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What I Learned Today

This is just a lazy man's blog. Things I found out about today that I though others might enjoy hearing about.



The following is a guide to Beer Bars in New York City. I visited them in early April of 2012. I enjoy different beers but I don't pretend to be an expert on Beer so I will mainly be telling you about the places, not the specific Beers.. I do have a good eye for bars and what is going on. The Diamond on Franklin St in Greenpoint Brooklyn is out of business.


For the third year, I came down to New York City and spent a day or 2 visiting Beer Bars. A friend of my wife's has a wonderful 8th floor apartment overlooking Central Park West at 103 st. Luckily she and her son visit us regularly in New Hampshire so I don't feel too guilty sleeping in her away at school son's room and being gone until all hours of the night.

I try to do something with a little intellectual value in the morning before the bars open. Wednesday I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and looked at the Bakewell Pears Glass from 1831-1880. They had a few pieces out. Items like Glass no longer have "Descriptive Cards". Instead they have a case number and a Accession number. The computer systems where you find what would normally be on the Card are hard to use. One touch screen allows you to enter the letter of the case and then click on a thumb nail of the item to learn about it. There is no search function that I could find. Another system allows for all kinds of searches but has no information about what is on display. You would have to type in each accession number. Even with my extensive technical background, I needed the guard to teach me how to use the systems.

I had some trouble finding the Early American Glass area. I stopped one guard from India and asked her about American Glass. She had no idea what I was talking about BUT she did seem to understand the word American. Then I tapped the lenses in my glasses and said "Glass". Didn't work, I had to go to another guard. BUT, 10 minutes later the same Indian woman shows up at the Glass display. Shows me a thumbnail wall display of all the items AND has pictures on her phone of glass she has painted and shows me the kind of dimpled pink glass in the cases that she really likes. She is from Bangladesh.

Enough. I went off to The Blind Tiger Ale House - 281 Bleecker Street, lower west side of Manhattan. I use the subway to move around and the map function on the iphone to cover the last few blocks above ground. I have been to Blind Tier several times before. I use it and Rattle and Hum as really my only favorites in Manhattan, most of the rest of the great stuff is in Brooklyn.

The Blind Tiger male bartender was very knowledgeable and helpful. He allowed me to do 8ish OZ instead of pints so that I can drink more different beers. Like everyone else, he offers tastes but I try to keep that to a minimum. It reminds me too much of the eye doctors "Better this or this". I don't want the pressure of making decisions, I just want to choose a beer.

I always ask for the hoppiest. They had a special selection of Brooklyn Brewery beers as well as his favorite, a Ballast Point Sculpin, same hop as Dogfishhead 60 minute that I like. I also liked a cask, but not sure which one. I had the tomato soup with a grilled cheese that he recommended, very good.

The couple at the bar was very talkative, mainly her, just in from JFK from Atlanta for 4 days for her birthday, staying near Blind Tiger, looking for an Italian restaurant for the birthday dinner, off to do all the tourist things, first time in NYC. She recruited for an Aluminum company and he recruiting in high tech. She said she was a light weight so this probably would be her only 2 pints for the day, he liked to try all the tastes! After they left, a 50 year old man reading second book in the girl with tattoo talked to me. He sells paper. I of course told him to find a new job but he claimed studies show people learn more and want books not machines. I tried to help him understand that clay tablets had the same argument but he can't see that he is talking his own book.

I went to d.b.a. next - 41 1st Avenue (between 2nd and 3rd streets). Actually walked. Kept watching the bus stops but a bus never came and it was an easy walk on a wonderful sunny warm day. This was a bar I have been in even more than Blind Tiger. Not much. I just had a pint, planned my Brooklyn attack and left. Nothing on Cask. An ok IPA. A woman talking a man's head off, out of her stool doing gestures etc but I could not follow it. Two girls on my right, very very into each other and taking pictures of that intoness.

I took the F to Park Slope 15th street Prospect Park stop and walked, with one wrong turn, to The Gate 321 Fifth Avenue (Brooklyn) (Park Slope; at 3rd Street). Great outside patio full of people with all the mothers and kids walking by BUT on the wrong side of the street for the afternoon sun. Owner should have opened across 3rd street where the non-beer establishment had the afternoon sun. But maybe in the summer he is the one with the desired shade?

There was one table at the very edge that had sun and as soon as that couple left, 3 different groups got up to move to it. I gave it to another couple but they asked me to join and I am so glade I did. I just had 2 1/2 pints, nothing special BUT they were from Amsterdam! Renting for 10 days in Park Slope. Talk about off the beaten path. Perfect English, her mother? was English and he was great at languages and had picked it up from the TV!!. He was a wine buyer and she worked for an NGO, I think around environment. Most delightful!! They had traveled everywhere. The were off to have dinner in Manhattan with his brother who happened to be in town. She kept saying, very disparagingly that they had to eat sucky, which turned out to be sushi! Really the high point of my NYC stay!

But, onward and downward. The Williamsburg area has 2 of my favorite bars, Spuyten Duyvil 359 Metropolitan Avenue (Brooklyn)(Williamsburg) and 5 blocks away Barcade - 388 Union Avenue (Brooklyn).

I ate both Wednesday and Thursday dinner at Spuyten Duyvil . The have wonderful beer and great meat/cheese offerings. The down side is no one to talk to. Maybe it was just me but both times the people at the bar on either side were into each other and not me! The old ale on tap in a 6oz class was out of this world. Also other great hoppy beers. No selection but everything is great!

I ended up the night with a hoppy pint at Barcade as in bar with an arcade. They have 20+ 1980s arcade games. Unfortunately not missile command or I would have been there until closing! They did have one that I was very accomplished on in my intra-marriage period, Qubert. I alternated playing it with a young lady and graciously shared with her a little of my hard won knowledge about where and when to jump. Though I was rusty after years of non-play and did not even get to put my name at the top.

Thursday morning for some reason I was not up at 6am. I finally rolled out, walked over to Broadway and 110 to get a great bagel with lock spread, same as yesterday and then back to plan my day. I read email and planned my day and then off to Rattle 'N' Hum - 14 East 33rd Street Just off 5th ave for lunch. The soup was a little greecy but the chicken slider was great and the couple on the next stools were in from NJ for the day, she teaching 5th grade English and he? She was working on "improving" him. Asking penetrating questions. Making suggestions. Of course I could not hear everything but when I did engage them I had to ask "are you brother and sister, boy friend/girl friend, just friend". They answered boy/girl. She has a lot of training to do.

This was the only place where I had a flight. First I did a good hoppy pint. Bar keep was very knowledgeable Karen? and I had her pick a sour and a stout and I had the other two hoppy beers. First rate place as always. They were opening another bar over on 8th ave at 40th called Beer Authority. I would have loved to check it out but Thursday was just friends and family and real opening was Friday.

Next up was Green Line 4 or 5 to Borough Hall and the short walk to Waterfront Ale House (Brooklyn) 155 Atlantic Avenue (Brooklyn) (Between Henry & Clinton). Again, the beer was excellent but nothing out of this world. I had a hoppy pint, maybe 2 and listened to the locals. GREAT local hangout at the window side of the bar. Just one after another would stop in for a pint and leave. I got the impression a lot of writers. I never got to talk to them but could listen a little.

Next was the G line from Bergen street all the way up to the last stop in Brooklyn, Greenpoint Ave. I should mention that I passed up the Transportation Museum back next to Borough Hall and some strange Museum company on Smith St. Very happening area.

Next bar was Mugs Ale House 125 Bedford Avenue (Brooklyn) -1 stop on L train from Manhattan. I stayed a fairly long time. The Cask was especially tasty along with an IPA. Again, great beer but I am more focused on the atmosphere. A group of NYC teachers occupied the outside glass end of the bar. A couple stayed the hour plus I was there but mostly they came and went. I talked to a non-teacher next to me and he confirmed that he had seen the same group before. I did try to engage one of them in my favorite topic "if you had all the money you wanted and complete control, how would you fix public education". But he was too destroyed already by the polities. He did come up with smaller class size but all the rest of his comments where just a result of being beaten down. He could not step up and focus on how to really fix things. The man next to me had maybe a burger and fries but I went back to Spuyten Duyvil for another meat and cheese plate.

I did stop at The Diamond on the way and it was no longer in business. The walking route also took be by Brooklyn Brewery and their tasting room was closed. There is also that great used clothing store across the street from them. Williamsburg is a great community, I loved being out on the street with the Hiseem selling unleven crackers and asking if I was Jewish.

The end. I could sit in Blind Tiger, Rattle and Hum, The Gate, Mugs ale house, Waterfront ale house for many more hours. I'll be sure next time to do the Manhattan Waterfront Ale house and of course the new Rattle and Hum. So much to do and so little time!!