December 2016 New Your City Beer Trip
I really enjoy beer. I am always open to new varieties and, as with my love of computers, was certainly born into the right decades!
I live in New Hampshire. We have some fabulous beer and I get down to Boston regularly to visit that scene. But once a year or so I try to get to New York. I try to combine 36 hours in the city with a visit to a couple friends. On the way down, I spent the night in Salisbury Connecticut with my college roommate. We had a nice dinner, long conversations, a small martini and even a couple beers. The next morning, I got off early, and drove to the Princeton area of New Jersey. A friend I taught high school with lives there and I had a nice catch up lunch with him and his wife. Then onto New York. Charlotte, a college classmate of my wife’s, has a two bedroom apartment on the west side of central park at 102st. She is wonderful about letting me stay in her son’s away-at-college bed room.
I thought Charlotte might be gone both nights but she was there when I parked the car on the street, got the keys from the doorman and let myself in. We had a good conversation and then about 5pm, I was off to the beer bars.
Charlotte was able to advise me about changing to the 1 train at Columbus Circle and riding it all the way to the end. I came up at the Staten Island Ferry terminal. The street was full of scam artists. They were telling people that the last boat to the statue of liberty was leaving. I never heard what the actual scam was but it certainly was a scam. Surprising that it works enough for 10 of them to be doing it! I did get to help one women with the only information I had, where did one get onto the subway!
It took a long time for me to get google maps working. In fact, I think I had to use Apple maps. This Google non-working happened a couple more times and I have no idea what causes it. I do keep the phone in airplane mode most of the time. It had run down to like 20% guiding me on the road and I had only been able to recharge it up to 40% at Charlotte’s so I was particularly aware of keeping it in airplane mode.
Anyway, the desired bar was called Fraunces Tavern at 24 Pearl st. I was able to get enough of a map up to see what direction Pearl street was in and the next time I looked up, there was Fraunces Tavern on the corner.
I was at Fraunces Tavern on the recommendation of a peddle biking friend’s spouse. I think of him as a Scotch drinker but he said that he had recently become fascinated with Porters and that this Porterhouse franchise was the best. He may even have been at the London? location.
It is a rabbit warn inside. Bar after bar. Dinning area after special occasion room. I found what looked like a Porter House bar and settled in. They seem to have 5 of their own dark beers and offer a 3 glass sampler. The bar keep took my credit card and I was on my way.
I had the baby Kale salad with chicken. OK but nothing special. The beers were dark and interesting. They could not get the An Brain Blásta working but I was able to substitute their IPA. My usual first stop in Manhatten is Rattle & Hum. I think I will restore them to their place of honor. But I enjoyed the Porters and well worth the trip to check something new out.
This is Wall street. Filled with high power people meeting co-workers or friends. All the conversation is about the jobs. My bar seat mate, 40, was meeting others from her office and they soon showed up and all moved to a table.
My next quarry was Blind Tiger. I have its 281 Bleecker Street address and know it is lower west side. I noted on my free subway map that Bleecker street (not the subway stop) was shown and it looked as if just taking the #1 train back up town to Christopher St stop would get me to within striking distance. I was able to come up, find Bleecker street, but I headed in the wrong direction until I got the phone map working.
Once inside, I was able to get close to the bar and soon even got a seat. I had a couple 1/2 pours, even the cask. The beer list is on chalk boards and hard for me to read. At the bathroom, a man with a red stocking cap asked if I was coming back tomorrow. Told me he was serving lobster rolls, thus the cap. I told the woman next to me about the encounter and she confirmed that he was owner or manager or something. She seemed to be a server at another establishment. Many people came up and greeted her warmly but I could never really engage her.
The beers were wonderful as always but nothing stood out. For my final stop, I headed off to Jimmy’s # 43. It is listed as on 7th street between 2nd and 3rd. I just walked across Manhattan, going through Washington Square Park. I must have overshot to 2nd and then headed uptown, Once I took the left onto 7th, Jimmy’s was right there on the right. I had forgotten it was in the basement but the layout was as I remembered. I got a seat at the small bar. Ordered a burger and
fries and enjoyed a couple beers.
Finally time to head home. I think I took the L over to 8 Ave and then the A up to 103 but that might have been tomorrow night’s route home and this Tuesday I may have used the Broadway line to Times Square and the B home. Charlotte was in bed so I just sat down with the box of 90 cal one meal bars I had bought and a beer I had brought. I picked The Peabody Sisters off the shelf, read a few pages and off to bed.
Up at about 8am. Charlotte served me fruit. I looked up when the Tenement Museum opened and talked to Charlotte about where the highline was. I need something to do before the bars open. I decided on the Tenement Museum and took the F train to Delancey. Not sure where I picked it up, maybe W4.
Somehow I ended up at the Tenements museum at 9:25 and it does not open until 10! I walked around blocks. Wonderful to see Chinatown at full throttle on a Wednesday morning. One driveway showed access to an entire warehouse where 20 men were loading dollies with food staples. Trucks coming and going. The are many restaurant supply stores and lots of activity on Delancey street.
The museum finally opened and a young woman took on the task of explaining to me that I had to take a tour and there was one at 10:30 that covered the store and lasted 90 minutes. There was another that started at 11:00 but was only 1 hour. No, I was not allowed to leave a tour early. I signed up for the 10:30 tour and spent the half hour watching the movie they offer. It was very good and really prepared me for the tour.
Before the museum opened, a school group gathered across the street and right at 10am 2 educators, (not guides), showed up to organize them and take them off to tour. I saw another tour of adults that started before 10:30. At 10:30, our educator, an aspiring actress, called us to meet at the museum door, led us outside to introduce herself and us to each other and then onto the actual tenement. We were 6 clients in all: a couple from Italy, a couple from Great Britain, a man from South Carolina who was interested in finding out more about his friends Jewish experience and me.
I highly recommend the museum. I was lucky enough to be on the German beer bar tour. The most interesting thing to me, as someone very involved in creating Historical Society displays, was the final “do it yourself” computer display. You could choose an item from a shelf and the computer would allow you to explore stores related to the article.
But enough dottling, Its noon, time to get back on the beer tour. I took the L train over to the Bedford Ave Brooklyn stop and walked north to Torst. Wonderful beer, very knowledgeable bar keep and good, if slightly small and pricey steak salad. After getting lots of recommendations the the bar keep, I walked the short block to Keg and Lantern Brewing Company.
Keg and Lantern Brewing
The beer was fine. Nothing special. But the pregnant bar tender had a great set of regulars who fought for her attention. She was wonderful. I had a burger and sweet potato fries and lots of water.
My next stop did not open until 4pm so I slowly make my way on the L to Hoyt and then to Franklin Ave on the C. I thought I might have to use the Shuttle down to Psrk Pl but luckily at the last minute Google Maps gave me the confidence to get off and walk to Berg’n.
This is a unique place. Again, good beer but nothing special. They had a “early bird” special on 1/2 pints so I got to try several selections. The layout is best decribed as a “cafebeeria”. A long bar, LOTS of tables, lots of people on internet and a couple food vendors.
Next, it now being 4pm, I walked back to Franklyn and Glorietta Baldy. The bar keep was just setting up. I had a good strong breakfast stout and, before her friend showed up, the young lady on the bar stool next to me kept me entertained. Glorietts Baldy is appearently one of 3 establishments by the same own group. Good beer, exposed brick, very cozy.
Lastly, in this same area, I walked back past Berg’n to Covenhoven. This is my normal stratgy of walking as much as possible between bars to avoid falling down. A little exercise. Covenhoven was a fine discovery. I am pretty sure the bar keep at Torst put me onto it. Very few table seats, a small bar, bottles for take home in the frig and a steady stream of regulars. I really enjoyed the beers. Good conversation about beers and bars and even a soft pretzel.
Lastly I am off to have dinner and close up the night. I took the trains back to Metropolitan and walked to Spuyten Duyvil. I always enjoy ordering a cut of cheese and a cut of ham. And of course they have great beer. Again, got to talk to the man next to me for a while until his friends showed up. One of them noted later that I was playing go on the phone.
Finally, off to Barcade and there in the first row was my best old friend, Missle Command! I spent the next hour trying to get my stills back. There was a high score of like 3000 when I came and I quickly got that up to 30,000 but then then never made much progress beyond that. Just could not get past the hard rounds in the middle. I was probably drinking high octane IPAs by now.
I did note that there were a lot more “wild Ales” and sours then when I last took this tour. I imagine that wild ale is a much better marketing term than sour!
Took the train home, struggling a bit with what express trains stop at what stops as we get later in the night. I had a 90 calorie bar and read a little more Peabody Sisters. Charlotte was off to Seattle so I had the apartment to myself.
In the morning I got up and walked over to Whole Foods on Columbus ave. Bought a couple nice cheeses as a house gift and got myself a beagle for breakfast. Then it was packing and off to the car. I took the merit parkway home through Connecticut, which I have not done since the 1960s. I did have some almost white out blowing snow but very brief episodes down near the GW bridge.
I hoped I could make it to lunch at one of the my normal Taverns, Amesbury Ale House in Amesbury Mass but by the time I was near Worcester, I was too hungry. Looked up a brewery in Worcester, had more than a little trouble parking for Wormtown and then they did not have food. The bar keep sent me down the street to “The Usual”. They had a good selection of beers and a reasonable burger and sweet potato fries and then home. Another successful NYC beer run!
As I say, it is a hard job but someone has to do it.