to sample the wondrous nectar that is Cigar City beer, typically aged in amazing woods. Jai Alai does not disappoint – its incredibly sweet and malty, while having incredible pineapple and grapefruit flavor that overpowers any taste of alcohol (its 7.5%). One of our favorites from the trip, it seems to breath best from a wider-mouthed glass. So, stay away from the half pint pours.
Two Brothers Northwind Imperial Stout – Of the Russian varietal, this beer is not incredibly strong (8.5%) but packs a high-octane flavor. Hints of smoked woods and espresso beans fill the glass in both nose and taste. We were surprised to find that other raters were not as fond as we were (Ratebeer 80), but its surely worth a pint.
Goose Island Pere Jacques – I had been wanting to snag this guy for months now, after I mistakenly grabbed a bottle of Sofie (another one of GI’s Belgians) at a Chicago bottle shop. I now know what I missed. Pere Jacques is a 9.0% ABV Abbey ale, which carries a heavy dark rich fruit flavor and the nose of a dark sour ale. Very enjoyable.
Captain Lawrence DIPA – Another beer I had been hoping to snag (and I grabbed a bottle at New Beer) is this hop monster from NY’s Captain Lawrence. This beer has a rich syrupy body and smells almost of citrus and banana juices. In my rankings, I gave it a 97/100.
Others of Note:
Cigar City Maduro Espresso (they were out! but alas i caught up with it on Day 3)
SixPoint Otis (Oatmeal Stout at 6.1%)
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (13.0% – incredible)
21st Amendment Monk’s Blood (Belgian Dark Ale)
Smuttynose Finest Kind IPA (well liked in public – A+ on BeerAdvocate.com – extremely bitter)
Nogne-O Winter Ale
Rodenbach Grand Cru
Rattle N Hum also boasts a nice food menu with many IPA-infused items. Their wings are impressive and during football games they are only .25 cents (YES!).
Rattle N Hum is a great place for beer snobs and newbies. Just a hop from the Midtown shopping areas, Rattle N Hum caters to tourists who just want a pint and locals who know where to find the best grog. Also, the back of the menu provides hints about how to taste beer from local beer expert Alex Hall.
All in all – its sitting pretty at No. 1 in the beer bar rankings.
Subway West: Pony Bar
Im heading west. I am to meet my co-author at Divine Bar on West 51st for a quick bottle of Hitachino Classic Ale and then we are off to find the next great tap.
While at Rattle N Hum, I was told by the excellent bartender that newer beer bar had opened on 10th Avenue and 45th Street some time ago. The Pony Bar has about 20 taps and has been finding a way to keep the bartender from straying from her resident neighborhood nightly.
Pony Bar is nice, with excellent large wood tables and beer barrel seats well situated on the floor. The bartenders were very accommodating with my requests to sample some offerings – and they even charged my phone, which had been on RateBeer.com hyperdrive all day long.
The taplist, oh the taplist. I was worried when I only saw a few beers on the list. I was afraid when I saw that many were winter ales (not a huge fan of the typical winter ale). But, a closer look and………wow. Pony Bar was pouring some amazing beers that were on my “Have to drink” list. Here we go:
Captain Lawrence Nor’Easter – Of all the beers we tried here – this is the most complex. This beers has at least 3 levels of flavor and ends with such a great bang. The beer has a fruity, funky and almost sour nose and ends with a barrel-aged vanilla smoothness. Highly recommended. We gave her a 95/100.
Troeg’s Mad Elf – One of our authors (timperial stout) has raved about this beer in the past. We found it to be casual, but packing a nice christmas spice that makes up for the lack of other prevalent flavors.
Victory Old Horizonal – Really? that cant be Victory. Oh yes, its Victory. I have never been particularly excited about a Victory beer – but this one gave me a whole new respect for the PA brewer. A RateBeer 100, this beer has an amazing balance of caramel and butterscotch flavorings, melded with some prevailing hop flavor. It is very similar to RedHook’s Treblehook, but with a bit more smoothness. Again – get this beer (i did – bought a bottle to smuggle back on the place). 100/100.
Troeg’s Dead Reckoning Porter – We wanted to give Troegs one more chance to floor us. We were both glad we took this leap (ok, it was a minor step). This smokey porter has a welcoming hop bitterness, which does not sting your throat. Very impressive for a simple porter styling.
In all, Pony Bar is very impressive, even though they lack the sizable taplist a beer geek might want to see. I was very glad to see a quality grog shop show up on the west side, where it was so sorely lacking.
Give Up, Just Give Up
After geeking out on a nice 14oz pour of 10.5% Old Horizontal – its time to not push it. We actually still have to head to Brooklyn for a night of “catch up” with some old friends. Luckily, we will live through this night. But, not without repercussions.
Day 2 is on its way.
Let us know below if you have any comments or questions about any of the places or beers mentioned herein!
After the holiday week, Beer Blotter is back on track and ready to plan your New Year’s Eve night. Celebrating the new year amongst friends, beer lovers and great beer seems like the obvious thing to do. So we present you with a list of beer bars to stop by or beer events to attend tomorrow night, December 31, 2009. The focus will be on 2 cities, Seattle and New York City (where we were and where we are now) Check back on Monday for Beer Blotter’s regular weekly event posting.
Uber Tavern will have beer specials galore on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, so bring your sleeping bag and crash there. A list of specialty beers from our neighboring state, Oregon on tap for the occasion include Cascade Blackberry Nightfall ($4.00/goblet); Cascade Sang Noir ($5.00/goblet); Old Lompoc Old Tavern Rat ($3.00/schooner); Old Lompoc C-Note ($3.50/pint); Old Lompoc LSD ($3.50/pint); Old Lompoc Holiday Cheer ($3.50/pint). Enjoy your brews along side a smorgasbord of cured meats, cheeses and chocolates.
Fremont Brewing is hoping to entice Seattleites that may over indulge on New Year’s Eve to join the Resolution Run 5K and Polar Bear Dive. That will cure a hangover! After a 5K run and an OPTIONAL Polar Bear Dive into Lake Washington, Fremont Brewing will provide participants (over the age of 21) with unlimited beer and chili to warm them right up.
New York, New York (home to a beer lover’s dream NYE)
Blind Tiger Ale House will have unlimited beer and food from 9:00 PM-2:00 AM for $120.00/person.Call 212-462-4682 for reservations and details.
Rattle-n- Hum features an amazing tap list and karaoke to usher in the new year. Patrons have the option to pay-as-you-go, or buy a $150 open-bar ticket, which includes all beers, liquor and a Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Ops toast at midnight.
Beer Table is a modest establishment in Brooklyn, New York and is hosting the Past, Present and Future Dinner with two separate times to dine. The special menu includes three beers (from the past present and future) paired with spicy black eyed pea salad, Bamberg onion (stuffed with pork and topped with bacon) and potatoes, and Bayley Hazen Blue with honey and hazelnuts. The two sittings are at 8PM for $45 and 10PM for $55.
Then start start 2010 off right with Schneider Aventinus Eisbock from a gravity keg and butter beans with bacon.
If your in the mood for some R and R, some Dick Clark and beers in the warmth of your own abode. Then check out these winter warmers and Christmas beers, chosen by Timperial Stout.
The ice bock, also known as “Bavarian”, owes its discovery to a coincidence. According to the chronicles of the Kulmbacher brewery, some time around 1900 an apprentice forgot on a cold winter day to carry two barrels of bock beer into the brewery cellar. The barrels stayed outside, were covered by ice and snow and weren’t discovered until the following spring. The barrels had burst and the apprentice was reprimanded. But the carelessness was a stroke of luck because under the thick ice coat, a bock beer extract remained, strong tasting and high in alcoholic content. Even if the dark, tasty speciality is not produced in this spectacular way anymore, the chance that gave birth to this beer became a tradition. Today this beer rarity is brewed in a modern brewing and freezing process, but the incomparable taste is still the same and can always be enjoyed in winter months.
Mikkeller – To/From
From the website:
The second Christmas porter from Mikkeller. A spiced porter with fine malt background and lovely hop aroma and flavor. The label is designed as a ‘From To’ card – fill in the names and put the bottle it under the Christmas tree. The perfect give away gift for the lazy man/woman…!
Ingredients: Water, malt (pale, smoked, cara-crystal, brown and chocolate), roasted barley, dark cassonade, hops (amarillo, saaz and cascade), spices (star anise, clove, cinnamon and coriander seeds) and yeast.
The Bruery – Two Turtle Doves
From the website:
2 Turtle Doves is the second in the 12 Days/Years of Christmas Services. We decided to take our inspiration from the name and base the beer on the “turtle” candy, brewing it with cocoa nibs, toasted pecans, caramelized sugar and a lot of caramel malts. Somewhere between a Belgian-style Dark Strong Ale and an Imperial Porter, this beer is designed to take the journey through time until 12 Drummers Drumming.
Alesmith Brewing Co.- Yulesmith Holiday Ale
From the website:
For the winter season, YuleSmith is brewed as an Imperial Red Ale. This version is maltier, more balanced, and darker in color than the summer version. Although quite malty, big hop flavors and aromas are abundant making this an unforgettable winter warmer. Winter YuleSmith is packaged in traditional holiday red and green.
Ommegang – Adoration
From the website:
Ommegang Adoration, brewed in the authentic style of Belgian winter, or noel beer, is dark, strong, malty and assertively spiced. At 10% abv Adoration is not a lightweight beer, and is best sipped before a roaring fire, or on a sleigh ride over the hills to Grandma’s house. (But let someone else drive.) It would also be a tasty accompaniment to dark roasts and wild game. Even at the strong abv, the beer is well-balanced and not at all hot or fiery. The dark malts give it lush, malty flavors and aromas, strongly complemented by the five spices, including coriander, cumin, mace, cardamom and grains of paradise. Hopping is modest, as befits such a beer.
Troeg’s – Mad Elf
From the website:
The Mad Elf, a cheerful creation to warm your heart and enlighten your tongue. The combination of Cherries, Honey, and Chocolate Malts delivers gentle fruits and subtle spices. Fermented and aged with a unique yeast, this ruby red beer has significant warming strength that underlies the pleasant character of this intriguing yet delicious Ale. The Mad Elf, a jolly and delicious beer for the Holidays.
Nogne O – Winter Ale
http://www.nogne-o.com/ (website is having some technical difficulties)
From the website:
A dark ale brewed specially for the Christmas season, with a rich, complex taste of caramel. This is a strong, dark and rather sweet Christmas Beer – just the way we think a Christmas beer should be.
Recommended serving temperature 12°C/53°F. Great with cheese or nuts. Ingredients:Lager, Munich, caramel, black, and chocolate malt; Chinook, Columbus, and Centennial hops; English ale yeast, and our local Grimstad water.”
Jolly Pumpkin – Noel de Calabaza
From the website:
Noel de Calabaza – Deep mahogany and malty, layered hops, figs, raisins, sugar plums, cashews betwixt rum laden truffles.
Port Brewing – Santa’s Little Helper
From the website:
Each and every year, the Jolly Old Fatman sits down and compiles a list of who’s been naughty and nice. It’s curious that he never knows which list to put our brewers on as this is one naughty but incredibly nice beer.
Originally brewed at the Pizza Port in Solana Beach in November of 1997. As dark as the biggest lump of coal Santa can deliver, this beer has earned a dedicated following and is code named Satan’s Little Hangover by those who have indulged in a holiday like manner from time to time.
Originally shipped from London to the Czarist rulers of Russia, Imperial Stouts are stronger, richer and more robust versions of traditional stouts. The increase in alcohol content means that literally, many of these beers are a meal in a glass all on their own. Made from copious amounts of Roasted and Black Barleys, our stout invites you to share a silky black body with hints of freshly pulled espresso from the coffee house, melding with dark bitter sweet chocolate from a Belgian Chocolateer and the ash of a smoldering fire on a dark winters night.
Just remember that somewhere out there, the jolly old fat man is making a list and checking it twice. He knows who’s been naughty and nice… Might we suggest that you forgo the Milk with the cookies this year and leave him of bottle of something incredibly nice- Say like Santa’s Little Helper? Mrs. Clause would probably like some as well. That is if Rudolph doesn’t drink it all himself. Bad Reindeer.
Malts- Two Row, Wheat, Domestic and English Crystal, Roasted, Black and Chocolate Malts
Hops- Phoenix, Challenger and East Kent Goldings
Yeast- White Labs California Ale and Proprietary Yeast Strains
Most importantly, while enjoying yourself at home or out on the town, be safe, have fun and HAPPY 2010!!!!
After a 6 day whirlwind trip through NYC, Beer Blotter is excited to be back in the Pacific NW. Check back with us later tonight or tomorrow for posts on all of our beer excursions and amazing beers we had back East. We purchased a bottle of Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Ops, we drank an amazing Rauchbier, at Spuyten Duyvil in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, stopped by the Blind Tiger Ale House and Rattle- n- Hum and even indulged in some Weyerbacher beers.
We are back and ready to blog!