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July 7, 2011

Philly: Frankford Hall Opens in Fishtown

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For Memorial Day Weekend, Tammi and I took a trip down to Philadelphia. High on my agenda for the weekend was to check out the new beergarden in Fishtown, called Frankford Hall. Check it out after the jump...

Continue reading "Philly: Frankford Hall Opens in Fishtown" »

April 20, 2011

Barcelona: La Cerveteca

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If there's anything I really find myself missing when traveling abroad, it's the availability of good beer. In Barcelona, we imbibed in wonderful cavas and red wines, but when it came to beer, nearly the selection everywhere boiled down to international mass-market dreck and a few, slightly better imports like San Miguel, the Filipino beer I discovered in Hong Kong. If ever there's an American beer, it's the worst of the big brands that made it all the way across the Atlantic.

So, it caught my attention when we passed Le Cerveteca. It looks more like a shop than a bar and in the window, there were signs up with the logo for the Victory Brewing Co., a Pennsylvania-based brewery known for it's quality, hop-laden beers.

Continue reading "Barcelona: La Cerveteca" »

December 23, 2010

Vietnam: Bier Garden

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Bier Garden ended up being our central spot while we were in Saigon. After a week or so of pretty much exclusively drinking those sweet, fizzy Asian beers like Tsingtao, Tiger and San Miguel, the option of having an international selection available was really appealing to me.

The more 'exotic' selections available mostly came from Western Europe from Belgian and German wheats along with English and Irish ales. They also had Cooper's, an Aussie beer I've been fond of for some time. Yet, interestingly, I found little relief in these western brews. Despite differences in styles and country of origin, I soon came to find that nearly all of the beers available had similar tasting points. All were lighter in body and sweeter in flavor without much in the way oh hops or sharpness to balance the experience.

The crowd, clearly, was made up entirely of tourists enjoying a pint or three of their home town brew. Sadly there was no such nostalgia for me. Remarkably there weren't any American beers available that I recall.

May 9, 2010

Recently on Examiner: Drinking in Brooklyn and the Freedom Party

A new Hot Bird rises from the ashes

If there was much of a theme at all in my last couple weeks of posts it was Brooklyn Bars. Besides the regular Brokelyn 25 series that I've gotten moving again, I've also posted about a few new choice spots to imbibe that have opened up recently. Above is Hot Bird, which I lucked into on its second night open. I basically got the first shots of the space and thus ended up on Brownstoner and Eater. The place looks pretty amazing, so I expect to spend quite a bit of time there this summer.

See what else I've been posting about after the jump...

Continue reading "Recently on Examiner: Drinking in Brooklyn and the Freedom Party" »

February 20, 2010

This Week in Examiner: Beer and Bands in Brooklyn

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I know, the alliteration is awesome, right? Wait, it's not? Oh well. There's more coming. I've launched a series on Examiner based on Brokelyn's Beer Book that I mentioned in last week's Examiner round up. I'm calling it The Brokelyn 25 and the plan is to go through all 25 of the bars included in the Beer Book and post about them.

It's a pretty great excuse to explore some of the cool bars that I've always meant to check out and more than a few that I'd never heard of before. So far, I've posted about my Williamsburg crawl.

I've mixed the new with the old favorites and enjoyed some time at each place taking in the atmosphere and color of each place. There was Thrash Metal, pizza and a shot of Jim Beam at The Charleston. That place completely took me back to my days hanging out at dives in the East Village ten years ago.

The Brooklyn Brewery is still the same as ever, picnic tables, beer tokens and folks hanging out with friends. It was my first destination in Williamsburg and is still a good time.

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I finished up with Brooklyn Bowl, which I get out to often for shows, but rarely get to just sit at the bar. While there I had my most entertaining moment thus far, when this guy decided to take his share of a pitcher with a straw. Who needs a glass?

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The only music photography I've done recently has been last week when I covered the Brooklyn Tea Party. No, it's not a political group. It's a lot more interesting than that. BTP is a loft apartment that has been transformed into a music studio and performance space by the guys who live there. All three are in music in some way or another and they use their expertise and network of friends to put together a regular party where friends and fans come together and share music with one another.

When I first heard about it through a friend who was performing, I rolled my eyes and thought it was elitist hipster bullshit. But after experiencing it, I'm really impressed by the love and effort that goes into it. The music was interesting and eclectic and the performances all balanced one another very well.

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Continue reading "This Week in Examiner: Beer and Bands in Brooklyn" »

January 29, 2010

Philly: Swift Half

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After checking out the new Northern Liberties Farmers Market, Tammi and I had brunch at Swift Half. When we were there over the summer, we sat out there with drinks over the afternoon and watched life go by on the Piazza.

This time, it was too cold for all that, so we sat inside and split a few items on the menu.


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We had some good stuff, but the most memorable was the b.e.l.t., a blt with a fried egg in it. The bacon was so amazingly smokey, it tasted like it just came off of the grill. We also had an order of short rib sliders topped with a dollop of horseradish.

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Interestingly, the menu also offered some custom cocktails. Tammi tried the Ghost of Mary, a bloody mary made with a lighter tomato water and rimmed with black pepper and salt. I'm not one for cocktails, but it was actually pretty good. Tammi can't stand tomato juice, so enjoyed it a lot more than a traditional one, but still couldn't get through the whole thing before the tomato flavor got to be a little much for her.

Swift Half is owned by the same folks as Good Dog, a long time favorite of mine in Center City. Just like there, the beer selection is great and the vibe is casual. The service was a bit slow, but it was friendly and we had a good time.

Swift Half,
1001 North 2nd Street, Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, PA 19123-1656
215.923.4600


January 28, 2010

Quick Bite: Standard Tap's Summer Soft Shell

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I know it's snowing in New York today and obviously, it's cold here in Aspen, so here's a glimpse back at summer time.

Since I'm posting about our recent weekend in Philadelphia anyway, I thought I'd post this quick shot of the Soft Shell Crab Sandwich I had at Standard Tap when we were in town over the summer. This time around we just had lingering drinks there after walking around Northern Liberties, but it's still one of my favorite places for food or drink in the area.

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Standard Tap
901 North 2nd Street, Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, PA 19123-2301
215.238.0630

December 9, 2009

Quick Bite: Bar 35 Pizza

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This may look like a generic bar pizza, but this mini-pie from Bar 35 in Honolulu's Chinatown was topped with Chinese sausage and sweet Thai chili sauce instead of the usual pepperoni and tomato sauce. It was certainly novel and actually pretty good. What I was really curious about was the Gyro pizza they served, but Tammi wasn't hearing it.

August 25, 2009

Der Schwarz Kolner Opens!

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Fort Greene's brand new Beer Hall, Der Schwarz Kolner opened a couple weeks ago after much anticipation. Tammi and I ended up getting there 15 minutes after they opened. The menu was still in flux and there was much frantic bouncing around by the staff, but the energy in the room was great.

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As the name implies, they specialize in the cuisine of Koln (or Cologne to you francophiles). What that means in practical matters is that you get plenty of wonderful Kolsch beer. As I've mentioned before, Kölsch is "light and sweet, but with a bite of hops that provides a zen-like balance." And thus a perfect summer beer.

We hung out there for a couple hours, sampling the compact (three item) menu. The bratwurst was juicy and well spiced. The pretzels were tasty, but lacked salt for some reason. The last dish, which had an odd (read: German) name was nothing more complicated than a slab of gouda cheese and a roll. Tammi's rather fond of gouda, so she gobbled that up and loved it.

Before we headed out, we saw an off the menu special coming out of the the kitchen: some tantalizing red kielbasa sausages showed up at the table next to us.

It's a testament to both the draw of a beer hall and the neighborhood that within an hour of our arrival, the place was already crowded. I know I'll be back.

(Many thanks to Eater for linking to my opening day photos)

July 28, 2009

Will Der Shwarze Kolner Ever Open?

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I first heard rumor of a beer garden opening in Fort Greene, way back in March. Obviously, I was very happy. Beer. Schnitzel. Outdoor space. What's not to love?

And being positioned a block away from Habana Outpost means it'll have an interesting crowd and hopefully will have a moderating effect on the drives that overwhelm the place on the weekends.

But, I was apprehensive. There was no word of when they would be opening. So, I sat tight and didn't think about it.

That is until Brownstoner reported that they would be open by the end of last month. With hopes of tippling over brats and shnitzel for 4th of July Weekend, I stopped by to find it shuttered.

Last week, I passed by again and the gates were half open. I stuck my head in and asked about an opening date, but didn't get anything more than "Soon come."

So, there you go: Soon come.

February 26, 2009

dba Brooklyn

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As a fan of both original branches of dba, I've been pretty excited about dba Brooklyn since I first heard about it last year. Now that it's open, I have to say, it's all I hoped for and more.

The theme here seems 'the best of both worlds.' The vast, open space is reminiscent of the New Orleans branch, while the garden space in the back is an active attraction of Manhattan bar.

The decor of wood and chalkboards and the ridiculous selection of quality beer and whisk(e)ys of all types is as strongly present as at the others.

As with the Manhattan branch, I find it's a pretty good place to sit down with the laptop and hang out for hours. In fact, that's what Tammi and I spent last Monday doing, reading and pecking at our laptops over beer and bourbon.

My misanthropic impulses are fed by the fact that it's still relatively unknown and on a quiet block off the main strip. I'm sitting here right now writing this post on a Friday night with a reasonably small crowd and room to breathe. That's something I've never known of either other outpost, and I suspect won't last here for long.

Something new to the dba franchise is food. They offer a menu of one item for those who want to snack with their booze. Right now, it's a Muffaletta, a clear nod to it's Crescent City roots:

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Wisely, the sandwich is not nearly the mass of the original. It's also, predictably, not nearly as good. But then nothing is. I only know one place in the world that makes a great Muffaletta and it's 1200 miles from Brooklyn. I'll take what I can get. It's 7 meats and two cheeses on a locally baked roll - sounds like drunk food to me.

February 5, 2009

SF: 100 Things to Try Before You Die

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The TOJ, forwarded this link to Guy and me yesterday. It's 7x7 Magazine's list of 100 SF things to try before you die.

It's a pretty impressive list. I've got 11 down:

3. Carnitas taco at La Taqueria

14. Beef brisket at Memphis Minnie's

15. Oysters on the half shell at Swan Oyster Depot

21. Pizza margherita at Pizzeria Delfina

23. Beer sausage with sauerkraut and grilled onions at Rosamunde Sausage
Grill

24. Blue Bell Bitter from the cask at Magnolia Pub, above.

29. Spaetzle at Suppenküche

35. Salted-caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery (well a taste)

40. Cheeseburger at Taylor's Automatic Refresher

48. Angels on horseback at Anchor & Hope

51. Maccaronara with ricotta salata at A16


Additionally, I've been to, but not tried the recommended dishes at:
The Slanted Door
Out the Door
Hog Island Oyster Co.
Bob's Donuts
Little Star

December 28, 2008

Paris: Beer Bar Disappointment

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I was psyched when Tammi and I stumbled upon La Pinte on Paris' Left Bank. It's the Belgian Beer bar I posted a photo from a while back. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to find it again, but there it was.

But then I walked in. Giant plasma screens playing football matches were the first hint that something was amiss. The English-speaking, though welcome, was another. But really, the photo above says it all. The gorgeous taps that used to host a rotating selection of obscure beers have been retired and are now used as drying racks for pitchers. Four or five narrow chrome taps replace one of the original taps, piping through nothing more rare or tasty than Kronenberg or Heineken.

Sad, sad, sad.

September 6, 2008

SF: Toronado


IMG_1579, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I always want to go to Toronado when I go to San Francisco, but its location on Haight near Fillmore, is seemingly the most inconvenient place to get to from Downtown.

Ask any beer fan who has been to the Bay Area and Toronado will be mentioned in the first few breaths. It's a beer bar in a city of bars with great beer selections.

It's got about 40 taps, but numbers aren't the point. A lot of places go around these days cheering about how many taps they have but use half of them up with mass market swill. The selection here is curated. Obviously, there is a wide selection of local craft beers. More importantly, they often stock low production batches that often can't be found anywhere. On my first visit, they had a keg of Siera Nevada's bottle brew of their Pale Ale. I don't think I had ever noticed the difference between the tap and bottle versions of Sierra until then. Additionally, Toronado stocks more European beers than most West Coast bars I've seen.

After the jump, a sampling of the draft list - all I could fit in one shot.

Toronado
547 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
415.863.2276

Continue reading "SF: Toronado" »

August 8, 2008

dba Brooklyn coming to Williamsburg

This just in. . .

dba Brooklyn
@ N. 7the St.
(Between Berry + Wythe)
More Good Stuff

::c::

July 15, 2008

Photo of the Day: Glow


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Barcade, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 2006.

June 29, 2008

Bars: Spuytin Duyvil


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Spuytin Duyvil sits in an unlikely storefront, away from the neighborhood's main strips. Behind the hole-in-the-wall façade lays a gourmet soul. Snacks include ever-changing offerings of meats, cheeses and pâtés. The beer selection is impressive, with representatives from Sri Lanka to Switzerland and a rather large delegation of Belgians, which are broken down into Flemish and Wallonian.

It's a small space and looks very much like it was decorated by ... me. There are maps and subway memorabilia everywhere. The furniture looks like it was all picked up from the Salvation Army shop on Bedford. It's all old and interesting and usually comfortable. I'm really a big fan of this place, but I have a few problems with it that have made it hard for me to ever end up there. It's been ages since I've been there.

My biggest issue with Spuytin Duyvil is the hours. They don't open until 4 or 5pm even on the weekends and they tend to fill up by 6 or 7pm. I end up in Williamsburg either in the afternoon or at night, so when I want to hang out there for an afternoon and try out some of the crazy obscure stuff they have, they're closed. When I stop in later, the place is packed.

To be honest, I haven't really tried to get in there since Fette Sau opened, so maybe things have cleared up a bit, but given how long the lines end up for barbecue, it may just end up collecting overflow crowds.

I tell you, success ruins everything.

359 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn
718-963-4140

June 24, 2008

Photo of the Day: Candles and Coasters


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Blind Tiger Ale House, West Village, NYC. 2008. ::c::

June 10, 2008

Souvenirs: Bulldog Glass


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I got this pint glass for free as a happy hour special at The Bulldog, a great beer bar on Magazine Street in New Orleans. I stopped in there quite few times during my New Orleans trip in 2004.

On the back of the glass is a list of information for tourists visiting. Note the second one listed:

"If the levee breaks, everyone will die. No one seems worried about this problem either."


June 8, 2008

In The Club


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Last weekend Tammi joined me at the Blind Tiger as I completed my 'entry' into their Connoisseur's Club. I'm very proud. No t-shirt was available just yet, but I'm hoping my plaque will be up by my next visit.

May 28, 2008

The Blind Tiger Connoisseur's Club


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After 3 years, I am finally only 3 beers away from completing my membership in the Blind Tiger's Connoisseur Club. The challenge is to sample 51 different brews. Whoever accomplishes that, gets their name etched into the plaque on the wall and a T-Shirt, which is really all any good bar fly wants at their local.

I started in back in 2005, before the closing of the original Tiger, but was interrupted by the upheaval. It's a tribute to the management that they kept the box full of cards for all the old regulars who don't even get in there as much these days, since it's perpetually packed.

This weekend, I found a nice window of relative calm where I got to sit at the bar by the window and watch Bleeker street go by. I will say this about the new location, it's got more action passing by at any given moment, for good or ill. Of the many passersby, I noticed the horrendous double decker tour buses passing by every 10 minutes.

So it goes...

May 8, 2008

Radegast


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mmmm....sausage....mmmm...beer. That's pretty much the best way to sum up Radegast. It's a huge Beer Hall in Williamsburg that opened up a few months ago. I'm told it's similar to the Bohemia Beer Garden out in Astoria, but the number of times I go to Queens for leisure you can count on one hand. I've been meaning ot go forever, but never really motivated myself to go. Now I don't have to. heh.

One bit of advice, the good stuff is in the back room. I wish someone had mentioned that to me the first 3 times I went there. The kitchen menu is wildly mediocre. It all sounds pretty good, but never quite hits the spot, particularly since the whole place is filled with the smoky aroma of grilling meat in the next room.

The grill, on the other hand, offers only goodness. The list is short: Kielbasa, Bratwurst, Weisswurst and Incredibly juicy Pork Chops, along with fries and burgers that I've never bothered with because, really, they have kielbasa and pork chops.

The kielbasa, pictured here, is all that it should be. The guy at the grill keeps it on the fire for a while - longer than you think he should when you're standing there dying to bite into it. But, trust the man. He knows what he's doing. When you finally get the sausage, it has exactly the right amount of crisp char to complement its smoky sweet insides. The casing has just the right amount of resistance to make each bite satisfying.

Radegast's bratwurst is a revelation. I've always found brat's to be a little on the bland side, not nearly worth all the fuss tat people make over them. I mean, it's meat stuffed into a casing, I'l eat it and like it, but it's never appealed to me the way a smoky kielbasa or a spicy italian would. Not so at Radegast. The brat's stand up as an equal in the pantheon of juicy, flavorful sausages.

Even the sauerkraut is amazing. It's unlike any I've ever had. It's softly crunchy and tangy and nothing like the crap I've had on my hot dogs from the papaya stand.

I'd go on and on about the pork chops, but they're pork chops. You know they're good.

As for the reason I kept coming back those first few times, before I knew about the grill, that would be the beer. They have a rather large selection of German, Polish and Austrian beers, many of styles you aren't likely to find in too many places. I'm fond of the schwarzbier, a malty black lager and usually go with one of those. Last time though, I had a nice, light kolsh, which was perfect for a sunny spring afternoon.

As with all great things in New York, the word has spread and it can get stupid crowded there, but persistence pays off in the end.

May 7, 2008

San Diego: Yard House


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I didn't hear about the Yard House until my last night in San Diego. It's unfortunate, because I didn't have time to linger and sample their huge variety of draft beers they offer. With 100 taps, I'd have needed a few trips just to cover the beers I'd never heard of.

Looking at their website, I discovered that it's actually a pretty large chain with 11 locations in California alone and more in seven other states. That doesn't surprise me given it's "Flashy Generic" decor. The site boasts "Great Food, Classic Rock and The World's Largest Selection of Draft Beer."

Ambiance, it doesn't need, it's got tons of beer.

Yard House
1023 4th Ave. , San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 233-YARD |

November 6, 2007

The Brazen Head Packed 'Em in for Cask Ale


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Saturday night I managed to squeeze through the cask-happy crowds at The Brazen Head to try out a couple of the 'real ales' offered up this weekend.

I've written about the festival a few times before, so I'll refrain from repeating my extended introduction.

The short version is that cask conditioned beer is not as cold or bubbly as Americans typically expect. The change remarkably alters the drinking experience, often bringing out subtleties in flavor and texture of even strongly flavored beers. At least that's the way it's supposed to work. The festival, which takes place 3 times a year, brings up to two dozen casks to Brooklyn.



Cask conditioned beer in this quantity is rarely available anywhere, so every beer geek worth his hops was there. Like the last few fests, BH's small triangular space was jammed with people. I typically avoid any place with that many people in that small a place, but the festival only comes a couple times a year, so I made a point of trying again after a failed attempt on Friday. I lucked into a seat by the bar and sampled a few rounds.


Continue reading "The Brazen Head Packed 'Em in for Cask Ale" »

October 29, 2007

Wells Ales & Lagers

I stumbled upon a post on Time Out New York about a change in management at Wells Ales & Lagers in Williamsburg. I had never heard of this place even though I must have past it a hundred times.

Apparently they have a huge selection. I'll have to check it out soon. Sounds like it'll make a nice addition to the Williamsburg Beer Crawl....
::c::

October 24, 2007

Photo of the Day: Repent


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The Gate, Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn. 2004.
::c::

October 23, 2007

Cask Ale on The Pour

The Pour, Eric Asimov's blog on nytimes.com has a post today about cask ales. He mentions Alex Hall, formerly of the Gotham Imbiber.

Check it out.

Also, don't forget the cask ale festival at The Brazen Head next weekend..

In other

October 15, 2007

The Castro Grilled Cheese Sandwich


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This sandwich was the special this afternoon at Spike Hill. When the bartender told me that the sandwich was filled with tomatoes, onions and pickles, I hesitated. It seemed a little weird, but it was well worth the risk.

The tomato is always welcome in a grilled cheese as far as I'm concerned. It's a given, really. The onions are a little unusual, but caramelized, adding sweetness and moisture to the gooey cheese, it fit in perfectly. What really concerned me was the pickles. I grew up with a distaste for them and got over them in the last couple years. It turns out I couldn't have been more off-base. The tang of vinegar cut through the other flavors exceptionally well.

I just hope they don't mess with the mix like they did with the Hot Wings. The last time I ordered them, there were none of the little tasty touches that made me rave about them. They were generic and not nearly as interesting.

October 2, 2007

Cask Ale Time at The Brazen Head


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Just a quick note that while at the Antic, I found that the next cask ale festival at the Brazen Head will be the weekend of November 2-4th. Clearly, I'm planning on attending.

May 18, 2007

Bars: Barcade


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I can't think of much better to say about Barcade than what I wrote in my Brooklyn Record piece:

"Barcade has everything adulthood should have: great beer and video games. Knock back one of the two dozen beers on tap while playing Frogger or Zaxxon or Moon Patrol or any of the other '80s video games. A pool table is in the back for those seeking a more traditional bar game. Gothamist recently ran an interview with Paul Kermizian, filmmaker and owner of Barcade."

Going to Barcade for the first time was a revelation. All the games of my childhood were there and still only cost a quarter per game. Add to the that some of the best craft brews around and it's a wonder I ever leave.

Barcade
388 Union Ave. Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
L to Metropolitan, G to Lorimer St.

May 17, 2007

Spike Hill's Hot Wings


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I spent the afternoon at Spike hill on my day off the other day.

One of their daily specials was Hot Wings, which I can rarely pass up. These burnt the hell out of my mouth, but were so good. Instead of the standard 'Frank's' style hot sauce, they used a Vietnamese chili sauce, speckled with red pepper flakes. It was sweet and hot and left my mouth nearly numb. I'm hoping that they have these there again.

(Update: Over a year later, I still haven't seen these offered again. I think I'll have to try making this myself next time I make hot wings.)

May 15, 2007

Bars: Spike Hill

Spike Hill

I'm a big fan of Spike Hill. It's got a great versatility to it. Regardless of your mood, Spike Hill is almost always the right place. A couple weeks ago, I ended up going there two days in a row. Once in the evening when I went out drinking with Eric, then the next day with Tammi after brunch, we spent a couple hours lounging in the back.

In case you missed it, here's what I wrote for the williamsburg beer tour in the brooklyn record:

Spike Hill is not your typical beer bar. There are 12 taps and nearly 50 bottles, serving up beer of all styles and nationalities — yet it has none of the geekery you might expect. There's no need to impress anyone with your vast beer knowledge here. You can sit in the front window and watch Bedford Avenue pass by, chat with fellow patrons at the long dark wood bar, and/or pack into the deep booths in the back with friends or a laptop. The menu takes unassuming dishes like grilled cheese and makes them interesting as well as comforting by changing up the breads and cheeses.

Spike Hill is probably one of my favorite bars around. I'm finding myself there more and more lately.
::c::

Spike Hill
184 Bedford Avenue at North 7th Street
718.218.9737

May 13, 2007

A Full Day

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Wow, yesterday was great.

When I got out to Habana Outpost, they were still setting up, so I wandered over to The Brazen Head. Lo and behold, they were having another Cask Ale Festival! I had a few rounds there before it started to fill up.

When I got back to Fort Greene, Habana Outpost was packed. Their opening party spilled out on the street, filling the whole block of South Portland. Local artisans and vendors sold their wares, clowns and stilt-walkers wandered about, there was even a fire-eater. Tammi, Laura and Guy met up and we split a couple sandwiches and some corn while we watched bands perform on the stage set up in the middle of the outdoor space. After the crowd overtook us, we went to Stonehome and had a bottle of sparkling rosé.

Then, Tammi and I headed to Boerum Hill for a barbecue. Dale, who I haven't seen in close to 2 years was in town. It was great to see him.

After all that, a bunch of us headed out to Wonder-Full, the Stevie Wonder tribute party out in Williamsburg. I still don;t know enough Stevie Wonder music, so a litle of it was lost on me. I still enjoyed it. I took off a little early though.

I was wiped out.

May 2, 2007

Bars: The Ginger Man

I can't stand The Ginger Man. It's always packed with the worst sorts corporate tools. The service is awful, largely because even the waitresses can't get from one end of the room to another without bumping into 100 people. But I keep going back there.

Here's the thing, It's not a bad place. The space is beautiful, it's got 20 foot ceilings, huge windows which light up the place and a beautiful dark wood bar that goes on for days. There are comfortable couches and lazy boys in the backroom lounge. The little food I've had there has been pretty good. I'm fond of the giant pretzel served warm with a honey mustard dip.

Most importantly, it's got a ridiculous beer selection. It's got 66 draughts, 2 hand drawn casks and 130 bottled beers.

That's why I keep going back. That and the fact that I work 2 blocks away. It's location is also key to the crowd it attracts: It's stationed right between Penn Station and Grand Central, which makes it perfect staggering distance for all the suburbanites who need to catch their trains home.

The crowd is absolutely awful.

One day, I hope to figure out when the perfect time is to go to Ginger Man when it's empty and I can enjoy the selection and a snack while actually being able to hear my companions. One day...

The Ginger Man
11 East 36th Street
btwn Fifth Ave. and Madison Ave.
New York City
212.532.3740

April 29, 2007

Bars: dba

dba, NYC

I'm writing this at the bar at dba. I don't get over here so much these days. Maybe that'll change as the weather warms up. They've got a nice garden in the back that draws as many people in the summer as their phenomenal beer selection. Inside and out, dba is a good place to hang out and linger. They have wifi and it's really easy to pass a lazy afternoon poking at the laptop of a couple beers. Or sitting at the bar listening in on the conversations. It's a bar with regulars and a sense of familiarity.

Like the original Blind Tiger, dba was a beer bar before there was a huge market for beer bars. It doesn't make a thing about it, it just is. They've got 16 taps and 5 tall chalkboards listing the many bottle selections on hand. And there are 3 cask engines for the hand drawn aficionados. The board with the tap listing also notes the date on which the keg was tapped. That's a pretty nice touch. I should have paid attention to that when I ordered the Kelso Chocolate Lager. It was tapped almost a month ago, which might account for the off taste. It was definitely not the chocolate lager I had had before.

They've got a sister bar out in New Orleans on Frenchman Street that I've been to a couple times.
See earlier posts here and here.

d.b.a.
41 First Ave.
Between 2nd and 3rd Street
New York, NY 10003
212.475.5097

::c::

April 28, 2007

The Bar List

Behind the Bar

There are hundreds if not thousands of bars in New York. Now, I do go to a lot of bars, but I've barely scratched the surface. I have, however, gone to enough that I sometimes lose track of spots that I enjoyed.

Every now and again, people ask for bar recommendations or I have to come up with a place for, say, my 30th birthday party - which I still haven't done. It would be incredibly useful to have a receptacle for my impressions of the bars I've been to.

Following mikeoliver.org's mission statement of 'holding on to things Mike Oliver will forget...' I've decided to use the blog for just such a thing.

So, begins a new feature. Keep an eye out for upcoming posts on bars and boozing.
Expect a few quotes from my brooklyn record posts too. These won't all be reviews as much as (semi-)organized notes.

I'll break down the categories for your searching enjoyment. For all bars click here.

Let me know what I missed in the comments.


::c::

April 9, 2007

Photo of the Day: dba New Orleans


IMG_7928, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

dba, Frenchman Street, New Orleans, 2004.

I've been going to dba in New York for years. When I found out they had a sister bar in New Orleans, I had to check it out the next time I went there.

The space is much bigger than the New York location, taking up two storefronts. The photo above is of on half of the space. To the right, there's a door to the other room which has a stage up for performances and the other side of the double bar.

The beer selection is exactly what I'd expect from dba: very extensive, and inclusive of many local beers. They get creative with the beer too. This is where I had my first "Dirty Ho," a beer cocktail mixing about 75% Hoegarden with a Framboise lambic. It's a pretty fantastic concoction, adding the fruit flavor of the lambic livens up the hoegarden, which in turn cuts the excess sweetness of the lambic.

The Frenchman Street strip of bars and restaurants sits just a few blocks outside the French Quarter, but is thankfully worlds away from the contrived excess of Bourbon Street. On my first trip to New Orleans, a friend who lived out there at the time took us to a couple of bars on Frenchman. It took me a couple trips before I could figure out how to get back there. It's a much more local scene so it totally bypasses the bead-throwing and nonsense found down the road. The strip runs about two or three blocks and it's full of music. Nearly every bar had some performance listed.

The last time I was at dba New Orleans, was two years ago. Tammi and I caught the Tony Dagradi Organ Trio performing with one of the Marsalis brothers on drums.

d.b.a.
618 Frenchman Street,
New Orleans, LA. 70116
504.942.3731

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[Updated 4.29.07. Added more info for The Bar List]

March 30, 2007

Photo of the Day: Paris Beer Bar


Paris, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.


Bar la Pinte 13 Carrefour de l'Odeon, 6th arrondissement Left Bank, Paris

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March 16, 2007

(Re-)Opening Night at Blind Tiger

Blind tiger Re-opening



Last night Eric and I headed down to the new Blind Tiger right after work. They opened up at 4pm, by 5:30, when I got there, it was jammed with people. I could barely get in the door. The place was full of familiar faces. It was a celebration.

The new space seemed nice, but I could barely see anything past the crowd. I'll have to go back again soon to get a better look.
::c::

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March 7, 2007

A new day for The Blind Tiger


IMG_5170, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Just the other day I was mourning the passing of Blind Tiger Ale House, but now I hear that I may have been premature.

Eric, the blurry subject of the photo in my previous Blind tiger post, sent me this via IM. Apparently the State Liquor Authority finally issued a license for BT.

No word yet on the new opening day. I'm sure I'll be there! ::c::

Continue reading "A new day for The Blind Tiger" »

February 25, 2007

Photo of the Day: Blind Tiger Ale House


motion, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Blind Tiger Ale House was a great bar on Hudson in the West Village. This shot was taken on its closing night a couple years back. I've been thinking of my old haunts recently. The Blind Tiger almost took the spot of my former home away from home, Black Star before it closed too.

The story of BT's closing is annoyingly familiar. The landlords got greedy asking for rent, started renovating the place to appeal to some of the boutiques a block away on Bleeker, then gave The Tiger the boot. Over a year went by, no boutiques took the bait and now it's going to be a starbucks. What a waste.

Meanwhile, Blind Tiger can't get a liquor license at its new location on a pretty lame stretch on Bleeker near 7th Ave. I haven't even made it over there yet.

::c::

Continue reading "Photo of the Day: Blind Tiger Ale House" »

February 18, 2007

Philadelphia: Standard Tap

IMG_3003

We made it out to Northern Liberties in early afternoon and got brunch at Standard Tap. In fact we're still here, Tammi's knitting, I'm writing and drinking beer. Really I like the vibe here, the food was a bit of a miss this time.

Both things I ate were a bit over-fried. The fried oysters had too much breading and the chicken in the fried chicken sandwich was a little dry. The rest of the sandwich was like a really good BLT, so I may actually order one of those after first lunch settles.

Standard Tap is in this big old building with many rooms over 3 floors. The sun pours in from the windows and lights up the place. Wood dominates the space as soon as you walk in, from the bar up front to the wainscotting and wooden benches running along the walls in the back room on the ground floor.

We got in a little after 1pm and it was busy. We found a seat in the back and settled in. The only menus at Standard Tap are posted on the walls. As we were looking, three items were being wiped off the board.

(continued after the jump)

Continue reading "Philadelphia: Standard Tap" »

February 14, 2007

A Couple Rounds at Spuyten Duyvil

Last night I had a few rounds at Spuyten Duyvil in Williamsburg with some folks. It was great as usual. They've got such a great list of crazy obscure beer that you'll never find anywhere else. I always end up drinking well there. These two in particular stick out:

The Old Prize Ale on hand-drawn was really interesting. If that's not a resounding endorsement, it's because I still don't know if I liked it. The beer was remarkable in texture and flavor. It had this crazy sweetness to it that wasn't altogether pleasant. It had none of the bubbles one would expect from either a fizzy or a creamy beer, there was little or no effervescence at all. The color was dark molasses brown and the texture was thick, but not syrupy. It reminded me more of jagermeister than any beer I've ever had.

The other that stood out was the Kulmbacher Eisbock. One of my drinking companions ordered it and offered a taste. It had an powerful maltiness that immediately reminded me of Milo, a powdered chocolate mix from the West Indies that I grew up drinking. I ordered one for myself right away. Once you get past that intense malt flavor, there's a very richness to match.

Continue reading "A Couple Rounds at Spuyten Duyvil" »

January 7, 2007

SF: Rogue Public House

This post is backdated to back when I was in San Francisco in early January.

IMG_0909

When I found out that Rogue had a pub, I knew I had to go check it out.

The pub is in a corner of North Beach a few blocks away from the bigger tourist attractions of Beat bookshops and Italian restaurants. The space is pretty big, with a smaller second room used for game nights and parties. The vibe was very laidback, I didn't run into any hardcore beer geeks eager to sneer at anyone's beer choice. Despite being owned by an out of town brewery, the place had a decided neighborhood feel. In fact, while I was there, I ran into a former co-worker who had just moved to San Francisco. He and his roommate had been getting settled in and decided to go to the local for a round or two.

I sat at the bar on a quiet Sunday afternoon, while everyone else watched the game, I delved into the tome that listed all the Rogue Ales available. They have 44 taps, pouring mostly Rogue ales, but also nearly a dozen guest brews. I stuck with the Rogues myself, but I appreciated the option.

The beer I tasted after the jump...

Continue reading "SF: Rogue Public House" »

November 3, 2006

"Real Ale" Arrives at the Brazen Head

IMG_5136

(Originally posted at The Brooklyn Record):

It's festival time yet again at the Brazen Head. The tri-annual Cask Ale Festival begins tonight. This time there will be more cask ales than ever. They will be offering 22 hand-drawn beers from foreign and domestic producers, including local brews from Heartland, Six Points and Brooklyn. Stop in and sample one or several ales hand-drawn to perfection and served in pint or half-pint glasses at a civilized temperature -- much more appropriate to the chilly fall weather. For those unfamiliar, cask conditioned ale or "Real Ale" as proponents call it, is described by Wikipedia as "the term given to unfiltered and unpasteurised beer which is conditioned and served from a cask without additional pressure."

The experience of drinking a cask ale can be jarring at first. If you are used to cold, fizzy beer your first impression may be that the beer is warm and flat. If you take a moment to get past that, you will be rewarded with a depth of flavor you have never experienced before in beer. Strong, hoppy IPAs become more approachable, while the texture and malts take center stage in the stouts.

Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at the Brooklyn Brewery has written that his first taste of cask ale was the beginning of his life in beer. He describes his this experience in his book, The Brewmaster's Table:

The first sip was odd. This beer hardly had a head, just a loose lace of bubbles around the rim of the glass. As I started to drink it, I wondered, 'What is this stuff?' The bitterness ran across my tongue, assisted by only the faintest prickle of carbonation. Then it exploded in layers of flavor ­-- hay, earth, newly mowed grass, orange marmalade and baking bread. It wasn't even cold -- in fact, it was barely cool. Each sip seemed to reveal something new --­ a whiff of sea air, a different flower or fruit. Did I like it? I wasn't sure. But it was so interesting that I couldn't stop drinking it. Then my glass was empty. The beer was all gone and I missed it already.

Don't miss your chance to experience "real ale" as it was intended.
-- clay williams

The Brazen Head is located at 228 Atlantic Avenue between Court Street and Boerum Place.

October 13, 2006

Keep On Shucking

Tomorrow evening, Saturday, October 14, Brazen Head looks east to the shores of Long Island with a good old-fashioned clam shuck. There will be Little Neck Clams and Blue Point Oysters for your slurping pleasure and two varieties of savory clam chowder. Here's a tip: try them both. Set aside your soup convictions for a night — both are great. After trying them, you may find yourself questioning your belief in One True Chowder...

Wash all that briny goodness down with any of the four beers from the Bluepoint Brewery, including their Toasted Lager and the Oatmeal Stout. One of the beers will be offered as a cask ale, hand drawn through one of Brazen Head's two beer engines. — clay williams

Brooklyn Clam Shuck: Saturday, October 14th – 5pm to 10pm.
Brazen Head: 228 Atlantic Avenue between Court Street and Boerum Place

July 19, 2006

The Better Borough Beer Guide, Volume 2: Atlantic Avenue

(Originally posted on The Brooklyn Record):

Brazen Beer

In the wake of the Smith Street explosion, nearby Atlantic Avenue has developed a nightlife of its own. But where Smith Street transformed, leaving behind many of the old neighbors for a new young crowd, the scene on Atlantic is classic Brooklyn. Each bar provides warm, welcoming service to all who enter. Even better, for the purposes of our guide, they all serve beer that you may not find anywhere else.

The Brazen Head is a beer destination. Besides having a regularly changing selection of 15 top notch beers on tap, it is one of a select few bars in New York that offer cask ales. It has two beer engines that serve out beer the old-fashioned way. Three times a year, The Brazen Head hosts its Cask Ale Festival, drawing ales from far and wide. The next festival is slated for November. Don't miss it. Check out the chalkboards on the wall to find out about events like dart contests, nightly specials, as well as upcoming festivals. The regular crowd includes bartenders from neighboring bars and locals stopping in for a pint and a chat with friends. (228 Atlantic Avenue, between Court St. & Boerum Pl.)

Read on for Pete's Waterfront Ale House, Floyd, and Chip Shop...

Waterfront Ale House, a bar and grill, is a neighborhood institution. "Pete's," as regulars call it, was among the first beer bars in Brooklyn and still serves one of the finest selections of craft beers in town. Weekly jazz and blues performances bring friends and neighbors to take in good music and good company. The food is traditional pub food, often with an exotic twist like the Kobe Beef Burger with homemade wasabi catsup or the Venison Chili. Waterfront is a family saloon, so don't be surprised to find a row of strollers parked up front on any given evening. (155 Atlantic Avenue, between Henry St. & Clinton St.)

Floyd NY immediately drew attention when it opened in 2004, due largely to its indoor bocce court. Besides teaching people to bowl again, Floyd NY provides a comfortable wide-open space to relax. One bartender describes the space as "Rustic; raw but stylish." He attributes a lot of the appeal to the size of the space, formerly two storefronts. Despite all its space, the bar is often full. Usually bustling, the crowds vary from night to night. The 8 tap beers are good, if common selections. What really earns Floyd NY a place on this list is its selection of bad beer. Obscurity runs both ways, and in this case, you'd be hard pressed to find another bar that serves Stroh's, Schmidt, Schlitz, Miller High Life, Piel's and Colt 45. Dubbed the crapucopia, it is served chilled in a bucket of ice in the cans they came in. (131 Atlantic Ave., between Henry & Clinton Streets)

Next door to Floyd NY is Chip Shop. The Park Slope fish 'n' chips restaurant opened this branch early last year. This deep fried slice of British culture would not be complete without a respectable selection of British beer. In addition to serving some of the best beer the United Kingdom has to offer, Chip Shop rounds out its 16 taps with a some of the best beer found right here in the US. Every week two new beers are tapped, keeping the rotation constantly fresh. (129 Atlantic Ave., between Clinton & Henry)

— clay williams
[Photo by ultraclay!]


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