A Beginners Guide To Finding Craft Beer In NYC!

So on April 1st this article was  written by “Hoppy Boston” and I had to ask if it was an April Fools joke.  I found out that it wasn’t but there were some well written points that I have been through and agree with:

 

When I first moved to Boston (over ten years ago, damn that makes me feel a little old) this city had a similar issue. There were a few craft beer bars, and majority of other bars had a pretty standard selection. You would get some macro-lagers (Bud, Miller), some big beer imports (Guinness, Bass, Harp), some crafty beers (like Blue Moon) along with Sam Adams and Harpoon, which were the major craft beers on the market. A good bar might have Long Trail or Smuttynose, along with Sierra Nevada in bottles.

This resonates with me because it was the Boston I had met nine years ago.  Yesterday was a glorious day because Slumbrew announced that they were opening a tasting room and brewery in Somerville Ma.

To relate Somerville to New York here is how it would play out of Boston and its suburbs were to be cast in the similar roles:

Boston Proper would play Manhattan.

Cambridge would play Brooklyn.

Somerville would play Queens.

To not have Slumbrew on tap in Somerville is like a place in Queens not carrying Singlecut (Although I didn’t see it on tap at Alewife and that place is 110% legit).  It denies you  cred for knowing your beer.  Truth of the matter is that on a 1.6 mile stretch on Broadway Ave in Somerville there are three bars that carry zero Slumbrew. This is a sad state of affairs:

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My sadness is evident on this trail. Must detour off of it. I should have stopped at East End Grille!

I do see this as being an out of towners lost cause on finding good beer if they were subjected to the wrong places in Boston in the year 2014.

All of the bars I visited in Manhattan had the type of selection you would find in Boston a decade ago (macro lagers, crafty beers and big beer imports). One place had Dogfishhead 60 Minute on draft and I was pleasantly surprised. We didn’t find a single local beer on draft or in bottles at any of the places we went. New York (city and state) has some great breweries including Brooklyn, Sixpoint, Ommegang, Ithaca and Southern Tier. I am sure there are dozens of others that have more limited distribution. I really wonder why the bars in the city haven’t embraced the craft beer revolution. Are people in Manhattan less interested in craft beer? Are the bars unwilling to step outside the box? Did I just get unlucky and hit a bunch of places with a crappy beer selection?

I will say yes and it is like the Broadway story above.  If you are not familiar with an area you can find yourself in a bit of trouble. I’m always glad to help though.

My story starts in August of last year when I had went down and saw that there was an Untappd badge for drinking at the Pony Bar!

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What I really like about the Pony Bar is that their craft beer selection is always changing and their website is always up to date!

While doing research on the Pony Bar I also found an awesome website that should be used in every city and which for the most part has been missed out on by Boston:

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Beermenus.com was the key to finding just about anything I wanted in the City. Look up a certain beer? Check! See what about 80+% of the bars are carrying? Check! If you are not using BeerMenus.com then you might just end up drinking Corona at the Sabarro in Times Square.

 

If you want to go to the end of the One line in NYC it will lead you to The Bronx Alehouse. The Bronx Alehouse is pretty awesome and they give you updates via twitter of what  beers have kicked and what they are being replaced with:

They even have an occasional sense of humor every once in a while:

 

Also they have an awesome electronic menu of what is on tap, live social media feeds, what kind of beer it is,  and how much beer is left in the keg with color and serving glass type too:

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Not the actual menu but one just like it. Exactly like it.  Also that Ghost Runners 10k IPA looks good (not available at Bronx Ale House). 

If you are looking to explore a brewery then there is no better brewery to explore than Singlecut Beersmiths! Rulpsen will guide you to the home of some of NYC’s best IPAs and Pale Ales!

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Rulpsen is one sexy beast!

If you are near Times Square then it would be good to check out Rattle N Hum and Beer Authority. There are always 50+ awesome beers on tap at each and an awesome selection of bottles as well!

What about beer stores? Well Alphabet Beer Co., Good Beer, and Top Hops have you covered.  And on another note you can also drink beer at the store!

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I really do and if anyone has suggestions feel free to email me or even better leave a comment!  I also hope this is helpful to anyone out there looking for a beer in NYC!

 

 

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I’m Not Sad It’s Over, I’m Glad It Happened…..

In the past week Tree House Brewing Company has moved will be moving their location and the Alchemist Brewery is closing its brewery off to the Public as of tomorrow.

Tree House Brewing was is still open at its old location at 63 St. Claire in Brimfield Ma.  I had the opportunity to go here and see its beauty one last time a few weeks ago.  I feel very fortunate and honored to have been able to visit here one more time before they move to Monson, Ma.  Sometimes neighbors are not so neighborly  but with this being said Tree House tried their hardest to appease all in the neighborhood.  This being said I have a feeling that the new brewery will be a sight to see.  If you have seen the photography from their website then you know their eye for style is as keen as it gets!  Also, Dean will still be there to be the friendliest greater at a brewery you have ever met!  Expect great things with 15 barrels of beer being made at one time!

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On the same note The Alchemist Cannery is set to close its doors  after tomorrow.  Also there were issues with neighbors as well which caused this to happen.  A year ago I failed at getting any Heady Topper but this past Monday I was fortunate enough to finally score a case (I’m also in the public frame of mind that one case is enough for one trip per person).   As good as the beer is the bigger treat was walking through the location and seeing it come off the line.  When you go to the cannery it is the place that you would expect to welcome tourists and visitors.  This also being said there will be a new merchandise store coming in the new year.   I don’t blame the Alchemist at all for their decision.  It was a decision to keep the brand going long-term. I know it wasn’t done on intentions but on sustainability!

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This is a sight that the public eye unfortunately will not be able to see.  The fortunate thing is that it will still be made and you might still be able to drink it!

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With more Heady Topper going to retail locations  for the time being this should be a sight less seen as well (maybe)!

I feel fortunate to have beerventures to both of these places and stories to tell (There will be separate blogs with lots of pictures forthcoming).  There is no doubt that both will keep producing fantastic phenomenal beer in the future!

The Beerventure that was not meant to be!

A little over a year ago my mother came into town to visit. For a bit of background about my mother can be explained with this statement: She is extremely Southern Baptist!

So on this trip we first went to Portland Maine and that being said there would be no beer consumption or brewery visits.  On the way back she had mentioned to me that she wanted to get maple candies for members of a rest home that she volunteers at from time to time.  These candies were at Ben and Jerry’s.  What is next door to Ben and Jerry’s?:

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The Alchemist Cannery!!

That being said I was %110 up for going on this trip so I could get a full case. I couldn’t imagine how it would taste over and over again when I brought it to Boston. So three hours in the car to Boston my mission was to find the Heady.  Once arriving to the Cannery we ran into this familiar sight:

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Image available from Brewdrinkrun.com

Let’s just say that my soul was crushed and that I wasted a trip to VT in my mind. The worst was hearing the following words from my mother:

“God didn’t want you to have that beer!”

Let’s just say that I just wanted to crawl in a ball and sulk in a corner.  Also being with mom meant no sampling!

This being said I did what any self-respecting or deprecating Vermont Tourist would do and went next door to Ben and Jerry’s.  Afterwards I realized that I would be hungry and needed food for the ride home so we stopped at the Skinny Pancake in Montpelier.  I offered to buy an unopened can from the server and he immediately refused.  Afterwards I made the last-ditch effort to go to the  Hunger Mountain Coop and what do you know but no luck. Speaking with the cashier he informed me that they have a two four pack limit and got a pallet of it. It arrived on Friday and was gone by Saturday afternoon.  However I did end up with a bottle of Hill Farmstead “Anna” which was really really good!  Not everything was lost, “Anna” was delicious!

I was reminded about this because the news of today was that the cannery will not be open in a couple of weeks for the public.  From my understanding though and I have never been there but people were buying 5 cases of beer at a time which was a strain to them I am sure.  Also how can they ever get their beer out to the companies they have contracted to give their supply to if they can’t keep from getting the beer out the door.  We should look at this as an opportunity to support other businesses when we visit and other beers as well.  In case if you don’t or haven’t thought of the other spots to where you can get Heady Topper then here you go:

Mad River Valley:

Ake’s Den
Big Picture Theatre
Bridge Street Butchery
Castlerock Pub
East Warren Community Market
The Hyde Away
Hostel Tevere
Irasville Country Store
Mad Taco Waitsfield
Mehuron’s Market
Mint Restaurant & Tea Lounge
Mutha Stuffers
Nutty Steph’s VT Granola & Chocolate
Pine Tree Pub
Red Hen Bakery
The Inn at the Round Barn
Village Grocery
Waitsfield Wine Shop
Warren Store

Richmond-Jericho:

Jericho Country Store
Richmond Beverage
Rochmond Mobil Mart

Williston:

McGilliccuddy’s
Mexicali Grill and Cantina
Monty’s Tavern
Natural Provisions Market
Shelbourne Meat Market
Vermont Meat and Seafood Market

Burlington:

1/2 Lounge
60 Battery Street
A Single Pebble
Ake’s Place
Bessery’s Quality Market
Bluebird Barbecue
Bluebird Tavern
Bueno Y Sano
Buon Apetito
Burlington Bar Market and Cafe
Charlie’s Rotisserie & Grill
Cheese Traders
City Market
Daily Planet
Das Bierhaus
El Cortijo
Finnigan’s Pub
El Gato
Gracie’s Liquor
Guild & CO.
Logan’s of Vermont
Halvorson’s Upstreet Cafe
Healthy Living
Henry Street Deli
Higher Ground
Ice House
Juniper Bar
Ken’s Pizza
Manhattan Pizza
Marriot Courtyard
Merolla’s Market
Mr. Mike’s Pizza
Nectar’s
NIKA
Pearl Street Beverage
Penny Cluse Café
Pine Street Deli
Pistou
Pizzeria Verita
Radio Bean
RiRa’s Irish Pub
Route 7 Liquor
Ruben James
Skinny Pancake
Skinny Pancake – BTV Airport
Sweetwaters
The Farmhouse Tap and Grill
The Scuffer
Tratorria Delia
U-SAVE Beverage Center
Windjammer
Winooski Beverage

Waterbury:

Arvad’s Grill and Pub
Blue Stone Pizza
Cold Hollow Cider Mill
Cork Wine Bar & Market
Crossroad Beverage
Hen of the Wood
Michael’s on the Hill
Sunflower Natural Foods
Tanglewoods Restaurant
The Prohibition Pig
The Reservoir
The Village Market

Barre:

Beverage Baron
Corner Stone Pub & Kitchen
M&M Beverage
Mulligan’s Irish Pub

Montpelier:

Berlin Street Mobil
Hunger Mountain Coop
Kismet
Mad Taco Montpelier
Montpelier Village Pizza
Positive Pie
Skinny Pancake
Three Penny Taproom
Uncommon Market

Stowe/Morrisville:

10 Acres Lodge
AlpineMart
Bee’s Knees
Blue Donkey
Burt’s Pub
Cactus Café
Charlie B’s Restaurant
Crop Bistro & Brewery
Edelweiss Mountain Deli
Frida’s Taqueria & Grill
Gracie’s
Green Mountain Inn
Moog’s Place
Mountain Cheese &Wine
O’Grady’s Grill
Pickwick’s
Piecasso Pizzeria & Lounge
RimRock’s Mountain Tavern
Stowe Beverage
The Pizza Joint
Tomlinson’s
Top Notch Resort
Stowe Cinema
Vermont Ale House

Essex:

Essex Discount Beverage
The Essex Resortt and Spa
Fairgrounds Beverage
Sweet Clover Market

Winooski:

Misery Loves Company
Monkey House
Mule Bar
Sammy’s Quick Stop

Is Heady Topper that good?!  Yes!  If we were to do a blind taste test with say Night Shift’s “Citranation” orSlumbrew’s “Snow Angel” or Backlash’s “Salute” and have “Heady Topper” as the fourth beer would you have a hard time picking a winner?  You probably would.

It’s true that God didn’t want me to have Heady Topper that day but I did have it and it was good! That being said we can’t treat it like it is the only beer out there.  I did get the bottle of “Anna”.  As a drinker of craft beer and a homebrewer I can say that doing the same thing over and over is boring and unimaginative. If Heady Topper is the only beer that you will drink then you are as closed-minded as the repetitive Bud Light drinker.

The Alchemist is doing the right thing and they are allowing the businesses around them sell their beer which will make everyone more profitable in the long run!

Beerventure: Indiana and Michigan (Three Brewery Stops In One Day With A Surprising Twist)

So the day after the Chicago Marathon I felt it was a good idea to escape the city of Chicago for a day and head east to “Beer City 2013” Grand Rapids, MI. So a friend whom I had caught up with went with me on the trip.  Our first stop was Three Floyds Brewery and Brewpub in Munster:

Three Floyd’s is a very interesting place to say the least.  My assumption was that they opened up at 11 am but it didn’t open until 11:30.  There was already a couple of people waiting to get inside even though it wasn’t opening for 30 minutes.

Once inside it was what you would expect, There was a long line to the beer store side of things and the place started to fill up!

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Three Floyd’s was very interesting to say the least.  It was in an industrial park which to be honest going to different breweries you will find a lot of breweries that are in industrial parks though.  That Bison Burger you see in the picture above with truffle fries was by far the best food I had on the full trip to Chicago including Giordano’s pizza!   The only think I was upset about is that there wasn’t more flight options available.  The only options available were the four house beers and there were more than 20 on their list.  My friend felt a little geeked out because this has to be the official brewery and brewpub of the movie “Heavy Metal”.  I mean the bartender was tattooed from head to toe with tattoos (emphasis on the face). After this we decided it was time to Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids is an interesting town because it is just like any other town you have within a 30 mile radius if you are not in a Mountain time state. This being said it was interesting to go back to Eastern Standard time.  We arrived in at Founders and I must say that it almost looks like a nice bar or function hall and not so much a brewery if you look at it at the right angle.  In my opinion Founders is definitely a top 10 brewery with the beers they produce and their taste.  At the brewery they had the staples such as All Day IPA and Centennial Pale Ale but they also had some of their rare stuff like Barrel Aged Mango Main Guy!  Oh and just to say it Barrel Aged Mango Main Guy was just that good!

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We next went to Brewery Vivant.  It was very interesting to say the least.  Built inside of a former church or funeral home you have to say there is some terrific ambiance here!  You could create your own flight here as well which was really cool.  Also I got to talk to some of the local residents about beer trading and the gentleman I spoke with brought up Night Shift in Massachusetts (I ran by foot there and back home the other night).  It was interesting to have a beer called “Love Shadow” which was really good as well! After this it was time to head back to Chicago…..

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This is where the trouble began.  I was pulled over and I took a couple of minutes to do it.  The police officer was less than pleased and I couldn’t figure the car out to roll down the window (it was a rental car). That being said I was asked to step out of the car and take the test a police officer asks you to take when you have had a couple of beers to drink.  I had to describe what a flight was to the officer but I think he might have not understood.  Afterwards he ordered the breathalyzer.  It was a scary incident.  I didn’t feel close to drunk but scared.  I was pulled over because I left my headlights off! The breathalyzer was in another police car so I sat in the back of a police car with a plastic seat.  When the other officer got there they set it to zero! I blew into it….time elapsed… also think about my friend who is in the car waiting and not for sure what to do…it was a 0.50 which is .3 under the limit.  I was free to go but it was scary.  It made me realize and let others know that you have to be careful when you have had some beer to drink and you are driving!  Also I was suggested to go to TGIfridays up the street. I tried to find something more local but no luck.  I drove back to Chicago, ate a Chicago Style Hot Dog, Did my #deckaday, and then went to bed.

P.S. The video below is a prime example of what can happen to you if you do drink too much!

Beerventure: Wisconsin!

While visiting Chicago I felt like it was appropriate to take a day to visit Wisconsin.  When setting up the Vert Big Bad Wolf Race in Ipswich Ma I saw that Z who runs Wolf Hollow was wearing a New Glarus “Spotted Cow” T-shirt.  I had mentioned how I had tried the beer last year on my previous marathon in Chicago and how good it was.  He told me how beautiful it was.  I took his word for it (I also thought it was a pretty awesome T-shirt).  My point on this is that if Z were to have not have worn that shirt before things got busy that day I may have not have thought to go to New Glarus to their brewery! Also, having “Booyah” from Milwaukee Brewing Company I knew that would be the second stop (or intended third stop) on this Beerventure. Here is the adventure it led to:

I had decided to rent a car with a friend and head to New Glarus, first stop was to the Bridgeport Diner for pancakes,  then to Bridgeport Coffee (because my friend could never have enough coffee), then finally the interstate! Driving through Chicago isn’t the easiest task and considering that the roads were in constant construction on the way to Rockford, IL it was going to make for a long trip! Everything was one lane for about 40 miles which made the ride slow. It also compounds things a little when you get to Beliot, Wi and it just looks like the town where a town police officer is looking to pull someone over for going two miles over the speed limit!  After this it was time to see the beautiful scenery and in running terms get a lot of kills (that is passing runners in a race) over a lot of different cars on the two-lane Wisconsin roads.

We finally reached our destination and the views were spectacular:

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I did take this photo from online and to the person I took it from, I’m sorry and thank you.  Here is a vine to show how awesome it was as well!  I just think that everyone should see the beauty from the outside!

By just viewing the area at the Brewery it looks like it would be the perfect location for a trail race!

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The interior is just as beautiful as the exterior as well:

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The beer here was absolutely delicious and I ended up with a T-shirt, two glasses from tastings, and another purchased glass separately. I also had the “Strawberry Rhubarb” beer which was fantastic as well as “Black Top” and “Staghorn” were awesome as well.  I had a full Pint of “Moon Man” which might have been the most fantastic pale ale I have ever had!

The plan afterwards was to go into Madison for beers but unfortunately after speaking with the lady in the beer shop it was evident that we didn’t have enough time.  We had to get to Milwaukee to go to Milwaukee Brewing Company.  Arriving a couple of minutes after 5pm we were able to go in:

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The tour was $10 but you got full pours of just about everything on draft except for O-Gii which at over 9% you got a token for just one but be it a delicious one with no boozy taste to it as well as a beer token for another MKE beer at a local establishment later.  I wasn’t expecting full pours but they kept coming.  “Pull Chain”, “Louie’s Demise”, “Hop Happy”, and “Polish Moon” were all fantastic!  There fall offering of “Sasquash” had the perfect fall nose in it!

I didn’t used the free beer coupon from New Glarus or the separate token for a free beer from Milwaukee Brewing Company but I have to make sure that I use both of them when I come back to run the Chicago Marathon next year.

Cheers!